Audibles at the Line

Unfiltered in-game observations by Football Outsiders staff

Audibles at the Line: Week 12

compiled by Andrew Potter

Each Sunday, the FO staff sends around emails 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 emails 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 Steelers 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 solely 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.

Carolina Panthers 35 at New York Jets 27

Bryan Knowles: The Panthers are being aggressive early, converting on a fourth-and-3 from the Jets 39 to keep their opening drive alive. I know Ron Rivera got that "Riverboat Ron" moniker in 2013 when the Panthers earned a reputation for being more aggressive in fourth-down situations, but that really hasn't been the case this year; the Panthers have actually been a little conservative on fourth-and-short situations this year compared to the league. It doesn't really make much sense that that would be the case, with Cam Newton behind center, but that's the case. Rivera was very conservative to open his coaching career, so maybe the past year or two have actually been a reversion to the mean for him.

Of course, later in the drive, they settle for a 40-yard field goal on fourth-and-2, so maybe Rivera is just throwing darts at a board here. Ah well.

It should be 7-3 New York, but Jets gotta Jets. They fooled the Panthers defense, with no one covering Austin Seferian-Jenkins, wide open in the end zone … and he picks a terrible time for his first drop of the season. Panthers dodge a bullet, and we remain tied. 

Case in point for that "you should go for it more often with Cam Newton" concept. Facing third-and-goal from the 1, they run a play fake into a naked bootleg, with Newton beating everyone to the edge and stiff-arming Bruce Carter on his way into the end zone. Bootlegs, dives, draws, options -- it's just too easy for Newton in these situations. That's his 51st red zone rushing touchdown since 2011. Only two other players have more than 40 (Marshawn Lynch and DeMarco Murray). Dude's unstoppable. Difference in the game is that the Panthers scored when they got to the 1-yard line; the Jets kicked the give-up field goal after the ASJ drop. 9-3, Panthers.

Scott Kacsmar: The extent to which Christian McCaffrey has been used as a receiver versus a runner has been unexpectedly slanted towards the receiving game this year. But he's had a 40-yard run today, which more than doubles his previous career long (17 yards). He's up to 54 rushing yards, which is already close to his high game this year (66). That 40-yard run led to a field goal and the Panthers are up 12-3.

Bryan Knowles: You're not wrong about McCaffrey -- the Panthers were actually giving him extra reps as a slot receiver this week. It's not because of injuries -- with Greg Olsen back, the Panthers have their full complement of receivers -- and it's not because Jonathan Stewart is lighting things up in the backfield. I'm a little surprised he hasn't taken over more of the running load, but I suppose a 3.0 YPC will do that for you. He just hasn't been Stanford McCaffrey on the ground this year.

Speaking of Olsen, he has been open a couple times, but something's missing in his connection with Newton so far -- Newton overthrew a wide-open Olsen in the end zone on that drive that ended in the field goal. Probably won't matter as the Jets offense has checked out since their first drive.

Scott Kacsmar: Sometimes August production does matter. Robby Anderson, a preseason standout in recent years, has a touchdown catch in five straight games for the Jets. The latest may be the most impressive yet, a catch in the back of the end zone to pull the Jets to within 12-10 at the half. Maybe Anderson never gets this big opportunity if the Jets didn't lose Brandon Marshall, Eric Decker, and Quincy Enunwa, but he looks like a solid young wideout to me. For being a deep threat in an offense without strong quarterback play, a catch rate over 50 percent isn't bad either. Get Enunwa back next year, maybe add another starter in free agency or the draft, and there's something to work with here.

Bryan Knowles: And, of course, just after I say the Jets offense is shut down, they connect on a 33-yard touchdown to Robby Anderson. Shouldn't have happened -- both Mike Adams and James Bradberry were in position to make a play and they just sort of … didn't. It was a tremendous catch by Anderson, taking nothing away from him there -- but it feels like he shouldn't have even gotten the opportunity.

Maybe it's just bye-week rust. Newton has been overthrowing people, the running game has not been particularly effective outside of the big McCaffrey run and a Kaelin Clay reverse, and the Jets have been getting significant pressure. Their blitzes are getting home, sacking Newton twice and hitting him six times, which might be a reason for the passing inaccuracy. If the offense could get anything going -- they had four straight punts bookending their scoring drives at the beginning and end of the half -- the Jets could pull off an upset here. As it is, they're hanging around, down 12-10 at halftime.

Have the Jets considered just not doing short plays at all? "Send Robby Anderson deep and hope something happens" seems to be the lion's share of their offense -- and they hit him again, on a 54-yard bomb where Kurt Coleman ended up a good 10 yards behind the play, caught looking into the backfield. The Jets are averaging 14.8 yards per play when targeting Anderson and just 4.2 on everything else.

No one knows what a catch is anymore. Jets throw to Austin Sefarian-Jenkins for what seems like a sure touchdown, with possession as he falls out of bounds. The refs, however, rule that the ball was moving as he went to the ground which, no. No, it really wasn't. Or, at least, I've seen the ball move more and seen it called a catch. Jets settle for a field goal, meaning they have a two-point lead rather than a six-point lead. This is not the first time ASJ has had a touchdown overturned somewhat controversially this season, and it might come back to haunt the Jets yet again.

The Panthers respond by waking up, scoring a touchdown on a nine-play, 75-yard drive. Devin Funchess had a key 35-yard catch to spark things, which is more yards than the Panthers had managed on their previous four series combined -- three three-and-outs and one kneeldown at the end of the half. This one remains close at 18-17, but not because it has been super-well played. 

Vince Verhei: Josh McCown was drafted 15 years ago. His panicky fumble under pressure, recovered by Luke Kuechly and returned for a go-ahead touchdown, was the kind of play that gets undrafted free agents cut in the preseason.

Rob Weintraub: On the other hand McCown did set a career high for passing yardage at age 38. For Hanukkah I'm investing in some JM15 anti-aging products, for sure.

Rivers McCown: I need to hire John Morton to be my agent. 

Bryan Knowles: The Panthers are going to win this one, but don't let the final score distract you from Newton's bad day. He's just 11-for-28 passing (pending what happens here on the final drive) and has been frustratingly inaccurate. Kuechly's fumble return touchdown and a Kaelin Clay punt return touchdown finally broke this one open, and the Panthers escape with one today. In the AFC, they'd be top playoff contenders! In the NFC, they're going to have to do better than that to hold on to that top wild-card slot.

Miami Dolphins 17 at New England Patriots 35

Aaron Schatz: The biggest difference in the Dolphins defense between last year and this year has been the pass pressure. The Dolphins were fifth in pressure rate last year, but are 28th this year. Hurries are down for pretty much every holdover player except Cameron Wake. There has been almost no pressure on Tom Brady in the first quarter. Patriots offense went three-and-out because of bad throws, but Brady had time. Then they un-went three-and-out with a fake punt, flipping the ball to the up-back Nate Ebner, who ran for a first down (but may have torn his ACL). The surprise is that the Patriots are also running so well against a Dolphins run defense that has been average, much better than their pass defense this year.

Meanwhile, the Dolphins have no offense. Average gain so far is 3.2 yards. They just made the score 14-7 totally through luck, when the Patriots had a bad center exchange. Tom Brady was looking away when backup center Ted Karras snapped the ball and Rashad Jones picked it up to run it in for a touchdown. It's a really important turn of events in what I'm calling the Backdoor Cover Bowl -- -16.5 is an ABSURDLY backdoor-coverable line -- but really says absolutely nothing about the quality of either team.

OK, in the second quarter Cameron Wake is getting some pressure by beating backup right tackle LaAdrian Waddle. And there was an attempted screen where Charles Harris ended up unblocked and just plain obliterated Brady. Otherwise, there's not much.

Zach Binney: Alright, ban the kickoff. To start the second half an ugly collision on kickoff coverage made both a Miami and New England players' necks stretch in a very unnatural direction, and both of them are left on the turf. The Dolphins player is about to get carted off.

I've been tepid on kickoff reform rules because while they are by far the most dangerous plays, they simply aren't frequent enough to impact the overall NFL injury rate. But that was never an excuse to ignore reforming or eliminating the kickoff; just an encouragement not to think that's enough.

I just recently heard about a suggestion given to the league by Greg Schiano of all people that I kind of like: after you score, you get a fourth-and-15 from your own 35. This keeps the potential for an onside kick-style play alive, and otherwise you punt.

Aaron Schatz: Now 28-10 near the end of the third quarter. This game has been tremendously one-sided. It would be the first really strong defensive performance for the Patriots by DVOA, except the Dolphins have been so bad this year that the opponent adjustments are bound to be huge. Matt Moore is what he is -- a good backup quarterback who shouldn't be starting on a regular basis. The offensive line is iffy. The running game is non-existent. Pats have had one of the league's worst run defenses this year and still, Miami backs currently have 17 carries for only 61 yards. Miami came into this game with just 3.6 yards per carry and somehow that wasn't even one of the five worst figures in the league. It's been a really horrendous year for a number of teams in the running game, which I keep meaning to talk about in the DVOA commentaries but I keep getting onto other subjects. I'll probably get to it this week.

The other element of this game: the Dolphins are playing mostly zone defenses and there's just no way that can stop either Brandin Cooks or Rob Gronkowski. Gronk passed Randy Moss' team record for multiple-touchdown games today. By the way, Moss was only with the Patriots for 3 1/4 seasons. The dude was amazing.

Buffalo Bills 16 at Kansas City Chiefs 10

Derrik Klassen: Not that any of us needed a reminder, but Tyrod Taylor is playing like someone who clearly belongs as an NFL starting quarterback. And he is playing comfortably better than Alex Smith has through about a quarter and a half. 

Andrew Potter: The Chiefs' first-quarter was best exemplified by a wide receiver screen earlier in which Albert Wilson and Tyreek Hill both set up for the screen and ran into each other trying to make the catch. Not even the Chiefs would actually draw the play up like that. Needless to say, they punted, and still haven't gained a first down on any of their first four drives, even blowing a challenge on a third-down spot. They look completely out of sorts on offense, and their longest play of the game is the one they challenged: a failed 11-yard scramble on third-and-12.

The Bills, meanwhile, started off dreadfully conservative -- the first ten minutes of this game were the worst ten minutes of football I've seen this year -- but opened things up a little on their fourth drive after winning the opening field-position exchanges. A 15-yard roughing penalty against Daniel Sorensen on third-and-5, added to an 8-yard catch by Jordan Matthews, was their biggest play on the 58-yard touchdown drive, which was capped by a 12-yard crosser to an alarmingly open Zay Jones for the score. They've since tacked on another three after being set up on the Chiefs 44 by the punt after the Smith scramble.

Make that five straight three-and-out drives for the Chiefs, now down 10-0 a third of the way through the game.

Aaron Schatz: I just want to put a picture of Tyrod Taylor on the cover of next year's book with the letters "WTF?" Do you think Tyrod might give us permission for that?

Scott Kacsmar: I couldn't understand why the Chiefs were 10-point favorites. They rarely blow anyone out, and it's not like Nathan Peterman was starting for Buffalo. LeSean McCoy against that run defense is a very favorable matchup. Felt like this one had one-score final written all over it, but we'll see if we get there with the Bills up 10-0 early. The longer the Chiefs stall on offense, the louder the chants for Patrick Mahomes will get.

Aaron Schatz: Chiefs were 10-point favorites because the Bills defense has fallen apart, I think, rather than because of the Bills' quarterback situation. But the Chiefs' offense has kind of fallen apart too, hasn't it?

Dave Bernreuther: Taylor's play has been better than the numbers indicate too, with his teammates letting him down some. After a play in which he avoided a near-certain sack like only he and two or three other quarterbacks could, then calmly stepped up and fired a dart over the middle to convert a third-and-long, only for it to be dropped, I made the joke that half of Buffalo would be calling for his head due to the drive failing. It's a shame that that's probably actually true.

Andrew Potter: We may have just set a new record for the lamest personal foul call in league history in Kansas City, with E.J. Gaines called for hitting a defenseless receiver on a play where he almost completely missed Charcandrick West. I can't honestly see how it could possibly have been a foul.

Alex Smith almost immediately makes amends by throwing a game-ending interception to Tre'Davious White, and the Bills are kneeling out the win.

Chicago Bears 3 at Philadelphia Eagles 31

Vince Verhei: Bears just called timeout to avoid a delay of game penalty on third-and-17. And it's worse than it sounds, because they were on their own 1, so taking a delay of game would have made it third-and-17-and-a-half. And it's worse than THAT sounds, because the reason for the confusion in the first place is that they thought it was fourth down and were sending out the punt team. What a humiliation. Then Mitchell Trubisky throws the ball away on third down, the Bears punt, and the Eagles take over in Chicago territory. That turns into a field goal and a 17-0 Philadelphia lead. 

Carson Wentz and the offense are going to get the highlights, and they're playing very well, but it's the defense that is really excelling today -- or, if you prefer, the Chicago offense that is really struggling. Officially, they have no first downs in their first four possessions. Really, it's zero first downs in five possessions. The best play for the Bears offense was actually a tip-drill interception -- Malcolm Jenkins fumbled the ball back to Chicago during the runback. In effect, it was an 11-yard gain for a first down. And that has been Chicago's BEST play.

The lead would likely be more, except LeGarrette Blount fumbled the ball away at the end of a 35-yard gain. So both teams have had ball security issues.

Eagles score again just before halftime, and Chicago takes a knee to end the half. Eagles have 24 points. Chicago has zero first downs. The Bears have one 18-yard gain on third-and-22, and 15 yards on their other 16 plays.

Tennessee Titans 20 at Indianapolis Colts 16

Aaron Schatz: What is going on with Marcus Mariota? Another two picks today.

Dave Bernreuther: Not a ton to say here. This is a close game between division rivals who are hamstrung by coaching. Neither quarterback has looked great, but both have made nice plays. One thing I'm noticing is that Jacoby Brissett has an odd habit of killing plays once he leaves the pocket. He's not too quick to leave, he doesn't drop his eyes ... but once he's moving, nothing ever happens. He either throws it away or slides (usually late) short of a useful play. An all-22 look would tell us more about how much fault lies with the receivers. Or with Rob Chudzinski's offensive calls, perhaps. On consecutive third-and-goals, I did notice an abundance of routes run short of the goal line. I've always defended his intelligence, given how much he has been able to adapt to personnel and different talents (Newton, taking over Pep's West Coast Offense, for instance), but it does seem like a lot of his plays are set up for failure just by design.

Tom Gower: The Titans gave the ball to DeMarco Murray and Derrick Henry 10 times in the first half. Those 10 carries netted 3 yards, for a long of 3, and a success rate of zero percent. Marcus Mariota has to be perfect for them to win games when they voluntarily put themselves into a hole like that. He has had some good throws, but also threw two interceptions. One of them came when Taywan Taylor fell down with the ball in the air, but the other was a bad one. Jacoby Brissett was under a lot of pressure, as the Titans remembered from Monday Night Football they should send people after him instead of rushing three and playing coverage. He was sacked six times and started very off-target, but calmed down and finished the half 10-of-16. Add in a marginally effective run game, unlike the Titans' completely ineffective one, and a lack of turnovers (one fumble, not lost), and the Colts are up 13-6 while I'm repeating to myself "3-point favorites lose like 40 percent of the time, so this isn't a big surprise."

The Titans started the second half with two more failed running back runs after the 10 in the first half, then ripped off seven successful runs in a row. Partly related to that, they had the only two scores of the second half, one short touchdown drive and one longer one. They got a big break on the first, when Marlon Mack couldn't hang on to a pitch and they recovered the fumble at the Colts 4. The second featured actual offensive productivity on the ground, bizarre and yet normal with the ridiculously dichotomous nature of their offense. The bigger difference in the second half was Brissett stopped making the throws he hit in the second quarter. He finished 6-of-13 and missed a number of throws in key situations, notably a third-and-2 slant to T.Y. Hilton holding onto a 16-13 lead in the fourth quarter. That was one of the rare times he actually got the ball out well when the Titans brought pressure in the final two quarters. He was also low and incomplete to Chester Rogers on third-and-3 on what proved to be the Colts' final possession of the game after they punted with just over three minutes to play. Not a pretty game, on a number of levels, but the Titans have their first win in Indianapolis since 2007.

Rivers McCown: I think the best way to sum up this game is that, in the middle of praising what a good job he was doing, CBS ran a graphic explaining that Chuck Pagano's team had blown leads of 10-plus-points routinely this season, and then they proceeded to blow this one as well. 

I've routinely pointed out that I think Tennessee's coaching holds them back. They were a fumble recovery deep in opposing territory away from losing in a game where they had EIGHT sacks.

Cleveland Browns 16 at Cincinnati Bengals 30

Vince Verhei: The worst thing the Browns have done all year -- and there is stiff competition for that distinction -- is red zone offense, especially at the end of halves, when they have had a ridiculous tendency to come away with zero points from inside the 20 or even the 10. And it looked like it was going to happen again. They had a first-and-10 at the Cincinnati 11 with 20 seconds to go, no timeouts. So of course DeShone Kizer hit Corey Coleman on an 8-yard dig, tackled in bounds, clock running. I was certain that disaster was about to strike, but they were able to spike the ball with five seconds to go. Then it looked like they were actually considering a third-down play before sending Zane Gonzalez out to kick the chip shot, which he converted.

So the Bengals lead 16-6 at halftime. As is often the case, the Browns are doing a lot of things right but it's not translating to the scoreboard. They lead Cincinnati in first downs (11-10) and total yardage (215-189), though part of that is that they received the opening kickoff and got an extra possession in the half. They also had an eight-play, 54-yard drive that was wasted when Gonzalez missed a 43-yard field goal. Fortunately for them, the Bengals' red zone offense has hardly been any better, or this deficit would be even bigger. Randy Bullock has kicked two field goals from inside the 20. 

Scott Kacsmar: Sometimes a change at coordinator during the season can produce favorable results. Remember when the Bengals were horrific on offense during an 0-2 start? Offensive coordinator Ken Zampese got the boot for Bill Lazor to take over, and since that point, Andy Dalton has thrown 18 touchdowns and four picks (two tipped by A.J. Green). Overall numbers that are right in line with where he was in 2015, his career year. Can't count the Bengals out yet in the AFC.

Can definitely count Cleveland out, though I guess we need Bryan to confirm that. The defense is also making Joe Mixon look like a stud today. He has 68 yards on the ground and 51 more through the air with a quarter and a half left.

Just wanted to follow up on that. Cincinnati's offense has still struggled in this stretch, but it's not about Dalton anymore. The lack of a running game has been a problem. Today and the Green Bay game in Week 3 are the only times the offense cracked 90 rushing yards all season. They lost Tyler Eifert again, though Tyler Kroft has actually been a solid replacement. He has a touchdown today, as does Tyler Boyd, who came in with just seven catches for 48 yards in a disappointing sophomore season. First-round pick John Ross doesn't even have a catch. It's mostly just a Dalton-to-Green offense with some Mixon sprinkled in, but that's enough to handle a team like the Browns.

Aaron Schatz: First-round pick John Ross isn't even ACTIVE. I have no idea what they are doing with that guy. I think he has been active for one game this season.

Cleveland defense making Mixon look like a stud is a surprise. That team has been phenomenal against the run this year. Allowing NFL-best 3.1 yards per carry before today. That's how an 0-10 team is somehow sixth in the NFL in fewest rushing yards allowed.

Bryan Knowles: I mean, we've been able to count Cleveland out since roughly October. And, of course, even if they were to pull off a comeback here, they'd need Kansas City to bounce back against Buffalo.

So what I'm saying is, there's a chance!

Vince Verhei: Emmanuel Ogbah is out for the year for Cleveland, which plays a small part in Mixon's big day. Other thing is, he had a big gain on a screen play, and as great as Cleveland has been against the run, they have terrible at covering running backs on passing plays, 29th coming into today.

Well, hey now. After a series of typical Browns-style mistakes (Corey Coleman dropping what should have been a 30-some-yard touchdown that hit him in the chest, Briean Boddy-Calhoun dropping what likely would have been a pick-six), Cleveland has put together a long scoring drive and we've got a football game. Kenny Britt had a 38-yard gain on third-and-10. Isaiah Crowell converts a fourth-and-1. And then Kizer scores on a quarterback draw on fourth-and-3. Bengals still lead 23-16, but there's almost seven minutes to go and there's a lot of work to do.

Bengals respond with a 75-yard touchdown drive that should put this one away. Joe Mixon took the ball on a sweep around left end and scored from 11 yards out. The biggest play, though, came a few plays earlier on a third-and-5. Andy Dalton tried a nine-route down the left sideline, and Josh Malone (who?) beat Jamar Taylor for what could have been a catch. Jabrill Peppers came over from the middle of the field and knocked the ball free. Looked like a stop and a punt, but Peppers was called for a shot to the head. Tough call on that one -- the crown of his helmet definitely caught Malone in the facemask, but it was also a deliberate attempt to knock the ball out of Malone's hands and the headshot was incidental to that goal. For safety reasons, I understand and agree this has to be a penalty, it's just unfortunate that on top of being a bad football team, plays like this happen to Cleveland more often than anyone else. 

Rob Weintraub: Malone is a late-round pick out of Tennessee who was impressive in preseason -- given the Bengals penchant for double-dipping in the draft at a certain position, and having the second guy taken be better (Marvin Jones > Mohamed Sanu, Lawson > Willis, etc.), it wouldn't be a shock if Malone turns out better than Ross. Though given the malpractice taking place with the No. 9 overall pick, it's hard to truly take stock of where Ross is as a player, though clearly he's not where he should be.

As for Joe Mixon, I daresay it's not "Cleveland making him look like a stud" -- he is a stud, it's just unusual that he isn't being hit in the backfield before he has a chance to do anything. Mix has tremendous balance and patience -- you can see it even when he loses yards. If the run blocking can truly get fixed -- and today was a good start -- Mixon should make a real, if belated, impact.

Bryan Knowles: Cleveland's loss means they are, officially and finally, the first team to be knocked out of playoff contention in 2017, winning that race by ... I'm going to say about 10 minutes, looking at the score in Carolina-New York. A true achievement for an 0-11 squad; a commemorative plaque is in the mail.

Seattle Seahawks 24 at San Francisco 49ers 13

Vince Verhei: Russell Wilson comes into this week first in the league in fourth-quarter passing DYAR, but near the bottom in first-quarter DYAR. So of course his first pass against San Francisco results in an interception, and Seattle's second drive ends when he blindly throws a pass to the flat that could have been a pick-six. Blair Walsh misses a 48-yard field goal just to really put me into a good mood. 

Aaron Schatz: Do the Seahawks script their first 15 plays? It might be interesting to line up first-quarter DVOA with a list of the teams that we know tend to script their first X number of plays.

Bryan Knowles: The one thing that is going well for Seattle early on is defensive pressure. The 49ers' offensive line (missing Trent Brown) is not exactly an impregnable fortress, but Seattle managed to get three hits on C.J. Beathard during the 49ers' first two drives. The Seahawks offensive line hasn't done much either -- DeForest Buckner versus the Seahawks offensive line is kind of amazing to watch -- but Beathard and Wilson are about as diametrically opposed as you can get when it comes to dealing with pressure. Scoreless first quarter.

Carl Yedor: I'm not sure how strictly the Seahawks follow a script, but I've definitely read before that they do script the first 15 plays. Maybe that's part of why they struggle to score so much in the early going (i.e., the scripts are either not effective, more about experimenting with different play calls, or a mixture of both). Seattle had another promising drive derailed after a false start that eventually led to a third-and-15. Tyler Lockett had a step on the 49ers corner, but Wilson didn't see him in time and the defensive back was able to recover to make a play on the ball in the end zone. After another quick stop, the Seahawks go three-and-out. Rough start for both offenses.

Vince Verhei: To emphasize my point, Seattle's offensive DVOA by quarter coming into today:

  • 1st: -46.6% (32nd)
  • 2nd: -3.3% (18th)
  • 3rd: -1.4% (25th)
  • 4th/OT: 60.1% (1st)

Looking back through past years, this is a new thing for Seattle. They've usually been better in the fourth quarter, but it has been a jump from mediocrity to goodness, not from complete incompetence to dominance. So you can't really blame it on scripting -- unless Bevell has been using the same script for years now and teams have figured it out.

Regardless, the Seahawks got out of the first quarter in a scoreless tie, which means the 49ers missed out on their best chance to win. Early in the second quarter, Bobby Wagner makes a great interception, taking the ball out of Trent Taylor's hands. Two plays later, Wilson keeps the ball and runs it in for a score from 3 yards out. There was a zone-read look to it, but I think it was a designed keeper all the way, with a tight end coming across the formation to act as a lead blocker for Wilson. Seahawks might be on their way to their best rushing day of the season -- Eddie Lacy and J.D. McKissic have combined for 46 yards here early in the second quarter. Weird to see their offensive line so, well, functional. They do have Luke Joeckel back today, which I guess helps.

Bryan Knowles: An addendum to that Russell Wilson touchdown: the Seahawks have now scored 25 offensive touchdowns. 24 of them have either been thrown or run in by Wilson. He is the offense. He's also the main reason this game hasn't been a disaster for Seattle so far; he has already escaped from four different sacks, unless I've missed a couple more.

49ers fans were wondering why Jimmy Garoppolo didn't get the start this week, coming off of a bye at home. The answer, presumably, is "Kyle Shannahan does not want him to get murdered." On Beathard's first 18 dropbacks, he was hit nine times. Some of that is Beathard's fault, of course, but this isn't really a situation anyone can succeed in at the moment. Wait until the offensive line is back at full strength and you have a less ferocious pass rush to go against, like Tennessee.

They do get a field goal on a solid two-minute drive, thanks to an impressive 29-yard catch-and-run by Trent Taylor. That makes it 7-3, Seattle at the half. The 49ers are actually outperforming Seattle on a per-play basis, 3.9 yards per play to 3.7. That's not exactly a high-level competition, there.

Like Vince said, this seems like typical Seattle, playing down to their opponent in the first half before becoming something altogether different in the fourth quarter. I'll call my shot here, then -- 49ers take a 10-3 lead in the third quarter, and then lose 16-10 in the fourth when the Seahawks decide to play good football. This feels like an inevitability.

Vince Verhei: 7-3 at the half. 49ers offense, unsurprisingly, has been mostly shut down aside from a couple of big catches by Taylor and Marquise Goodwin. Goodwin's was probably the best play of the game, all things considered -- Beathard made a great throw under pressure, Jeremy Lane had very good coverage on the play, and Goodwin made a fine catch before running out of bounds. Mostly, though, it has been Seattle's backup defensive linemen abusing Beathard all day. Marcus Smith, Branden Jackson, Quinton Jefferson, and Nazair Jones, among others, all have quarterback hits in the first half. This isn't a knock on San Francisco's line, it's just Seattle's obscene defensive line depth paying off. It's also why Seattle could afford to cut Dwight Freeney this week. 

Seattle's offensive struggles are the usual mix of constant pressure, unreliable running, and dropped passes. This is just what their games are. Doesn't matter if the opponent has one win or one loss, it's going to be an ugly, clunky, low-scoring affair that is decided in the fourth quarter. Almost doesn't bother me anymore. 

49ers get a bunch of good runs on their first drive of the second half as it looks like the Seattle front is getting worn down. On third down, though, Beathard is forced to scramble. He takes a big hit, and hangs on to the ball, but he's short of a first down, and San Francisco hits a field goal to make it 7-6.

And suddenly it's a shootout. Seahawks go jumbo, with a bunch of six-lineman and two-tight end sets on the drive, and it opens things up in play-action. First there's a 24-yard catch-and-run to Tanner McEvoy, then a 17-yard touchdown to Nick Vannett on a corner route for a 14-6 lead. Wilson is so, so much better from deep dropbacks. It gives him time to see the pass rush and make plays if needed, and also probably gives him a better chance to look over the heads of his linemen and find guys downfield. 

Bryan Knowles: Things have gotten a little out of hand here; Seattle decided to try showing up for the entire second half rather than just the fourth quarter. With Marquise Goodwin on the sidelines, the 49ers don't really have the playmakers needed to come mount a comeback; not with Seattle scoring on two long drives in the second half.

Assuming they hold on, Seattle still remains in a little bit of playoff trouble here, with Carolina, Atlanta and (at the moment) the Rams all winning today. Their loss to Atlanta last week would have them out of the playoffs at the moment due to the head-to-head tiebreaker. Yet another reason to question that bizarre fake field goal from the end of the first half on Monday night.

Rivers McCown: How did it take the Seahawks like three years to figure out that throwing to Jimmy Graham on goal-to-go is a good idea?

Vince Verhei: Assuming nothing else bizarre happens today, this week has really clarified the NFC playoff picture. Vikings and Eagles are winning their divisions. Panthers and Saints are winning the NFC South and one of the wild-card berths. Rams are probably winning the west, though the Seahawks are alive, with a win in hand over the Rams and a game in Seattle still to play. However, if Seattle can't catch the Rams, that leaves them fighting the Falcons for the last wild-card spot -- and as noted, this makes the Monday night loss all the more painful for the Seahawks. 

I can already hear the blisters forming on Aaron's fingers as he frantically types out that nothing is certain and anything can happen over the next five weeks. And he's right, but at least now we have a clear playoff picture that can be disrupted. Before there was just chaos, and you can't disrupt chaos.

Aaron Schatz: No, no, it's fine to say the playoff picture has clarified. My problem is with people who say there's no point in playing or watching any of the remaining games.

Bryan Knowles: Don't count the Lions out, either, one game behind Seattle/Atlanta, with an easier schedule than either of them going forward.

Well, we may have seen the handover from Beathard to Jimmy Garoppolo, but it's not how anyone wanted to see it. Beathard was bent in half, limping off with a knee injury.

Beathard has been sacked three times and hit 13 times today. It's been 17 and 52, respectively, since he took over as a starter in the past five games. Serious hazard pay for that guy.

And, of course, Jimmy G comes in, converts a few plays, scrambles, finds an open man in the end zone and throws a touchdown as time expires. It's a 24-13 win for Seattle, but hey. Jimmy G! Ignore everything else and pay attention to your handsome new quarterback, San Francisco.

Vince Verhei: Beathard is knocked out of the game with a knee injury and just over a minute to go, which means yes, the Jimmy Garoppolo era in San Francisco has begun. He plays enough to scramble once and throw two passes, the latter a touchdown on the last play of the game. The few hundred fans left in the stands cheer like it was a Montana-to-Rice game-winner. It sucks that Beathard got hurt but everything else about that finish was great comedy. Seahawks win 24-13.

Carl Yedor: If Beathard is hurt and going to miss time, the Jimmy G era in San Francisco is definitely going to start next week. He looked good on his two attempts in garbage time, but San Francisco now has potentially five full games to evaluate him. Seahawks had an ugly first half but pulled away over the course of the second. A prime-time matchup against the Eagles next week awaits. The 49ers face the Bears in the Trubisky Trade Bowl.

Denver Broncos 14 at Oakland Raiders 21

Bryan Knowles: Holy cow, three fights just broke out in this one. And not usual "everyone gets in a circle and there's some shoving" fights, but punches swung, helmets ripped off, the referee knocked down on the ground holding his ribs ... that's more than I've seen in a long time. It started when Michael Crabtree continued a block on Aqib Talib a good 5, 10 yards out of bounds, and he should be ejected immediately. Talib countered with a punch of his own, and everything just went off.

Crabtree and Talib are both kicked out, as is Gabe Jackson (for shoving a referee during the melee). That's three high-quality players out in one fracas.

Credit to Marshawn Lynch for helping regain control, and walking Talib to the locker room (which had to happen through the Raiders bench due to the layout of the stadium). What a disaster.

Vince Verhei: I would much rather watch the Broncos and Raiders fight than watch them play football.

Scott Kacsmar: Obviously there is bad blood there after Talib ripped a chain off of Crabtree last year. But these teams have played this season, and I believe both players were active for that one and got through it without incident. This looked like Crabtree had some revenge in mind. Ugly scene all around.

Tom Gower: Crabtree missed the first game this year, so this was their first meeting since the Chain Rip.

Vince Verhei: I'd like to congratulate Paxton Lynch on becoming the first quarterback to throw an interception against Oakland this year. 

Rivers McCown: Buried under the fight is this first-half stat line from Paxton Lynch: 5-of-10, 22 yards, one pick, two sacks. It's never a good sign when you can take the completions-attempts and yards to look like they belong in a basketball box score. AGAINST THE RAIDERS. Not actually watching but yeesh. Chad Kelly might be the quarterback with the brightest future on Denver's roster.

Vince Verhei: I don't know if anyone is actually watching this game, but Paxton Lynch was benched after throwing an interception and taking four sacks, while gaining only 41 yards on his nine completions. Trevor Siemian is in the game and in two drives he has passed for 87 yards and a touchdown. Lynch was a first-round pick a year ago and he is clearly very much worse than Siemian. There is not enough scorn in the world for what John Elway has done with the Broncos quarterbacks.

Bryan Knowles: Lynch wasn't just benched; he was pulled with an ankle injury. He was sobbing on the sidelines, though whether that's due to the injury or his all-around bad day is unclear.

Jacksonville Jaguars 24 at Arizona Cardinals 27

Rivers McCown: You're not going to believe this, but a game started by Blake Bortles and Blaine Gabbert has been a defensive struggle. The Cardinals came into this game with a top-ten run defense DVOA and have held the Jags to 12 rushing yards on their first 10 carries. 

Down 16-3 and faced with fourth-and-goal at the 3 in the middle of the third quarter, the Jags go for it. The play looks to either be a busted play or a designed quarterback run outside the numbers. Bortles runs it in for a touchdown. Hey! It's smart football by the numbers! Celebrate it!

Midway through the fourth quarter the Jags start to look like they're out of it. They've got 154 total yards on the day, with the Cardinals contributing 93 yards to them on penalties. 

But all of the sudden, Blaine Gabbert gets strip-sacked by Yannick Ngakoue, Calais Campbell returns it for a touchdown, and the Jaguars lead 17-16. Bruce Arians defended Gabbert by saying the teams that employed him were "shitty." Well...

And ... Gabbert answers with a touchdown strike from around midfield as the Jags lose safety coverage. The Gabbert-Campbell revenge game race is on. 

New Orleans Saints 20 at Los Angeles Rams 26

Aaron Schatz: I understand that the Saints want to use Kenny Vaccaro as the nickelback against the Rams because that keeps a bigger body on the field against Todd Gurley for run plays. But he's getting beaten like a drum today. Just completely lost the ball in the air on a pass to Cooper Kupp which went 53 yards. He has also drawn two penalties for 20 yards while covering rookie Josh Reynolds. Reynolds just caught a touchdown pass to make the score here 17-7, although that one wasn't with Vaccaro in coverage, that was A.J. Klein in a zone.

Andrew Potter: Well, yes and no. Vaccaro's pretty much the best option they have. With the top two cornerbacks (not counting Delvin Breaux, who is still on IR) out, both the usual backups are starting. Today's third corner is Sterling Moore, who was cut before the season and only re-signed this past Monday. The next option behind that is Dexter McDougle, also signed this week. There's nobody else, unless you really want to see what Kupp can do to Rafael Bush in man coverage.

The dropoff from Marshon Lattimore to De'Vante Harris is massive, and has major knock-on effects for the rest of that defense, not only in coverage but also in run support.

Aaron Schatz: Now 17-10 at halftime. Tony Romo keeps pointing this out, but when Wade Phillips defenses play man, you have to beat those guys in order to move the ball. And the Rams corners are covering really well today. Brees didn't have an incomplete pass until the last drive before halftime, but that's because he's mostly not throwing to covered receivers, not because the receivers aren't covered well. In general, the Saints aren't getting the first downs, and the Rams are dominating time of possession and number of plays here. Rams have 18:33, 39 plays, 250 net yards.

Saints are only at 11:25, 21 plays, and 166 net yards. The Saints have more yards per play, but only because of a single 74-yard touchdown scamper by Alvin Kamara.

One other note, Sammy Watkins finally showed up with Robert Woods out of the game. Had a touchdown catch and then a big catch on the sideline, taking the ball out of the hands of rookie safety Marcus Williams, to put the Rams into almost-field goal range right before halftime. But the Rams dropped out of almost-field goal range (and into Dempseyland) when Cameron Jordan got his second sack of the game. The first one was a straight-out blown block by Andrew Whitworth. You don't see a lot of those. Greg "The Leg" Zeuerlein missed a 63-yarder short to end the half.

Tom Gower: Alvin Kamara, Alvin Kamara, Alvin Kamara. 74-yard touchdown run, a 21-yard catch-and-run where he broke/avoided five would-be tacklers (I rewound and counted again to be sure). It's hard to believe Tennessee didn't do more to get him involved last year, but that's beating a horse that's well past dead with the firing of Butch Jones.

I wish we got the full version of the New Orleans defense so we could get another sample of the Rams offense against a non-bad defense, but they've done what they needed to do so far, with productivity beyond the great opening drive (which was when they stalled against Minnesota last week).

Dave Bernreuther: Two weeks ago we saw a few poor Brees throws and chalked it up to pressure. And today I had low expectations against a Phillips defense. 

But 76 yards passing in the fourth quarter is well below my expectations. And furthermore, we just saw him underthrow a WIDE OPEN Ted Ginn for what would have been a certain touchdown, without any pressure, and he was lucky he wasn't picked. He followed that with his first of two hospital balls to Coby Fleener on the same drive, which was one of those passes that makes you wonder about the perils of old age. 

But he's still Drew Brees, and they still drive down to a fourth-and-short at the 5, down 13, and Sean Payton... calls for the field goal with ten minutes left? I'm too confused to be upset by that. That's not a Sean Payton move at all.

Bryan Knowles: Big turn of events in L.A.! Sammy Watkins had a 5-yard lead on everybody, but Jared Goff underthrows him. Watkins reaches back to try to haul the pass in, but ends up tipping it right to P.J. Williams. I'm not sure at all how that pass wasn't incomplete, but the Saints get a much-needed shot in the arm to get back in this one.

Aaron Schatz: I have no idea what Sports Info Solutions will do with the interception Jared Goff threw with 8:39 left in the game. It wasn't really a "dropped interception" because the ball was clearly underthrown. But Sammy Watkins reached back for it, and for some reason sort of scooped it towards the defender and right into the hands of P.J. Williams. So the interception was more Watkins' fault than Goff's fault. At least it was a bit of an arm-punt, 36 yards downfield on third-and-10.

Dave Bernreuther: A Cooper Kupp back-footed pass to no-one that was worse than Flacco's mechanics leads to an interesting bar conversation, and yes you're all free to speculate on the mental state of my current company: can a wide receiver get flagged for intentional grounding? 

One play later, Goff throws a bad one behind Watkins that ends up picked, after which Brees throws behind his guy and Trumaine Johnson drops a pick. He followed this with another INT-able pass and a low-ALEX third-and-10 failed completion that extinguished that opportunity. I had a hunch that this would be one of those games between two explosive offenses that'd hit an easy under, but so far I remain confused as to how much credit to give the defense and how much blame to just give the quarterbacks. 

Andrew Potter: I don't believe so, because of the tackle box stipulation:

Intentional grounding will not be called when a passer, who is outside, or has been outside, the tackle position throws a forward pass that lands at or beyond the line of scrimmage, even if no offensive player(s) have a realistic chance to catch the ball (including when the ball lands out of bounds over the sideline or endline).

I'm not sure how that is all qualified in the actual rulebook, however; whether the ball itself needs to have moved outside the tackle position or just the player. At the very least, it looks like a running back could be called. The NFL rulebook is a morass.

Dave Bernreuther: He was certainly out of the pocket in this case. But it made us wonder about a differently designed play, like the horrible botched pitch reverse we saw earlier by the Bears (I think) that could also lead to a pass like we see once or twice every year, wherein the misdirection leaves the non-QB passer still in the tackle box. 

Bryan Knowles: Probably not for a receiver, thanks to the "has been outside the tackle position" qualifier. A running back who lines up in the backfield, however, would seem to be fair game, assuming it's a ... very badly designed play.

Tom Gower: Another thing that stood out from this game. Andrew Whitworth and Terron Armstead have been pretty good for their team this year. They stood out for the wrong reasons today, struggling against Cam Jordan and Robert Quinn in particular. Los Angeles managed to do some things anyway, for reasons we've discussed, but not being able to rely on the run game or the same kind of pass protection was probably another reason the Saints offense had the sort of day they did.

Green Bay Packers 28 at Pittsburgh Steelers 31

Bryan Knowles: Anyone expecting this one to be a blowout is blinking at this one. Packers are out to a 14-6 lead, with a little help from a Ben Roethlisberger interception. Artie Burns was, well, burned on a long Randall Cobb touchdown -- he had the deep responsibility, but instead went to cover a post route over the middle. Martavis Bryant, Jesse James, and Eli Rogers have dropped passes. I still do expect the Steelers to come back and win this one when all is said and done, but it's performances like this that make you doubt they'll be able to get over their New England-sized roadblock on the way to the Super Bowl.

Scott Kacsmar: Steelers have been allowing a lot of long pass plays, including several touchdowns, since the Detroit game. Artie Burns is often at fault, but giving up that screen is pretty inexcusable on third-and-9. Roethlisberger had the one pick, but so far that's his only off-target throw. You could chart five drops already early in the second quarter.

Rivers McCown: This is a broadcast of the Emergency Steelersing Alert System. The Steelers are currently losing by eight to an inferior team after allowing a pair of long touchdowns. They will likely win this game as they inevitably pull out of the tailspin that envelops them any time they play a bad team. Please stay tuned for further updates.

(About an hour later…)

This is a second broadcast of the Emergency Steelersing Alert System, please stay tuned.

The Steelers have committed two turnovers to Green Bay's zero, and though Brett Hundley has not necessarily looked much better or hit tight-window throws, he has found open receivers downfield when the Steelers have left them open. Pittsburgh is three-for-three on touchdowns in the red zone. Please stay tuned for further updates. 

Aaron Schatz: Three turnovers now, including a Le'Veon Bell fumble that the Packers recovered. Yet, I don't think it feels like this is one of those games where the Steelers are playing down to their opponents, other than the early dropped passes. It feels more like a game where the Packers are playing *up* to their opponent. The Steelers are making plenty of strong plays on both offense and defense. It just so happens the Packers are also making plays, and we're not used to seeing that from Brett Hundley or even a guy like Blake Martinez.

Tom Gower: Le'Veon Bell, notwithstanding his fumble, and Antonio Brown are really good players. It makes it easier to win games when you have really good players. Also Cameron Hayward on defense is another really good player. The Packers have three big plays and not much outside of them, while Roethlisberger found Brown in the turkey hole in Cover-2 for a 28-21 lead.

Scott Kacsmar: The Steelers executing well in the red zone is actually a big change for them. Didn't need to go into the red zone on that go-ahead touchdown drive though. Roethlisberger and Brown in sync again tonight, and that's four touchdown passes in back-to-back games. It took until Week 11, but this is the Pittsburgh offense we expected to see this season.

Tom Gower: Really good drive by Brett Hundley to tie the game at 28. Most of it was easy, bang-bang-bang when it came to successful plays, and he made the play on fourth down the one time it got there. And I definitely wouldn't have believed you last year if you told me the Packers would look to Davante Adams running a whip route on a crucial fourth-and-6 against the Steelers, but there it was. But again, we go back to the Steelers and their great players, and Antonio Brown's two catches, one jaw-droppingly great and the other just pretty nifty, in a severely time-compressed drive to get just far enough into field goal range for Chris Boswell to nail the game-winning field goal. Not the game I or many others expected, but still a win for home squad in black and gold.


156 comments, Last at 29 Nov 2017, 1:57pm

1 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 12

by ChicagoRaider // Nov 27, 2017 - 10:43am

The Raider-Bronco fracas was preceded by a pretty cheap hit against Amari Cooper. Now, you might think this would lead to Michael Crabtree realizing he MUST stay in the game, but sometimes Lyle Alzado's ghost has to take possession of a Raider for a bit. Note: I never understood why the helmet-removal rule [made for Lyle, of course] matters. If you are getting ejected for punching, you might as well hit face not face mask.

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3 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 12

by eggwasp // Nov 27, 2017 - 11:00am

The one that got Cooper injured? that was a long time after - it was in the last 5 mins before halftime. Cooper had scored in the meantime. The fight was on the 2nd play of the Raiders 2nd drive (so 5 plays in). I don't recall a cheapshot on Cooper before this (though the game was hardly gripping before then)

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12 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 12

by Raiderjoe // Nov 27, 2017 - 12:02pm

rulem change occurred based on emmitt smith actually.

a. talib horrible jerk player. crabtree shouldn't have responded to his baiting crap btu in end Raiders taught Denver lesion. best team clearly won.

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59 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 12

by BroncFan07 // Nov 27, 2017 - 2:17pm

That's wrong. The fight started a play after Crabtree cheap-shotted Chris Harris and Harris had to leave the field. The Cooper play you mention happened in the second quarter. Cooper was going low after catching the ball and Stewart actually turned his body, so Cooper collided with Stewart's shoulder and back. Not sure what else he's supposed to do there. Even Rich Gannon said as much on the broadcast.

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72 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 12

by roguerouge // Nov 27, 2017 - 2:54pm

There was pretty good video that Talib yanked his chain off his neck again.

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76 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 12

by BroncFan07 // Nov 27, 2017 - 3:07pm

He did pull the chain again. It was very childish and stupid. And Talib helped cost Denver the game by getting himself thrown out. Especially since Carr wrecked his replacement, a guy I never actually heard of before.

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126 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 12

by Hummingbird Cyborg // Nov 27, 2017 - 11:22pm

You never heard of the Broncos third round pick from this year?

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80 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 12

by ChrisS // Nov 27, 2017 - 3:22pm

The fight started because Talib ripped off Crabtree's necklace, AGAIN. The red-zone announcer said "from now on Talib will be known as "Two-Chains"". There were more punches thrown in this melee than just Crabtree and Talib. They need to start suspending players for this type of crap.

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82 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 12

by Yu Narukami // Nov 27, 2017 - 3:34pm

Besides the ownership of responsability in initiating the fight, how in the world in such a dangerous sport players are allowed to wear those items?

For instance, in association football they are banned.

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102 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 12

by doktarr // Nov 27, 2017 - 4:48pm

Let's get the sequence right here.

1) Crabtree punches Harris in the stomach, gets away with it. Harris leaves for one play, is not happy, everyone (Talib included) hears about what happened.
2) Talib yanks his chain again (although Crabtree's block had already extended well past the whistle when he reached for the chain).
3) Crabtree drives him to the ground, starts the fracas.
4) Both players throw punches.

Talib was clearly acting the fool, but he was not the instigator of violence in any sense here.

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114 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 12

by ChrisS // Nov 27, 2017 - 5:45pm

I did not see play 1). I agree Crabtree's block went longer than necessary, but not way outside the realm of normal, however the ripping off the chain was egregious/unnecessary/illegal(football-wise not felony-wise)/stupid/dangerous....

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120 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 12

by doktarr // Nov 27, 2017 - 8:37pm

You can see the stomach punch in a clip towards the bottom of this story:

I've gotta give Crabtree high marks for disguise; it's easy to see how the refs missed it.

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125 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 12

by TimK // Nov 27, 2017 - 11:07pm

Thanks for that link, certainly looks very like a covert punch from that angle. They’ve both been suspended for 2 weeks, with the NFL apparently citing that punch to Harris against Crabtree, and the ripping the chain against Talib. Of course both of them are apparently appealing, I wish the teams would sit them down and tell them to just shut up and take it. I know in the current league vs NFLPA on suspensions this would be potentially awkward, but I don’t see how either can really defend themselves and both need to realise they have some responsibilities regarding staying on the pitch to earn the money they get paid for sport not fighting.

There are times when I’d like to see people who appeal get longer suspensions, and for both players this is a case in point, I’m a Broncos fan and at this point I’d happily see the team tell Talib to either take his suspension or get cut, and that is despite in this instance he looked more like the responder than the initiator ( of course he made his own start to the mess last year with the first chain rip ).

Be interesting to see whether there is further punishment for the OG who took down the official, people have certainly been suspended for far less contact. I’ve always liked the any contact with officials and you are out side of American Football, Rugby has very similar rules (an England international forward once got a pretty long ban for pushiing a referee over in a club cup match ), and I think Association Football would be a better game for enforcing more respect for referees ( and if it means some Games finish with a lot fewer players on the pitch until the player understand, that wouldn’t hurt in the long run ).

It does seem though that their have been more ejections this year for stupid violence rather than just careless violence of a badly times and executed tackle. It would be nice to see the League and Players working on some way to balance increasing penalties for this kind of thing with reducing penalties for some of the uniform violations or off-field non-violent things.

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127 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 12

by luvrhino // Nov 27, 2017 - 11:56pm

"There are times when I’d like to see people who appeal get longer suspensions,"

Aussie Rules Football does this. Rather than discrete game suspensions or fines, they have "demerit points." Once a player accumulates 100 points, that's a game suspension. With their appeal process, if the player chooses not to appeal, he gets a 25% reduction in points.

It's a more fair and complicated process from what I can tell as an American who only watches games, but doesn't see news coverage. I appreciate the ability to have punishments that are less than a game, but more than just a fine or a warning.

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2 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 12

by are-tee // Nov 27, 2017 - 10:55am

The Sefarian-Jenkins overturn was ridiculous. It seems like "the ruling on the field" doesn't carry extra weight anymore.

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11 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 12

by Raiderjoe // Nov 27, 2017 - 12:00pm

watched jets vbs panters game (as always watch ny temas and Raiders and whaterev else worthwhile) sso am always able to speak on giant snad jets with some knowledge.
horrendous to overturn that seferian-jenkins ctahc. guy had clear piossession in end zone and was down. then momentum took him out of end zone and while lying on back , ball had slight movement while on top of his belly. bakll never hit ground.

between sidelines, that is a clatch- no questions asked. but because he went out of bounds after clearly catching it and "something" haoppened- "Oh no, not a catch!"

sick of NFl with these stupid interprations of what a catch is. similar problem as a. ellington (was it Th nighter vs seattle?) bobbling a pass for 5+ yards and the officials made some interpretation that it wasn;t good enough.

league really needs to apply common sense for oncwe with catches. back to drawing board and no drinking in competition committee meetings this time!

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41 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 12

by PatsFan // Nov 27, 2017 - 1:16pm

Well, now that NFL Central has the final say instead of the actual officials on the field, I can't say I'm surprised that "the ruling on the field" matters much anymore.

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50 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 12

by Hoodie_Sleeves // Nov 27, 2017 - 1:52pm

You guys must be watching different video than I am. The ball is clearly, obviously moving while his hands aren't. He's got no control of it until well after hes out of bounds.

This is the video I've watched.

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55 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 12

by Raiderjoe // Nov 27, 2017 - 2:13pm

Yes... and so what? There was slight movement. Ball never hit ground. That plays happen jn middle of field it is a catch. The slight movement occurred oit of bounds after Seferian-Jenlins clearly possessed ball safely in end zone

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63 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 12

by Hoodie_Sleeves // Nov 27, 2017 - 2:34pm

Of course its a catch if it happens in the middle of the field - but it didn't - it happened out of bounds.

You have to maintain control of the ball through contact with the ground, and you don't establish possession unless you maintain control - this has been a rule for a decade now.

He didn't gain control of the ball until after he was out of bounds because the ball was moving. That's a textbook incomplete.

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99 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 12

by Raiderjoe // Nov 27, 2017 - 4:20pm

is poster drunk? Seferian-Jenkins gained control in bounds in the end zone and was down. Play over. Touchdown! don't majke this difficult like the nfl.

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104 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 12

by Hoodie_Sleeves // Nov 27, 2017 - 4:53pm

" Seferian-Jenkins gained control in bounds in the end zone and was down"

The ball started moving as soon as he hit the ground, and continued moving until after he was out of bounds.

These have been the rules for years - they're not difficult to understand. You have to maintain control of the ball through contact with the ground.

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121 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 12

by Raiderjoe // Nov 27, 2017 - 8:39pm

he maintainted control of the ball. he never lost control.

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122 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 12

by Noah Arkadia // Nov 27, 2017 - 8:41pm

It seems to me he did maintain control. I've always agreed that the usual criticism of the catch rule is way over the top, but this year the replay decisions have been terrible. When I think of control of the ball, I don't think of it as something that should be debated by philosophers. Are we talking about metaphysical control or simply absolute control? Would Kant approve? Will we actually need to define what the will is and the role of consciousness and whether control actually exists at all? This Riveron person needs to relax a little.

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4 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 12

by brambo // Nov 27, 2017 - 11:10am

Atlanta, Tampa Bay - bye week I guess. That must have been previously recorded.

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17 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 12

by JustAnotherFalconsFan // Nov 27, 2017 - 12:24pm

Paraphrased and updated from the leading paragraph, as Tyrod is getting plenty of coverage these days.

"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 Steelers or Patriots fan, you are probably in luck; if you are a Falcons fan, not so much.)"

Usually, they'll have someone comment on Tampa Bay, though, so that was odd. I was going to say that the506 map footprint of the on-air broadcast was pretty durn small, but the Tennessee-Indy footprint was pretty similar in size and it got a fair amount of discussion.

On the one hand, I can see why you might not want to watch the Falcons jump out to a large lead and then give it back, with the only question being whether or not they can hang on just enough to win. On the other hand, they did miss Julio being Julio. Apparently the Bucs picked up Hole in Zone on waivers from the Saints.

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30 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 12

by MilkmanDanimal // Nov 27, 2017 - 12:57pm

I think Audibles has skipped a Bucs game for three out of the last four weeks, and I blame no one for that; they've been awful games. Also, I'm usually the "someone" who comments on Tampa, so . . .

Can I take it as a positive that the Bucs completely shut down the Falcons passing offense, holding them to a paltry 64 yards if you pretend Julio Jones actually doesn't exist? That's a solid defensive effort. If you ignore Jones' 250+ yards. Which I am going to try to do.

The Bucs' secondary has been a train wreck for years; Grimes still has some great moments but either he's slowed down or the safeties are so terrible it just looks like he's out of position a lot. The first round pick they spent on Vernon Hargreaves last year looks like a waste (to be fair, he didn't play yesterday, but does that really matter?), and a second-rounder this year on Justin Evans at FS is too early to tell. The main issue is the Bucs have absolutely no pass rush of any sort; the defense is really just Gerald McCoy occasionally getting penetration through his inevitable double-teams, and then three good LBs doing not enough awesome things to make up for everything else. It's just ugly.

Offensively, Ryan Fitzpatrick is still Ryan Fitzpatrick, so he's just good enough to almost win games on a regular basis.

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5 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 12

by jtr // Nov 27, 2017 - 11:12am

I'm hoping this serves as the coming-out party for Cam Heyward on the national stage. This was his second nationally televised two sack game in two weeks, and Collinsworth was really highlighting him even on the plays where he didn't make the tackle. He's already got 9 sacks on the season even though he mostly lines up inside, I'm hoping he can make his first pro bowl this season when he ends up with double-digit sacks for the first time in his career. I find him to be a lot of fun to watch because his game is pure power; nothing subtle, just shoving a guard or tackle back into the quarterback's lap over and over again.

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6 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 12

by johonny // Nov 27, 2017 - 11:30am

Mia-NE Didn't watch it, didn't tape it.

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14 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 12

by Raiderjoe // Nov 27, 2017 - 12:03pm

maim vs pates: yes, horrible awful game. not worth looking at unless dolphins or Pates fan. only a game for die hards or people forced to watch it like the stick holders, ball boys, announcers, media members, family members of officials and players and stuff luike that

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67 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 12

by Mike B. In Va // Nov 27, 2017 - 2:41pm

Maim is such a perfect name for the 'Phins team this year, as you want to maim yourself to get away from the games.

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38 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 12

by James-London // Nov 27, 2017 - 1:09pm

Didn't miss much. Same as last week, and the week before that, and the week before that...

Penalties, drops, bad O-line play, and a back seven that plays like they've never seen a Tight End on in-breaking route in their lives. Oh, and the back-breaking turnover before the half to take points of the board.

Pretty good chance Miami loses out from here, and I'd make Denver favourites next week.

Phil Simms is a Cretin.

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118 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 12

by johonny // Nov 27, 2017 - 7:14pm

My new motto is that I'm a fan not a sadomasochist. I don't need to watch what is clearly not going to be a good game anymore. Miami VS. New England in New England hasn't been a quality NFL product for years. Next week is a tough week as both young coaches want to win, but honestly both would benefit from the better draft position losing brings. I'm thinking Ross won't let go of his people at the top, although Miami's drafts have been poor and free agents ill fitting and overly expensive. I do expect Gase to retool the coaching staff. They need a D-coordinator and O-coordinator that get people to follow their assignments. It's really basic football stuff Miami is failing at. That shouldn't happen at the NFL level. Particularly with the many Vets Miami has.

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129 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 12

by James-London // Nov 28, 2017 - 7:03am

Agree with all of this. The saddest part is that if Miami lose out, Tannenbaum's gonna screw the draft and free agency anyway...

Phil Simms is a Cretin.

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7 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 12

by Anon Ymous // Nov 27, 2017 - 11:40am

NE won in relatively comfortable fashion, but I could have done with Miami's apparent try to injure someone on every snap gameplan. Unfortunately, NE had a role in this because it looked like the dolphins were rolling over just as Karras' bad snap got them back into the game. It looks like Ebner is a goner and it may be a few weeks before some of the other guys return as well.

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9 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 12

by Will Allen // Nov 27, 2017 - 11:54am

The way to get rid of the kickoff is to use the PAT as the determinant of the ensuing field position. If you attempt a PAT kick from the current spot, the opponent gets the ball at the 35. If you attempt a two point conversion from the current spot, the opponent gets the ball at the 25. If you make a two point conversion from the 20 yard line, you retain possession, at your 40, miss it and the opponent gets it there. Field goal attempts are followed by possession at the 35, or where the miss occurred, whichever is better for the nonkicking team.

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19 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 12

by Not Jimmy // Nov 27, 2017 - 12:25pm

I was thinking to make the PAT and kickoff in the same play. Kick-off from the 40, if you put it through the uprights, it's a PAT and opposing team gets it at the 20, if you miss, opponent gets it at their own 40. If it's short, its a live ball - keeping on-sides kick option.

- Anything is possible when you have no idea what you are talking about.

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26 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 12

by Will Allen // Nov 27, 2017 - 12:52pm

I just think it would be wise to give stronger incentives to have fewer place kicks. I'd be good with all field goal attempts being followed with a possession at the 40, and having a PAT kick followed by a possession at the 40 as well. It would make red zone offense and defense even more important, which I would enjoy.

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133 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 12

by eggwasp // Nov 28, 2017 - 9:38am

Why not have a punt instead of a kick off a tee? They dont seem to have as many injuries - at least noone seems to be talking about punting in the same light.
also brings 2 more possibilities that would be fun - 1. - blocked punt from the kickoff - what a way to start the game! 2. fake punt from the kickoff - ditto + is alternative to onside kick (that is probably more exciting as well).

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135 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 12

by DGL // Nov 28, 2017 - 10:20am

I don't think it's the punt per se so much as the fact that the coverage and return teams are both lined up at the LOS, so there's jamming all the way down the field instead of the coverage team building up a head of steam for 30-60 yards before slamming into someone.

I like your idea below of having the kickoff from the 30 and the coverage and return teams both lining up at the 40, and would take it one step farther: the LOS for a kickoff is the 40, with the same width-of-the-ball neutral zone as in a scrimmage play; the same rules for player positioning apply to the kicking team as normally apply to the offense (7 players on the line and 4 in the backfield, one of whom is the kicker, and no motion towards the LOS before the start of the play with the exception that the kicker is allowed to move towards the LOS); and the kicking team has the option of placing the ball on a tee five yards behind the LOS instead of snapping it back from the LOS.

In other words, a kickoff becomes a "scrimmage kick" instead of a "free kick", with two exceptions: 1, the kicking team has the option of placing the ball on a tee five yards behind the LOS; and 2, if they take that option, the kicker is permitted to move towards the LOS before the start of play. (And some technical exceptions, like the kicking team is permitted to recover the ball, and if it goes through the goal post it's not three points.)

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137 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 12

by aces4me // Nov 28, 2017 - 10:39am

I think the smartest idea would be to ask Belicheck "What set of kickoff rules would cause you to coach your players to never run out a kick?"



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142 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 12

by DGL // Nov 28, 2017 - 11:48am

Well, you could have touchbacks on kickoffs go to the opponent's 20 yard line, and then pretty much no one would run out a kick, but that wouldn't necessarily reduce the number of kickoff returns, because then kickers would never kick into the end zone...

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138 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 12

by aces4me // Nov 28, 2017 - 10:39am


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145 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 12

by Joshua Northey // Nov 28, 2017 - 2:16pm

The kicking game should be removed, and doing so is very easy. Teams start with the ball on the (20, 25, whatever) after scores. You could lso add in no PAT or two points. And add in no FGs. There kicking game gone. You could even get rid of punting.

None of it is important to the game at all. It just is more excuses for commercial breaks.

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148 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 12

by aces4me // Nov 28, 2017 - 2:22pm

I think teams that are actually good at those plays would beg to differ with you.

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150 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 12

by Will Allen // Nov 28, 2017 - 2:28pm

I think the end of games would be dramatic with significantly less frequency without field goals, and punting adds quite a bit of variance which makes the game more interesting.

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152 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 12

by sbond101 // Nov 28, 2017 - 3:59pm

Seconded; Punts & punt coverage, and fake punts when done well (especially near the goal line) are really one of the more interesting plays to watch in football. They also very frequently have an impact on the game. Kick-offs are interesting to watch when teams run mortar-kicks and have success (though I could live without the commercial-kick into stands-commercial sequence). I'd absolutely hate to see the NFL get rid of them.

I think the neutral zone elimination ideas are half-baked due to the onside kick issues they create, but something in this vein should be done.

On a separate but related note, he NFL never should have outlawed jumping the LOS on FG's & extra points. It was a lot of fun to watch teams embarrass themselves with predictable snap counts.

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153 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 12

by Will Allen // Nov 28, 2017 - 4:16pm

I disliked jumping over a guy who is physically unable to block, inept snap count management notwithstading. Perhaps, I'm alone, but I really think PAT incentive structures could be built that would make the game more exciting, while eliminating the kickoff, and on those very rare occasions when retaining possession after a made field goal is essential, something palatably nonweird could be worked out.

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154 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 12

by DGL // Nov 28, 2017 - 4:37pm

On a free kick, the kicking team can not recover until the ball has left the (10 yard) neutral zone.

The rule stays the same if you reduce the neutral zone to the width of the ball and kick from 5-10 yards behind the neutral zone. Instead of five guys running full-tilt for 10 yards and slamming into the other team to try to clear a gap for a sixth guy to jump up and grab the ball on a weird bounce, you'll have five lineman run-blocking to get control of the line so the sixth guy can jump up and grab the ball on a weird bounce.

Or maybe it'll end up like a line-out in rugby, and you'll have five linemen blocking while two others lift the tallest WR up into the air to grab the ball...

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8 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 12

by Theo // Nov 27, 2017 - 11:53am

I was watching the Browns - Bengals game. And the teams seemed pretty equal, although the Browns couldn't stop Mixon and Coleman is not AJ Green.
There are about 3 plays that killed the Browns yesterday: a DPI on 3rd and long in the endzone, the Peppers hit on 3rd and long and another personal foul I don't remember which kept the Bengals going. Sure, good teams don't make these mistakes and the Browns are not yet good. 0-10 is awful, but I see a better team than last year; they are on the right path. So it's a very Browns thing to fire the Front Office, blow the team up again and trade all draft picks they have to move up to select a longsnapper in the first round.

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123 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 12

by herewegobrowniesherewego // Nov 27, 2017 - 9:05pm

31 IND -22.3% 31 -20.6% 31 -17.5% 31 -15.4% 24 -24.5% -22.0% -15.0% 5.6% 16 -4.9% 4
32 CLE -25.1% 32 -25.4% 32 -38.5% 32 2.5% 6 -30.2% -45.6% 0.1% 6.2% 17 -5.4% 3
offense, CLE vs. next-worst IND

13 CLE -2.9% 21 -4.4% 12 22.0% 24 -31.1% 1 -1.7% 22.8% -29.3% 6.4% 23 -3.6% 26
Defense breakdown

Looks like the team's issues can pretty clearly be laid on Kizer, even if he is trending up. Last in passing DVOA by 20%!

Pass defense is not really the issue, even if the team is iffy at safety, and run D is definitely not the issue.

Raises the question of how much simply replacing Kizer with Rosen would improve things.

Also brings up the "what if" of if the Browns had kept McCown - although I still see the Jets as finishing 5-11 at best, and head-to-head his new team got nearly doubled up in yardage by a Browns team that just couldn't finish in the red zone.

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10 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 12

by jtr // Nov 27, 2017 - 11:59am

The Rams ran a fun screen pass to no one at all on Sunday. It looked like Goff changed the protection at the last minute to keep the running back in to block, which meant that the offensive line leaked out to block downfield with nobody to follow them. Goff had to do the old spike-it-at-the-back's-feet thing you do on a failed screen, only...there was no back there. So it was intentional grounding.

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15 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 12

by Raiderjoe // Nov 27, 2017 - 12:05pm

Rams good tems to watch. I like it. good running from t. gurley and a good number of deep tosses by J. Goff. remionds of 1980s action which was generally better branf od fooptball than current stuff

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22 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 12

by dryheat // Nov 27, 2017 - 12:38pm

I think it was Tony Romo who commented that he liked the fact that the Rams hurry to the line of scrimmage, allowing Goff some extra time to get a good look at the defensive alignment.

It was reported yesterday that the reason Goff does this is so McVay can see the defense, call the play, and tell Goff which of his receivers he should look to throw to.

Am I the only one bothered by this? And if true, I think it takes away a lot of Goff's success this year. I give McVay credit for taking advantage of the rules, but this seems more like playing Madden than actual football to me. I wouldn't shed a tear if the radio communication to the quarterback went away, but I think the league should definitely cut off the communication earlier.

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25 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 12

by jtr // Nov 27, 2017 - 12:50pm

Totally agree with you. Communication should only be allowed up until the quarterback breaks the huddle. If you don't huddle, too bad--you chose to run your offense from the field instead of the sideline, and that's your prerogative. It's absolutely not fair to let the coach call in audibles and adjustments from the sideline after the team has already lined up.

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27 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 12

by aces4me // Nov 27, 2017 - 12:53pm

I don't think it is a fairness issue. Both team can do it. It might not be in the spirit of the game.

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156 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 12

by rich006 // Nov 29, 2017 - 1:57pm

High school teams do this. QB lines up, steps back and turns to the sideline for a signal of what play to run. Having the audio in the QB's helmet makes it harder for the defense to intercept the signals, but isn't fundamentally different.

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29 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 12

by Will Allen // Nov 27, 2017 - 12:56pm

If the Rams are unique in doing this, I'm surprised. Back in 1998, it was reported that Billick was doing something similar with Randall Cunningham.

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34 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 12

by dryheat // Nov 27, 2017 - 1:03pm


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143 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 12

by BJR // Nov 28, 2017 - 1:25pm

Yeah, I mean if it's that simple, why isn't everybody doing it?

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33 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 12

by Bright Blue Shorts // Nov 27, 2017 - 1:03pm

Helmet radio is turned off with 15-secs to go.

Even if you turn it off earlier, coach could still send in signals from sideline.

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36 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 12

by dryheat // Nov 27, 2017 - 1:06pm

I'd probably be okay with it if a coach were trying to give hand signals or something. The degree of difficulty would be much greater. Plus, the defense could steal and decipher hand signals.

I'm guessing that the headset radios started to counter the noise effects of the home crowd. It seems that reading the defense and directing the reads of your quarterback would be abusing the system.

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85 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 12

by Hoodie_Sleeves // Nov 27, 2017 - 3:41pm

I just don't see this improving the game, personally. Communications snafus like botched snaps, guys running the wrong routes, etc, just don't make for good football.

Frankly, I'd love to see them have the mics up until the ball is snapped. I'm not even convinced that having the mics live during the play would help anyone all that much.

There's always going to be an advantage to having a QB that can read the field well, because he's going to see things the coach can't. I don't think that needs to be artificially maintained.

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92 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 12

by DGL // Nov 27, 2017 - 3:58pm

I think it would be fun to push it even farther - give all the players a radio in their helmets, and let them all talk to each other during the plays.

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147 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 12

by Joshua Northey // Nov 28, 2017 - 2:22pm

Or we could replace all the players with robots. Or even watch a simulated Madden game instead of a real one!

There would also be fewer dropped snaps and passes if we made the ball round. Lets do that too!

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37 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 12

by joe football // Nov 27, 2017 - 1:07pm

I'd also be in favor of eliminating radio communication and more player autonomy generally but with the way things are I kind of like the coaches using the QB as a vessel for their will in a similar way to how every other player on the field is treated. After all, nobody thinks less of the the WR who gets told precisely where to go every play or the safety gets told what depth to drop or whatever. All the better if it minimizes the impact of how good the QB is at those things on team success, QBs dominate things enough as it is

Even without the radio they could just do what they do in college and presumably lower levels where everyone gets to the line then stares at the sideline for a few seconds as the coaches wildly signal

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146 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 12

by Joshua Northey // Nov 28, 2017 - 2:19pm

No communication period. I never understood the point at all. I mean they could also put the coach out there in an exoskeleton, that would probably increase scoring too, but why?

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13 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 12

by nat // Nov 27, 2017 - 12:03pm

...after you score, you get a fourth-and-15 from your own 35...

If punts really are a lot safer than kickoffs, that's a very good idea.

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16 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 12

by jtr // Nov 27, 2017 - 12:13pm

I'd imagine they are, since most of the initial collisions occur from players who line up directly opposite each other. On kickoffs everybody is going full speed by the time the blocks are made.

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18 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 12

by andrew // Nov 27, 2017 - 12:24pm

It would really add sting to post-touchdown penalties.... nowadays a lot of those are enforced on the kickoff, which usually means kicking off from a bit closer or farther. has some impact, but not huge.

But here, this would mean 4th and 15 (presumably you'd not reduce the yards to go) from potentially midfield or own 20...

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31 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 12

by Bright Blue Shorts // Nov 27, 2017 - 1:01pm

Greg Schiano must be a reader of these boards because suggested using a punt to restart game back in March 2016 ...

See comment #9 and onwards

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40 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 12

by nat // Nov 27, 2017 - 1:15pm

Good on you then. It's a sensible idea.

I still like kick off returns. But if they're ever deemed too dangerous, I much prefer a punt to assigning an arbitrary starting point for the next drive.

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47 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 12

by DGL // Nov 27, 2017 - 1:49pm

I am enough of a traditionalist that I think having one team kick the ball to start play is an important element of the game. So I also don't like the idea of eliminating the kick after a score, but I am perfectly OK with monkeying around with the rules to minimize the chance of injury. Like (as I suggested elsewhere in the thread) eliminating the ten-yard neutral zone on kickoffs so the coverage team can't build up a head of steam before running into the return team, or other changes.

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49 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 12

by aces4me // Nov 27, 2017 - 1:52pm

I think if they made touch backs come out to the 15 rather than the 25 there would be a LOT fewer returns. Kickers can routinely kick touch backs if given a reason to do so.

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74 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 12

by DGL // Nov 27, 2017 - 2:58pm

The reason for bringing touchbacks on kickoffs out to the 25 (while simultaneously moving the kickoff line from the 30 to the 35) was to encourage returners to take the touchback and reduce the number of returns. In 2014-2015, 46% of non-onside kickoffs were returned; in 2016-2017 after the TB spot was moved out to the 25, that dropped to 40%.

I think that any effect of encouraging kickers to kick the ball deeper by moving the TB spot to the 15 would be counteracted by more returners bringing the ball out if they know they'll only get the 15 on a touchback.

I suspect even if you move the kickoff to the 50 to make it effortless for the kicker to kick the ball through the endzone and make returns impossible, there would be enough kickers kicking high and short of the goal line to try to pin the other team inside their 20 that the percentage of kickoffs returned would still be north of 30%.

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77 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 12

by Bright Blue Shorts // Nov 27, 2017 - 3:09pm

I'm wondering if anyone has done analysis on kick returns and starting position?

Most of the games I see the returner rarely makes it back to the 25. Yet sometimes you'll see a returner come out of the endzone instead of taking the touchback.

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78 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 12

by Hoodie_Sleeves // Nov 27, 2017 - 3:10pm

Yup - and whatever balance you come to, there's still going to be a significant chunk of coaches who think that the risk of starting at the 5 or the 10 isn't as bad as the chance of ripping one off for a long return.

There seem to be a whole lot of kicks now being run out of the endzone to the 15-20 - so it doesn't seem like returners are real good at judging their prospects.

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90 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 12

by DGL // Nov 27, 2017 - 3:56pm

There's little personal downside to a returner consistently bringing kicks out of the end zone - few coaches will bench a returner if the worst thing he does is get 20-yard returns on kicks 2-3 yards deep in the end zone.

On the other hand, there's a great deal of personal upside to a returner bringing kicks out of the end zone, because a kick return for a TD gets him on all the highlight shows.

So the personal risk-reward is heavily biased in favor of a returner bringing the ball out, even if on average the team would be better served by players taking a knee on every kickoff they catch in the end zone.

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96 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 12

by jtr // Nov 27, 2017 - 4:07pm

Plus, a lot of the guys returning kickoffs are backups, since you don't want to get a starter hurt on a play that doesn't really matter. When you're not starting on offense or defense, the only way you can really make an impact on the game and an impression on the coaches is to return the ball every chance you get and try for a big play.

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97 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 12

by Zach Binney // Nov 27, 2017 - 4:10pm

Nice! I'm sure Schiano isn't the only who came up with this idea, but I got this particular version from SB Nation's Jon Bois:

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94 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 12

by Zach Binney // Nov 27, 2017 - 4:05pm

They, in fact, are!

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106 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 12

by Sixknots // Nov 27, 2017 - 5:03pm

..after you score, you get a fourth-and-15 from your own 35...

The only way that works for me is if NFL refs would quit calling receiving team fouls that are away from (and don't affect) the play. There's way too much of that called in NFL punt plays.

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20 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 12

by RickD // Nov 27, 2017 - 12:31pm

"Andrew Potter: We may have just set a new record for the lamest personal foul call in league history in Kansas City, with E.J. Gaines called for hitting a defenseless receiver on a play where he almost completely missed Charcandrick West. I can't honestly see how it could possibly have been a foul."

If you saw the play from 30 yards away, you might think Gaines hit West late in the helmet. But of course he didn't, as was made obvious by the replay.

The play makes it clear that the NFL's policy of only allowing certain types of calls to be reviewable is having the opposite effect of what is intended. The NFL doesn't allow judgment calls to be reviewed. Why? Presumably to insulate officials from criticism. But the effect is to lock into place bad judgment calls, and that ends up making the officials look worse than they would if they could fix their mistakes.

I'm not seeing the down side of allowing judgment calls to be reviewed. Obviously a team calling for such a review would know that it had a very high threshold to meet to get the call reversed. But the alternative is to let this whiff be called as a personal foul, and to kill the Redskins' chance of winning last week by calling intentional grounding on a play when no rusher was anywhere near the QB.

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136 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 12

by Jerry // Nov 28, 2017 - 10:25am

There's contact between the receiver and corner as a route is run. The side judge decides it's incidental. Do you really think replay is going to help you achieve clarity?

Austin Sefarian-Jenkins catches a ball as he falls out of bounds. On review, he bobbled it as he hit the ground. The call is correctly overturned, but most of us are left grumbling about how the letter of the law seems to contravene its spirit.

Right now, we're getting officials' best guesses about what's an illegal hit to the head. They're not perfect, but if you open it up to replay, you then have to precisely define how to handle every case. Like catches, some are obvious, but many aren't.

I can live with the idea that officials' judgment isn't infallible. Making it subject to review will make things worse.

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141 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 12

by Raiderjoe // Nov 28, 2017 - 11:38am

except that seferian-jenkins did nopt bobble it as he hit turf. action in end zone was a clear catch and down.

momentum then sees him roll out of end zone (catch was already good and a touchdown at this point_) and ball has slight movment (not anything to be called a bobble), like it was, to use cool guy term, "in space" IF AT ALL for fraction of second. But again, should not matter at all anyway. catch was good in end zone, pklayer was down.

not at all like calvin johsnon play in chcioago in 2007? where player puts vball on ground in end zone.

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21 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 12

by Mike W // Nov 27, 2017 - 12:35pm

So it looks like KC for some reason can’t run block at all any more. My guess is that they practice pull-outs on all their fun gadget WR runs and QB bootlegs so much they don’t have time to devote to actual run blocking. Whatever the reason, Reid typically has little success early, and then responds by calling more gadget runs instead of actually emphasizing the standard running game. You’d think Reid would look at how the season has gone and draw some reasonable conclusions, but I think the guy is a true idiot savant. There are some very simple things he has never understood, and he makes some astonishing in-game decisions. I expect their run game is gone for the season. Too bad, as Hunt manages to look good losing two yards.

I think Seattle’s offensive DVOA is bad early in games because they always try to run early, then they get behind, or at least get tired of punting, and eventually it becomes the Russell Wilson show, and they do fine. Pete Carroll loves him some smash-mouth running backs, which is great if his name is Marshawn Lynch, but there’s only one of him, and while Rawls and Lacy and Prosise may be big bruiser-type runners, they aren’t actually good. A guy like McKissic isn’t going to hurt anybody, but he can, y’know, gain yards.

And to the FO guys, you’re great and I love your stuff, but for God’s sake, get a new website host, or a new webmaster, or fix your ads, or something, because in 2017, this crap is truly embarrassing. Seriously. Fix it. I’m happy to chip in a couple extra bucks for the materials next year if that’s what it takes.

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42 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 12

by gomer_rs // Nov 27, 2017 - 1:19pm

Yeah, let's be clear. Pete Carrol and Bevel want to mix a power run game with a rhythm passing game, but have the talent for a college style spread no-huddle offense.

They get better as the game goes along because in high leverage situations they consistently abandon their own philosophy.

I remember when they were the Sea-chickens.

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66 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 12

by Bryan Knowles // Nov 27, 2017 - 2:41pm

We're aware of the problem and are working on it.

No, seriously, we are. You have no idea the frustration we have behind the scenes at this sort of thing, but we ARE working on it. Our apologies for the continued annoyances as we try to get this all sorted out.

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69 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 12

by Mike B. In Va // Nov 27, 2017 - 2:43pm

Seriously, if you guys added an ad-free subscription I'd pay for it. This is the one non-team-centric football site I read regularly.

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101 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 12

by drobviousso // Nov 27, 2017 - 4:40pm


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79 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 12

by Hoodie_Sleeves // Nov 27, 2017 - 3:19pm

To echo Mike W - the technology is pretty terrible here.

What are you guys having trouble with? Your website isn't all that complicated - this should be a short project for a half decent developer to rebuild the thing.

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83 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 12

by RickD // Nov 27, 2017 - 3:38pm


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23 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 12

by Anger...rising // Nov 27, 2017 - 12:42pm

Intentional grounding will not be called when a passer, who is outside, or has been outside, the tackle position throws a forward pass that lands at or beyond the line of scrimmage, even if no offensive player(s) have a realistic chance to catch the ball (including when the ball lands out of bounds over the sideline or endline).

The NCAA at the very least stipulates that the tackle-box exception is negated if the ball changes hands in the backfield, so a halfback pass or a flea-flicker can result in grounding regardless of where the ball is thrown from.

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24 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 12

by jedmarshall // Nov 27, 2017 - 12:44pm

I don't know how much to split the blame between Pagano and Chud, but the offense just stalls in the second half and no adjustments are made. Brissett seems like an acceptable QB outside of holding onto the ball too long. I think it's on the coaching. Pagano somehow is worse in year 6 than year 1.

They are 3-6 in games they lead at halftime which is astounding. Even more so their 3 wins.
3 pts over Browns after nearly blowing huge lead
3 pts in OT over 49ers after blowing huge lead
4 pts over Texans after nearly blowing lead vs Tom Savage. Houston also had 4 plays from the 7 to win.

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28 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 12

by DGL // Nov 27, 2017 - 12:55pm

"after you score, you get a fourth-and-15 from your own 35. This keeps the potential for an onside kick-style play alive, and otherwise you punt."

FO, of all places, should be able to analyze and tweak this. How often do 15-yards-to-go (4th and 15 or 3rd and 15 where there's no expectation of the team going for it on 4th, which could require some filtering) plays convert compared to how often onside kicks are recovered? Intuitively it seems to me that 15-to-go plays are successful more frequently than are expected onside kicks (surprise onside kicks are more successful, but the equivalent of a surprise onside kick under this rule would be a fake punt on the 4-15 play).

If the objective is to eliminate players getting up a full head of steam on kickoffs, then just eliminate the ten-yard neutral zone on kickoffs and allow the receiving team to line up on the 35 (give a five-yard circle around the ball to give the kicker room to kick). You'd probably end up with something like a college punt formation without the personal protectors - ten guys from each team lined up on each side of the 35.

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35 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 12

by nat // Nov 27, 2017 - 1:06pm

I checked PFR for the previous ten years. It's something close to a 16% conversion rate, if I recall correctly, with teams ranging from below 5% to over 25%. So it's higher than an expected onside kick, but lower than a surprise one.

So "fourth and fifteen" seems about right.

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134 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 12

by eggwasp // Nov 28, 2017 - 9:54am

or have the kick from the 30, but the rest of the kicking team on the 40, where the returning team lines up.

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32 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 12

by Will Allen // Nov 27, 2017 - 1:02pm

Regarding the Thursday games, it was back to the good ol'days, seeing Jerry Jones having a crappy holiday, as his toy malfunctioned again.

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39 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 12

by Raiderfan // Nov 27, 2017 - 1:10pm

@21 could not agre more--my iPad had to reload this page four times by the time I got to the end.

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43 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 12

by theslothook // Nov 27, 2017 - 1:21pm

Antonio Brown is sublime. I was watching an all time performance against a defense very much geared to take him away.

I waffle between him and Julio, but both are among a handful of the very best players I have ever seen.

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44 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 12

by jtr // Nov 27, 2017 - 1:30pm

I don't know that I've ever seen a player draw as many true double teams as AB did yesterday. Usually when we talk about double coverage, it's just that two defenders end up in the area of the receiver as they converge in zone coverage or as a safety breaks on the ball to help out in man coverage. But the Packers were legitimately assigning two players to cover Brown on a huge fraction of plays, and he responded with 10 catches for 169 yards and 2 TD's. Just insanely talented.

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46 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 12

by big10freak // Nov 27, 2017 - 1:44pm

Ben was not perfect last night but several passes to Brown were just wonderful. He laid that second TD right between the corner and the safety in stride. And that throw to the sideline that moved Pittsburgh to the edge of FG range at the end was excellent.

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95 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 12

by Rich A // Nov 27, 2017 - 4:07pm

I'm interested to see in a couple weeks if Belichick puts Butler one on one on Brown like he's done the last couple years.

Brown did okay the first game in 2015, I believe 6 catches for 80 or something. And then last year Brown did better, like 5 catches for 100 and a TD.

But Belichick is basically saying, you can have Brown on the underneath stuff, but no one else is going to be able to run or be open deep.

It makes me as a fan wonder if Belichick will make a strong effort to resign Butler after the season.

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45 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 12

by big10freak // Nov 27, 2017 - 1:40pm

I do want to mention that after getting to the Pittsburgh 31 the Packers had three plays blown up by the Pittsburgh defense so MM asked Crosby to try a 57 yard field. So let's walk thru this quickly:

--it's at the goalposts in PIttsburgh where 50 yard and greater field goals just don't happen
--game was tied
--Packer punter isn't great overall but pretty good at dropping punts within the 20 yard line
--GB defense was not great but for the most part was forcing Pittsburgh to work the ball down the field and Ben was throwing passes semi-regularly that could be intercepted
--This wasn't a 50 yard FG attempt. This was 57 which means on a miss you are handing the Steelers the ball at midfield

This is the decision-making on a tactical point that drives Green Bay fans bonkers. It's just a "Why?!" MM has been doing this head coaching thing for some time. He should 'know' the tables that lay out where a move transitions from good to maybe to not advised to stupid to WTF. But he doesn't. Or he forgot. Or ignores them. Or something.

He got the team ready to play, the team played pretty well, the game plan was mostly solid most importnatly he didn't just give up running the ball like last week against Baltimore.

As I have written repeatedly, MM is a really good coach BETWEEN games. Come gametime though, ay carumba. Makes the head hurt

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53 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 12

by theslothook // Nov 27, 2017 - 2:04pm

I agree with this. The packers played a very well on the road against a tough team. But micromistakes in game ended up undoing him.

That said, I thought this team would implode without Rodgers a la Peyton Manning, but it hasn't happened. Speaks to solid coaching.

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73 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 12

by Steve B // Nov 27, 2017 - 2:55pm

Re: #53

I don't know, losing five out of six w/o him would seem to qualify as imploding. Still, much better overall effort last night than they had shown the week before. Next two games (TB, @ Cle) are very winnable. Take both of those to get back over .500 and then hope that Rodgers is ready to go.

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54 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 12

by Bright Blue Shorts // Nov 27, 2017 - 2:11pm

Most kickers spend warmups figuring out what yardage they can make a FG from at either end. That then gives coaches and offenses the play-calling information for where they have to get to on drives especially at end of half/game.

So either:
- Crosby doesn't go through that pregame process.
- Crosby told MM that his makeable distance was 57 (or more).
- MM ordered the FG anyway because it was close to the range Crosby has said he could make (e.g. 55-56)
- MM completely ignored what Crosby told him.

Which do you think it is?

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57 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 12

by theslothook // Nov 27, 2017 - 2:15pm

I can't imagine any kicker would say they can't make a 57 yarder short of missing their leg.

I have to think it was option 3 and I felt in hindsight, the wrong decision.

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60 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 12

by big10freak // Nov 27, 2017 - 2:20pm

Option 4 all the way. Crosby is very meticulous. No way would he have committed to a 57 yard field goal much less in that stadium with a cross wind.

MM has a history of asking Crosby to kick crazy long field goals in weird situations. So I am not dogging Mike to be a jerk fan. This is stuff that as Packer fans we just write or say "McCarthy". It's who he is as a coach

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86 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 12

by dandoepke // Nov 27, 2017 - 3:48pm

I'm currently enmeshed in a Facebook argument about that decision to kick. I'm of the opposite opinion. If Crosby was hitting from his typical distance in warm-ups, (which admittedly we don't know), why wouldn't you attempt the field goal? Is it that much crazier to attempt a 57 yard field goal when a 53 yard field goal won the game? Maybe I don't put much stock into Heinz Field lore, but it sure seems like someone will eventually kick a field goal longer than 53 yards there without much fanfare. I don't see why it couldn't have been Crosby.

Also, (and maybe it's just me), but I don't know if I trust Vogel to keep it out of the end zone with such a short field.

Personally I was more peeved about McCarthy not trying to score before the half. He supposedly defers all the time so he can try for back-to-back scores going into and coming out of halftime. To your point, I shook my head and said "McCarthy", and it seems like a small grievance in an otherwise unexpectedly well-coached game.

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89 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 12

by theslothook // Nov 27, 2017 - 3:52pm

57 yards is dicey at any stadium other than mile high. A miss gives up a ton of field position even if you concede the touchback. I'm inclined to go for it if it's a makeable distance or punt.

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107 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 12

by Guest789 // Nov 27, 2017 - 5:13pm

McCarthy actually addressed this already, Option 3 is essentially correct. He said he wanted the points. I wouldn't have made that decision, but I don't think it's completely indefensible.

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70 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 12

by Steve B // Nov 27, 2017 - 2:50pm

-game was tied

Actually, GB was up by seven

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103 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 12

by drobviousso // Nov 27, 2017 - 4:51pm

True Fact: If Packers and the Chiefs play each other in the Super Bowl, the stadium has to play yakety sax between the 2 minute warning and the end of the game.

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48 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 12

by big10freak // Nov 27, 2017 - 1:51pm

Anyone here think that Watt should have been flagged for helmet to helmet for the hit on Hundley late in the game where BH was still in the pocket?

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51 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 12

by aces4me // Nov 27, 2017 - 1:57pm

In the article I read the refs stated that he had become a runner at that point and a runner that lowers his head doesn't get the head to head penalty.

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52 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 12

by big10freak // Nov 27, 2017 - 2:03pm

If you had said a runner doesn't get a helmet to helmet penalty I would understand

But lowering the head has never been a standard to my knowledge. Especially since one of things that infuriates defensive players/coaches/fans is a guy penalized for helmet to helmet because the offensive player ducks a head at the last second creating the helmet to helmet contact.

I assume you are quoting a refs comment which means the ref either doesn't know the rule (not surprising) or is making things up (also not surprising)

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56 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 12

by Aaron Brooks Good Twin // Nov 27, 2017 - 2:14pm

It's two rule consequences, really.

A runner can't be the victim of a head-to-head call.

But a runner can incur one, by lowering their head into a defenseless defender (usually one being blocked). This rule is basically an extension of the spearing rule.

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61 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 12

by big10freak // Nov 27, 2017 - 2:22pm

Watt was not being blocked nor was he defenseless. He plowed into Hundley and the helmets made contact.

Let me stress I am not looking to complain about the refs. I just want to know what others think.

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64 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 12

by Hoodie_Sleeves // Nov 27, 2017 - 2:37pm

He's allowed to plow into Hundley's helmet, because Hundley is a runner.

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71 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 12

by big10freak // Nov 27, 2017 - 2:52pm

That was my initial impression but there was so much squawking on the TV and online I thought I had things wrong

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62 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 12

by aces4me // Nov 27, 2017 - 2:23pm

I found the article I read and it isn't as straight forward as I remembered it.

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58 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 12

by jtr // Nov 27, 2017 - 2:16pm

Just saw the video of the brutal hit on Amari Cooper that knocked him out cold yesterday. I really don't know what the NFL can do about offensive players who duck down when they're about to get hit. It's an instinctive reaction to protect yourself, and it often brings a player's head right into the line of fire of a defender who had been aiming for their torso. Cooper's head was around waist height by the time Stewart hit him, so it was almost impossible for Stewart to get a piece of him without hitting his head.

There's a culture in the NFL that the really dirty hits are low ones around the knees--a guy can usually recover from a concussion in a week or two, but he's out for a year if he tears an ACL. So the players are getting pressure from the rules to not hit high, pressure from each other not to hit low, and then when they aim in the middle, the offensive player sometimes ducks his head down and makes it a penalty anyways.

Just to be clear, I'm not complaining about the flag thrown for that hit. It just seems to me that defenders are getting put into impossible positions, and I don't see any solution to it.

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65 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 12

by Hoodie_Sleeves // Nov 27, 2017 - 2:38pm

"a guy can usually recover from a concussion in a week or two,"

A guy can play a week or two from a concussion. You never really recover. Brain damage is permanent.

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68 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 12

by jtr // Nov 27, 2017 - 2:41pm

NFL players and teams are really only ever looking at your first sentence, unfortunately.

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75 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 12

by Aaron Brooks Good Twin // Nov 27, 2017 - 3:06pm

You can ask Terrell Davis or Earl Campbell about whether you're ever the same after a major knee injury, too.

Concussions have long been weird injuries. They have relatively high mortality (being unconscious is not good for you), but historically had almost negligible morbidity. It was like a pandemic flu strain -- if it didn't actually kill you, you'd be fine.

Knee injuries would never kill you. Absent tearing a major artery, there's little you can do to your extremities that will be fatal. But they were historically debilitating from a morbidity perspective. Your career was over and you'd never walk right again.

Some of this has changed, but some hasn't. The risk of chronic concussion effects is still increased rates of dementia and depression decades later. The risk of major knee injuries is still a lifetime of hobbling around in pain. It's not trivially debilitating.

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81 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 12

by Hoodie_Sleeves // Nov 27, 2017 - 3:24pm

". The risk of major knee injuries is still a lifetime of hobbling around in pain. It's not trivially debilitating."

Knee surgeries (and other joint surgeries) are pretty damn impressive at this point. I don't know whether they get back to pre-injury-top-1%-in-the-world-athlete condition, but I think "a lifetime hobbling around in pain" is way overselling it.

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84 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 12

by MilkmanDanimal // Nov 27, 2017 - 3:41pm

I'm certainly not a professional athlete by any stretch, but I had multiple torn ankle ligaments ten years ago and had reconstructive surgery, and I'm a solid 95% normal. Still feel it, still wear custom orthotics in my shoes as a preventative measure, but I'm just a guy who lives in the suburbs, and I had a bad enough ankle injury that it made my surgeon actually excited to do it, which is never a good thing. Because I'm apparently on a ten-year schedule, I'm recovering from rotator cuff surgery about a week and a half ago (a torn biceps tendon), and I'm going to fully recover from that, as well.

Earl Campbell really isn't a fair point of comparison, as medical technology has moved on so much from those days. Things have progressed so much in recent years that major joint surgery isn't the kind of thing that reduces the quality of life anymore. I mean, I'd take a blown ACL over torn ankle ligaments 100 times out of 100, and even I'm basically back to normal just by doing the required physical therapy and not doing stupid things. Football players are going to wind up having all sorts of problems later in life, but I don't think those things are tied to things like knee injuries anymore and just a general level of physical abuse they take consistently.

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87 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 12

by Will Allen // Nov 27, 2017 - 3:49pm

You never want to hear a plumber or orthopedic surgeon look at a problem you are experiencing, and say "Gosh, I've never seen that before.....".

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93 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 12

by MilkmanDanimal // Nov 27, 2017 - 3:58pm

I told him that I was far less excited by the prospect than he was, and he just shrugged. Complete dick when it came to his bedside manner, but really good surgeon. If you ever come back to the Twin Cities and decide to ruin an ankle, I'm just sayin' I know a guy.

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88 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 12

by theslothook // Nov 27, 2017 - 3:49pm

I wonder if the NFL would be better served instituting an age cap. Obviously, it would need to be conditioned by position, games played/snaps/ number of injuries or whatever. I have yet to hear even one retired NFL player describe post career life as peachy

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91 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 12

by MilkmanDanimal // Nov 27, 2017 - 3:57pm

Way too complicated. There's a huge difference between 31 for a running back vs. quarterback vs. a kicker. There have already been salary cap arguments as to whether a player should be paid as a DE or LB; can you imagine the chaos when somebody starts arguing they're really a WR and not a RB (OH HAI CHRISTEN MACAFRY) or a box safety vs. a linebacker? Ugh.

Even within the position group, a guy like Cam Newton who takes a pounding won't make it as long as Tom Brady and his Magic Supplements.

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105 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 12

by Hoodie_Sleeves // Nov 27, 2017 - 5:00pm

In addition to Campbell being a long time ago, he also has spinal stenosis that is the root of most of his problems. The knees aren't the reason for the walker, the congenital back condition is.

At this point, I'd say a torn ACL has less long term risk than a concussion. The surgeries are that good.

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98 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 12

by sbond101 // Nov 27, 2017 - 4:14pm

I think you might look at it differently if you'd spent time with someone who had an early life critical knee injury, and played competitive sports afterword. Surgically reconstructed knees usually require multiple surgeries leading to replacement, especially when the damage isn't limited to one event (as would be typical for an NFL player). Replacement knees wear out and require subsequent surgeries. The real problem with all these surgeries create a pretty serious pain management problems, substance dependency issues etc... These things aren't issues for typical patients at 70 who have knee or hip replacements, the subsequent complicating surgery never occurs because when you ask to replace your worn out synthetic knee at 82, they tell you to buy a wheel-chair instead.

Most serious trauma never heals properly and results in life-long consequence. In this respect, knee injuries and concussion arn't that different. Most people who get them will have chronic problems in future, if the injury is isolated and well managed those problems will likely not spin out of control; If you played in the NFL the odds that the injury is isolated are small on either count, which makes long term management a big issue (whether it's pain management or cognitive degeneration). It's a pretty depressing "would you rather" exercise, but I think it's one that's deeply coloured by the fact that most NFL players see their physical condition as the focus of their identity, and most NFL fans see their cognition as the focus of their identity.

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100 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 12

by sbond101 // Nov 27, 2017 - 4:24pm

N.B. I subsequently read MilkManDan's comments; great to hear some people come away in as good condition as that. I was simply pointing out that a statistical sample of the population of people who have had multiple reconstructive surgeries on joints reveals a bevy of chronic pain, opiod abuse, and impaired mobility. Some people go on with their lives without many issues (usually down to their commitment to rehab, healthy respect for medication etc...) but many do not. I guess a person is more in control of those things than they are of cognitive decline via CTE, but it's a mistake to think that most people just walk away from multiple reconstructive surgeries and forget it ever happened. Some of this might be academic bias as I looked at opioid abuse in patient populations extensively when I was at school, which can have a pretty jading effect.

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108 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 12

by Hoodie_Sleeves // Nov 27, 2017 - 5:18pm

"I think you might look at it differently if you'd spent time with someone who had an early life critical knee injury, and played competitive sports afterword"

Tore my ACL in my early 20s. Resumed folk style and greco-roman wrestling about 18 months later. Its not the same, but its pretty damn close, and if I wasn't wrestling, I probably wouldn't know the difference.

My mother has also had 3 hip replacements - 1st one at 37 - and while the first one was a relatively big deal, the 3rd one she was up walking with a walker in the first 48 hours(at the doctor's insistence), and was largely functional at a month. Things have changed drastically in the last decade or so, and while they're still major surgeries, the outcomes are way better than they used to be.

As to the pain management issue - I think they gave my mom 4-5 days of percocet after the last one - which is absolutely nothing compared to what they had my brother on for his pancreatitis - he was a morphine addict when he got out of the hospital - full withdrawals, etc.

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113 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 12

by ChrisS // Nov 27, 2017 - 5:44pm

I recently read this on NY Times "Dr. Mininder Kocher, an orthopedics professor at Harvard Medical School, has reviewed the available data and determined that the chance of getting arthritis within a decade of tearing a tendon or a ligament in the knee is greater than 50 percent."

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117 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 12

by Hoodie_Sleeves // Nov 27, 2017 - 6:22pm

That sounds like a huge number, but I'm not sure it is. Quick googling is telling me that 40% of americans are diagnosed with arthritis by 45.

So its probably higher than background, but not hugely.

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119 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 12

by sbond101 // Nov 27, 2017 - 7:54pm

Its interesting, I had a quick look at the available public health data. It's true that a huge number of Americans have degenerative problems with their knees (primarily because America is full of very heavy people). In the UK the rates of osteoarthritis in the knee at age 65 is about 6% in the general population and 16% among those with at least one knee reconstruction. The difference is attributed to irreversible loss of cartilage as a result of the injury, and is about the same regardless of surgical efforts to repair the joint. Pretty dramatic, but substantially better than I would have expected. In the same vein a couple of percentage points worth of people who take opiods for pain even for as little as 5 days end up addicted, the problem is much worse for people who have had multiple surgeries.

The total prognosis is not nearly as bad as the patient studies I saw in school, but still not trivial in terms of long term impact.

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128 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 12

by RobotBoy // Nov 28, 2017 - 4:17am

Comparing knee injuries to brain injuries is apples to oranges...No, it's moldy peaches to bruised, it's, well... Truth is, there's a category difference that makes any comparison tenuous.
Some people can suffer decades of head trauma and show no signs of diminished capacity, even into their 70s or 80s. Other people have one concussion and are permanently impaired. What we do know is that the more head trauma you have, the more likely it is that you'll experience cognitive declines. The great heavyweight Larry Holmes compared getting hit in the head to withdrawing money from a bank account. Each blows takes something out, the problem is, you don't know how much you have in your account. What you do know is that it's not an infinite number.
(interviewed Holmes and his brain remains sharp, which is mind-boggling considering the number of rounds he fought. Part of it is that he started boxing late, at 19. He is the rare fighter who invested his money wisely - he still owns a big chunk of Easton, PA. Funny guy and maybe the most underrated heavyweight champ of all time. After getting jobbed in the Spinks fight, which kept him from equaling Marciano's 49-0, he said, 'Marciano couldn't carry my jockstrap.' He was right).
Most leg injuries, on the other hand, have much clearer diagnoses. And given advances in sports medicine, you can return to something approximating pre-injury performance (unless it's something like micr-fracture). But offer a young guy the choice between being out for a year with an ACL, or three weeks with a concussion (and the possibility of pre-mature senility down the line), well, I'm pretty sure what the answer would be.

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130 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 12

by Aaron Brooks Good Twin // Nov 28, 2017 - 9:21am

Of course Marciano couldn't carry Holmes' jockstrap. Marciano died in 1969.

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144 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 12

by theslothook // Nov 28, 2017 - 1:49pm

Are we really sure a young kid would trade an ACL with it's immediate and near certain costs for a concussion with much murkier and longer run costs? Time discount rates apply here and I would bet most would prefer the concussion.

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149 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 12

by jtr // Nov 28, 2017 - 2:28pm

The whole career for a decent non-QB player might be 12 years, of which 4 are at a depressed salary due to rookie deals. So a guy who misses a season with an ACL tear can conceivably be losing out on 1/8 of his career earnings. For a fringe-roster kind of guy, it can be a career-ender, since they won't be worth the trouble of stashing on IR while they recover. From a sheer economics perspective, the concussion is way better for the player.

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151 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 12

by Joshua Northey // Nov 28, 2017 - 2:37pm

Yeah I have had two close friends tear an ACL recently, and both were back to 98% normal within 9 months. And ditto a different guy with recent MCL surgery.

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109 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 12

by doktarr // Nov 27, 2017 - 5:21pm

Are we ready to start discussing whether Kamara is going to break Jim Brown's modern NFL record for single season Y/A by a running back? Record is 6.4 and Kamara is currently well above 7 with no signs of slowing down.

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112 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 12

by Hoodie_Sleeves // Nov 27, 2017 - 5:41pm

Where are you getting your numbers?

Jim Brown put up 6.4 over 291 carries.

Kamara is on pace for about 110 carries - if he does clear the minimum, he's barely going to do it. There are quite a few guys in the 100 carry range with 7 yards per carry (like Lenny Moore in the 50s and 60s)

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110 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 12

by morganja // Nov 27, 2017 - 5:36pm

Easy solution to the kickoff issue is to exclusively use prisoners or war captives. Maybe a lion too, right in the middle.

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131 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 12

by Aaron Brooks Good Twin // Nov 28, 2017 - 9:23am

Decades of experience tells me Lions can't tackle. You definitely don't want one covering a kickoff in overtime.

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140 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 12

by morganja // Nov 28, 2017 - 11:24am


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111 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 12

by Lebo // Nov 27, 2017 - 5:39pm

Anyone able to offer an opinion on why the Chiefs have become increasingly incompetent on offence this year?

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115 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 12

by MilkmanDanimal // Nov 27, 2017 - 5:49pm

I haven't watched many Chiefs games so it's an unsupported guess, but I recall seeing ALEX stats earlier this year and Alex Smith was still at the bottom of the table, gaudy standard stats notwithstanding. My assumption is Tyreek Hill and Kareem Hunt were amazingly good early in the season at taking shorter throws and turning them into long gains, and defensive coordinators were slow to adjust. Now, they're focusing on limiting those gains, and, with Alex Smith still throwing short, Hill and Hunt are being contained.

Again, complete guess, but it's one of those things that at least seems logical as complete guesses go.

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116 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 12

by bravehoptoad // Nov 27, 2017 - 6:09pm

I believe Kansas City's o-line and wr corps both have been hit hard by injuries.

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132 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 12

by Aaron Brooks Good Twin // Nov 28, 2017 - 9:23am

ALEX has no statistical correlation to talent or success.

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124 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 12

by TimK // Nov 27, 2017 - 11:05pm

(Deleted and reposted in correct place)

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139 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 12

by OSS-117 // Nov 28, 2017 - 10:46am

This was the 5th offensive play of the game. Crabtree had already sucker punched Harris the play before. And on the Raiders first play of the game Crabtree took a wild swing at Roby and missed. Crabtree was the clear instigator here, and should get a harsher penalty than Talib. It's not like they can add to his suspension at this point, but they can reduce Talib's by a game.

In other such news, looks like Ahmad Brooks got away with a pretty cheat shot on Antonio Brown on the Bryant reverse on the play before the Steelers first TD.

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155 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 12

by eagle97a // Nov 29, 2017 - 2:01am

Lends credence to the assertion that Crabtree is a "sorry-ass receiver"...

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