Audibles at the Line: Week 15
compiled by Rivers McCown
Each Sunday, the FO staff sends around e-mails about the games that each of us are watching. We share information about the games that the rest of the group might not be watching, ask questions, and keep everyone else informed about which games they might want to tune into (if they can).
On Monday, we compile a digest of those e-mails and produce this feature. By its nature, it can be disjointed and dissimilar to the other articles on the site.
While these e-mails are generally written with Audibles in mind, they do not represent a standard review of all the games each week. That means we aren't going to cover every game, or every important play. We watch the games that we, as fans, are interested in watching, so your favorite team's game might not be covered to your fullest desires or even at all. (If you are a Seahawks or Patriots fan, you are probably in luck; if you are a Bills fan, not so much.) We have no intention of adding new authors to cover every game on a given Sunday, nor will we watch a different game from the ones that we're personally interested in watching, just to ensure that Audibles covers every game.
Thursday, December 15th
Jacksonville Jaguars 14 at Atlanta Falcons 41
Tom Gower: Honestly, with a game like this, at this time of the season, I don't know how much I'm seeing of interest. Julio Jones' opening touchdown came when his defender got caught up in the trash caused by Tony Gonzalez over the middle, and nobody else picked up the coverage. Jones is also faster than most of Jacksonville's defensive players. Ashton Youboty is not an NFL-caliber corner, which isn't a surprise because he wasn't in the NFL a couple weeks ago. Neither Jacksonville guard Will Rackley nor right tackle Guy Whimper is anything close to a competent player.
J.J. Cooper: I've got Whimper with nine sacks allowed this year, and Rackley with 5.5. They have not impressed.
Rivers McCown: Jaguars defense: have the injuries finally caught up to them, does Mel Tucker has too much on his plate now that he's the head coach, or is it both? I'm leaning toward the injuries.
Tom Gower: On that Michael Turner TD to make it 17-0, Akwasi Owusu-Ansah, who's playing safety because Dwight Lowery left the game earlier with a shoulder injury, attacked Gonzalez's flat route AFTER Matt Ryan had handed the ball off to Turner. I'm not saying Lowery would've tackled Turner, but there's a chance he does. Between Lowery and Dawan Landry, the safeties have been a million times better this year, but they have zero depth whatsoever behind them, and that's a good example of it.
Coming into this game, I thought the worst game by an NFL player I'd seen this year was Brandyn Dombrowski at left tackle for the Chargers against the Raiders, in the game where he took over after Marcus McNeill's injury. Now that it's 41-0 midway through the third quarter, I'm sure almost everybody's attention is elsewhere, but Youboty's performance tonight has already exceeded Dombrowski's in my mind.
Vince Verhei: I'm not watching the game, but I just checked the box score. It's 41-0 in the third quarter. Blaine Gabbert has 11 dropbacks, four sacks, one first down, and negative net passing yards. I cannot WAIT to write Quick Reads Sunday night.
Literally in the time it took me to type that post, Gabbert was sacked again.
I'm still not watching, by the way.
Saturday, December 17th
Dallas Cowboys 31 at Tampa Bay Buccaneers 15
Tom Gower: I suppose it says something about tonight's game that I didn't even think about Audibles until after the game was over. I was surprised the Bucs put up any fight at all after that dismal first half, but they did. Ultimately, I think you saw a deeply flawed team that went down early and never got back in the game, which what I think pretty much what we were expecting.
Danny Tuccitto: My takeaway from this game is that, although I'm loathe to play armchair sports psychologist from afar, it's pretty apparent the Buccaneers have given up on 2011.
Rivers McCown: I charted Josh Freeman's Week 10 game against the Texans a week ago, and though I hated the work his offensive line did, I saw him making a few weird decisions in his progressions in that one. That continued in this game, I thought. I'm fine with the general consensus that Mike Mayock left us all with (and goodness, he makes games like this bearable), which was that Tampa desperately needs speed on offense, but it seems to me like Freeman is much better when Tampa is running the two-minute drill. That makes me curious about how well he's being coached.
Sunday, December 18th
Cincinnati Bengals 20 at St. Louis Rams 13
Mike Kurtz: Everything you need to know about the Rams offense: On third-and-7, the call is a toss to Steven Jackson out of shotgun.
Cincinatti's defense is just too fast for all of these slow-developing outside runs that St. Louis is trying. They've had success running up the middle, but on third down they keep trying to go outside, where they get hammered for losses.
Guess what St. Louis dialed up on third down? An outside toss. It was completely shut down, but they were bailed out by a facemask.
Another third down, quick hitch, shut down. Hey, guys, you're not having any luck outside. Run it up the middle with Cadillac Williams or Jackson.
The St. Louis defense has been playing lights-out today, especially on run defense. The Rams offense has been ... uh ... yeah. Neither team, through halftime, has converted a third down.
The CBS halftime crew must be having a contest to see who can screw up the most names ... Cable Hanie? Steve Young on the Panthers?
The Rams finally got their first third-down conversion, near the start of the fourth quarter.
Cedric Benson has fumbled twice this game, and both have bounced right into the arms of Bengals.
Robert Weintraub: Benson fumbled a third time later in the game, and Cincy recovered that one too, for the hat trick.
Ben Muth: Harvey Dahl just got called for holding. When the ref announced the call, Dahl yelled "That's not f---ing holding!" The refs mic picked it up, so everyone at home and in the stadium heard it. Then the ref called him for a personal foul. That's a bullcrap call. If the microphone doesn't pick it up, there's no way that's a penalty. It shouldn't make a difference how many people hear it. I could see a fine later in the week, perhaps, but it shouldn't be a penalty.
Aaron Schatz: If we're going to start flagging players for swearing on the field, or even just for swearing at officials, I mean, just pack up the whole league right now and call it quits. That's ridiculous.
Mike Kurtz: When the ref goes off to announce the penalty, they clear all the players out.Dahl stayed in the ref's face.
Aaron Schatz: So, the penalty is for shouting in the official's face, you think, not necessarily what he said?
Ben Muth: I'm 100 percent convinced that it's because the mic picked it up. He could've been so close to the ref he was spitting on him, but if the mic doesn't pick it up, the ref wouldn't call it.
Mike Kurtz: I agree with Ben, it was called because the mic picked it up, but he wasn't just standing around swearing to his buddies, he kept coming at him even after he should've cleared out.
Robert Weintraub: OK, I was at the Bengals-Rams game today (scalped ticket for $20, and I still felt a bit ripped off). Dahl cussed, the whole crowd went crazy, and only then did the flag come out. There was no question the flag came out because a bunch of little kids heard the f-bomb during a family outing -- and on Marshall Faulk Day, no less. Horrendous call, but given the poor officiating all game, right in line, actually. It's the first time I've ever seen that particular penalty, called so I suppose being there was worth it.
It looked like a blatant hold from the stands, by the way. At least get flagged for complaining about something less obvious.
Otherwise, an awful game, but I'd rather Cincy win ugly than lose in any fashion. The results are going the Who Dey way so far today, but this team has no business being in the playoffs given their current ineptitude. If seeing the Edward Jones Dome is on your bucket list, remove it post-haste.
Mike Kurtz: I watched the entire game, the only bad call was an uncalled helmet-to-helmet hit to Kellen Clemens. There were other borderline calls, but there are always borderline calls.
Danny Tuccitto: Let me make my weekly obligatory mention of the tiger suit bet. The Bengals win this week gives them eight for the season, which means I will indeed be wearing a tiger suit to my fantasy drafts next year. Photodocumentation to come ... in nine months.
Robert Weintraub: I may fly in to see it in person, actually.
Carolina Panthers 28 at Houston Texans 13
Panthers just scored on a ... um ... a...
Rivers McCown: The announcers dubbed it a "modern fumblerooski." It was a heck of a call. Newton gave the ball to tight end/fullback Richie Brockel, who hid it low, and then Newton ran a fake sweep before the rest of the line moved left and opened up space for Brockel to score.
I only caught bits and pieces of the game, which is probably good news for my psyche. Nobody is going to win many games when they lose the turnover battle by three, and Arian Foster's first-quarter fumble again put Houston behind early. Honestly, from what I did see, I didn't think Houston played too poorly. The run defense looks like it may be a problem in the playoffs, and DeMeco Ryans played especially poorly today. I have to think he is a prime candidate for a restructure-or-release contract scenario this offseason.
Green Bay Packers 14 at Kansas City Chiefs 19
Aaron Schatz: The Chiefs march down the field against Green Bay on the first drive. They end up with fourth-and-goal from the 1. Romeo Crennel elects to kick the field goal. Because, of course, three points at a time is the perfect way to beat Aaron Rodgers. What a wuss move. What do the Chiefs have to lose at this point? Be bold!
Mike Tanier: The Packers look real flat early. Their first drive was just a roughing the punter penalty and a missed field goal. The Chiefs are gouging them with screens.
Jermichael Finley has several drops, as do some other receivers. Jordy Nelson has several offensive pass interference penalties. The Chiefs are still gaining big yards on screens and settling for field goals or goalline stands.
Aaron Schatz: Kansas City gets a huge pass to Leonard Pope on a second-and-inches, but Pope can't quite keep his feet in bounds as he tries to leap over the pylon, and gets declared down at the 3. Once again, the Chiefs suck in the red zone and have to kick a field goal. I wonder if Pope's inability to keep his feet in bounds just saved the Packers' perfect season.
Aaron Schatz: We wondered all season who could stop Aaron Rodgers. Today we found out: His own receivers and offensive line.
Mike Tanier: And the Colts can't even get on Any Given Sunday!
Vince Verhei: I spend 16 Sundays a year in a sports bar with tons of TVs. This is the one weekend I leave town, and Green Bay loses. Figures.
Washington Redskins 23 at New York Giants 10
Aaron Schatz: Jason Pierre-Paul gets a sack when the Redskins flat-out do not block him. Really wacko. The line slides to the right, which leaves the left tackle and left guard blocking the defensive tackle. And since the fullback is on the right side, he has to cross over in front of the quarterabck to try to pick up JPP. Honestly, even if the fullback was on the correct side, do you really want to leave your fullback in charge of picking up JPP?
Rivers McCown: (Yeah you know me!)
Aaron Schatz: Looking again, I guess the line was moving right because they were play-action faking a stretch run right, but still, that play-action fake naturally ends with Grossman directly in JPP's path. What a bad play.
Mike Tanier: It doesn't matter what the Redskins do. The Giants are in pass-dropping, tip-drill interception mode.
Aaron Schatz: At halftime, the Redskins offensive line is getting surprisingly strong push on runs up the middle against the Giants. They're not doing quite so well on outside runs -- I think they'll want to stay away from those in the second half. The Giants are not getting good coverage and it looks like they've benched Prince Amukamara. As far as the Giants offense goes, Tanier is correct. Eli Manning has terrible numbers right now (7-of-17, 77 yards, interception), but he's throwing the ball fine. The Giants have made a couple of egregious drops and have run a couple of really poorly-blocked screens, and the Redskins also have a couple of nice passes defensed, including one that turned into a tip-drill interception.
Aaron Schatz: The Giants secondary seems to be back on its heels on every play. They're letting the Redskins catch pass after pass ahead of them.
Tennessee Titans 13 at Indianapolis Colts 27
Tom Gower: Chris Johnson picked up three yards on a carry early in the second quarter -- there wasn't a free Colt within 15 yards of him when he hit the line of scrimmage. Yep, that kind of day.
Mike Tanier: We are on hour two of a Colts attempt to punt. I think there have been nine penalties on three attempts. The Colts special teams coach has a shiny bald head like a bowling trophy.
There was just another play where Johnson looked like he had a mile of running room on a draw, but gained just about four yards. Then he dropped a pass in the flat.
Tom Gower: The mascots-third graders scrimmage at halftime was just as well-played and more entertaining than the first half between the Titans and the Colts. The former is only a slight exaggeration.
Mike Tanier: Any day now, Johnson will stop running laterally and cut upfield for some real yardage
Pat Angerererer is having a great game for the Colts.
Tom Gower: Nobody helps out the 0-13 Colts like the Titans/Oilers. Indianapolis is now 2-0 against them when they hold that record, I believe.
I expected the Titans to win, but gave the Colts a chance if the Titans had trouble moving the ball offensively. It was apparent in the first quarter that Johnson would not have a good game and that the Titans' wideouts would struggle immensely to win in coverage. The Titans gave them good field position with a mediocre punt and a penalty, and Dan Orlovsky hit Reggie Wayne in what I think was the Cover-2 deep outside void for the touchdown and a 10-6 lead. Matt Hasselbeck followed with the "I don't think CJ tried" pick-6, and that was pretty much that. The Titans went to Jake Locker down 20-6 in the fourth, a series after I thought they should have if they wanted to win, and he had some success against a soft defense. Donald Brown, who I thought was clearly the best running back on the field, answered Locker's touchdown with an 80-yard score, though, and it was really over. Credit to the Colts, who for the most part have looked only like a team that's badly outclassed and have kept trying despite the lost season, and brickbats to the Titans not named Rob Bironas.
Seattle Seahawks 38 at Chicago Bears 14
Vince Verhei: Seattle's defense overwhelmed the Bears offensive line today, getting four sacks and five interceptions, including a pair of gift pick-sixes. I think "dominant pass rusher" is Seattle's biggest defensive need, but what they have is good enough to beat Chicago.
New England Patriots 41 at Denver Broncos 23
Aaron Schatz: The Patriots just look horrible early on defense. Just awful. Can't tackle. Can't get off blocks. The Broncos are running all over them. Tim Tebow's also hit a couple of good passes on totally open receivers.
Vince Verhei: Ben Muth has said that teams don't even bother blocking cornerbacks on running plays, because cornerbacks don't want to tackle running backs anyway. New England's defense appears to be fielding 11 cornerbacks.
Aaron Schatz: Andre Carter goes out with a knee injury, just in case you thought the defense for the Pats couldn't get any worse.
The Broncos had something like 240 yards in the first quarter. They get into the red zone near the start of the second quarter, and Tebow runs for seven yards on third-and-8, but there's a holding penalty. At first the Pats accept the holding, then they decide to decline instead, so it is fourth-and-1. Denver brings in the field goal kicker. Man, if you are Denver, doesn't it make sense to go for it more often on fourth-and-1? Especially with Tebow? Does anyone think this Pats defense has more than a 20 percent chance to stop Tebow on fourth-and-1?
Vince Verhei: On the same note, Denver is currently ahead 16-14 because they missed their first extra point, then kicked the next one. Shouldn't Denver always go for two, especially to make up for the one they missed earlier?
Aaron Schatz: That was the best play of the game. The Patriots players picked up the aborted extra point and went running for the end zone celebrating. Whoever "scored" with it pointed to the sky, I think mocking Tebow. They had no idea that you can't return a missed extra point for a score in the NFL. It was hilarious.
Ben Muth: The Broncos had the ball the entire first quarter, the Patriots have had the ball the entire second quarter. The Pats were able to get one quick touchdown in the first with their limited time of possession, and that's the difference at the half.
Erm, scratch that. The Broncos muff a punt with three seconds left in the half, and the Patriots kick a field goal on the next play to make it an 11-point game. That's as bad a special teams play as you can make.
Aaron Schatz: First of all, Quan Cosby should have never, ever tried to catch that ball. What, he's going to return it for a touchdown? Just let the Pats down it and take a freakin' knee. But wait, it gets better. The Pats player who picked it up tried to advance it, even though you can't advance a muffed punt. OK, maybe he didn't remember that rule. But then, with the Broncos tackling him, he flipped the ball forward to a teammate. He probably should remember the rule about "no forward laterals." What on earth was that guy thinking?
Tim Gerheim: Wow, check out Jim Nantz's tie-and-sweater combination; I didn't know he was a Gryffindor.
Aaron Schatz: The Patriots offense really took over after the first quarter. It doesn't even look like the Patriots defense is playing much better than before, mostly because the Patriots defense has barely been on the field ... they've stopped the Broncos a couple times and that was good enough for the Pats to score 27 straight unanswered points.
Whoops, forgot one other thing: fumble luck. Three Denver fumbles so far, and all of them were recovered by the Patriots, including the muffed punt by Cosby. Muffed punts are almost always recovered by the return team, not the punting team, so that's a nice piece of serendipity.
Mike Tanier: It ain't over yet.
Aaron Schatz: No kidding. Tebow just made an amazing play in his own end zone. Second-and-14, Pats defender Brandon Deaderick blows past Zane Beadles and tries to drag him down for the safety, Tebow stays on his feet, but the ball bounces loose. Deaderick is wrapped up with an offensive lineman on the ground though, so Tebow is able to pick up the ball in the back zone and throw it away (skipping a pass on the ground ahead of Demaryius Thomas) instead of taking a safety or, worse, the Pats getting a touchdown. Just another one of those amazing athletic plays by Tebow.
Oh boy. Here we go with the Tebow. Third-and-18, Devin McCourty thinks he has help over the top and Sergio Brown is still hanging around in the middle of the field, leaving Demaryius Thomas wide open on the sideline for a 39-yard gain. On the next play, a dumpoff to Lance Ball, Jerod Mayo, who is covering Ball, leaves Ball to try to come after Tebow scrambling. 35-yard gain. Next play: Tebow quarterback power for a touchdown. Patriots by 11.
Hmmm. Tebow Time may be pre-empted by a Denver defensive scheme that is leaving the Patriots tight ends wide open in the middle of the field.
Robert Weintraub: Oh, Mike Arnold, no! Tebow is wandering around after the gun looking for Brady, the Tom/Tim meeting they need to capture, and just as they go to shake hands Arnold cuts to Welker just standing there! They switched it fast, so perhaps he just called the wrong camera in the heat of the moment, or maybe they were losing the handheld look. Made up for it with good sound, though, hearing Brady say "maybe we'll see you again."
Cleveland Browns 17 at Arizona Cardinals 20
Mike Kurtz: Arizona just challenged a third-down play purely in an attempt to make the field goal six yards longer. It's still a 44-yarder, after Whisenhunt loses. The resulting kick would've been good from 50.
It's astounding how poorly both of these offensive lines have performed this week, considering neither of these teams have particularly fearsome pass rushes.
Mike Kurtz: I'm starting to agree with Ben regarding the Arizona pass rush. It really does look like Pittsburgh: West Side. The execution isn't quite there, but they're bringing great heat from all corners. It's a lot of fun to watch.
Cleveland's offensive line is definitely not impressing, though.
J.J. Cooper: If Levi Brown is on the field, I expect pressure to be coming from his side. The Browns have some talent on the offensive line -- can't really say the same for the Cardinals.
Ben Muth: John Skelton just wins football games!
New York Jets 19 at Philadelphia Eagles 45
Mike Tanier: The Eagles are coming up with every variation on the non-fumble you can think of, including a challenged play and reviewed play, and a tuck-like play.
Mark Sanchez is hurt. Something weird happened, with Jason Babin hanging on him like a Christmas ornament for several seconds after a pass until Sanchez went down. I think someone bumped his ankle when he was still supporting 250 pounds of Babin meat. No call.
The Jets have lots of trouble covering tight ends. Brent Celek just had a 70-yard catch-and-run to put the ball at the goal line.
Sanchez is back. From the look of things, Babin is still clinging to him.
The bad Mark Sanchez is doing his thing tonight.
Detroit Lions 28 at Oakland Raiders 27
Robert Weintraub: Mike Mitchell just put a major lick on a Lions back, to the point where he had to come out of the game for a play. From what I've seen of this game, the Raiders are physically pounding Detroit, but only lead by three.
Any idea why T.J. Houshmandzadeh would be returning punts for Oakland?
Aaron Schatz: I swear I mentioned the same thing about Housh a couple weeks ago. They don't have 20 guys who are faster?
Robert Weintraub: I guess they trust him not to pull a Quan Cosby, or else there is some sort of former-Bengals jobs program going on that I am unaware of.
Ben Muth: If he's fielding them deep in their own territory, then I have no problem with Housh returning punts. He probably is the best at catching them, and there aren't too many 80-yard punt returns. Better to just put someone back there who's guaranteed to not muff them. If it's the middle of the field though, I don't know.
Mike Tanier: Jacoby Ford and the new kid are still hurt, right? At some point you just go for ball security out of your punt returner. But geez, you would think Darrius Heyward-Bey should have developed into a role like that by now.
Robert Weintraub: The rarely-seen midfield dive over the pile fails for Detroit on third-and-1, and the Raiders stuff fourth-and-1 too. Combined with the Bengals getting stuffed on those same circumstances earlier, I've witnessed four Power Situation runs up the gut that came up empty. My kingdom for some creativity!
Aaron Schatz: Don't forget the Chiefs constantly getting stuffed in short yardage by the Packers.
Robert Weintraub: Big hidden timeout -- the Raiders lined up for a field goal on fourth-and-1, and Detroit had 13 guys on the field. They all started running off, but the Lions wisely called timeout. Even if it may come back to haunt them later, it's probably better than giving Oakland a gift first down. Sebastian Janikowski puts a 51-yarder through without apparent effort, and the Raiders are up six with eight and change to go.
Janikowski then falls down whilst kicking off. Never a dull moment.
Now the Raiders get the strip sack-six on Matthew Stafford, seriously salting this game away.
The Lions get down the field in a hurry trailing by 13, and with fewer than six minutes left, and two timeouts, face a fourth-and-3 in the red zone. Thom Brennaman is asking why the Lions aren't kicking a field goal. Brian Billick explains it patiently. The Raiders call time, and Brennaman yelps "I wanna get back into that after the break -- why not take the points here and try to get the ball back one more time!?"
OK, play-by-play is a far tougher job than we give it credit for, but that's just simple mathematics.
Detroit converts on a Stafford scramble, and scores on the next play. This sucker is apparently not so salted.
Aaron Schatz: The Lions just went ahead of the Raiders 28-27. The drive started at the 2 and had a 10-yard offensive holding penalty, so that means it went 108 yards. 92 of those yards were to Calvin Johnson: 75 receiving and a 17-yard defensive pass interference.
Robert Weintraub: Somehow the Raiders wound up with single coverage on Johnson on the game-tying post route. Didn't we go over this earlier in the year?
Oh, and having Rolando McClain in under coverage against him probably also isn't a good idea.
Baltimore Ravens 14 at San Diego Chargers 34
Danny Tuccitto: Through his first 10 passes, Joe Flacco's arm has been incredibly enigmatic. He's overthrown and thrown behind open receivers, but then somehow caps off the Ravens' first touchdown drive by threading a pass to Ed Dickson through a tiny window between two Chargers. Like everything else NFL, this reminds me of Tim Tebow.
Mike Tanier: Philip Rivers looks like his old self.
Phillip Rivers ruheaally looks like his old self.
Mike Kurtz: Considering I'm in two close fantasy semifinals, it'd be great if he looked like his old self in Vincent Jackson's direction a bit more.
Danny Tuccitto: As I'm hanging onto a slim lead in a fantasy semi with Ray Rice and Antonio Gates against Vincent Jackson, I prefer Rivers to look is his old self in every direction other than Jackson's.
Mike Kurtz: Amusingly, Danny, I have Rice in both leagues. Here's hoping for garbage time!
Aaron Schatz: Malcom Floyd is looking even better than his old self. Speeding right past guys tonight.
DVOA's top defenses are really getting keelhauled this week. The Chargers have scored on every drive. the Jets got stomped by Eagles, the Jags got blown out by Falcons, the Bears were killed by the Seahawks. If Pittsburgh can score a lot on the 49ers, that will be all of the teams in the top five.
Tom Gower: Floyd's DVOA has been excellent this year, and I'm not really sure why. Is it just a sample size fluke (he's missed enough time that he doesn't qualify) or has his absence really been what's been plaguing the offense? It's something I'll have to figure out sooner or later.
Aaron Schatz: Floyd is just killing rookie Jimmy Smith.
Oh, boy. Flacco throws a ball that Quentin Jammer nearly picks off, but he can't hold onto it. On the next play, Flacco throws the ball right to Takeo Spikes sitting in a zone in the middle of the field. No idea how he didn't see Spikes. He's trying to throw it to a receiver who is crossing behind Spikes. Maybe you notice a dude in an electric blue jersey standing right in your field of vision in front of your receiver?
Robert Weintraub: You know it's your night when you drop a pick, then get one on the next play anyway.
Mike Tanier: This is like Course Correction Sunday.
Danny Tuccitto: Teams like the 2011 Baltimore Ravens have always fascinated me. They're undeniably good. Against good teams, they play well. Against bad teams inside their division, they play well. At home, they play well. However, put them in a non-divisional road game against a wildly inferior opponent, and they seemingly don't show up. If this game finishes as is, it would mean the Ravens are 1-4 in this latter type of games, and 9-0 in all others. What gives?
Tom Gower: These look like the same coverage issues Baltimore had in Week 2, albeit with more Jimmy Smith. Why don't these show up every week, like against Pittsburgh? Is it just the pass rush covering them up, or what? And why aren't Terrell Suggs and company killing this offensive line? If I hadn't come up with an explanation I liked for the Ryan Mathews/Mike Tolbert conundrum, I'd really be pulling my hair out here.
Danny Tuccitto: Well, Tom, in his comments to Michelle Tafoya going into halftime, John Harbaugh seemed to think Suggs and company weren't killing the Chargers because the Chargers offensive line was getting away with holding. Of course, "blame the refs" is a handy excuse.
Based on their losses, I think we can definitively say this about the Ravens offense this season: Whether by scheme or by building an early lead, if an opponent is able to take Baltimore out of its play-action comfort zone, the Ravens basically have no Plan B.
J.J. Cooper: I'm getting to see the best tight end I ever saw play high school football is in this Ravens-Chargers game. Takeo Spikes was not much smaller or slower than he is now when he was a defensive end/tight end in high school, and whenever he caught a seam route, he pretty much looked like he did on that interception. The only difference is that instead of NFL players trying to tackle him, he was shrugging off 180 pounders.
The second-best high school tight end I got to see play is also in this game -- Randy McMichael.
When Ray Lewis rightfully is inducted into the Hall of Fame, they won't show the highlight of that third down dumpoff pass to Mike Tolbert. Tolbert catches it and spins right out of Lewis' tackle to convert for a first down.