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

Audibles at the Line: Week 6

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 emails and produce this feature. By its nature, it can be disjointed and dissimilar to the other articles on the site.

While these e-mails are generally written with Audibles in mind, they do not represent a standard review of all the games each week. That means we aren't going to cover every game, or every important play. We watch the games that we, as fans, are interested in watching, so your favorite team's game might not be covered to your fullest desires or even at all. (If you are a 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.

Chicago Bears 28 at Miami Dolphins 31 (OT)

Bryan Knowles: Bit of a surprise here -- Ryan Tannehill can't go, meaning Khalil Mack and the Bears, coming off a bye, get ... Brock Osweiler.

We may not have to worry about DVOA overrating Miami for that much longer.

Brock Osweiler just threw a terrible, terrible interception, staring down Kyle Fuller and just tossing him the ball. Then again, what else is new? Very next play, Mitchell Trubisky hits Allen Robinson for a score, making it 14-7 as Chicago has finally woken up.

Zach Binney: Chicago just got hit with MAYBE the worst roughing the passer flag of the season, and that's saying something. Six minutes left in the third, Leonard Floyd comes in with his hand up high trying to block an Osweiler pass. He's a second late and swipes Osweiler's arm, but his hand is up high enough that I *guess* the official thought he hit Osweiler in the head? Or was trying to? Either way 15 yards and a Dolphins first down.

Aaron Schatz: Twitter link on the Floyd play.

Vince Verhei: I've had an eye on this one as Brock Osweiler was threatening to post another Osweiler (40 or more passes, 200 or fewer yards), but his receivers just took that off the table. On the game-tying drive, they had three catches of 25 yards or more, most of those yards coming after the catch. The last was a 43-yard touchdown on a wide receiver screen to Albert Wilson where he broke a ton of tackles on his way to the end zone.

Taylor Gabriel's wide open for a 29-yard touchdown to put Chicago back on top, but then on the next play from scrimmage Albert Wilson takes a shallow cross, slips some tackles, and finishes with a 75-yard touchdown to tie the game. Osweiler, who has done nothing today but watch as his receivers have broken tackles to make big plays, just shrugs as he runs down the field. I LOL'd.

Bryan Knowles: Miami punts rather than trying a 58-yard game winning field goal, and we're going to have overtime. Yes, Osweiler has made some Osweiler-esque bad throws, and his stats have been padded by some insane YAC, but credit where credit is due; for an unexpected backup quarterback against a defense that has been as good as Chicago's this year, he has done alright. Dolphins have a chance to pull off the upset, as DVOA's Darlings continue to perform well.

Andrew Potter: If you're wondering where all of Andrew Luck's tipped ball luck went, Brock Osweiler is cackling with glee in Miami today.

The third-and-11 conversion on the opening drive of overtime was simply ridiculous good fortune.

Aaron Schatz: And then Frank Gore gets a 32-yard run to put the Dolphins near the goal line. And it looks like DVOA's Darlings are going to pull this one out despite having to start Brock Osweiler ... until on third-and-goal from the 1, Kenyan Drake loses the handle on the handoff and fumbles the ball right before he gets to the goal line. It looks like it will be Chicago's ball. They get it on the 20 after recovering the fumble in the end zone.

Bryan Knowles: Oh my! Kenyan Drake fumbles the ball as he heads into the end zone. Chicago picks it up, and we are still. Tied.

Second time today that a team has fumbled going across the goal line; Chicago did that earlier. Amazing. After Frank Gore got you all the way down here, I'm not sure why you hand the ball to Drake there, but maybe that's second-guessing it.

Vince Verhei: Dolphins get the ball first in overtime and have a third-and-inches at the goal line. Touchdown wins the game. I'm letting my 6-foot-7 quarterback sneak for the score and calling it a day. Instead the Dolphins line up in shotgun and run read-option. Kenyan Drake gets the ball and bounces off the pile and falls across the goal line ... but in the process he drops the ball and the Bears recover. They're reviewing to see if it's a touchback or Chicago's ball at the 1, but either way the Bears are getting the ball needing a field goal to win.

Aaron Schatz: Dolphins totally shut down Jordan Howard for most of the game. He was at 11 carries for 35 yards through regulation. Overtime, after the Drake fumble, all of a sudden, they are getting completely blasted off the ball by the Chicago offensive line. Howard gets runs of 19 and 15 yards. Then other Chicago running backs get 6 yards. On third-and-four, Bears get conservative, hand off again to Howard, he gets no yards. It's going to be a field goal try for 53 yards from the Miami 35 after the two-minute warning.

And Cody Parkey misses the field goal. So we've got about two minutes for the Dolphins to come back and keep us from TIE NUMBER THREE.

Andrew Potter: Stop. Settling. For Long. Field Goals.

Bryan Knowles: I blame the Bears' orange jerseys. OK, yes, the holder had a hard time getting the ball down, but I'm still blaming the pumpkin patch look.

Vince Verhei: Bears reach the edge of field goal range but then John Fox gets predictably conservative, running three times and settling for the long field goal.

Wait. Matt who now? Well, whatever, Cody Parkey pushes it wide right, and the Dolphins take over at their own 47. Time is limited, but they only need a field goal to win.

Aaron Schatz: If we want to give Matt Nagy the benefit of the doubt, like I said, the Bears were blowing the Dolphins defensive line off the ball for much of that overtime drive. Maybe he didn't think of a third-and-4 handoff as conservative, he thought of it as a good way to try to convert for a new set of downs.

Dave Bernreuther: The Fins have gotten all sorts of lucky in this one -- which has turned out to be fabulously entertaining, even for a person stuck in a Miami sports bar -- with their backup quarterback and a throwback game from a 384-year-old Frank Gore ... only to fumble on the goal line when calling a play other than "let your 8-foot tall quarterback just stand there and reach the ball over the line."

The Bears might've gotten a bit lucky on the touchback call, but doesn't matter, as the drive ends in a long missed field goal. And once again, because I'm a jerk, I'm furiously and gleefully rooting for a tie.

Which, just by typing about it, I'm sure I just doomed not to happen.

Aaron Schatz: It's good. Jason Sanders from 47. Miami wins.

Bryan Knowles: DVOA can't account for BROCKTOBER.

Vince Verhei: Final note on this game: Chicago's defense has of course been great this season, but their tackling was awful today. That's the biggest reason they blew that lead and lost.

Bryan Knowles: Brock Osweiler is now 3-0 as a starting quarterback against Chicago, and 11-12 against the rest of the NFL.

Seattle Seahawks 27 'at' Oakland Raiders 3 (London)

Bryan Knowles: In news out of London, it turns out the Raiders are shopping Amari Cooper. I don't think an entire tear-down and re-build was in the plans when the Raiders hired Jon Gruden, but he needs his Grinders and ThatGuys, I suppose.

Seattle takes the opening drive 14 plays for 82 yards, punching the ball into the end zone. The Seahawks' offensive line actually looked ... well, pretty darn good, keeping Russell Wilson upright and opening holes. That's what happens, I suppose, when you trade your top pass-rusher days before the season starts.

Vince Verhei: Seahawks go up 14-0 when Russell Wilson drops the snap, recovers the fumble, and finds David Moore in the back of the end zone for the score. (The fumbled touchdown pass has a long history in Seattle -- I think Dave Krieg did it a lot back in the day.) That was set up by a Frank Clark sack-fumble when Kolton Miller was beaten badly for the sack, then failed to recover the ball even though he seemed to have an easy recovery, but he somehow let the ball slip under his body.

Seattle's first score was also a Wilson touchdown pass, that one to Jaron Brown, but it has been a run-heavy Seattle attack today -- 14 runs and seven passes to start the game. That includes runs on each of their first seven plays, then a nifty screen on the eighth. Two receivers lined up in a slot formation to the left, then both ran slants to the right. Wilson play-faked and rolled right, but then threw the screen back to the left. Unusual, but nice to see the Seahawks using intent in play design to manipulate the defense and get guys out of position or in bad matchups. They've been run-heavy even with the injuries at tight end -- no Nick Vannett today, which means a lot of six-lineman sets with George Fant and a start for Tyrone Swoopes, just signed this week. He even got a target on the first drive.

Raiders offense has done nothing so far. First drive was a three-and-out on three straight runs, including a run on third-and-6. Second possession gained 12 yards and ended in the fumble on third-and-5. Now on their third drive, Amari Cooper is trying to catch a pass off his shoes when Bradley McDougald hits him helmet-to-helmet and knocks him out. He eventually recovers and walks off the field. No penalty on the play -- Cooper took about four steps after the ball first arrived, so I don't think he counts as a defenseless receiver. A better pass there and Cooper is probably still in the game.

That looks to end the drive, but Derek Carr finds Rishard Matthews on a catch-and-run to convert a third-and-20, and the drive continues. The Raiders end up holding the ball for 15 plays but gain less than 50 yards in the process, and Matt McCrane ends up missing a 48-yard field goal to leave the score at 14-0.

The other story of the game is penalties -- midway through the second quarter, we're at five for 44 yards on Seattle, three for 20 yards on Oakland, one of which wiped out a long Jared Cook completion.

Bryan Knowles: Both teams in this game may end up ruing travel plans in the first third of the season. Seattle Analytics Twitter (led by Ben Baldwin in a Tweet I can't find right now to save my life) ripped Seattle for not travelling to Denver early in Week 1, adapting to the high climate and negating some of the Broncos' innate home field advantage. They may be getting their travel-plan win back today, as they scheduled their trip to London to arrive a full day before the Raiders, who only showed up on Friday afternoon. That means that the Seahawks had 24 hours more time to acclimate to the massive time difference. It usually takes me 24 to 30 hours to get back on my feet when flying over the Atlantic, and while I'm not a Professional Football Player, there's only so fast the human body can acclimate. Most teams arrive in London WELL before the Friday before their games, but the Raiders are bucking that trend! Gruden swore that they were "here in plenty of time to acclimate ourselves," and that they'll be ready to "play their best football."

Vince Verhei: Sebastian Janikowski hits a 44-yard field goal on the last play of the half to put Seattle up 17-0. Not much else to report here. Wilson almost had another long touchdown but overthrew Doug Baldwin by a yard. The Raiders' last drive ended on a fourth-and-1 in Seattle territory where they tried to hurry a sneak and catch Seattle sleeping, but this week Seattle stuffs the sneak to end the drive.

It has been a bit of the Tom Cable revenge game -- or rather the Seahawks' revenge on Tom Cable game. Carr has been sacked twice and hit a few other times; the Raiders have hardly sniffed Wilson. The Seahawks have 66 yards on 17 carries, which is nothing special, but the Raiders have only 25 yards on 11 runs -- and if you take away Carr scrambles, it's 15 yards on nine carries. Seattle just crushing in the trenches today. It took a few games to get going, but Seattle's offensive line in recent weeks has looked better than it has in years. The additions of D.J. Fluker and J.R. Sweezy have been huge.

One other big-picture note: last week was the first time in his career that Russell Wilson had no official rushing attempts in a game. He has no attempts again here at halftime. He was averaging 8.4 yards per game rushing coming into the day, compared to a career average of more than 30. He has been listed with a hamstring injury every week, and it doesn't seem to have affected his passing, but at this point we have to assume it's going to be something to worry about all year.

Raiders' first possession: Marshawn Lynch run for 1, sack on second down, and then sack-fumble and Seahawks recovery on third down. Seahawks only used a three-man rush on third-and-long, but Clark knocked Miller flat on his back, and Miller's helmet actually knocked the ball out of Carr's hand. Seattle fails to get a first down after that but kicks a short field goal to go up 20-0.

One thing to watch for: feels like Seattle has a lot more delay of game penalties and early timeouts this year than they have in the past. They lost a timeout on that field goal drive, their first possession of the second half. The offense has frequently struggled to get plays in on time.

Carl Yedor: They seriously need to extend Clark. He's making himself a lot of money this season.

One odd thing I've been paying attention to since the pick-six against Chicago is what the offense does when it sends a running back out wide as the outside wide receiver. Prince Amukamara was able to jump a hitch route for that pick a few weeks back, and it seems like, more often than not, Seattle backs either stand still as an outlet or run a short hitch slightly further down the field. This could be a schematic necessity based on where the other receivers in the play are headed, but it does seem pretty predictable. Something I'm going to keep watching while I grumble about Schotty.

Vince Verhei: Score is still 20-0 at the end of the third quarter, but the first play of the fourth is going to be a third down for Seattle in the red zone. They had another red zone drive in the third, but Wilson had a very bad interception at the goal line, forcing the ball into double coverage from a clean pocket on first down.

Wilson makes that third down pay off, as he scrambles up in the pocket and finds Tyler Lockett for the score. It's 27-0 and hasn't felt that close.

There are 84,922 people in Wembley today, a London record, and most of them are cheering for Seattle. This trip to the U.K. could become an annual thing.

Carl Yedor: Not a whole lot interesting going in this one, but Oakland got on the board with a field goal in the fourth quarter. The Seahawks, who have not done the greatest job getting after the quarterback this season, have had Carr under siege the whole game thanks to the Raiders' injuries up front. Carr went off injured after the most recent sack, but hopefully it isn't serious. If I'm Gruden, I don't let Carr back out there given the time and score.

Vince Verhei: We'll never know whether Carr would have returned -- Seattle got the ball back with 6:30 to go and never gave it back.

Weird how things have turned around for this team -- they're not catching the Rams in the division, but at .500 they're right in the heart of a wild-card race in an NFC that doesn't look as deep as we thought it would be.

The Raiders are simply awful. They have some backs and receivers who can break some tackles, but otherwise it's hard to think of anything they do well.

Scott Kacsmar: Did we even bother to point out that Jon Gruden kicked a field goal down 27-0 in the fourth quarter to avoid a shutout? I remember cursing him up for doing that with the Buccaneers in 2006 against Pittsburgh. That one was actually worse, because it was a 27-yard field goal on third down as the last play of the game (lost 20-3). I mean if the Raiders were even close to being in the playoff race, he might get away with a tie-breaker justification (points), but that's just shameless shutout avoidance, and it's not like we won't still make fun of the Raiders for losing 27-3 there. I'm just glad that was a London game with a rare 1 p.m. EST start time. It would be a shame if people got up that early to watch something so one-sided.

Bryan Knowles: We present Derek Carr's pass chart.

Only one pass attempt more than 10 yards downfield. Only two completions more than 5 yards downfield. London, we're sorry we export some of our worst games to you.

Vince Verhei: We should just remove the Raiders from our statistics entirely. That is not an NFL offense.

Pittsburgh Steelers 28 at Cincinnati Bengals 21

Scott Kacsmar: There are nine games going on right now and they all have at least one touchdown except this game, which is scoreless. Good receivers are dropping balls in the rain, though I think hearing footsteps had more to do with most of these plays. Joe Haden just dropped an easy interception, which might cost the Steelers dearly after a high grab by A.J. Green sets up first-and-goal. About the most interesting thing so far is that Ben Roethlisberger tried a quarterback sneak on third-and-2 and got it with his length, but the play didn't even count because the Steelers called timeout.

Bryan Knowles: That dropped Haden interception did end up leading to a Cincinnati touchdown. Forget Joe Haden (though that was a bad dropped INT), what is Pittsburgh doing having Vince Williams covering A.J. Green on a third-and-long? Or Anthony Chickillo covering Tyler Boyd, like, at all?

Pittsburgh finally gets on the board on the next series, with James Conner plunging into the end zone. Conner had a 25-yard run on the drive, meaning he has as many 20-yard runs this season (3) as Le'Veon Bell had all last year. Bell's absence is kind of proving the "running backs are fungible" concept.

Scott Kacsmar: This is the second time in six weeks the Steelers are playing a road divisional game where the rain is bothering both teams. Cody Core just had a horrible drop on third down that would have been a big gain for the Bengals. I guess that's why he doesn't have a catch this season. But the ball is bouncing around a lot too for both quarterbacks. Someone's dying to throw a pick here and that could be the difference in what has been a low-scoring contest so far.

What a wild play before halftime. It looked like Darqueze Dennard had an interception, but JuJu Smith-Schuster gained simultaneous possession and actually ripped the ball away from Dennard as he flipped over him. But his helmet was down on the ground with the ball short of the goal line, so they marked it at the 1-yard line. Conner added another short rushing touchdown and the Steelers lead 14-7.

Bryan Knowles: I take back my criticism of Pittsburgh's odd coverage choices. Having Vince Williams on A.J. Green is probably a better situation than having absolutely no one at all on Tyler Boyd. It looked like -- I think it was Artie Burns -- was expecting a post route, while Boyd just went to the outside and had a good four yards of empty space in the end zone. and a very simple pitch-and-catch score. 14-14 as we go into the half.

Aaron Schatz: Oh boy did Artie Burns just get burned right before halftime. Almost like it's in his name. Clearly thought Tyler Boyd was going inside so he gave home plenty of space right on the goal line. Boyd went outside instead. I don't think Burns was even in the picture when Boyd caught the touchdown.

Scott Kacsmar: The kick return is rarely a weapon anymore for teams given all the rule changes this decade. But the Bengals had a big one with an extra 5 yards tacked on from a penalty to start at the Pittsburgh 44 in the final minute. That led to an all-too-easy touchdown drive to tie this one. Tyler Boyd came into this game with just as many targets as A.J. Green this season, but only 16 fewer yards. He has been good, and he might be great if he could play against Artie Burns every week.

I'll let out all my Mike Tomlin frustration on one drive. He challenged a spot earlier even though there was no evidence whatsoever that Ryan Switzer had a first down. So now Conner gets a run to the 1-yard line that may have been a touchdown. That definitely could have been worth a challenge if he had not already wasted one earlier. That makes you want to save one for the final quarter and a half, not to mention you still feel OK if you have first down inches away from the goal line. But the Steelers didn't get it. They tried to run on third down and Conner was stuffed in the backfield. Should have just let the 6-foot-5 quarterback knife it in there, but again, they don't really do that in Pittsburgh. So now it's 17-14 and neither coach is showing anything on fourth-and-1 this half. Marvin Lewis punted on a situation to start the half after another great kick return gave the Bengals nice field position.

Aaron Schatz: CBS just showed a graphic that they've tracked no hurries, pass disruptions, or quarterback hits for the Cincinnati defense today. Yikes.

And the Steelers kick a field goal to go up by six, 20-14, instead of going for it on fourth-and-2 from the 6. Total Tomlin move. I hate it. Forces your opponent to play aggressive and they can now beat you with a touchdown.

Bryan Knowles: A six-point deficit, rather than a three-point deficit, means Cincinnati has to open up the offense to get down the field in a hurry. Aided by a defensive pass interference call, they march down the field 75 yards in just over two minutes to take the lead. The Steelers defense is turrible. Pittsburgh does have 1:18 left to try to get a score, so this one isn't over, but man, I'd rather have that shot on fourth down.

Aaron Schatz: Dammit, Steelers, what did I tell you about going for it on that fourth-and-2? Bengals march up the field, 75 yards in 2:14, take a 21-20 lead. Steelers have had problems covering all day. Artie Burns was reasonable in 2017. He has seriously taken a step back this year.

Dave Bernreuther: I didn't watch the drive, so I don't know how much was a result of forced aggressiveness, but Aaron was exactly right, and the Joe Mixon touchdown gives the Steelers what they deserve after those last two field goal sequences. Which I find especially egregious given that Tomlin is coaching against Marvin Lewis, who never met a 40-plus-yard field goal attempt he wasn't thrilled to settle for.

There's still plenty of time here, though, and if the no-pressure thing is to believed, the Steelers will be decent bets to get into field-goal range.

Where, if there's any justice in the world, Tomlin will play for a long uncertain one (outdoors in the wet) and they'll miss and lose.

I don't know how you do it, Scott. I really don't.

Aaron Schatz: Well, it turns out my gnashing of teeth and rending of garments has been rendered moot as the Steelers get into field goal range with 15 seconds left ... and then score a touchdown to win. Cincinnati blitzed and the Steelers threw a quick pick route to Antonio Brown and with the blitz, there weren't defenders behind his guy to stop him from going all the way to the end zone. It looked like they could have maybe called OPI on Justin Hunter, but they didn't, I guess they decided that was within the 1-yard boundary where you're allowed to set a pick. Steelers pick up the two-point conversion after a hold on Cincinnati nullifies the first attempt. 28-21 Pittsburgh.

Vince Verhei: Not just the blitz for Cincinnati, but the safeties were split wide to guard the sideline routes. Which ... the Steelers had two timeouts left. In a spot where even a 10-yard gain would have been a big deal, making a winning field goal almost a sure thing. That's quite the odd situational play-call. It was the defensive equivalent of settling for the long field goal, a desperate call to get a sack and prevent a long field goal. And they gave up a touchdown instead.

Dave Bernreuther: For all that the Bengals did wrong on that final play, I'm still going to stick to my guns and say that the Steelers were playing for the uncertain long field goal, even in victory. That was a quick slant. There was no aggression involved. Good results, but bad process.

Rob Weintraub: Everything sucks.

That is all.

Tom Gower (After the Titans are shut out at home by the Ravens): Yeah, what Rob said.

Indianapolis Colts 34 at New York Jets 42

Dave Bernreuther: The Colts have taken the ball away from the Jets twice in fivrmmintes but come away with only two field goal attempts because nobody on the team can catch a football. Luck has looked great despite being victimized by a pick-six on the first pass of the game, but two short fields leading to only a three-point lead is how you let teams hang around and beat you. Even when Sam Darnold is making your defense look like a good team.

They also tried to get a bit too cute on the first field-goal drive on second down, for some reason putting Eric Ebron in the backfield and passing it to him there. I'm not entirely sure what that was meant to accomplish, but it didn't have a prayer of working.

Derrik Klassen: Would anyone care to explain the voodoo that must have been cast on Andrew Luck today? These interceptions are so, so unfortunate.

Vince Verhei: Somehow, "fivrmmintes" perfectly summarizes both of these teams this season.

Dave Bernreuther: The hands I used to type that comment are more reliable than the hands of the Colts receivers so far this year.

I'm far less attached to this team than I once was, and I'm still furious at how bad they are. Luck has looked pretty close to perfect and it doesn't matter. Great throws end up batted, picked, or dropped. And they're down two scores in a game where I wouldn't even say the Jets have actually done anything well yet.

In other news, Frank Reich legitimately looks to have aged twenty years in the last three weeks.

Andrew Luck's third pick today is not one we can blame on bad luck. Looking for Chester Rogers on a crosser (I'm sure he'd have dropped it anyway), Luck failed to see linebacker Darron Lee dropping into the zone behind the blitz (which completely ate up the blocker; I didn't notice if it was Anthony Castonzo or No. 6 overall pick spent on a guard Quentin Nelson, but either way, yeesh) and threw it right to him.

Awesome hands for a linebacker, for what it's worth, as that was a dart ... but now it's a two-score game and the Jets have the ball, and absent a miracle I'm about to jump behind Bill Barnwell's crazy "trade Vinatieri to Telesco and the Chargers" idea from his ESPN column the other day.

Los Angeles Chargers 38 at Cleveland Browns 14

Derrik Klassen: The Chargers disastrously botched a trick pass play. Philip Rivers pitched the ball out wide, then trotted back the other way to receive the backwards pass from the back, but the pass was well behind Rivers and ended in a massive loss. The Chargers are lucky they even recovered. Very easily could have given up the ball in their own red zone.

Following the drive, Cleveland returned Los Angeles' punt out to the Los Angeles 39-yard line. Baker Mayfield and the Browns offense are in striking distance already.

Los Angeles Chargers offense is operating in chunk plays right now. Game is boom-or-bust for them, but they are showing they have enough boom to overcome a talented, yet young and developing Cleveland defense. Tyrell Williams just Moss'd three Cleveland defenders on a deep pass from Rivers in the end zone, extending Los Angeles' lead to 14-3.

Dave Bernreuther: I made Baker Mayfield a semi-contrarian play today in hopes of bathing in money later, while a friend of mine predicted a big fat goose egg for him. We made a side bet. Thus far, on the board... well, he was very very right. I won't be winning that one.

Still, there really is a lot to like about Baker. His bad plays still show a good thought process. He hasn't really forced anything, and that earned them a field goal at half when they ran a play with eight seconds left that a LOT of quarterbacks, and not just rookies, might've botched. It was an incomplete pass, but a smart one. I see him trying to throw guys open rather than throwing into tiny windows or racing away from pockets for no reason and into sacks. When he tries to throw into tight windows, he's accurate. Basically, he's the opposite of Josh Allen. And the Browns really are looking good. They're just not *quite* there yet.

Carolina Panthers 17 at Washington Redskins 20

Andrew Potter: At halftime in Washington, the hosts have been rather poor ... but still lead by 11 because the visitors have been awful. Rookie receiver and returner D.J. Moore has lost two fumbles already – one on a punt return, and the other on what would otherwise have been the first play the Panthers finished in Washington territory. Cam Newton threw an interception to Josh Norman on a deep pass that never had a chance of being completed. Christian McCaffrey had some success running basic dive plays in the first half, but the more creative stuff since has gone nowhere. The game can be summarized by the sequence right before the half: Carolina took possession at their own 3 and went three-and-out, so Washington got possession at the Panthers 33. One 10-yard intentional grounding, one 4-yard scramble, and one incomplete pass under pressure later, Washington somehow ended up punting from the Panthers 39. Alex Smith has only completed 50 percent of his passes for under 100 yards, but ten points off turnovers and a Graham Gano missed extra point are the difference.

Dave Bernreuther: The Panthers look terrible today. Whether that statement applies more to their play or the horrible layer cake look (teal, black, white, silver stacked on top of each other) is a matter of opinion.

I suppose none of us should be surprised that always-interesting Josh Norman has managed to make a name for himself against his former team.

Buffalo Bills 13 at Houston Texans 20

Dave Bernreuther: In the last seven quarters, the Bills have thrown fewer passes than Andrew Luck threw in a half a week ago, and at roughly 4 yards per attempt. It is the perfect strategy for hiding your terrible quarterback...

(On whom they spent a high draft pick and several other valuable assets.)

Bryan Knowles: Ah, but which terrible quarterback? Josh Allen is out (with an elbow injury), Nathan Peterman is in, and Peterman immediately throws a touchdown to give Buffalo the lead!

Dave Bernreuther: Wow, really? Please tell me it's a concussion protocol from the one play where he rolled right on third down and took one of the hardest legal hits I've seen this week for no good reason whatsoever.

Aaron Schatz: Looked like a post-corner by Zay Jones on Shareece Wright and Wright got lost on the cut. Houston secondary has been an issue this year. Good for Zay Jones to do an actual good thing which we don't get to see much.

Bryan Knowles: The Texans do not deserve to win this football game. Facing first-and-goal from the one, we get:

  • Run by Alfred Blue into a huge pile, for a loss of 1.
  • An attempted SHOVeLL screen, end around … thing, that ends with another 1-yard loss.
  • A false start on both tackles simultaneously.
  • A near instant-sack of Deshaun Watson, who scrambles out of trouble, sees daylight between him and the end zone ... and throws an incomplete pass.

Field goal, 13-13 game, good lord.

The Bills do not deserve to win this football game. After getting the ball back after the Texans field goal, Nathan Peterman's second pass goes right to Jonathan Joseph for the pick-six.

Rivers McCown: It was not a pretty game, but the Texans prevailed by inserting Nathan Peterman in to provide a spark to their beleaguered offense.

Neither team should feel good about this one. Deshaun Watson looked completely out of sync in the offense after the first ~20 minutes of the game. Two long missed touchdowns, and the offensive line was dominated by Buffalo's front seven. They couldn't go three plays in the second half without Watson getting off his first read, getting sacked, or both.

The Bills offense is a spectacle. Pure and simple.

Arizona Cardinals 17 at Minnesota Vikings 27

Dave Bernreuther: Every time I look up at this one, the Cardinals are getting pressure. The Vikings' tackles are just getting abused, and one pressure led to Budda Baker fielding a loose ball like a third baseman charging a weak grounder and scoring the easiest touchdown of his life.

Still, the Cardinals aren't good, and even a rookie quarterback with many encouraging signs is still a rookie, so the Vikings have this one pretty well in hand after Josh Rosen throws one directly into the gut of a Vikings lineman. 27-10 as we near the close of the third.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers 29 at Atlanta Falcons 34

Dave Bernreuther: Oh my god what if Atlanta now scores 34 at home and loses this one too?

Bryan Knowles: I don't think we've said a darn thing about this game, but I've kept an eye on it, as it was a must-must-MUST win game for Atlanta if they were going to salvage anything of their season. It looked like they were going to roll to an easy victory in the first half, taking a 21-6 lead into the locker room, but the second half proved more of an uphill climb. Atlanta was bailed out a bit by Tampa Bay throwing two interceptions inside the 10-yard line, and hung on for a 34-29 victory. 2-4 isn't exactly where Atlanta wanted to be at this point, but you can recover from 2-4. 1-5 would have been the final nail in the coffin.

Vince Verhei: I didn't watch a snap of this game, but I do want to note that Matt Ryan finished 31-of-41 for 354 yards, three touchdowns, and no interceptions ... and as a result of this, the passer rating allowed by the Tampa Bay defense this year is going to go DOWN.

Aaron Schatz: We'll need to find video of the play that Tampa tried to run at the end of the game. With one play left, on the Atlanta 21, the Bucs didn't run a pass play. Instead, Jameis Winston ran a quarterback draw and then LATERALLED when he was going to get tackled. Unfortunately, the ball bounced along the ground, Mike Evans picked it up, tried to lateral to DeSean Jackson ... which was a terrible lateral attempt but honestly, if it had been right in Jackson's stomach, he might have been able to run it in for the touchdown, he had about 6 or 7 yards left to go. What an interesting play design and would have been one of the more memorable finishes of recent years if it had worked.

Bryan Knowles: Here's the video for those who missed it:

I still think I just throw a fade to Mike Evans, but that would have been an all-timer had it made.

Tom Gower: The last play of this game is a great excuse to bring up my favorite play nobody remembers -- an amazing end-of-game multi-lateral play by the Panthers against the Eagles in 2003. It's completely forgotten because (1) it didn't count, as one of the laterals was slightly forward, and (2) the game was 25-16, so it wouldn't have changed the game outcome even if it had counted.

Los Angeles Rams 23 at Denver Broncos 20

Bryan Knowles: Denver scores a touchdown to tie the game at six, but Emmanuel Sanders gets called for taunting. That's a 15-yard penalty on the ensuing kickoff, which is annoying...

...but wait! Replay shows that no, Sanders was stopped just before the goal line. But the taunting penalty still counts. So rather than first-and-goal from the one, they get moved all the way back to the 16. The Rams defense stiffens up, and it's 6-3, instead.

Vince Verhei: Rams are up 6-3 early in the second, with a fourth-and-inches at the Denver 10. Because they are good, smart team, they go for it, and Todd Gurley goes into the end zone virtually untouched for a 13-3 lead that feels like 30-3.

Does anyone out there think Sean McVay is anything other than the best coach in the league? Not looking to start an argument. Just wondering if it's unanimous.

Cooper Kupp gains 12 yards on an end-around, and Denver is called for a horsecollar tackle and 15 more yards to boot. But there's a reason the horsecollar tackle is illegal -- Kupp's down after the play after his legs folded underneath him. Forgive me for speculating, and I'm no doctor, but there was a definite snap at his ankle as he went down. He's carted off and it does not look good.

Dave Bernreuther: I'll still put Belichick in that [best coach] conversation, just because his organization top-to-bottom thinks of everything and is ruthless in their quest for an edge, and that's just miles ahead of so many other teams that are still acting like it's the '70s and information doesn't matter.

But then again, you could say the same about McVay and his offense. As opposed to the jumbo set "hat on a hat grrrrr football!" mentality that still prevails and is every bit as '70s if not more ...

As I type this, the Rams are punting. And I'm surprised. Even against a good defense and without even thinking that highly of Jared Goff. Because that offense and the wide-open opportunities it creates is a thing of beauty.

Vince Verhei: Rams punt with 18 seconds left in the half. Broncos kneel to end the half, which would not be news, but it's Chad Kelly taking the knee, not Case Keenum. I have to assume Keenum is injured, because if you don't trust a guy to TAKE A KNEE, then how could you possibly trust him to do anything else ever again?

Bryan Knowles: Keenum is being checked for a concussion, though it looks like he's cleared those tests and will come back for the second half.

Vince Verhei: Indeed, it's Keenum taking snaps in the second half -- and on his first possession, he's backed up inside his own 5, but gets the ball out to midfield on one deep pass to Demaryius Thomas. But the drive stalls there, Keenum takes a sack on third down, and the Broncos will punt.

Bryan Knowles: Cooper Kupp is back in. That injury looked so scary, I'm shocked he's able to come back at all, much less just after halftime.

Vince Verhei: What's this? Competition? Intrigue? Tramaine Brock tips a pass and it bounces off Josh Reynolds' facemask into Darian Stewart's hands, and it's Denver's ball inside the 20. A penalty moves them back, but then Keenum finds Emmanuel Sanders wide open on the seam route for the 22-yard touchdown, and L.A.'s lead is cut to 20-10.

The Rams had been backed up deep because Keenum had thrown a tip-drill interception of his own. That's Keenum's eighth interception of the year -- or, one more than he threw in all of 2017 -- and he is the only player to throw an interception every week this season.

Scott Kacsmar: The 2018 Rams are making me wonder if we should be including kickers in adjusted games lost. Greg Zuerlein's injury is about the only flaw with this team so far. Cairo Santos missed another field goal in the fourth quarter, but at least he made the last one to put the Rams up 23-13. But have to think the Rams are even better with more range for scoring when Zuerlein returns.

Vince Verhei: Broncos actually made this a one-score game after a deep catch by Courtland Sutton set up a field goal, but the Rams responded with a 13-play, 72-yard field goal drive to take a 23-13 lead that probably makes this a done deal. What's notable is that Todd Gurley has set a career-high with 200-plus rushing yards, but Jared Goff is only completing half his passes with the interception and five sacks. It looks like the Rams are going to be held below 30 points for the first time this season. Maybe this is the blueprint for slowing down the Rams -- let Gurley have whatever he wants, but do whatever it takes to shut down Goff. Easier said than done, of course.

Scott Kacsmar: Didn't we look into something with Denver's defense after 2016 about the run defense falling off? They were incredible to start 2017, then that Orleans Darkwa game happened. Now the Broncos have allowed 593 rushing yards in the last two weeks, the most since 1960 in any two-game stretch by my calculations.

Aaron Schatz: I don't remember something specific with Denver's defense, but we get this weird effect where run defense is a better predictor of defense in Y+1 than pass defense, yet run defense DVOA itself is fairly difficult to predict. The Broncos were 21st in run defense DVOA in 2016, despite being No. 1 against the pass. Then last year, they were up to third in run defense DVOA (second in the first half of the season, eighth in the second half). This year, 26th in run defense DVOA before today, and probably lower after today.

Baltimore Ravens 21 at Tennessee Titans 0

Dave Bernreuther: I'm having a hard time telling who is who in this one, as the Ravens' purple pants look navy in this weather/TV screen, and the Titans are going monochrome in navy as well. In fact, five of the six uniforms in the late games are hideous (with Jacksonville taking the cake), as the NFL seems determined, between the bad penalties, bad coaching, and bad uniforms, to make me go home and take up gardening instead.

Anyway, I'll stop short of calling Joe Flacco new and improved, but he did fire a safe one to Michael Crabtree (who kind of looked like the turned the wrong way on a back-shoulder throw) for the score near the end of the first to put the Ravens on the board first in an ugly game thus far. Down 7-0, these Titans already look to be in trouble, given the difficulty they've had with touchdowns on offense of late.

Vince Verhei: I had the same thought about the uniforms in the Ravens-Titans game. It's on the worst TV in this bar and it very much looks like an intrasquad scrimmage. (I actually kind of like Jacksonville's black jerseys with the teal pants. It's definitely a unique look.)

Dave Bernreuther: It's worth noting that I'm considering going home in order to type out a proper response about Jacksonville's attire with my computer instead of my phone.

I'll keep it brief though: it's not the worst thing I've seen this weekend. It makes more logical (according to my unwritten rules) sense than Carolina's and Baltimore's looks today. And yet ... still awful.

(In football news, the Cowboys, who aren't good, are kicking the crap out of the Jaguars.)

Bryan Knowles: Tennessee just saved this game from being essentially over the half, as Kevin Byard intercepts a tip-drill pass from Flacco as the Titans were threatening to score yet again before halftime. Baltimore hadn't scored a touchdown in 25 drives coming into this one, so of course their first two drives ended up in the end zone. That includes a crazy 17-play, 94-yard, 9:22 drive to start the first quarter, as Tennessee just couldn't do a dang thing to stop the methodical march. 14-0 at the half.

The Ravens already have six sacks. The Titans have only called 17 passing plays (and 24 total offensive plays), so that's an insane rate. The Titans look ... terrible. On both sides of the ball. This is the same Titans team that just lost to the Bills, and it looks less and less like that was a fluke.

Vince Verhei: Justin Tucker is out to try a 60-yard field goal at the end of the first half, but there's a penalty on Baltimore that moves them 5 yards back. So the offense comes back on and Joe Flacco throws a worm-burner incompletion to Michael Crabtree, and that's it. 14-0 Baltimore. The Ravens have just looked OK -- they had a chance for one more score, but Flacco threw a tip-drill interception.

Anyway, here's why Baltimore is winning: the Titans offense has produced seven completions for 81 yards -- but surrendered six sacks for 37 yards. Tennessee had only given up nine sacks coming into the game. It's a team effort -- nobody has more than two sacks -- but when you get six sacks in 16 dropbacks, you win. That should be a rule.

Bryan Knowles: 21-0, as the Ravens score again. Lamar Jackson's 22-yard scramble set it up, but it was just another gashing and bleeding. The Ravens had 78 yards on that drive. The Titans have 69 yards all day long.

All three of these games are over. I'm going to spend most of the last hour of these games looking up the last time the afternoon slate was this bad. Because, wow, it's been a while.

Vince Verhei: Ravens open the second half with a 12-play, 78-yard drive that eats up more than seven minutes. Lamar Jackson takes a quarterback sweep 22 yards down to the 2, and Alex Collins plunges in from there. Baltimore converted a pair of third downs on the drive and is now 10-of-11 on third-down conversions today.

Ravens now lead 21-0, as the Rams are up 20-3 and the Cowboys lead 24-0. That's a combined margin of 65-3 and I'm wondering if there's anything else I could be doing today.

Bryan Knowles: A quick search through PFR's database suggests the last time we had this boring of an afternoon slate was Week 3 of 2015.

  • The Cardinals beat the 49ers 47-7 with Colin Kaepernick throwing four interceptions.
  • The Seahawks beat the Bears 26-0, highlighted by Tyler Lockett's 106-yard kickoff return
  • The Bills beat the Dolphins 41-14, with Tyrod Taylor throwing a trio of touchdowns in his first road start.

That week at least had more scoring.

Dave Bernreuther: Someday maybe they'll figure out that it'd make for better TV to divide it a bit more evenly than leaving only three games in the late slot.

Bryan Knowles: Even just four, which they do most weeks, is generally enough to make sure at least *one* game is competitive. About 48 percent of games last season were one-score games -- not an ideal metric of excitement or closeness, but hey, good enough for a quick check. That means there's about a 14 percent chance that none of your three games will be one-score affairs, and a 7 percent chance that none of four games would end up out of that range. Add in the odds of a game that becomes two-scores late, and a four-game slate should essentially never go 0-for-4 for exciting games. Statistically speaking, at least.

Vince Verhei: Scary scene as Ravens guard Alex Lewis looks to be engaged in a routine block, then steps away, lowers himself to the ground, and stops moving. A long delay as he is tended to, strapped to a board, and put onto a cart. They're taking him straight to an ambulance. I'm seeing reports that he grabbed at his shoulder, where he has had an existing injury, but I don't think they cart you to the ambulance for shoulder injuries.

Bryan Knowles: Marcus Mariota has completed ten forward passes.

He has been sacked 11 times. That's a franchise record for the Ravens.

Vince Verhei: Just the third time this century a team has given up 11 sacks in a game. The other two were quarterbacked by Donovan McNabb and Greg McElroy.

As a group, the AFC South offenses today completed 57 percent of their passes with six touchdowns, six interceptions, 21 sacks, and 4.8 yards per dropback. They went 1-3, and might well have gone 0-4 if Josh Allen had stayed healthy (think about THAT).

Tom Gower: The way the Titans lost to the Bills was a sign they might not be a very good team and might, in fact, be a very not good offense. Today was further evidence in favor of them being a very not good offense. Marcus Mariota looked like he didn't understand what defense he was getting, and consequently refused to throw the ball, which is how you take 11 sacks on 28 dropbacks. No, the offensive line wasn't great, but quarterbacks do a lot to control how much they're sacked, and Marcus didn't do much to not get sacked today. Coverage was undoubtedly part of that, and no, the offensive line did not seem to have a great day, but an imperfect block is not in my mind an excuse to take a sack.

Defensively, eh. The Ravens were 12-for 17 on third down, and all three of their touchdown drives featured multiple third-down conversions, including at least one third-and-long. Baltimore was 4-for-16 against Cleveland last week. Putting teams in third-and-medium/-long repeatedly will normally work out a lot better than that. But it don't matter unless Tennessee finds something they can do on offense, preferably something they can do repeatedly. Right now, they don't know what it is, and they're not committed enough to anything to keep trying to make it work even if they're failing at it. This sort of transition cost to the new scheme wasn't unexpected, nor the trouble this cast of receivers sans Delanie Walker has making plays on its own, but that doesn't make it any more enjoyable to watch. I hope everybody's excited to get them against the Chargers in the early London game next week!

Jacksonville Jaguars 7 at Dallas Cowboys 40

Bryan Knowles: Hey, this week, the Cowboys decide to go for it on fourth-and-1. Better late than never, I suppose.

Ezekiel Elliott easily converts, because yes, that's what happens when you have a star running back and need to gain 1 yard. They should remember that for more critical situations.

Andrew Potter: The Cowboys are dominating the Jaguars up and down the field today. Having their way with them. With a minute to go in the first half, the Cowboys are in the red zone, and Dak Prescott has more yards rushing than the Jaguars have total yards. The only time the Cowboys punted, the Jaguars had too many men on the field and the penalty was enough for the first. That fourth-and-1, on the edge of field-goal range, was a true no-brainer.

The drive ends with another touchdown to Cole Beasley. 24 points on four drives for Dallas. This is a mauling.

Vince Verhei: Halftime here. As Andrew said, Dallas has 24 point (and 251 total yards) on four drives. Meanwhile, Jacksonville's five possessions have resulted in three three-and-outs, one 35-yard drive that also ended in a punt, and a 12-yard "drive" to end the half. Blake Bortles hasn't had the horrible turnovers he had last week, because they're not letting him do anything -- he only threw eight passes in the half, and three of them were at the end there.

Scott Kacsmar: I'm surprised Jacksonville kicked an extra point after finally getting a touchdown. Sure, I just want to see 8+8+8 happen one day, but when your team is getting destroyed on both sides, I think maximizing each possession would definitely be worth it.

Just putting this one out there: the Jaguars have allowed 40 points three times since Week 16 last year (including playoffs). That's the most in the NFL in that span, and tied for the most since the start of 2017. Maybe the league just isn't constructed for a consistently great defense anymore. But I am pretty shocked that Dak Prescott and Dallas had this kind of game against them. A lot of the second-half scoring has been boosted by field position, but it was 24-0 at halftime and that was a legitimate shredding. Prescott has 82 yards rushing, a career high. It's one thing for Bortles to struggle on the road, but you don't expect to see the defense do this too.

Kansas City Chiefs 40 at New England Patriots 43

Aaron Schatz: Patriots get aggressive on their first drive, go for it on fourth-and-3 at the Kansas City 40. Don't get it because of miscommunication between Tom Brady and Josh Gordon. Gordon is playing almost every snap tonight, clearly a big part of the offense, but weird to go with the new guy on a fourth down. Patriots keep the Chiefs to a field goal on the ensuing drive, then get a field goal of their own. And then on Kansas City's second offensive drive, Patrick Mahomes throws only his third pick of the season. The Chiefs look like they want to pick on Donta' Hightower in coverage, he has slowed down a bit this year since coming back from last year's injury. But on this play, he goes like he's going to blitz, then immediately drops back in coverage. Mahomes never saw him, threw the ball right to him. The return gave the Patriots the ball on the Kansas City 4 and Sony Michel ran it in on the first play. Man, the Chiefs' run defense is awful. Michel seven carries, 47 yards so far.

Dave Bernreuther: I'm not a football coach, and I am sick of hearing announcers throw around the term RPO every play in an attempt to sound smart ...

But it looked to me like on that interception, Mahomes had the option, was reading Dont'a Hightower, pulled it because Hightower sold the man coverage on the back ... and then threw it straight to him because the read was wrong.

Which actually makes me empathize with the announcers a bit, because with the newer college style of handoffs from the front, it's a lot harder to know if a play such as that one is just a run of the mill play-action or an option. And thus I'm not sure if that was a great play by Hightower to trick Mahomes into making the wrong read, or just a hell of a reaction to the fact that it wasn't a run play and good hands when the ball was thrown straight into his zone.

Either way ... great play by the guy who's supposed to be a liability in pass defense.

Aaron Schatz: Patriots go into the half 24-9 after another interception at the end of the half, this time in the red zone. Pats had two guys on Travis Kelce and so Mahomes, rolling right, went to his wide receivers in the right corner of the end zone. Tip drill, and Duron Harmon comes down with it. Aaron Nagler on Twitter called this Mahomes' "first bad Favre game" and I think that's accurate. He's hyped up, overthrowing balls early, and he's also throwing into coverage more than we're used to, trying to make things happen that aren't necessarily available.

Bryan Knowles: The Chiefs come out of halftime on fire, hitting a 67-yard touchdown to Kareem Hunt on third-and-short, after Hunt slips behind the defense. That's the other part of even the Bad Favre games -- no matter how bad things got, no matter how many interceptions he threw, Brett Favre would always be right back out there slinging it, without any loss of confidence. That's an important part of the Favre formula, and one Mahomes seems to have.

Aaron Schatz: Looked like a really nice Chiefs play design. It was Cover-2, and they ran a route that drew that right-side safety away from the sideline, which then allowed Hunt to speed up the sideline on the wheel route, speed past Jason McCourty, and that was all she wrote.

And in fact, here's one of those neat Next Gen Stats diagrams. The Tyreek Hill route took Devin McCourty out of the play, which meant there was nobody behind Jason McCourty when Hunt sped past him.

Scott Kacsmar: Down 11, I think the Chiefs should have gone for it on fourth-and-2 at the Patriots' 12 late third quarter. The defense just hasn't been good enough to trust a stop. Even then, you're talking about having to get a touchdown and two-point conversion just to tie. I'd take my chances with 2 yards to go and hope to get a touchdown now and build some confidence from that. Field goal just feels like another battle lost tonight.

Aaron Schatz: Andy Reid historically one of the most conservative coaches in the league according to Aggressiveness Index. I know, you wouldn't think so, given that he's fairly open to analytics, but he's almost always below 1.0 and even below 0.9.

Reid's career AI is 0.82. Last year he was at 0.83.

Tom Gower: I think the Chiefs going for it in that situation would definitely win a staff vote of what to do. But we don't get a vote, and Andy Reid does.

Bryan Knowles: I'd love to see one of those Next Gen play diagrams on that sack-fumble. Brady had all day to throw the ball, but the coverage was so good that there was just nowhere to go. That was one of the longest coverage sacks I've seen in a while -- and I'd expect a quarterback of Brady's caliber to have thrown the ball away a good two or three seconds before the Chiefs finally got to him. Could be a huge turning point here.

Dave Bernreuther: Yeah. When you haven't stopped them all night, getting three to pull within eight, especially on fourth-and-2 after easily converting a fourth down earlier in the drive, doesn't do you any good.

And so naturally, on a play where the Chiefs rush three guys and Brady has time to do his taxes in the pocket, the Chiefs do eventually get to him and recover a fumble at the 30 a few plays later.

Four more field goals and they'll have the lead!

Aaron Schatz: I realize that there are more points left to be scored in this game, but do we all agree it was really strange for Andy Reid not to go for two-point conversion when the Chiefs made it 27-25?

Tom Gower: Yes, that was very strange. And do we believe it would have made a difference if K.C. had scored the touchdown a minute later, when it was the fourth quarter?

Bryan Knowles: Yeah, that should be an automatic go-for-two, no ifs, and or buts. I get that, yeah, if you go for it and fail, and New England scores a touchdown, now you're suddenly down nine ... but, no. Gotta tie it up there.

Dave Bernreuther: I get that the "chart" makes little sense with a quarter left to play, and that playing for a tie is pointless this early...

… but if you can move the ball that well AND it's a two-point game, why the hell wouldn't you try to tally an extra point that you're highly likely to get?

Aaron Schatz:

Dave Bernreuther: What if the real reason he took the single was that he's playing chess, thinking several moves ahead...

  • Patriots kick the field goal to go up four.
  • Chiefs score a touchdown to go up three.
  • With time running low, Patriots can then only tie with a field goal.

In this scenario, if he goes for two and misses, a Patriots field goal wins, and if he goes for two and makes it, the Pats are forced to play from down four instead of down three, which we all agreed earlier in the Steelers game is an advantage.

What Andy Reid thought of all of that and just out-thought us all?

(Typed as he gets a kick return inside the ten and accelerates that timeline by approximately 5 minutes, which more or less chucks that hare-brained theory right out the window and brings us back to: just score more points whenever you have the chance.)

Aaron Schatz: Dave Toub and the No. 1 DVOA special teams really came through there. Chiefs have now made up a 24-9 lead. Big collapse by the Patriots, between the Brady sack-fumble and the huge kick return they just gave up.

Patriots go down the field, score. Chiefs stall out and kick the first punt of the game. Patriots go down the field again, mostly on one big throw to Gronk (finally!), but have to settle for a field goal. 40-33.

Dave Bernreuther: Brilliant footage from NBC capturing Breeland Speaks' dejected reaction after Brady ran that one in. Collinsworth is right. He 100 percent let him go because he thought Brady had thrown the ball and he didn't want to be penalized.

Collinsworth is unlikable, but he's right a lot. Such as when he expertly showed us what happened when Mahomes made a tremendously reckless throw off of his back foot and was lucky not to be intercepted; The Patriots needed to be 100 percent sure that blitz was going to hit home, because if it hadn't, Tyreek Hill was behind the entire defense. By a lot. That was a pretty big gamble by Belichick against a quarterback with a penchant for slipping out of collapsing pockets.

Aaron Schatz: Hill just got behind the entire defense without actually getting behind the entire defense. Duron Harmon was supposed to be back there deep and he got weirdly turned around and took a bad angle to get Hill and Hill was gone for a 75-yard touchdown. 40-40.

Bryan Knowles: I keep trying to set up a "here's the final drive" thing, but this game is just too dang explosive.

This has been a fantastic second half. The first half not so much, but this second half is why I watch football. Let's play two.

Dave Bernreuther: So just as I'm about to type something snarky about the odds of winning in overtime in New England after a tying touchdown vs. the odds of converting a two-point conversion when you had them on their heels...

Mahomes rifles one deep downfield to a wide open (but decidedly NOT behind the defense this time) Tyreek Hill, who hit the nitrous button or something and just blew by everyone on his way to the end zone to complete a scoring drive that took all of 12 seconds, which at this rate leaves us plenty of time for each team to score three more times. Which is exactly the reason why there's at least some logic to not following a chart about conversions when there's plenty of game to be played. (Note: I'd still have gone for two.)

Bryan Knowles: What a game. Do it again in January?

Tom Gower: Kansas City got one defensive play, the sack-fumble, and it wasn't enough with the four field goals.

Aaron Schatz: I still like Kansas City's chances to get the rematch back in their building in January. Losing by three points in Foxborough is nothing to feel ashamed of.

Dave Bernreuther: I'm not entirely sure how you leave Gronk free to beat a guy one-on-one in a situation like that. But I'm not surprised.

For as exciting and explosive as the Chiefs offense (and special teams) can be ... let us never forget that they're also the 28th ranked defense.

Patriots penalties: zero, for zero yards.

There wasn't a single play I can think of that made me think this stat is BS, which makes it all the more impressive.

Aaron Schatz: They did have one declined and one offsetting penalty.

Comments

150 comments, Last at 17 Oct 2018, 7:37am

1 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 6

>Now on their third drive, Amari Cooper is trying to catch a pass off his shoes when Bradley McDougald hits him helmet-to-helmet and knocks him out. He eventually recovers and walks off the field. No penalty on the play -- Cooper took about four steps after the ball first arrived, so I don't think he counts as a defenseless receiver.

I disagree on that one, I think he was a clear-cut defenseless receiver. Here's the play:

https://deadspin.com/no-flags-thrown-after-helmet-to-helmet-hit-on-amari-coo-1829741215

Cooper has to bend down to get the pass, and he hasn't had a chance to straighten himself up yet before he takes a brutal h2h hit. If a bent-over player who hasn't even had a chance to get his head up yet isn't defenseless, than nobody is. That play would have gotten flagged 95 times out of 100 last season. The NFL has managed to muddle up the helmet rules so badly at this point that officials aren't throwing flags on super obvious plays now.

They're really remarkably good at making every single rule change make things worse and more confusing. I can't wait for the roughing the passer rules to be unofficially changed halfway through this season to the point where nobody has any idea anymore what that penalty is either.

16 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 6

Yeah, I'm not sure what the rules are these days.

I can't remember if defenseless is only players in the air leaping for a ball. Or those running across the middle. I could argue Cooper was making himself the smallest target he could be and therefore pretty well defended.

I also can't remember if the rule is helmet2helmet or targetting with the helmet. Certainly there was a clash of helmets but I'd say the defender went in shoulder2shoulder. Certainly it wasn't like the kind of targeting we saw when the Steelers/Bengals guy got hit a couple of years ago.

So all in all ... who knows what the rules are and what is / isn't allowed any more.

79 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 6

This isn't so new, but the extent of it is. It didn't used to affect everyone everywhere.

I remember a game from 2011-ish where one of the refs blew the whistle, so the defense stopped playing. The running back, who wasn't actually down, ran free into the end zone for a touchdown that was upheld; the call was "inadvertent whistle". That was how I learned that the whistle *DOES NOT* end the play, it only "signals" that the end of the play has occurred. This is 100% true and just as stupid.

It happened back when I was a Washington fan, and it was against either the Steven Jackson Rams or the Jonathan Stewart Panthers. There was another ridiculous call in a Washington game against the other back around the same time, but I don't remember what happened ATM.

86 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 6

I believe you've got that backwards. The whistle ALWAYS ends the play, even when the play isn't actually over. This is called out in the "inadvertant whistle" rule.

From the official NFL rulebook, Rule 7, section 2. article 1, item m :

"When an official sounds the whistle erroneously while the ball is still in play, the ball becomes dead immediately."

I don't think that's changed anytime in a long time (maybe never?)... perhaps there was something else going on in the play you remember. Or you're mis-remembering.

95 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 6

That's crazy, because I remembered correctly. Almost: it was DeAngelo Williams, not Stewart.

The head referee said "The line judge blew his whistle. We had a lot of discussion about it. We just felt when the whistle blew, that the player would have already scored a touchdown"

I don't understand how any of that makes sense, and it certainly doesn't jive with the rule you posted.

Tweeted Pereira: "In WSH/CAR even though he didn't step out of bounds the official should've admitted he blew the whistle and ball should have been dead there."

ETA: here's a better breakdown on football zebras. I can't find anything about the whistle only "signaling" the play is over, it appears I was wrong about that part. I probably heard the announcers getting it wrong and took their word for it.

It sounds like it should have been a really simple call, but the refs collectively decided to make it wayyyy more confusing…

96 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 6

There is definitely something around the "whistle doesn't end the play" but I'm not sure what. (Hey look ... more rules I don't understand).

On Sunday watching the Raiders-Seahawks game, Seth Roberts got tackled on the sideline and went down with an injury. One of the Seahawks players picked up the ball but the play was whistled dead by then so he just flipped it to the referee.

During the injury evaluation, it became apparent that Roberts had begun to fumble before his knee hit the ground. Dean Blandino (TV commentator now) came on and said that even if the whistle had been blown, if it was a fumble and there was a clear recovery by a Seattle player then it was a turnover. Yet somehow Pete Carroll's challenge didn't work (who cares in a blowout game). They didn't linger on TV replays too much although I think there are fewer cameras available in London.

But short of story ... there is some strange thing around whistle not ending the play. Which is dumb because you need some kind of universal signal so that everybody stops hitting and tackling and diving into piles of players. Otherwise someone could get hurt ...

98 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 6

The whistle does end the play, for the safety reasons you cite. But, with the advent of replay, they wanted to cover the case where the whistle blows because the official thinks the ballcarrier is down, but it's actually a fumble and the defense clearly recovers.

108 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 6

I believe it was changed because of a Chargers game where the other player fumbled and the Chargers would've recovered the fumble, but he was ruled down by mistake and the refs said there was nothing they could do, then later the rule got changed to the continuing action thing.

114 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 6

The rule was changed after the infamous Ed Hochuli screwup in the 2008 Chargers-Broncos game, in which Hochuli blew a Jay Cutler red-zone fumble dead, mistakenly believing it to be a forward pass. The ball had actually slipped from Cutler's hand as he drew it back to throw, the Chargers had clearly recovered, and the turnover would have sealed the game. However, because Hochuli had blown the play dead, the recovery did not count and the Chargers could not be awarded possession. (The play was, at least, changed to a fumble and Denver were moved back nine yards.) This was late in the fourth quarter, and Denver scored two plays later. Playing with house money, the Broncos went for two instead of tying the game and won it on a Cutler pass to Eddie Royal.

That offseason, the rule was changed so that a a fumble recovery could be awarded to the defense in that situation as long as it was a clear and obvious immediate recovery.

116 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 6

Yes that's right. I was going to mention this - although I thought it was Rivers who fumbled - but my post was already getting towards TL;DR.

It's another classic NFL "lets jump in with a reactionary rule change for something that only happens and affects the outcome of a game once in a blue moon" moment.

As I recall referees also started blowing the whistle a bit later whenever there was the possibility a fumble had occurred.

101 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 6

That's a special case, but it does indeed seem to contradict everything else. From the NFL Rulebook p. 63 in the PDF: If an on-field ruling of a dead ball (down by contact, out of bounds, or incomplete forward pass) is changed, the ball belongs to the recovering player at the spot of the recovery, and any advance is nullified. The recovery must occur in the continuing action following the loss of possession.

How is any "continuing action" legal if the play is over? So any time the ball might possibly have been fumbled, it's smart to hit anybody near it just in case?

119 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 6

The "whistle signals the end of play" is a referee's a way of saying that the play could be over, even though the whistle hasn't been blown yet. For example, when a player is touched and goes down, the play is dead. It's still illegal to dive into him when he's giving himself up, even though the whistle hasn't been blown. This is more significant in NCAA rules, where no touching is needed.
Or fumbles, if a player on the ground has possession and is touched the play is over. If no one whistles, the player lets the ball go and someone picks it up, he can't claim the ball; the play was over already.

28 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 6

It is very appropriate in a day with a fair amount of missed calls. At this point, the refs seem to be ignoring any kind of helmet hit unless it is on QBs (Then it will be flagged by every ref in the nation and out of it). I remember on the Steelers-Bengals game, Burfict shoulder rammed AB (in the head might I add) and Jessie Bates after AB was being tackled down. For some odd reason, no flag for personal fault.

77 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 6

On the slightly different subject of clear rules that are not called, There was an incredible non-call inside of two minutes in Bears-Dolphins when a Bears defender tackled the Miami receiver from behind just as the pass was leaving Osweiler's hand. And there's an angle where you can see the ref was looking right at it. I know some calls are close, the play is too fast, etc, but this was as disgraceful a non-call as I've ever seen, if maybe not as huge as others.

2 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 6

Lol at Bernreuther's "Belichick rules because he doesn't play cro-magnon football from 70's" and then the Pats win with 38 rushing attempts and bombs like John Madden's Raiders.

3 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 6

From the twittersphere:

The Patriots have allowed 40+ points just three times in the regular season since 2013:
Week 6 in 2018 vs. Kansas City
Week 1 in 2017 vs. Kansas City
Week 4 in 2014 at Kansas City
---

+ SB LII (Reid's disciple)

Still, 1st half was perfection for the Pats. 2nd half they had some blunders on O, and total disaster on D and ST (this one is going on, less brutally than last night, all year underlooked (well DVOA was noticing it).

The last KC's TD was actually a bless in disguise for Pats, since now they had clock's control in marching down the field at pleasure like it happened all night long. You had to wonder if it was calculated...

---

Anyhow, as an european fan I had the chance to be at a live football match for the 1st time at MetLife stadium (with the SB Pats' killers nevertheless...) and these are my impressions:

- Giants O was an abomination. Eli was bad, yes. But the O-line was beaten after 1/2 a second, receivers were never separated, playcalling was predictable as hell. Barkey, on the other hand...
- It is incredible how much better you can diagnose plays from the stands. I correctly predicted several of them by just looking at the formations with missing none.
- Pauses of the game are bad, but you feel them less watching the game live.
- My partner was adamantly ignorant about everything but she got excited by the thrill of the game (at least for three quarters when everybody started lefting the stadium) and ended up buying lot of gadgets for her and the relatives.

29 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 6

"The last KC's TD was actually a bless in disguise for Pats, since now they had clock's control in marching down the field at pleasure like it happened all night long. You had to wonder if it was calculated..."

Since no Pats answer is complete without a conspiracy theory angle to it, mine is that Belichick had Hunt and Hill on his fantasy team this week, so took away Kelce and conspired to give the other two as many yards and TDs as was humanly possible without actually losing the game.

75 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 6

The way football is televised is a relic of the 1970s. The camera shows the run game only (and not very well at that). The Madden cam is not only objectively superior, but thanks to twutter, the networks KNOW the fans overwhelmingly prefer it! BUT THEY STILL NEVER USE IT!!!!!!

With Madden cam, you would get to see the other 3/4 of the game that the traditional angle cuts off completely.

99 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 6

The Madden view is not "objectively superior." If you're used to it, I can see why you'd like it. I'm used to the sideline view, though, and it works well for me. Even when I can see all 22 players, I can't follow what all of them are doing in real time. And I have a serious problem discerning depth on the shot from behind the play.

110 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 6

I don't have any problem with the depth perception on the Madden cam angle. I suspect that those who do would soon overcome that with a bit of exposure. The yardage lines will make it pretty easy to tell who's at what level, once you get some experience with it, I think.

It is quite insane that a large portion of football telecasts consist of focussing on the QB as he surveys the field, while giving the viewers no idea what he's looking at. Almost every throw is a surprise: he let go of the ball! Now let's see who he's throwing it to.

Technology wise, we're probably not that far away from viewers being able to choose their own camera angle. When that happens, I'll be switching to the Madden view and never looking back.

PS I've never played Madden or any computer football game since Coleco. I had no exposure to this camera angle until the first time I saw it on TV.

127 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 6

Top Madden player here (top 100 in 2010, took several years off, now only mobile - top 1000 without paying to build my team).

If you don't think the Madden Cam is superior I'd like to ask you about coverages as the play is happening.

My dad seems to think he'd be the greatest QB ever if he played because he thinks he can see guys open on the normal telecast. Trust me, the normal telecast is the worst. Those guys aren't open, they're simply on the camera side of the field. You can't see if they have separation or not. You can't see line play, you can't see the box that the QB needs to read (LB motion tells man or zone, read if single high, two high, or zero safety coverage (check out Smartfootball for strategic analysis - or read Every Play Revealed by Alex Kirby)), you also can't identify combo coverages. After playing Madden for about 15 hours you should be able to do this within the first second. You will never see any of this from the standard broadcast view.

The Madden Cam faces the same way the QB or HB faces, by it's very nature it follows the play closer.

Sideline view is only okay for showing highlights, for actually following the play Madden Cam is where it's at. It's like comparing the latest version of Madden to Tecmo - sure, they're the same game in form but vastly different.

My one complaint about the use of the Madden cam is that they use a standard focal view lens rather than a wider lens. Use a wider lens and keep the same position but a bit higher, or else use the same lens and step back and higher a bit.

134 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 6

I don't play Madden, but I'm not a huge fan of when they use that view on telecasts. It's useful in replays and from time-to-time, but not as the standard.

I agree that the current standard sideline view sucks.

What I would like as the standard view is a high, zoomed-out sideline view (i.e. what actual humans see from the 2nd or 3rd bowl of a stadium) so you can see all the players and can easily see where and at what depths they are.

Then use Madden, current standard sideline, and zoomins for replays.

138 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 6

stoppped playing video games in 2008. found them more enjoyable in 16-bit days of Genesis before graphics got super good. i liked left to right scroll for most aciton games. first person high def wasn't as fun fior me (yeah, guess am not virtual reality fan). anywya, then for football games, ti became too much abotu franchise mode. game play was never increased signifcantly though and felt like the next uyear version of Madden would just be updated rosters. Madden made no signficant changes in stuff in latter years i played it (2004 to 2008) and i had had enough. I did enjoy All pro Fopotball 2K8 (had drawing of Elway and maybe B Sanders on cover and maybe another guy) with old players in it but most ppl didn't like that game BECAUSE it didn't have franchise mode. game did not do well in sales and that was it. so i was out. gave my PS3 to my sister and niece.

anyway, afgree with PatsFan. would like high sideline view more than madden cam or current regulat TV angle. best of all would be ability to toggle between high sideline view and views from behind each end zone. prettyy sure GamePass has this stfuf. currently do not subscribe to that service.

4 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 6

Did we even bother to point out that Jon Gruden kicked a field goal down 27-0 in the fourth quarter to avoid a shutout? I remember cursing him up for doing that with the Buccaneers in 2006 against Pittsburgh. That one was actually worse, because it was a 27-yard field goal on third down as the last play of the game (lost 20-3).

Would it matter?

19-21 points or 24 points, you're still down three scores.

5 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 6

I would like to thank KC for:
a) Scoring in 12 seconds on their final drive, giving NE the ball with the time and opportunity to close it out in regulation.
b) Tackling Gronk on his final catch. Making that tackle for all purposes ended the game.

Would also love to know what Belichick was messing around with forcing KO returns when NE KO coverage hasn't been good this year and KC is dangerous. And WTH with that squib kick?

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c) the KC defender who tried to stop James White getting out of bounds on the play before Gronk's catch. Allowed White an extra 10yds of YAC into KC territory.

It was clear NE had no desire to stop the clock until there wasn't nothing left on it for Mahomes to do anything. They had 3 timeouts left if they did need to stop it for some reason.

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I get that the comment's probably in jest, but stuff like "they scored too fast" or "they took too long to score" just drive me nuts - it's not like they've got a magic bullet play that will always score a touchdown and they're like, "hey, let's run a few crappy plays before running this super-awesome play that will get us a touchdown." Coverage usually dictates when you take that shot down the field - once Mahomes saw Hill was alone with a safety facing the wrong way, that's got to be one of the easiest reads ever. If you're losing, you don't overthink it - you take the points.

I mean, if you want to go all second-level metagame wackiness, if it was *anyone's* choice to let Kansas City score that fast, it would've been New England's. And while I totally can't imagine them actually doing that (because it'd be super-dumb) although Dave said that Hill "hit the nitrous button or something," but it did kinda look suspiciously like Chung/McCourty weren't moving anywhere near full speed.

140 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 6

Pat, I get what you're saying, but do you really not allow that there are differences in playcalling strategies when you'd prefer to score quickly vs. slowly? Surely, you don't think teams run the exact same offense when they get the ball, down 7, with two minutes left vs. four minutes left, right?

Therefore, I think that "they scored too quickly" is a valid criticism, if a simplistic one. Obviously, scoring quickly is better than not scoring slowly, but if you have confidence in your offense, you should be adjusting your playcalling to the situation.

This doesn't mean that the QB should avoid throwing to an open WR downfield if there are still three minutes on the clock, and I am certainly not criticizing Mahomes for doing so. But in theory, a playcaller should be taking time remaining into account when calling plays.

144 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 6

No? I don't know if you think is some kind of gotcha or what, but it's not really relevant to my point. (Either that, or it is already addressed when I said Mahomes made a good decision in throwing to Hill.)

I'm speaking in generalities, here, and trying to suss out some more nuance to what I read as Pat implying there's no way to control whether you score fast or slow. There is definitely a balance to be found between "call the play that on average gets you the most yardage" and "leverage the time remaining to your advantage", that's all my point is.

To take it down another track, let's think of some examples on the edges.

First, a team that is down 14 with 2:00 and no timeouts left, facing fourth and goal from their opponents' 15 yard line. Kicking the field goal would have the highest expected points of any play there, but it would be stupid in that situation, as getting only 3 points is "scoring too slowly". There would not be time left for two more scoring drives, which is what you'd need in order to win the game. You can expand this further to a team that is taking their sweet time, down 14, at midfield, with 3:30 left (a similar situation to the Chiefs/Patriots playoff game from a few years ago).

Second, a team that is tied with 0:45 and 1 timeout left, facing first and goal from their opponents' 1 yard line. The highest expected points there would be to try to get the ball in the end zone. But it's probably smarter to take one knee, call timeout with 5 seconds left, and kick the field goal, because then you aren't leaving any time for your opponent to make a comeback.

The Chiefs case is a fairly wide expansion of the second situation, and by no means would I have suggested Hill go down or Mahomes not make that throw. But if they were on the Patriots side of the field and calling passes that were designed to get the receiver out of bounds? That would be poor playcalling, in my opinion, as you're willingly leaving time on the clock that only helps your opponent.

145 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 6

The Chiefs case is a fairly wide expansion of the second situation, and by no means would I have suggested Hill go down or Mahomes not make that throw. But if they were on the Patriots side of the field and calling passes that were designed to get the receiver out of bounds? That would be poor playcalling, in my opinion, as you're willingly leaving time on the clock that only helps your opponent.

That's a pretty big reach. If you're trailing by more than a FG, you take the TD when you can. Period. You have no guarantee that you will actually score it on a later play. Nor do you have any guarantee as to what will happen after you score the TD. Concerning yourself with the clock at that point of the game is too costly.

148 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 6

You should consider that, too.

The bottom line is that your own personnel, the opposing defense, score, and time remaining should all factor into your playcalling. Pat seemingly implied that considering the last of those is not something teams can do.

150 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 6

Sure, which is why you pass, when down 4, on your own 20, 1 minute left, no timeouts, instead of run. I wasn't trying to suggest that time remaining has no effect on playcalling. I am.trying to suggest that scoring on a defense is a hard thing to do, and that difficulty constrains choices not infrequently.

Anyways, I'm not really trying to disagree with you all that vehemently. Sometimes a very explosive offense just isn't as good at time consuming drives.

6 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 6

Bryan Knowles: A six-point deficit, rather than a three-point deficit, means Cincinnati has to open up the offense to get down the field in a hurry. Aided by a defensive pass interference call, they march down the field 75 yards in just over two minutes to take the lead. The Steelers defense is turrible. Pittsburgh does have 1:18 left to try to get a score, so this one isn't over, but man, I'd rather have that shot on fourth down.

If the goal is to deny the opponent aggression in late-game situations, should Cincinnati have knelt on the XP to preserve the 20-20 tie, in order to deny Pittsburgh's aggression down 21-20 late?

When does taking the points trump denied aggression, and when does it not?

43 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 6

The complaint is that the field goal does nothing.

3 point lead: FG ties, TD beats you.
6 point lead: TD ties, with XP beats you.

The biggest difference is that by taking the points, you've taken the option of settling for a field goal off the board. Down 3, Marvin Lewis may well settle for a field goal, and the hope is he'll try and force a long one. Down 4-8, he has to score a touchdown. Note that being up by three is one of the ONLY instances when you don't want to kick. For example:

Up by four: they need a touchdown anyway, and making the field goal puts you up by seven. Worst case scenario is that they tie the game.
Up by two: they only need a field goal; force them to score the touchdown.
Up by six: a field goal gives you a two-score lead.
Tied: a field goal gives you the lead.
Down by two: a field goal gives you the lead.

For example, in the Bears-Packers Week 1 game, Nagy kicked a field goal on a fourth-and-1 while up by three to take a six-point lead. I thought at the time this was the wrong position, and even an analysis of win probability bears this out: the Bears likelihood of winning DROPPED by 5% when they kicked the field goal, even though they made the kick. (Three plays later, the Packers scored a touchdown, got the extra point, and held that one-point lead for the rest of the game.)

Is there an argument to take the points? Sure. And in most cases, you probably do want to take the points. (Even I wouldn't argue that it's irrational to take an extra 3 points in the first three quarters; while we could make the argument that kicking in the red zone hurt the Chiefs chances of winning, if they go for it every time and miss, the Patriots win fairly easily.) But sometimes taking the points is the wrong move.

11 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 6

"CBS just showed a graphic that they've tracked no hurries, pass disruptions, or quarterback hits for the Cincinnati defense today. Yikes."
The Steelers O-Line is giving Ben days to throw (He even has time to start doing some classic Roethlisbergering), and has not allowed a sack in 2 weeks straight. Sure, the Bengals D-Line is not the greatest in the league, but you would expect any defensive front to put a couple of pressures on any offensive line.
"For all that the Bengals did wrong on that final play, I'm still going to stick to my guns and say that the Steelers were playing for the uncertain long field goal, even in victory. That was a quick slant. There was no aggression involved. Good results, but bad process."
I think everyone (Including whoever was calling plays for the Bengals D) knew Tomlin was playing for the GW FG. Which fits Tomlin's conservative late game MO which is playing for the FG. Either they were expecting the blitz (Which was understandable, given they were in Boswell FG range), or they ran an RPO and the Mike was the read (Again, understandable and fitting of Tomlin's style. A simple Conner run would have let them center the ball and get it a tad closer if the Mike dropped in coverage. He didn't so Ben threw the slant). The fact that the safeties played the sidelines just gave Brown nothing but green grass and the endzone in front of him.

58 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 6

This is wrong, because both of you are forgetting that the Bengals ran a 5-man blitz at 6:22 in the 3rd quarter that left the MOF wide open (the main difference was that Burfict didn't blitz, but he didn't get any depth on his drop either). The Steelers hit Brown on almost the exact same route lined up on the other side of the formation for 40 yards.

Credit goes to the OC, Roethlisberger, and AB for recognizing that the Bengals were going zero blitz and the exact same play would be open for huge yardage.

8 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 6

For all that the Bengals did wrong on that final play, I'm still going to stick to my guns and say that the Steelers were playing for the uncertain long field goal, even in victory. That was a quick slant. There was no aggression involved. Good results, but bad process.

Untrue.

The Bengals blitz was a hope for a sack to move them out of FG range, but also a run blitz against the expected draw or dive play. The Steelers passed into the blitz instead and ate that play up. It's not saying fark it and unleashing a dragon (CutPeterBortlesmanler wasn't the QB), but it's not the typical turtling, either.