Audibles at the Line: Week 7

Audibles at the Line: Week 7
Audibles at the Line: Week 7
Photo: USA Today Sports Images

compiled by Rivers McCown and Ben Jones

This year, we have a new format for our Monday morning feature Audibles at the Line, combining our Twitter feeds with our e-mail discussion. First, we're replacing our usual back-and-forth with some longer-form dissection of each game that at least one of us watches in depth. Second, every game that we find time for will also have a selection of tweets from us and a few reader tweets we found particularly insightful. To follow these tweets live on Sunday, or to contribute your own thoughts or a question for the FO staff, you can use hashtag #foaud. We discussed the new format in this post.

On Monday, we will compile a digest of tweets and e-mails to produce this feature. By its nature, it can be disjointed, not entirely grammatically correct, and dissimilar to the other articles on the site.

Audibles is still being written from our point of view, meaning we aren't going to cover every game, or every important play. We watch the games that we, as fans, are interested in watching, so your favorite team's game might not be covered to your fullest desires or even at all. (If you are a 49ers or Patriots fan, you are probably in luck; if you are a Bills fan, not so much.) We have no intention of adding new authors to cover every game on a given Sunday, nor will we watch a different game from the ones that we're personally interested in watching, just to ensure that Audibles covers every game. Audibles is often written from a fan perspective as much as an analyst perspective; in order to properly accuse FO writers of bias, please check our FAQ.

Buffalo Bills 23 at Miami Dolphins 21


@GDFar: Why are the Fins favoring Thomas over Lamar Miller? We have ample evidence saying that's the wrong decision.
Robert Weintraub: Seconds later yet another third down conversion and great catch by CJ and now 21-17.

Dallas Cowboys 17 at Philadelphia Eagles 3


Rivers McCown: Aikman says LeSean McCoy is often compared to Barry Sanders, and that's fair. Um. Nice season so far, but ... wat?
Scott Kacsmar: Cowboys punt on fourth-and-5 at the PHI 36 "in the nervous light of Sunday."
Rivers McCown: Cowboys punt on 4th-and-5 from the 37. The punt goes 22 yards. Bad process, bad results
Rivers McCown: Nick Foles is spending an awful lot of time in the pocket early. Routinely having to go to third read or beyond.
Aaron Schatz: Somebody tell Nick Foles to dial it back a bit. Everything is overthrown.
Aaron Schatz: Hey remember when Chip Kelly owned Monte Kiffin's defense? That was fun.
Scott Kacsmar: Big game for the Eagles and they're down 10-0. That sounds like the Buddy Ryan/Cunningham era all over again.
Rivers McCown: Nick Foles facially resembles Owen from Dodgeball. Also: playing quarterback like Owen from Dodgeball.
@OlDirtySaltz: with Foles out, EAGLES QB enters the game
Rivers McCown: On both Matt Barkley picks — one negated by penalty — underneath zone defenders got him.


Rivers McCown: This is the kind of oddball game I've come to expect from the NFC East this year. Dallas' defense really impressed me. Philadelphia only really has DeSean Jackson at this point, but they had a hard time beating the Cowboys' cornerbacks one-on-one. Foles dealt with this by holding on to the ball forever, and that led to sacks, throwaways, and a lot of pressure throws. I didn't watch the Tampa game last week at all, so I have no idea what the difference was between them and Dallas, but it's a bit perplexing.

No matter which path the Eagles choose between Foles and Michael Vick, I think it's clear that Barkley shouldn't be part of the discussion.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers 23 at Atlanta Falcons 31


Scott Kacsmar: Atlanta vs. Tampa Bay: Seriously, doesn't Mike Glennon look like Matt Ryan stretched out like he was Gumby?
@MilkmanDanimal: Second time Tampa has gotten a false start on 3rd and short so far. Tell us again how well-coached this team is, Schiano.
‏@MilkmanDanimal: Lost in Tampa's wreck of a season is that Lavonte David has been great this year. 4 or 5 tackles in the 1st Q, 2 for loss this game.
@MilkmanDanimal: Leonard Johnson just had the singly ugliest failed pass defense jumping pirouette ever; P.I., plus Douglas caught it anyways.
Scott Kacsmar: Good job to pick up what would have been a horrible flag on Doug Martin hit. Greg Schiano came out to make it look like he's human.
@MilkmanDanimal: If "Harry Douglas is unstoppable" are not the words that get Greg Schiano fired, what words could ever do it?
@MilkmanDanimal: Tampa has a 1st and goal from the 30, and runs up the middle on next play. Nothing could better describe how this season has gone.


Tom Gower: As ex-staffer Russell Levine pointed out on his Twitter, this game had an 18-play, 55-yard, nine-minute drive ... after which Tampa elected to kick a field goal that left it (still) down two scores with five minutes to play.

Scott Kacsmar: I thought Greg Schiano was nuts when I heard that, but it was fourth-and-goal from the 23. Why not kick the field goal and get a high-percentage three points over an absolute prayer that will likely give you nothing? Plus, with a make you can try an onside kick. Tampa Bay did get the ball back after a quick three-and-out, which happens often in those situations when leading teams play conservatively. So I don't mind that field goal.

Danny Tuccitto: Remember how bad the Falcons special teams are right now, and how few people they even have available for their hands team. The field goal was the sanest thing Schiano has done in weeks.

Tom Gower: Do you think you'll score two more times in the final five minutes? That it was fourth-and-goal from the 23 makes it more reasonable, but the whole experience, particularly the "getting the ball back down two scores early in the fourth quarter and kicking a field goal with five to play" thing, drives me nuts as a matter of principle. That the Bucs did not then onside, given how banged up Atlanta is right now, just adds to my general incredulity.

Matt Waldman: Rookie Mike Glennon is aggressive. It's a good thing within the context of targeting Vincent Jackson, a fine receiver on 50/50 balls. However, there were at least five attempts Atlanta had a reasonable chance to intercept. Three of them could have been pick-sixes. One of those targets was an opposite-hash deep comeback that gave me flashbacks of Mike Ditka having a conniption on the sideline when Jim Harbaugh tried that route on a Monday night game resulting in a pick-six.

There's something there with Glennon, but it's buried under a layer of conceptual immaturity that leaves me wondering if the Freeman-Glennon situation is nothing more of "six of one, half-dozen of another."

San Diego Chargers 24 at Jacksonville Jaguars 6


@ronJ_havas: King Dunlap hurt...get ready for the 2012 Chargers?
‏@zgeballe: Sadness is...Jaguars players exhorting their fans for noise during a goal-line stand already down 14-3
Andrew Potter: What was Philip Rivers thinking on that goal-line scramble? Seven seconds left, no TO, MUST throw & quickly. Cost his team 3 points.
@MilkmanDanimal: Chad Henne just tried running on a read option. Burn this play. Burn this playbook. Burn this team. Burn everything you can.
@ronJ_havas: Diddle diddle, Danny Woodhead up the middle. A screen gets the first down on 2nd & 20
Cian Fahey: Jaguars wide receiver Mike Brown is a baller. Next QB in JAX will have many, many weapons to work with


Cian Fahey: This was the worst-officiated game of football that I have ever witnessed, and most of the bad calls went against the Jaguars. There were a number of very questionable calls, but most notable was Antonio Gates' obvious fumble that was reviewed and still stood. Regardless of that, the Jaguars shouldn't be happy with their display.

Anyone who hasn't watched the Jaguars this season will just mark it off as another loss, but this loss occurred because of the defense, not the offense as had been the norm this season. The Jaguars played like they did the previous week against the Denver Broncos -- they dropped coverage off and never blitzed. In fact, they sent three-man rushes so often it was just peculiar.

With that game plan and talent advantage in his supporting cast, Philip Rivers was able to check the ball down all day to sustain drives. The Chargers had 37 minutes of possession and the Jaguars had just two possessions in the first half. Even though the Jaguars had given up a lot of points in previous games, they had at least made offenses earn those points. In this game it was way too easy, while the Jacksonville offense kept themselves out of the end zone with a number of near-miss plays that killed drives.

Rivers McCown: I'll second that Jacksonville has not been a flaming pile of garbage on defense this year. Did not get to watch any of this game, but it is notable that Jeremy Mincey sat. He's the only guy on this unit that I see getting any kind of pressure.

New England Patriots 27 at New York Jets 30


Aaron Schatz: Jets repeatedly running up the gut on Pats. Clearly miss Vince Wilfork and Jerod Mayo. Jeremy Kerley is killing them in passing game.
‏@pchicola: With Gronkowski back, the rookies getting more in sync w/ Brady, & w/ Amendola and Vereen eventually coming back, Pats O will get better.
@Shake1n1bake: Belichick goes for it on 4th and an inch in easy FG range, I hate him, but wish all my teams coaches were more like him
Aaron Schatz: Steve Gregory seems confused. Why are refs calling pass interference? All he did was slam into the receiver while never looking for the ball.
Scott Kacsmar: Hell of a run by Geno Smith for the TD. Just think of what body part Mark Sanchez may have fumbled off of down there
Aaron Schatz: @FO_ScottKacsmar Those Geno Smith scrambles are more evidence that taking him out to go wildcat is stupid.
Aaron Schatz: Gotta go back and look at film to see what Jets changed at halftime. Pass rush so much better now.
‏@GilbertDenizard: @FO_ASchatz I think Rex gave them all a foot rub at the half
Aaron Schatz: I actually like the Jets attempt to play-action for a deep pass on second and 10. Three point lead not really safe against Tom Brady.
Aaron Schatz: Whether Folk hits this long field goal or not, final runs were stupid conservative play call by the Jets


Aaron Schatz: OK, we've established by now that the penalty called on Chris Jones was not as ridiculous as it seemed at the time. Yes, this thing about pushing an opponent into the line of scrimmage is a real thing. I still think it is ridiculous for NFL officials to apparently completely ignore this rule for six weeks, get a memo from the league, and then suddenly call it for the first time in a situation that essentially decided a game.

Well, half-decided a game. If they don't call that penalty, the Patriots get the ball back in very good field position but they still haven't won the game at that point. Obviously, the Patriots didn't look like a great team today. People on Twitter were criticizing Pats fans for blaming the loss on the penalty because the Pats didn't do enough to clearly win the game. But that's exactly the kind of game where it's agonizing to see an unprecedented penalty go against your team. When the Pats ran out of gas against the Bengals, I mean, they were outplayed that day. Sometimes the other team just has a better day. Today's game with the Jets was essentially a tie. You know a game like that is probably going to be decided by either a single clutch play or some random capricious event. You kind of want that play or that event to go in your team's favor.

So, yeah, as to the Patriots not playing better than the Jets... the defense is clearly missing Wilfork, Tommy Kelly, and Mayo. The Jets ran up the middle easily in the first quarter, and once the Patriots tried to get guys into the box to stop that, it opened up other things. And my god, I have no idea why but Jeremy Kerley just OWNS this team. Kerley has six games of at least 75 receiving yards in his career, and four of them are against New England. It doesn't matter who covered him, or what kind of formation the Jets used to get him open. He got open. The Pats tend to play zone but they were playing mostly man today, which also left plenty of space open for Geno Smith to scramble.

As for the Patriots' offense, Gronk was back, Gronk looked pretty good, and Brady clearly knew he was there, targeting him 17 times. Gronk did open things up for other receivers a bit. So at this point, there's no debate about whether something is wrong with Brady, right? You can't blame this anymore on not being in sync with his receivers, or missing Wes Welker, or bad drops by Kenbrell Thompkins and Aaron Dobson. The Pats were 1-for-12 on third downs today, and when you overthrow a guy to the point where the ball lands five yards out of bounds, that's not possibly an issue of "not being in sync with your receivers yet." There's no option routes where one of the options is "be five yards out of bounds." (The exception to this were the passes at the end of the fourth quarter which generally all landed ahead of the receivers. Brady had to throw these ahead of his receivers because once he was in field-goal range, he couldn't risk an interception at all ... keeping the ball away from the defenders meant throwing low-percentage passes.)

As for the Jets, I feel a bit vindicated. We said before the season that this team would be a wild card contender, that they would bounce back in all three phases of the game, and that despite the constant anonymous criticism during the run-up to the draft, Geno Smith is a pretty good quarterback prospect. All of those things seem to have turned out to be true. So can we please now stop expecting the Jets to be a circus all the time? The circus moved to Tampa, people. The Jets are a mediocre team, better on defense than offense, with hope for the future thanks to a promising but inexperienced quarterback. Really not much different from Buffalo, and the Muhammad Wilkerson/Sheldon Richardson combo is probably better than the Kyle Williams/Marcel Dareus combo at this point. They will lose games, but it isn't going to be a series of pratfalls like last year.

Cincinnati Bengals 27 at Detroit Lions 24


@Coboney: Andy Dalton has no deep ball. AJ Green had to slow down to catch the ball. Lucky Green is so good at getting open, else thats a pick
Tom Gower: Jim Schwartz actually wins a spot challenge on a QB slide. Thought it was a winner, but that's a rare thing.
Robert Weintraub : Lions are 11-of-15 on 3rd down and face key 3rd and long. Wanna bet on result?
Tom Gower: No flipping way, Calvin Johnson. NO FLIPPING WAY. Beats a triple team for a long TD. Stafford got crushed, too.
@Coboney: How did Calvin Johnson come up with that? That looked like a Hail Mary play with 3 defenders there beating at the ball and he gets it
Robert Weintraub: Only a hail Mary TD to Johnson who goes over 3 guys to make an unreal TD. Stafford nailed as he throws and still heaves it 65 yards
Vincent Verhei: Your favorite receiver's favorite receiver is Calvin Johnson.
‏@THEOSU7: 54 minutes in, I was worried we were going to go a whole game without a ridiculous Marvin Lewis Challenge. Crisis Averted!
Robert Weintraub: Nugent!!!!!!!! Flashback to when he had a big leg. 54 yard field goal to win it. Second straight week he kicks one to win 27-24.


Rob Weintraub: For three-and-a-half quarters, Detroit was unstoppable on third down. Both teams were pretty good, actually, especially given neither ran the ball with any effectiveness. But Stafford was driving this particular Bengals fan to drink (and I don't drink) with his ability to sidearm, shovel, and slip balls into tiny windows and make just enough to move the chains, time and again. It got ridiculous -- that Megatron Hail Mary was even more amazing for being third-and-18 (and how did Stafford throw it that far while getting nailed by Michael Johnson?).

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The Bengals were in control at 21-10 in the third quarter, and Detroit had a third-and-20 at its own 10. Sure enough, Stafford threw a 40-yard pass up the right sideline to Kevin Ogletree, as Terence Newman asked where the safety help was. George Iloka said, "who, me?" A couple of plays later, Stafford threw a bullet back shoulder pass to Johnson for another awe-inspiring TD, and it was game on. But for the second straight week, the Bengals got a big late stop (in OT last week) and set up a short field to win it. Good pass rush late wins games, as Bill Walsh always said, and it got the job done today.

For all their explosiveness, Detroit remains flawed. The Bengals won the special teams battle handily (a huge blocked field goal, a shoddy punt late by Sam Martin to set up the long Mike Nugent field goal to win it), and exposed several mismatches in coverage, especially against Chris Houston, who had his lunch eaten not only by AJ but by Marvin Jones. The Bengals did a very good job in pass protection in the middle, and that allowed Andy Dalton to carve the Lions up. Seam routes were especially effective. Dalton continues to underthrow on "heave it as far as you can" plays, but has been exceptionally accurate on intermediate stuff the last couple of weeks.

I know the officiating always gets ripped, but this crew (Scott Green) was brutal today, both ways. Just no clue half the time.

I was very worried about injuries before this game, for some reason, and sure enough, Leon Hall tore his Achilles tendon for the second time in three seasons. Long term that's a crucial loss unless Dre Kirkpatrick stays on the field health-wise and improves drastically.

Sean McCormick: I didn't see a ton of the game, but I was shocked by how cavalier Stafford was with the ball. He was spraying the ball all over the place, whether it was throwing to blanketed receivers or just chucking it to avoid pressure. That heave to a triple-covered Calvin Johnson was pretty symbolic of his decision-making process on the day.

Rivers McCown: I see you haven't watched much Matt Stafford tape...

Rob Weintraub: Because he has such a cannon, Stafford gets away with that stuff more than he should, so he keeps doing it. I stopped counting his "awkward" throws after ten, and it was the third quarter, and the Bengals hadn't made him pay for any of them.

St Louis Rams 15 at Carolina Panthers 30


Tom Gower: Rams do right thing in going for it on 4&G from the 1, do wrong thing by targeting Jared Cook again.
Vincent Verhei: Cam Newton holding the ball too long. Can't do that when SL DL is better than CAR OL.
Vincent Verhei: Tavon Austin finally gets open for long TD ... And the play is called back for a tripping penalty.
Vincent Verhei: Panthers take knee at end of half instead of trying Hail Mary. RIVERA!!!!!
Tom Gower: Panthers-Rams fight. Yes, Steve Smith is involved. Only reason Cortland Finnegan isn't is he's inactive.
Vincent Verhei: Smith baits Chris Long into getting ejected, then catches apparent TD. (Call is challenged.) Panthers appear to be in blowout mode.
Tom Gower: Man, that was a pretty close to perfect deep pass by Sam Bradford to Brian Quick. Sets up 1&G. Rams need 7, get it on Zac Stacy pass.
Vincent Verhei: Steve Smith makes run blocking look like boxing match, then slips two tackles and scores (for real). Rams DBs must hate this guy.
Tom Gower: Through 3Q, Cam Newton has been very sharp today. Part of that may be #Rams coverage, which has been soft too often.


Tom Gower: There are times I watch Zac Stacy running through the offensive line and I think, if he ever stops running hard he'll be out of the league in two weeks. Then he does something surprisingly effective in the open field, and I think maybe there's something more to him than just a guy who will run hard. On the whole, though, St. Louis's targets are living up the experience-related concerns we had with them in FOA 2013.

On the other side of the ball, Cam Newton was very sharp, throwing the ball accurately, seemed to make good decisions, and ran effectively at times. Any time the Rams threatened to get back in the game, the Panthers scored again. The Rams defense is still a front four in search of a back seven, as I'm sure part of Newton's success was what looked like some pretty soft coverage by the Rams. As inexperienced they are at the offensive "skill positions," they're pretty much as young in the secondary, and I think it's still a work in progress and likely to remain one the rest of this year.

Vince Verhei: The Rams front seven is better than the Panthers offensive line, and that was very evident today. Panthers couldn't run for much, and Newton got in trouble a few times by holding the ball in the pocket too long. He was usually able to break tackles and make plays on the run, so it's not really reflected in his stats. The Rams secondary was woefully outmatched. Brandon LaFell and Ted Ginn both looked like perfectly competent wideouts. And then there's Steve Smith. He was right in the middle of every fight, and had a great day as a receiver, scoring once and being called down just short another time. He also managed to bait the Rams into a lot of fights, including getting Chris Long thrown out of the game He said afterwards that Janoris Jenkins had been talking trash about Smith's wife and threatened to sucker punch Jenkins if they met on the street. And it's Steve Smith, so you know he ain't bluffing.

Now, on that note, there were a ton of personal fouls in this game, on both teams, but it seemed like mostly on St. Louis. The worst of these came when Sam Bradford was injured. Bradford scrambled and ran to the sideline. Mike Mitchell pushed him out of bounds, totally clean, and celebrated. Unbeknownst to Mitchell, Bradford's knee buckled as he went down. Rams guard Harvey Dahl, apparently thinking that Mitchell was celebrating Bradford's injury, shoved Mitchell away. Mitchell walked away and headed back to the huddle. A good five seconds passed, and then Dahl turned to the field and went charging after Mitchell. The two players were kept separated, but it still resulted in a personal foul for Dahl. He finished with two of the three Rams PFs on the day, and that doesn't include Long's ejection.

Zac Stacy looked pretty good in an Ironhead Heyward-style, tackle-breaking, slow-and-steady way, but otherwise the Rams just don't have nearly enough playmaking talent to overcome that kind of lack of discipline. Tavon Austin did finally get open for a deep touchdown pass, but it was called back on a penalty. So officially his most notable plays were his two fumbles.

Chicago Bears 41 at Washington Redskins 45


‏@matthew_carley: Washington sack Jay Cutler to make him the most sacked QB in Bears history, Cutler hurt on the play. These things might be related
Vincent Verhei: Unreal blocking by Bears on Hester TD. Unreal career for Hester.
@scott_tanner1: I know we had this discussion in audibles in the last few years, but seeing what the new guys think: Devin Hester, HOF?
‏@hscer: Jordan Reed's 1st half: 6 targets, 6 catches, 87 yards, 1 TD plus 3 more first downs. RGIII is 4-11 throwing to everyone else.
Rivers McCown: That’s ... that’s Josh McCown’s music!
@Shake1n1bake: Don't worry, even if the Bears win you'll still be the best McCown RT @FO_RiversMcCown: That’s … that’s Josh McCown’s music!
Vincent Verhei: Seems like every RG3 completion today is a bootleg/crossing route combo.
‏@scott_tanner1: tony siragusa after orakpo comes in unblocked: "the offensive line did a pretty good job. mccown has to get rid of it faster"
@TCBullfrog: At what point is it justified for an offensive player to just take out Brandon Meriweather's knees

San Francisco 49ers 31 at Tennessee Titans 17


‏@blotzphoto: Colin Kaepernick had enough time to scout and draft a receiver to catch that ball.
Danny Tuccitto: Admittedly, I was not expecting the 49ers to thoroughly dominate this game as much as they have. Pretty much everything is working.
Tom Gower: Wrote in my season preview Titans would be team that gets called scrappy when they weren't getting blown out. Today, the blowout
Tom Gower: Frank Gore drags Jurrell Casey for an extra 5 yards. Dragging a DT = just another day at the office.
Tom Gower: In after Eric Reid was shaken up the prior play, Craig Dahl with a bad angle on that CJ screen TD
Danny Tuccitto: Bernard PLOLlard. Go retire to your natural occupation of bounty hunter, ok?
Danny Tuccitto: Eric Reid back. Destroys runner. Noted.


Tom Gower: The Titans can't make any mistakes and beat good teams, and they made a ton of them today. Jake Locker, who generally played better than I expected him to in his surprisingly premature return from his hip injury, threw a first-half pick on a double-move where cornerback Tramaine Brock never for an instant bit on the first move. An Akeem Ayers low hit call negated a Bernard Pollard interception, and that was just one of a plethora of first-half penalties for the Titans. Return man Darius Reynaud cemented an awful performance that may see him on the street in the next couple days by muffing a punt the 49ers recovered in the end zone just when the Titans were showing some brief signs of life.

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On the other side of the ball, the 49ers looked like the 49ers. Frank Gore ran hard, pretty effectively at times and less effectively at others. Colin Kaepernick wasn't perfect, but he had some very good throws and the Titans struggled to contain him just as much as they did Russell Wilson and Alex Smith. Anquan Boldin is still very good at catching the football even with minimal separation. On macro terms, this looked more to me like the 2011 49ers team, with a decent offense and a strong defense, than the great 2012 49ers with a powerful offense to go with the strong defense, but either way they mostly throttled a Titans team that now looks a lot closer to mediocre than it did three games ago.

Houston Texans 16 at Kansas City Chiefs 17


Cian Fahey: Did the NFLPA order a tribute to Matt Schaub that other NFL QBs misinterpreted?
‏@nath_on_fire: Gary Kubiak calling a third-down draw with his team on the edge of field goal range is the quintessential Gary Kubiak play call.
Rivers McCown: Ed Reed trying to tackle Jamaal Charles is like trying to shoot pool with a rope
Aaron Schatz: Think Houston wants to run with their UDFA QB? KC may be playing with 13 guys in the box today.
Rivers McCown: This offensive scheme fits much better with the rest of the personnel than the one Kubiak was stringing around Schaub
Scott Kacsmar: 2013 Chiefs: I haven't seen smoke & mirror tomfoolery on offense like this since 2003 Patriots. And yes, I hate it.
‏@brendanscolari: So how many teams would you take over the Chiefs on a neutral field right now? Anyone besides Broncos and Seahawks?
Aaron Schatz: Texans lose Brian Cushing. Looks like serious knee injury. Just not their year.
‏@ronJ_havas: Dwayne Bowe takes out 2 defenders on Dexter McCluster's 3rd & 21 conversion. He's very gruntled
Vincent Verhei: I (heart) Jamaal Charles. Holy moley, that guy is good.
Aaron Schatz: Surprised that the Chiefs aren't getting more pressure on Keenum. I think that is what's leading to a number of open receivers.
Vincent Verhei: Chiefs have figured out that Case Keenum has no idea what to do against overload blitz.


Vince Verhei: I'm sure Rivers will have more to say later, and what he says will be more well-informed, but my general impression of Case Keenum is that he was much more mobile than Matt Schaub, and much more willing to take risks and give his receivers chances to make plays on 50-50 jump balls. His performance is probably going to get a little overblown. After all, the Texans only scored 16 points (though that's partly due to Gary Kubiak's insistence on kicking field goals on fourth-and-1. Then, by the end of the game, Kansas City realized that Keenum was helpless against an overload blitz, and that was the end of that.

I've been an Alex Smith supporter for a while now, but man he was lousy today. He had multiple receivers open on his fourth-and-goal incompletion, and threw a bad interception late that kept Houston in the game.

Rivers McCown: Wow, I forgot that NFL quarterbacks could actually throw long touchdown passes. Thanks, Case Keenum.

Overall I thought most of the success early was about the Chiefs not being prepared for this game plan. The pistol-based Keenum attack was much different than what the Texans were running going into the game. However, it's impossible to look at what Keenum did and not be a little bit encouraged. He wasn't great with the hot reads on some well-designed Bob Sutton blitzes, but his functional pocket mobility was a giant leap in the right direction after years of Matt Schaub. I think the Texans should showcase him the rest of the season and treat it like the Browns planned to treat Brian Hoyer: perhaps they've found a high-caliber backup that can push a first-round quarterback in 2014.

God, this Chiefs offense is boring. How many times can Jamaal Charles motion wide and come back in? I guess this is what happens when Bowe is your only real receiver and he's struggling to find separation. The Chiefs managed to move the ball mostly on the Texans safeties. Ed Reed's read on the Alex Smith busted-play touchdown run was one that made me ache for the glory days of John Busing, Wil Demps, and C.C. Brown. Reed is legitimately the third-best safety on this team right now, behind Shiloh Keo and D.J. Swearinger.

Cleveland Browns 13 at Green Bay Packers 31


Vincent Verhei: CBS has NORV CAM in Lambeau Field today. This should be a fixture in every stadium.
@MilkmanDanimal: The Packers throwback uniforms are to aesthetics what Greg Schiano is to coaching.
Aaron Schatz: Billy Cundiff one of the best kickoff guys in the game. Lots of touchbacks. Why do Browns have him squibbing???
Vincent Verhei: Josh Gordon: Zero targets in first half. Did he get traded and nobody told me?
Aaron Schatz: Looks like the horrid injury to Jermichael Finley was caused by the ground. As I always say, you can't legislate against the ground


Aaron Schatz: Green Bay gets ball with 5:00 left in the third. CBS shows a graphic featuring an absurd bit of random nonsense and small sample size, showing that the Packers have scored a touchdown with between two and five minutes left in the third quarter in all five games so far. Graphic is titled "Packers' magic moment."

Packers, of course, are forced to punt the ball without scoring, with 1:10 left in the third quarter.

Rob Weintraub: Boy, those are some ugly-ass throwbacks the Packers sported today.

Vince Verhei: I agree with Rob's opinion of the Green Bay throwbacks. But they are still way way way better than Jacksonville's contemporary getup.

Cian Fahey: Jacksonville's outfits look like pyjamas.

Rivers McCown: I think Jacksonville just needs to commit to the gold. You can't really half-ass gold and have it look good.

Baltimore Ravens 16 at Pittsburgh Steelers 19


Cian Fahey: It's so refreshing to see a Steelers running back who runs with his head up to actually see where defenders are
Cian Fahey: The Steelers look much better than they have previously, I'm not sure how to feel about this. Headed to purgatory
Scott Kacsmar: This might be a first ever: an offensive player (Le'Veon Bell) gets called for a facemask.


Matt Waldman: Torrey Smith has made the next step this year. He has always done a fine job winning the ball in tight coverage on vertical routes, but he's making tough catches over the middle and running more of the route tree than what was required of him in the past. He deserves credit for his continued growth because we didn't see that growth from the likes of Lee Evans or Chris Chambers, similar styled players.

Marlon Brown's rookie year is less surprising to me based on his skills, which I saw evidence of at Georgia, and far more based on his torn ACL last November. If Brown regains some of his pre-injury explosiveness, he could offer Joe Flacco a true co-No.1 option that can take a lot of heat off Smith

Le'veon Bell's recent performances are a good example of where people get it wrong when they base talent evaluation on pointing out flaws and failing to piece together all of the available information. Cian did a fine job of pointing out Bell's positives today and they echo a lot of the things people thought wouldn't translate with Bell's game in the NFL. Look at Bell's tape and you see a quick athlete ... not a quick guy for 240 pounds, but quick, period, end of story. Bell has a 6.75-second, three-cone drill. That's a faster time than Giovani Bernard, Stevan Ridley, Doug Martin, LeSean McCoy, or Mike Goodson. It's also equal to Jahvid Best's time -- in fact, it's the 12th best three-cone time I've seen from a runner since 2006 and he's the biggest player in that top-12.

It goes to show that in some cases there are players who just look too good to be true. When we see the tape we cling to the tape measure and stopwatch to shoot it down. When we see evidence that Bell has rare quickness for his size we want to believe so badly that it's a fallacy because the highlights and stats aren't flashy enough to match it, that we invent reasons as logical as the Warren Commission.

Scott Kacsmar: Typical Ravens-Steelers game: low scoring and down to the final second. Special teams were not a huge story in the game, but on the last drive Emmanuel Sanders had a huge 44-yard return that the Ravens probably wish he would have stayed in bounds for a touchdown on so they'd have a chance. Joe Flacco pretty effortlessly led the offense down the field to tie it at 16.

Ben Roethlisberger didn't need miracles with the field position, but a broken tackle by Antonio Brown on Corey Graham was pretty big. I would still say they kept it pretty conservative at the end, settling for a 42-yard field goal on the "bad end" of Heinz Field, but it's about time to give Shaun Suisham some props. He has yet to miss this year and has been great from inside 50 yards.

Suisham may also be a good example of why we shouldn't always bury a kicker on a couple of bad misses. He missed a short field goal that would have likely beaten the undefeated 2009 Saints and was soon after gone from the team. Before joining the Steelers he was 87 of 110 (79.1 percent) on field goals, so it's not like he was great, but he's over 86 percent as Pittsburgh's kicker with roughly half of those attempts coming in arguably the toughest stadium to kick. I've gone way over the limit for kicker talk, but it's nice to see him drill a game-winner down the middle. Kickers haven't been choking in epic fashion yet this season.

Though it will come soon enough.

Denver Broncos 33 at Indianapolis Colts 39


Scott Kacsmar: Colts can lose by 50 tonight and still shouldn't have much of a struggle to go 10-6/11-5 and win the division.
Rivers McCown: Good to see Pep establishing that run early. Helpful to control time of possession against Peyton Manning. Just ask the Dolphins.
Aaron Schatz: "Mediocre man coverage" has, of course, long been the preferred defense to stop Manning.
Andrew Potter: The Colts just got utterly jobbed on that refereeing decision. Terrible call. Robs them of a perfectly legitimate touchdown.
Vincent Verhei: Note to all NFL coaches: This Trindon Holliday fumble is the kind of play you should challenge every time. This is why replay exists.
‏@MrTimLivingston: Refs need to let something play out before making a call to allow for all possible outcomes from a challenge. Easy thing to change.
@ptmovieguy: Imagine if that was Janikowski making that tackle. Might have to extract Holliday from the fifth row.
Aaron Schatz: Holy mackerel I think the man coverage is actually working for the colts. Even by Greg Toler?!?!
Rivers McCown: Finding a lot of irony in a “grabby” Colts defense stymying Peyton Manning’s offense.
Cian Fahey: Leon Hall is injured, Champ Bailey is injured, Lardarius Webb played poorly, Darrelle Revis is in zones. I hate this
‏@WhispersMoCo: Wondering if Peyton finds it hard to _not_ throw ball to open Colts in the end zone.
Tom Gower: I have no clue where "Adam Vinatieri can suddenly make long field goals again" came from, but it's been true for a while now.
‏@WhispersMoCo: Loving the mental image of Colts' fans terrified of a classic Peyton comeback.
Rivers McCown: Well the important thing is that Trent Richardson has good tape. Or something.
‏@TerrapinPrime: Richardson is a dumpster fire.Doesn't get the yardage..Can't hold onto the ball and worst of all 2 teams used first rounders on him


Tom Gower: Like the Broncos' last loss, in the playoffs against the Ravens, I'm left after a very long game (about 3:44) with the feeling that I need to go away somewhere and process what happened before expressing my thoughts. Plenty to touch on. What stood out:
1. The Colts' pass defense, particularly Darius Butler and Vontae Davis, seemed to play very well. Even when the Broncos made plays, they were often contested catches and pinpoint passes.
2. This was beaten to death, but after the Robert Mathis hit that led to the safety Peyton Manning's passes just didn't look right coming out of his hand. It was a bit like watching the Atlanta game early last season or, yes, that Ravens game. That's definitely an issue to watch going forward, though of course he still made plenty of plays late.
3. Also an issue to watch going forward: the Broncos offensive line. Peyton is of course his own best pass protector, but especially with the arm issues and especially considering the Broncos are now staring up in the AFC West at a Chiefs team with two very formidable outside pass rushers and a force in the middle plus some creative blitz schemes, this is a real issue.
4. Also an issue to watch going forward: the Broncos defense. They have enough reasonable defensive backs I thought could be very effective, but it seems like the middle was exploited by Dallas and again tonight. Granted, Wesley Woodyard was out and he and Danny Trevathan were the only linebackers I liked in coverage, but it's an issue. More of a pass rush to help, but was Von Miller that effective in his first game back? I didn't think he was, but need to re-watch to have a more informed opinion. I also expect him to be more effective in, say, six weeks.
5. I was pretty sure the Broncos did not have a sustaining run game. As it turns out, and contrary to what I think we saw the first six games, they did not even have a situationally-effective run game tonight with the third-and-1 failures and the goal line fumble. Of course, give the Colts credit for what they did on third down, including particularly I believe Antoine Bethea coming up in support. LaRon Landry also showed up as a hitter at times.
6. I'm going to embargo myself on Trent Richardson jokes at this point because I think it's getting the point where it's no longer funny unless he does something incredibly bad. But Donald Brown was reasonably effective at times.
7. Andrew Luck played pretty well for the most part, but he had some bad plays in the fourth quarter. The missed pass to Reggie Wayne on third down and the throw to Stanley Havili on the play where Kevin Vickerson picked up the roughing the passer call were the two biggest of those.
8. As a fan of a team in the same division I know it helps my team, but I'm devoutly anti-"any injury more serious than a chipped nail." If that's the last of Reggie Wayne we see (older player with torn ACL, wouldn't be a surprise, though of course I don't even play an MD on TV and did not stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night), the NFL will be a poorer, less entertaining place.
9. On the whole, I thought the Colts played better than the Broncos did. They also won the game. In such an interesting, complicated game with results that sometimes feel "unjust," I'll never complain too much about a game where that is true.

Rivers McCown: I will not put an embargo on Trent Richardson jokes. Much like Richardson himself, this is precisely the right time to sell high. If it gets any worse, he'll be so pathetic that humor will not be able to escape his situation. It crossed my mind that he might actually be blind on the last Colts attempt to run out the clock before Punt Marathon 2013 -- he was basically holding his hand out to feel for defenders.

OK, the actual game. I thought this was a nice repudiation of Pep Hamilton's critics, myself included. Even though I snarked on him early in the game, there were a few very memorable play designs, and getting Darrius Heyward-Bey involved in the running game was generally fruitful. It's still not how I'd prefer an offense to be run -- and I still would never give up actual draft value to make it happen -- but the Stanford tree has seemed to get decent mileage out of the fullback and six-linemen sets in a league that has generally left them behind.

Any kind of serious Wayne injury would be a huge blow for this team. T.Y. Hilton is a nice deep threat, but he's hardly a consistent underneath receiver and has had communication issues with Luck. Heyward-Bey is not optimal in any role which calls for him to use his hands.


212 comments, Last at 24 Oct 2013, 4:43pm

#1 by bucko (not verified) // Oct 21, 2013 - 10:02am

I had not heard that the Finley injury was ground related. All the talk after the game pointed at the Browns defender's hit.

That Wash/Chi game was crazy.

Points: 0

#3 by justanothersteve // Oct 21, 2013 - 10:07am

I don't think it was ground-related either. Looked like an inadvertent hit to the helmet. It wasn't a dirty play on the Browns defender though. Just one of those hits that happen in a game.

Points: 0

#6 by dmstorm22 // Oct 21, 2013 - 10:17am

Was it flagged, because I thought Finley had taken enough steps that he was no longer 'defensless' and more like a RB, wherein that hit might have been legal (like the hit on Ridley in the 2012 AFC Title Game).

Either way, I hope Finley is OK long term. A ton of injuries around the league, yesterday. Wayne could be the biggest, because I don't know how that Colts offense works without him, but Leon Hall is as big. And of course Bradford, but that team wasn't a two-loss team like the other three.

Points: 0

#16 by justanothersteve // Oct 21, 2013 - 10:35am

I thought hit was completely legal despite the penalty. And I say that as a Packers fan.

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#28 by Sakic (not verified) // Oct 21, 2013 - 11:07am

Wayne Larivee (Packers play-by-play man) was on the radio this morning and he agrees that it was just a football play with an unfortunate result. They can talk all they want about player safety but the simple fact is that with big men moving at fast speeds sometimes bad things are going to happen and that hit was one of those situations.

Now, if it was Brandon Merriweather making the hit I would have a different opinion...

Points: 0

#61 by Paul M (not verified) // Oct 21, 2013 - 12:12pm

The hit was legal, and Aaron Schatz was apparently still goofy in the head over the Belichickian collapse in the Meadowlands-- yeah, a guy almost got paralyzed because he hit the ground.... Seriously. The injury is a neck/spinal cord issue-- Finley has been at the ICU overnight-- it could be that his spinal cord was concussed, it could be even more serious and require surgery. His career could be over; his season probably is over. But look at the play and realize of course it was the force of the hit-- shoulder into neck/head-- that caused the injury. A heck of a lot more worth mention than the correct call over a stupefied Belichick who doesn't know that the "Second level" has nothing to do with the penalty his team foolishly committed....

Points: 0

#147 by anotherpatsfan // Oct 21, 2013 - 5:53pm

Reportedly Finley up doing normal activities.

Not sure why PW(nv) felt the need to jump all over Aaron. He made a conclusion based on his perceptions, and sometimes those are wrong. I don't think people here got all over PW(nv) when he said a few years ago that the floor for Matt Flynn's career would be multiple pro bowl selection seasons...

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#152 by PatsFan // Oct 21, 2013 - 6:57pm

Oh right -- it was PW(nv) who was responsible for The Return of the FOMBC, wasn't he.

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#196 by Paul M (not verified) // Oct 22, 2013 - 11:53am

Finley may be up, but with a bruised spinal cord, it is extremely unlikely he returns this year (Steeler just came back with similar injury after 10 months. No Packer has ever returned to action from a neck/spine injury, and there have been several-- Nick Collins being the most recent) and possible if not probable he has played his last game, given his comments about concussions just a week ago when he said he would tell his son not to play the sport, that his son was asking him why he had to keep playing football after the concussion earlier in the year, and that his grandmother told him to quit.

My only point about the site that when a very interesting and provocative site (see projection for Falcons this year-- kudos on that one) devolves into a New England Patriot message board, as this site frequently does, you get, from the leading Patriot fan, comments as foolish about a non-Patriot game as the ground caused a guy to lay motionless for 7 minutes before being wheeled out of the stadium on a gurney. Either really watch the other games and comment accordingly or say "we're going to focus on the Patriots/Jets today, folks-- we'll get back to the other 30 teams later on when we've run our stats. Anyone who was paying attention to the Packer-Browns game knew in an instant how serious that injury was, and could clearly see the sequence of Finley lowering his helmet, the Cincinnati player leading with his shoulder in a legal but violent hit, and the gruesome aftermath. If you were only casually watching and yet still wanted to comment, you might have thought the "ground caused the injury".

Points: 0

#204 by SandyRiver // Oct 22, 2013 - 3:37pm

Seems like a lot of hating on Aaron for a tweet. Had it been in the long-form discussion, I could see it, but messages done on the fly don't seem worth the vitriol, especially when one of the announcers made the same misinterpretation. I'd cut the guy (Aaron) some slack, same as I would for someone who writes "Cincinnati" when he means "Cleveland".

Points: 0

#76 by Arkaein // Oct 21, 2013 - 1:01pm

Announcer Solomon Wilcotts said about four times that Finley's injury was from hitting the ground, despite the audio clearly playing the kind of sharp crack sound that only happens on the field when two helmets smack together.

Not an intentionally dirty play in any way, as the DB didn't aim high and lead shoulder-to-shoulder, but the sides of the players helmets definitely collided.

Here's a link with a GIF of the play. Hilariously, the write-up claims there is no head-to-head collision, even thought there own GIF shows it clearly. The DB takes the collision on the side of his helmet, while it's closer to the crown of Finley's helmet.

Points: 0

#80 by bucko (not verified) // Oct 21, 2013 - 1:21pm

I do not listen to football games with sound. That is why I missed the reference. It seemed clear to me viewing the replays it was the result of player contact.

Points: 0

#87 by RoninX (not verified) // Oct 21, 2013 - 1:38pm

Didn't see this live, and maybe its the quality of the linked gif (compounded by the lack of sound) but I don't see Finley's helmet hitting the defender's helmet at all, just the shoulder pad and then being redirected to bounce of the ground.

Points: 0

#105 by Arkaein // Oct 21, 2013 - 2:26pm

Look at how the DBs head snaps to the right immediately after the collision. If the collision was truly shoulder-to-shoulder only, the head should snap towards the collision due to its own momentum and inertia relative to the altered momentum of the colliding torso. The fact that the head it snaps sharply away from the collision indicates that it was directly impacted.

Points: 0

#168 by dbostedo // Oct 21, 2013 - 11:40pm

It seems the snap away from the collision is from a combination of the jolt, the defenders entire upper body turning, and his shoulder pad being shoved into his neck/helmet. Because it doesn't look like their two helmets even get very close to hitting.

Here's a frame by frame decomposition of the GIF :

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#181 by Anonymousse (not verified) // Oct 22, 2013 - 9:04am

It's pretty clear in that - there's no helmet to helmet contact. Finley puts his head down, and runs right into the defender's shoulder pad.

Points: 0

#189 by Arkaein // Oct 22, 2013 - 10:11am

Well, I take it back. When I looked at it in real time I must have thought that the white of the shoulder pad that covered up the top of Finley's helmet was glare from the lights.

I agree with your assessment, Finley's momentum drove the DBs shoulder pads into his helmet, which caused the snapping motion.

Points: 0

#198 by Arkaein // Oct 22, 2013 - 1:57pm

Probably because he was being tackled from behind at the time.

Looking at the description of the rule, it requires that the player "initiate" contact with his helmet. I'm no NFL rules lawyer, but I could see an interpretation where a player that is being tackled to the ground by a defender is not responsible for initiating contact with another defender.

If the rule is supposed to infer any intent in the word "initiate" (and I don't know if it does), it's also pretty clear that Finley was not trying to hit the defender on this play. He ducked his head as a natural reaction to an imminent collision, not to plow over the DB.

Points: 0

#160 by c0rrections (not verified) // Oct 21, 2013 - 8:46pm

I'm sorry but I do not see helmet to helmet. In fact it's not even close. That's Finley's helmet crown to Cleveland d-back shoulder. The Cleveland player's head snaps from the force of the impact but that's not the point of contact. You're right it wasn't a dirty play. In fact given that Finley led with the crown of his helmet it should have ordinarily been a penalty assessed on Finley.

Points: 0

#166 by c0rrections (not verified) // Oct 21, 2013 - 10:22pm

I'm sorry but I do not see helmet to helmet. In fact it's not even close. That's Finley's helmet crown to Cleveland d-back shoulder. The Cleveland player's head snaps from the force of the impact but that's not the point of contact. You're right it wasn't a dirty play. In fact given that Finley led with the crown of his helmet it should have ordinarily been a penalty assessed on Finley.

Points: 0

#2 by justanothersteve // Oct 21, 2013 - 10:04am

The Packers have had the same throwbacks for a few years now. I actually like them. For those who don't, they're at least better than the escaped prisoner outfits the Steelers used last year.

FWIW, either I'm getting used to it or there was a lot less pink on the field yesterday.

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#5 by jsp (not verified) // Oct 21, 2013 - 10:12am

Quick thought on the Pats-Jets call (disclosure - I'm a Bills fan who enjoys seeing the Pats lose):

I felt the same way as Aaron when I saw the call. It seemed awful, but I was okay with it after further explanation last night and this morning.

But, I do disagree with one of his points. I think that the league sending out a memo this week makes the call better not worse. If officials had ignored that penalty for the first six weeks completely and then randomly decided to call it, I think Pats fans could feel justifiably screwed by inconsistent officiating. The memo, though, indicates that the NFL thought that rule hadn't been enforced properly during the first six weeks. Assuming (and this is a big assumption) the rule is consistently enforced for the rest of the season, I don't think the Pats have much of a complaint that it was enforced in games previous to this weekend.

Points: 0

#9 by Led // Oct 21, 2013 - 10:22am

The rookie was obviously coached to do what he did. Why else would he do it? So it was a premeditated bit of gamesmanship to try to get an illegal advantage on a decisive play and not a heat of the moment type mistake. That's what makes me more comfortable with the call. I still don't like having the refs play such a big role, but when you send a memo out about a rule and then a team breaks it anyway, what else are they supposed to do?

Points: 0

#19 by Bob P (not verified) // Oct 21, 2013 - 10:39am

I realize this is the first instance of this penalty being called, but has anyone looked through video of every kick attempt this season?

Maybe this is the first time it actually happened---maybe the other 31 teams read the rule book.

Points: 0

#22 by Led // Oct 21, 2013 - 10:45am

That would surprise me, but who knows? I actually think the NFL ought to re-institute the "aiding the runner" rule. The risk of injury when offensive linemen, in particular, smash into the back of the pile to propel the runner forward an extra couple yards is just as great as in the FG situation. I'd be in favor of refs having a quicker whistle when a runner's forward motion is stopped for the same reason.

Points: 0

#54 by JMM* (not verified) // Oct 21, 2013 - 11:53am

Good point. The question seems to always be "why did the refs call it then?" My answer is usually, that is when the infraction occurred.

Another element advocates of "letting the players decide" approach to rule enforcement miss is one of intent. If there is incidental contact in a hail mary play to end a game, we get it, let it go. If the defender, or an offensive player clearly and purposefully wipes out an opposing player, I would expect the official to throw a flag. The attempt of the Pats to block the FG was clearly an intent by one lineman to push the second lineman forward in violation of the new rule.

Not much of a question in my mind.

Points: 0

#149 by ChrisS (not verified) // Oct 21, 2013 - 6:04pm

I am sure that a memo from on high about a call that you have missed puts this penalty in the forefront of the referee's mind and puts pressure on the Refs to call it. This was the last chance for him to make this call, and satisfy the head office, so here goes the flag.

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#10 by Aaron Schatz // Oct 21, 2013 - 10:24am

Actually, one thing I'm not clear on is whether the memo went to officials only, or to officials and teams. If it only went to officials, I still think it is ridiculous. If it went to both officials and teams, then yes, the Patriots totally got what was coming to them, especially if the coaches told Chris Jones to do that. However, the reports sound to me like the memo only went to officials, and nobody told the teams "hey, you know that rule we aren't enforcing, yeah, we're enforcing it now."

Points: 0

#32 by PaddyPat // Oct 21, 2013 - 11:20am

It honestly seemed borderline incidental to me. The rookie was a little late coming off the snap. He opted to run behind his teammate. From the angles of the camera, there isn't much room for him to find his way into the line without coming in behind someone. Moreover, the ball is snapped and on its way virtually simultaneously with his arrival into the back of his teammate. In the best of cases the call seemed very ticky-tacky. I understand enforcing it when it's obvious, ie. the play had an impact, but this is like calling roughing the passer when the guy taps the qb on the head in the midst of an otherwise legal play.

Nevertheless, when plays like this happen, and it immediately summoned memories of the phantom hold on Gronkowski at the end of the Arizona game last year, I always think to myself, Tuck Rule, I smile, and I think that if the Pats continue to pay cosmic justice for the rest of their existence, it will still have been worth it.

Points: 0

#79 by Cythammer (not verified) // Oct 21, 2013 - 1:18pm

From what the Patriots coaching staff has said it was a designed play, so it wasn't incidental. Apparently there was a FG attempt in the Saints game where they did the exact same thing (it wasn't called).

Points: 0

#50 by jsp (not verified) // Oct 21, 2013 - 11:46am

I agree with that. I assumed that it was sent to both referees and teams, but I haven't seen any indication one way or the other.

Points: 0

#88 by Spoon // Oct 21, 2013 - 1:38pm

The Patriots got what was coming to them, memo or not. If the rule was on the books - it was - then there is no room for complaint when the rule gets enforced.

Like most everyone else, I am guilty of speeding when I drive. I am almost always 5-10 MPH over the speed limit, but I haven't received a ticket in years. If I were pulled over for speeding on my commute today, I doubt the "but you weren't enforcing that law before now!" defense would earn me much sympathy from the cop. By the same logic, I have no sympathy this morning for the Patriots or their fans.

Points: 0

#104 by Revenge of the NURBS (not verified) // Oct 21, 2013 - 2:20pm

Exactly. Inconsistent enforcement is a bad thing, but if it's a rule, it's a rule, and you can't seriously complain about it being called. "You didn't call it the last time I did it" is not a valid defense.

To me, a big part of the problem is the fact that it was an obscure rule. If it had been, say, holding, then I doubt there would be this much of a story. Holding is inconsistently enforced, but fans are familar with it, and understand that it doesn't always get called. (I'm not sure why the defense would be holding on a FG try, but hopefully you get what I'm trying to say.)

Points: 0

#106 by Arkaein // Oct 21, 2013 - 2:30pm

Actually, defensive holding does happen occasionally on FG tries. One D-lineman will pull a blocker forward to open a large gap for a defender to get a clean rush through.

I'd guess I've seen this two or three times in about 20 years of serious football watching.

Points: 0

#141 by SandyRiver // Oct 21, 2013 - 4:10pm

We had that as a design play when I was in college - it was legal in 1965. A long-armed DL would grab a guard by the shoulderpads and give a quick yank to augment the guard's own movement, and a smaller palyer would try to dash thru the gap. Worked twice in one game. (2 of 6, and we lost 40-0. Was a ba-a-ad season.)

Points: 0

#108 by JoeyHarringtonsPiano // Oct 21, 2013 - 2:33pm

When the Lions lost week 1 of 2010 on the first ever enforcement of the "Calvin Johnson Rule", it sucked, but I agreed that it was correctly called, even though I still think the rule is stupid.

I think this incident fits into a similar category. It's the letter of the law, so you can't complain about it just because it went against your team and not some other team.

Points: 0

#127 by RickD // Oct 21, 2013 - 3:22pm

I think you can complain when the NFL's official website supplies a faulty interpretation of the rule, and then a play that would be legal under the faulty interpretation is whistled as a penalty.
The league should not be in the business of disinformation. If they are going to provide rules explanations, said explanations should be correct.
It was clear from Belichick's comments at the game that he thought the play was legal, and the language he used ("second level") exactly matched the language that had been on the website, but was later removed.

Points: 0

#182 by Anonymousse (not verified) // Oct 22, 2013 - 9:10am

"When the Lions lost week 1 of 2010 on the first ever enforcement of the "Calvin Johnson Rule", it sucked, but I agreed that it was correctly called, even though I still think the rule is stupid."

I'm sorry, but thats ridiculous. That rule was enforced about 10 times a game every game for years.

You have to maintain possession to the ground if you're contacted mid-catch. It's been that way for more than a decade.

Calvin is just the first player we've seen knock the ball out of his own hands trying to showboat.

Points: 0

#190 by JoeyHarringtonsPiano // Oct 22, 2013 - 10:18am

Could not disagree more. This was not a case of the receiver catching the ball, then losing control of it when the ground jars it loose.

Johnson caught the ball, got both feet down, and landed on his butt. In the act of either getting himself up with his ball hand or spiking is when he lost control. Hitting the ground isn't what caused him to lose control. His mistake was not waiting half a second before spiking it or getting up, or whatever.

I already said I agree that the call was correct based on the rules. In any case, I got over it in 2010, so we can just agree to disagree.

Points: 0

#194 by Thomas_beardown // Oct 22, 2013 - 11:46am

This Bears fan agrees that while that was the letter of the law, it was not really the spirit of the law.

What shocks me is that I still receivers being awfully cavalier with the ball after catching potential touchdowns. Hold onto that thing, and hand it to the ref only after he signals touchdown!

Points: 0

#197 by JoeyHarringtonsPiano // Oct 22, 2013 - 12:43pm

You are one of the few Bears fan I've encountered in all these years to not be a complete homer about this issue (Lions fans are probably bigger homers in general), which is why I keep coming back to FO discussion boards and have shunned everywhere else.

I agree, it makes me cringe when a receiver catches a TD an their first move is to drop/throw/spike the ball before the ref even signals.

Points: 0

#203 by Anonymousse (not verified) // Oct 22, 2013 - 2:31pm

Referees aren't supposed to make calls based on what they believe the spirit of the law is. They're supposed to make the calls as the rules are written.

Johnson got both hands on the ball in the air, and was contacted. Because he was contacted, he needed to maintain control of the ball through the action of going to the ground.

He hit the ground, rolled, and tried to stand up using the ball as an aid. The ball came out. It was all in one smooth movement, so he didn't maintain possesion through going to the ground.

It was a textbook application of a rule being called as it always gets called. Secure possession before you worry about dancing.

Points: 0

#156 by Jay Z (not verified) // Oct 21, 2013 - 8:29pm

Oh, if you're the Seahawks in the Super Bowl, you can complain about holding until the end of time.

Points: 0

#119 by Lyford // Oct 21, 2013 - 3:11pm

". If I were pulled over for speeding on my commute today, I doubt the "but you weren't enforcing that law before now!" defense would earn me much sympathy from the cop. "

It might not, but I'm betting that if you were traveling at the same speed as everyone else, you'd be pretty upset anyway. Arbitrary enforcement is worse for people's perception of justice and respect for the rules than non-enforcement, because if it's arbitrary, it's no longer a rule, just a device for the exercise of power by those entrusted with it. If you see someone pushing a teammate on every single kick, and it gets called once, that's arbitrary.

Here, if they wanted to make sure that the rule got enforced this week, why not earlier in the game? Obviously, that's the way the Patriots were playing it. Why not on the Jets?

I'll say this again - the Patriots played poorly, they deserved to lose, and the call was a technically correct call. The person most to blame for the loss was Tom Brady; the person most to blame for the penalty was the special teams coach. Period.

None of that makes it a good call. It was a call that provided a nearly deterministic advantage to one team in overtime on a behavior that each team had exhibited multiple times with no call in the same game (and every one before that), that could have been called several times earlier in that same game with no effect on the outcome.

Points: 0

#128 by RickD // Oct 21, 2013 - 3:32pm

I don't think the Patriots "deserved to lose" or "deserved to win" so much as they deserved to have the result reflect the efforts on the field. They were in overtime, and that says they had played the Jets evenly all day. And had the flag not been thrown, they would have gotten the ball at their own 46, needing only a FG to win. Those are pretty good odds.

But that didn't happen because a rule that had been overlooked all season long (and, indeed, in this very game) was suddenly enforced for the first time. That's poor officiating. I'm not going to argue whether it was a foul or not. But I will take issue with people who think it's reasonable for the officials to ignore the rule all season and then suddenly enforce it for the first time at a point in a game where it will decide the game.

Points: 0

#131 by dmstorm22 // Oct 21, 2013 - 3:35pm

Mike Pereira tweeted that officials were told to look out for this, since it wasn't called the first six weeks. Deadspin reported that Rex Ryan told the officials to look out for NE doing this after they did it against the Saints without penalty.

Therefore, it makes some sense they call it on NE when they see it happen.

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#137 by Lyford // Oct 21, 2013 - 3:57pm

it makes some sense they call it on NE when they see it happen.

Sure. Call it the first time it happens. Call it on an extra-point attempt. It's obvious that the Patriots were doing it on every kick. (And it seems as if the Jets might have been, too.) To call it for the first time on a 56-yard field goal in overtime seems capricious...

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#183 by Anonymousse (not verified) // Oct 22, 2013 - 9:14am

If they were looking for it, it should have been called about 5 times earlier in the game.

That's the problem here. It's like an MLB umpire deciding that a pitch that was a ball all day is a strike, and doing it in the bottom of the 10th inning.

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#142 by bravehoptoad // Oct 21, 2013 - 4:12pm

It might not, but I'm betting that if you were traveling at the same speed as everyone else, you'd be pretty upset anyway.

Yeah, that's the trouble with seldom-enforced laws -- they can be used in support of all kinds of illegal harrassment. You become subject to the whims of whoever's doing the enforcement and whatever -isms they come with: racisms, jingoisms, whatever. I'm not that old and I can still remember those laws making oral sex illegal in certain states, and how somehow they only ever got applied to black guys with white women.

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#206 by Chris UK // Oct 23, 2013 - 6:12am

I have to disagree with you there, if it's in the rulebook it's against the rules, end of matter. The fact you have been getting away with breaking the rules doesn't justify anything. If I dropkick the QB and don't get flagged I should consider myself lucky, not get upset when I get flagged the next time.

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#207 by dbostedo // Oct 23, 2013 - 11:10am

I agree with you logically. But consider a situation where it used to be legal to drop-kick the QB, but now the league has told you it's not legal anymore. And this season maybe you've drop-kicked the QB a bunch of times and not gotten flagged, and you believe other teams have drop-kicked the QB a bunch of times as well without flags. Wouldn't you be upset if at a key point in the game, after all of the previous events that didn't get flagged, you suddenly got flagged for drop-kicking the QB?

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#7 by Led // Oct 21, 2013 - 10:17am

In the Colts/Broncos game, the RB pretty clearly recovered his own fumble and had Bethea (I think) take it away from him when he was down. I hate that. I appreciate why it's not reviewable, but it's still annoying. Then Luck obviously (and ridiculously) flopped and drew that stupid personal foul on the next serious. As someone with no particular rooting interest in the game, those two plays left a bad taste in my mouth after what was a very entertaining game. Would like to have seen the Broncos get a chance to finish that drive and then watch Luck try to win it.

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#17 by rageon // Oct 21, 2013 - 10:37am

Those two plays annoyed me as well, although I'm biased.

What also upset me was John Fox not going for it on 4th and <1 early in the game. If I remember right, they punted on two 4 and shorts in the first 3 series, although I think the second time they were pretty deep in their own territory. Still, Peyton+Welker=conversion 75% of the time, right?

The other thing of note was late in the game when Fox went for two with the assumption that they would cut it to an 11 point game if successful, which was fine. The problem occurs when Denver does not hold Indy the rest of the way, and Denver ends up down 9. I think that they should have gone for two on the next TD as well to avoid that situation. Although it was too late and there was one too many crying babies at my house for me to work out all the math in real time. Maybe he was right, but seems to me that he needs to go for two the second time as well,

Tough break on the Reggie Wayne play. Not only does the underthrow fail to seal the game (he could have ran the TD in backwards if he wanted) but gets hurt as well. I thought ACL right away, which sucks.

That's why Trindon Holiday got released by Texans. It's not like they didn't know he's talented. The guy just can't hand onto the ball.

Did Monte Ball even play? Not sure I saw him in the game. He couldn't pass block, and I think he's dropped like 12 completions in a row. Hillman is 10 times more talented than Moreno as a runner, but those fumbles are a a killer.

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#23 by randomviking // Oct 21, 2013 - 10:46am

Eh, I thought that he pretty clearly got his hand on the ball, but it looked like it was behind his body. I didn't think that he had control of the ball, he just had his hand on the ball.

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#155 by formido // Oct 21, 2013 - 8:26pm

The ball was on the ground and he held it against his body. There is no further act required for control.

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#25 by turbohappy // Oct 21, 2013 - 10:59am

I'm not sure that holding onto a ball with one hand against the outside of your leg results in you recovering a fumble ever at any level of football. On the replay you could sort of clearly see that he probably maybe had control of it against his leg, but didn't seem overly conclusive even if it had been reviewable.

I definitely think Luck did a good job selling the late hit, but he definitely hit him way late for no reason from behind. Hard to flop too much when someone hits you blindly. And after Kevin Vickerson's clear (and successful) intent to injure Satele on the field goal it's pretty much impossible for me to feel sorry for the guy, seems like a pretty dirty player (at least last night).

Disclaimer: Totally biased homer ;o)

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#39 by Mike B. In Va // Oct 21, 2013 - 11:28am

I thought the personal foul calls were dubious at best, particularly since NBC couldn't seem to find any tape of them to run at the time. Luck obviously flopped, but if I'm John Fox I'm ruining Vickerson's day at the next practice. You *know* they're watching you since you've already been stupid, don't add to it.

That said, either the Broncos' receivers took the day off (and I saw some evidence of that, especially Decker) or the Colts DBs played lights-out. Welker finally showed up late, but that was the worst game I've seen from Denver's receivers in general.

The Colts generally played better and won, but they will be in serious trouble if Wayne's injury is as bad as it looked.

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#52 by Denver Persona… (not verified) // Oct 21, 2013 - 11:50am

Denver #99's (vikerson) personal foul call late was likely a function of his dirty play all game. I'm a +15-year Denver fan and I was disappointed in what I saw in some of the replays off to the side. The worst looking no-call was late in the game - i think colts were on offense and backed up near their end-zone, i think it was a running play and the center dove in for a cut block. #99 falls onto the Colts' center's back and looks like he either punches into the back of his leg, or grabs the lower leg and yanks on it. Immediately after this the camera shows center crawling around in the end zone in pain basically freaking out because his knee just got jacked in a pile.

it was caught on camera!!! just one more replay of a different angle would have showed exactly what #99 did, but NBC didn't show the other angle. That play pissed me off as a fan of this team. 1) because it's just a dirty looking play, and 2) because it could have been personal foul #4? on him IN ONE GAME.

He got rapped for 2 'remove the helmet' and 1 'chest bump the passer'... let's add in the 'jack up the center's knee' on top of other stuff I'm sure we didn't see.

Even if this type of stuff does happen in every pile in every game, I've been watching football for many years and I don't see that stuff usually. it was sick to see - not the part of the game that I enjoy.

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#83 by Ben // Oct 21, 2013 - 1:26pm

I was surprised NBC didn't replay that one as well. Satelle goes out earlier in the game with a knee injury, comes back and then Vikerson clearly jacks him in the injured knee, knocking him out of the game again. That's the kind I thing that should get you ejected.

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#112 by Mike B. In Va // Oct 21, 2013 - 2:43pm

Yeah, I never saw the "remove the helmet" penalties on him and was surprised NBC couldn't find a way to show them - maybe the all-22 is the only answer.

The play on Satele was pretty nasty, though, and I think it was on a punt.

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#159 by Denver Persona… (not verified) // Oct 21, 2013 - 8:45pm

found a link to the video, this was on an extra point try.

bad form

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#202 by Anonymousse (not verified) // Oct 22, 2013 - 2:25pm

I'm not sure why people think a 220lb guy has to be faking it when he goes flying when a 330lb guy chestbumps him from behind. The human body isn't real good at taking blows from the back at center mass, and Vickerson outweighed Luck by 100 lbs.

Honestly, I'd be surprised to see any other result than the smaller guy go flying.

It was just a really stupid move from Vickerson, who looks like a genuinely dirty player.

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#55 by Anonymousse (not verified) // Oct 21, 2013 - 11:54am

so, to be clear... that wasn't a situation where fox could have challenged, correct? since it was a turnover, meaning only booth review? michaels/collinsworth are usually on top of that kinda stuff, so their insistence that he could challenge the fumble was awfully confusing.

why, then, did the booth officials not review the play? i didn't think it was cut and dry, at all. pretty confused about that whole sequence.

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#184 by Anonymousse (not verified) // Oct 22, 2013 - 9:16am

Because who recovers a fumble isn't reviewable.

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#8 by nat // Oct 21, 2013 - 10:22am

Directive from Ministry of Truth: All ref to "Players not on the line of scrimmage at the snap" and "second-level" doubleplus ungood. Rectify all training materials, press releases, and web sites ante-present speedwise.

The ministry web site does NOT say "Team B players not on the line of scrimmage at the snap cannot push players on the line of scrimmage into the offensive formation.": the web site has NEVER said "Team B players not on the line of scrimmage at the snap cannot push players on the line of scrimmage into the offensive formation."

Training materials make no ref to "second-level". They never have. Rectify all misprints. Ref to "not on line of scrimmage" or "second-level" is a thoughtcrime.

That is all.

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#15 by Aaron Brooks G… // Oct 21, 2013 - 10:33am

Let's say the rule does say "second level."

Now show me how the NFL defines "second level" for defensive players.

The closest interpretation I've found is "within 1 yard of the neutral zone" as it pertains to making a false offsides and the threshold for ineligible downfield on the part of blockers.

Jones was lined up more than 1 yard from the neutral zone. So even under the original wording, he's off the line of scrimmage.

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#18 by Led // Oct 21, 2013 - 10:37am

The rule apparently doesn't say "second level," at least according to Deadspin. A story from September, before the rule was enacted, however, says "second level."

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#27 by anotherpatsfan // Oct 21, 2013 - 11:02am

He started on the line of scrimmage to the left of the guy he pushed, hesitated, then went up the back of the guy to his right, for no apparent purpose or benefit. The way he did it looked odd. It also apparently violates the never-before-called rule. Shit happens. Pats don't want to be in that position they need to play better. IMO Pats lost game mainly because offense -- and Brady -- sucked for large chunks of the game, and defense missing key guys. The OT call is way down the list.

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#38 by SandyRiver // Oct 21, 2013 - 11:28am

Not sure if the push was intentional, or inadvertent when the guy he pushed got stuffed (initially) by the OL. However, Jones was quoted as saying he'd been told about the rule in camp, and had messed up. Manning up, or Belispeak?

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#29 by Travis // Oct 21, 2013 - 11:09am

The rule was enacted in March (or at least sometime before the rulebooks were published in early August).

What's confusing is that the original proposed bylaw contains the "line of scrimmage" provision, but the rulebook and the video (4:09 mark) that went out to the media and teams in August do not. I think, but do not know, that the language was changed when the rule was approved, and the since-scrubbed article mistakenly used the proposal's text instead.

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#31 by PatsFan // Oct 21, 2013 - 11:17am

The NFL also isn't doing itself any favors by doing stuff like (reportedly) taking down from the video of Gostkowski's game-tying kick, which many Pats fans claimed showed the Jets doing the same thing NE got called for in OT.

I'm just embarrassed by the tinfoilers and the "Goodell keeps trying to help out the Jets" crowd.

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#34 by dmstorm22 // Oct 21, 2013 - 11:20am

Did they take it off of the Game Rewind tape, because anyone with Game Rewind access can see the play. Would love to see a screenshot or .gif showing the Jets doing the same thing.

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#40 by PaddyPat // Oct 21, 2013 - 11:31am

I can't figure this out, but a whole section of the Game Rewind seems to be malfunctional. I went to check out the play immediately after reading the post, and the game works fine until somewhere in the 21-27 range, and then it abruptly craps out. Anyone else have this experience?

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#43 by anotherpatsfan // Oct 21, 2013 - 11:37am

Not advocating this "Jets did the same thing" position, but someone posted these screenshots on the game discussion thread.

I don't think this view is at all definitive. Surely someone has something better than that. In any event, pretty much a "who cares." I am sure there was holding called on the Jets which was not called on the Pats for the same conduct, etc. Again, shit happens.

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#170 by RickD // Oct 22, 2013 - 12:29am

Mike Reiss is highlighting this play on his ESPN blog.

"But specific to the penalty, if umpire Tony Michalek is going to make that call on Jones, it’s hard to imagine why he wouldn’t have flagged the Jets for the same thing on Stephen Gostkowski's game-tying 44-yard field goal with 19 seconds left. Quinton Coples lined up in the same spot as Jones, looped to his right like Jones, and jammed his right arm into the back of a teammate, hurling him into the formation (the teammate flips over snapper Danny Aiken). "

Now I'm annoyed again.

And no, I'm not buying into "the Pats deserved to lose because X". They deserved to have equal treatment by the refs.

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#178 by Led // Oct 22, 2013 - 7:48am

Is there a better angle than the all 22 from the endzone? Because from that particular angle you can't possibly tell that Coples "jammed his right arm into the back of a teammate, hurling him into the formation." You can see Coples put his arm in a place that appears to be touching his teammate. How much force he actually applied is pure guesswork. In any event, even if Coples gave a brief ONE ARMED push, he then backed away from the LoS, which is still quite different from getting behind his teammate and trying to drive him like sled dummy into the pile as Jones did. So it's not really "hard to imagine" why one was flagged and the other wasn't.

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#192 by Aaron Brooks G… // Oct 22, 2013 - 10:25am

You're going to need a much better photograph than that to make that argument.

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#35 by PatsFan // Oct 21, 2013 - 11:22am

But yeah, as a poster above said -- NE got the final score it deserved, especially the way the OL and Brady were playing.

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#136 by Led // Oct 21, 2013 - 3:53pm

You really need another angle to see exactly what happened on that play. It's certainly possible that you are right, but it's also entirely possible that it's a misleading angle.

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#56 by nat // Oct 21, 2013 - 11:55am

You're missing the point of my post. Refs screw up from time to time. They make correct but controversial calls form time to time, too. And any team that gets to overtime didn't play well enough to deserve anything but a tie - a win is gravy.

But the NFL makes a ham-handed attempt to alter history, to pretend that their training materials didn't say what they said, that their statements to the press about the meaning of a rule didn't say what they said, that their own web site didn't say what it said how often?

Any statement from the NFL that says anything other than "we interpreted the rule on Sunday differently than what we told teams in preparation for the season" is a lie, and should be treated with the contempt it deserves.

Nevertheless, I fully expect the NFL to claim that they never said - or never meant as a rules interpretation - their statements regarding "not on the line of scrimmage" in the application of this rule. Because the NFL is about nothing if not dodging accountability.

I think I hear the Thought Police coming. Gotta go.

Points: 0

#11 by johonny (not verified) // Oct 21, 2013 - 10:25am

The phases of a Miami Dolphins season: Phase 1 The complete unexpected (great/horrible) start. Phase 2 The complete collapse of the team. Phase 3 The unexpected safe Jeff Ireland's job surge. Phase 4 The final bitter end to wild card hopes in game to Patriots where Doug Flutie comes out of retirement to kick meaningless in your face field goal. Phase 5 Offseason rebuilding of new uniforms, new money demands for new stadium, same old draft picks, and free agent WR loss and/or signing. Rinse and repeat.

In other observation in the Charger game I saw a charger WR have his helmet ripped off during his route with not flag thrown. Going to show not even the refs were interested in watching that game.

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#41 by PaddyPat // Oct 21, 2013 - 11:36am

Flutie drop-kicked an extra point. And the Phins won the game.

Otherwise, your commentary is apt, except that somehow in 2008 and 2001, the collapse against the Pats didn't result in the Dolphins losing their playoff spot. It certainly did in 2002...

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#53 by johonny (not verified) // Oct 21, 2013 - 11:52am

Actual observations from the game: With 2 minutes left in the half and up 17-7 the bills have the ball and instead of running 3 times and killing clock they somehow try a 2 minute drill with their previously off the street QB. Result Miami has enough time to march the field to make the game close at the half. With 3 minuts left in the game Miami has the ball at midfield. Instead of running 3 times and punting (or possibly getting a first down) the Bills to the 5 yard line they try a pass. Result RT wiffs on a block Tannehill gets destroyed, fumble, Bills win game. This was a game of huh why are our coaches doing that game.

Tannehill looks a lot like a QB that is getting pummeled behind a terrible offensive line. David Carr is starting to look like Tannehills future if Miami doesn't figure out their line soon. It's sort of amazing for a team this iffy that pretty much their only draft pick making plays is their kicker (who missed a tough field goal that would once again have helped the team win a home game,but hey that's why you cut Carpenter for him... right?).

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#12 by collapsing pocket (not verified) // Oct 21, 2013 - 10:27am

This was the worst-officiated game of football that I have ever witnessed,

So you watch, what? 1 or 2 football games a year? There were a handful of bad calls which were concentrated on one drive on which the Chargers still didn't manage to score.

There were a number of very questionable calls, but most notable was Antonio Gates' obvious fumble that was reviewed and still stood.

Gates definitely fumbled, no argument there. I think the only thing that save him was the possible (though by no means 100% solid) argument that there was no clear recovery by the defense. It would be nice if the league made officials explain themselves more on situations like that.

Points: 0

#36 by QCIC (not verified) // Oct 21, 2013 - 11:26am

Hehe, I always love the "this was terrible officiating" comments about games with merely slightly below average officiating. Football really is great for displaying the irrationality of people's tribal biases.

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#158 by formido // Oct 21, 2013 - 8:39pm

Then there are the people who like to signal their "objectivity" by never admitting when games are poorly officiated.

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#185 by Anonymousse (not verified) // Oct 22, 2013 - 9:22am

Slightly below average in the NFL is terrible.

It's like saying an MLB Umpire was slightly below average on calling balls and strikes (which is being wrong on about 30% of pitches near the edge of the zone)

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#13 by Brendan Scolari // Oct 21, 2013 - 10:29am

"@OlDirtySaltz: with Foles out, EAGLES QB enters the game"

I take it this guy doesn't watch college football.

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#14 by DenverCheeze (not verified) // Oct 21, 2013 - 10:31am

Why is no one talking about the Packers winning with defense. sure they scored 31, but late in the 3rd Q it was still 17-6. The TD they gave up was basically garbage time and allowable...similar to what happened on the first Ravens TD and the TDs given to the Lions and 'Skins. This is hugely significant considering how horrible their D has been over the last 2 years and they are even doing it with multiple key injuries. Is it really just the opponents are that bad? I am seeing some much better play from them and they are winning with Defense, not just shootouts like Peyton and the Broncos have been.

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#21 by justanothersteve // Oct 21, 2013 - 10:43am

Because they did it against a team QB'ed by Brandon Weedon.

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#205 by Jero D (not verified) // Oct 22, 2013 - 10:54pm

and Stafford and Flacco...

...but did bomb on Colin K and Dalton.

NFL, who would-a thunk?

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#212 by Irishman (not verified) // Oct 24, 2013 - 4:43pm

Actually the Packer defense held the Browns, as well as the Redskins, Lions and Ravens, below their average points per game this season. It is an improved defense. The Packers only two losses came against pretty good teams -- the 49ers and the Bengals. The 49ers game was decided by just six points with the offense committing two turnovers. In the Bengal game, the Packers outgained the Bengals by over a 100 yards, but the offense handed the ball over four times. The Packer defense is looking good as the #3 team rated against the run and the pass defense should improve as soon as the Clay Mathews, Nick Perry, Brad Jones and Casey Hayward come off of injury. It is a much better balanced team than they've had in years.

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#20 by JP2 (not verified) // Oct 21, 2013 - 10:42am

I hate Denver punting early on 4th and 1 and 4th and an inch.

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#30 by DEW (not verified) // Oct 21, 2013 - 11:12am

I hate the fact that Peyton Manning does not QB sneak, which makes fourth-and-inches a difficult play for the Broncos instead of a near-gimme. Reminds me of the Marino days with the Dolphins.

(I wonder what the effect would be if they put Osweiler out there to sneak it, given that everybody in the stadium would know exactly what play was coming next?)

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#33 by bucko (not verified) // Oct 21, 2013 - 11:20am

The Packers do not have Rodgers perform any QB sneaks. No explanation as to why has been provided.

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#65 by Mr Shush // Oct 21, 2013 - 12:18pm

I don't think the Texans have called a sneak since Schaub got hurt on one against the Buccaneers in 2011.

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#37 by QCIC (not verified) // Oct 21, 2013 - 11:27am

I really hated all the running plays in the 2nd quarter when they were backed up in their end.

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#24 by hscer // Oct 21, 2013 - 10:55am

I'd be surprised if Jordan Reed doesn't end up in the top 5 receivers in Quick Reads. In the 2nd half he was targeted 3 times for 3 first downs, so for the game: 9 targets, 9 catches, 134 yards, a touchdown, and 6 first downs. His other two catches were 15 yards on 2nd and 27 (is this a success?) and 5 yards on 2nd and 12 (which he followed with 11 on 3rd and 7). He's shown promise in other games this season, but yesterday was really impressive.

Now if in every game Griffin can figure out how to throw a long touchdown when one defender mistimes his leap and the other falls down, the Redskins offense should be in good shape the rest of the season!

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#95 by DrunkenOne // Oct 21, 2013 - 1:56pm

Yeah he was really incredible and single handedly carried the redskins offense this weak. The WR have been having major trouble getting separation and even when they do have had major drop problems. I think at one point bob was 4/4 to reed and like 2/9 to everyone else.

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#110 by TomC // Oct 21, 2013 - 2:37pm

Now if in every game Griffin can figure out how to throw a long touchdown when one defender mistimes his leap and the other falls down, the Redskins offense should be in good shape the rest of the season!

As a Bears fan, I nearly lost it about twenty times during the game, but that was the only time I really did lose it. I expect that sort of bumbling from Chris Conte (who is slowly but surely establishing himself as one of the worst safeties in the NFL), but the mistimed (and mis-aimed) jump was from Tillman, from whom I expect much, much better.

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#26 by Just Another S… (not verified) // Oct 21, 2013 - 11:00am

To all Pats fans out there wailing that the refs jobbed you out of a victory, please watch the game tape of last week's Pats-Saints game and send your local ref that flower basket you clearly promised him before that game and never sent. The refs give their favor capriciously and will hold a grudge when you don't follow through on promises.

(Yes, I'm a Saints fan. Yes, I've gone back and watched the game tape of last week's game. Yes, I do firmly believe that the refs called that game for the home crowd. Note: I am given to understand that this is a common thing for refs to do and has been statisically analyzed and confirmed. This incident was just a bit more egregious than normal in MY OPINION. This may differ from yours, feel free to flame away.)

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#46 by PaddyPat // Oct 21, 2013 - 11:39am

I think it's a relative given that refs job the away teams. What was disconcerting about the call at the end was how obviously it decided the outcome in a single play and that it was a ruling that no one had ever heard of. Fine, call that penalty during one of the Jets' previous field goals during regulation, and everyone will groan and move on. But on the over-time field goal?? Really? It felt like the reverse of the end of the 2007 Pats-Ravens game... although that was arguably reversed in last year's Pats-Ravens game. No, it was just the reverse of the Tuck Rule.

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#48 by dmstorm22 // Oct 21, 2013 - 11:43am

How was that the reverse of last year's playoff game?

It's good that you bring up the Tuck Rule, because that too was an obscure rule that few had ever heard of. Just like in that case, the rule here was applied correctly and it helped decide a game (it should be noted at the time the flag was thrown, the ref had no idea if the field goal was made or not). It happens. Apparently, the league sent a memo to officials to start calling this. A point of emphasis was made right before this week. Sure, the Patriots were the only one it was called against, but show me evidence of another team this week doing it.

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#163 by Paddy Pat // Oct 21, 2013 - 10:00pm

I didn't mean the playoff game. I was referring to week 3, which was one of the worst officiated games I have ever seen. Neither team respected the refs. Players were getting mugged left and right. Sparring matches broke out. Both coaches screamed at the ref and pulled him aside to lecture him on the rules. If not for the fiasco in GB-SEA, NE-BAL would have gone down as the greatest misery of replacement refs. And believe me, New England got hosed a lot worst by the refs than Baltimore did in a game that was still a misery of ref'ing all around. I felt like that game made up for 2007, which was, honestly an atrocity. It was one of the only games I've seen in my time rooting for the Pats where I really felt embarrassed that my team "won".

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#186 by Anonymousse (not verified) // Oct 22, 2013 - 9:25am

There are several screen shots in this thread of the Jets doing it earlier in the game, and I'm sure the Pats were doing it do. It was happening on every place kicking attempt.

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#193 by Led // Oct 22, 2013 - 11:17am

The evidence of the Jets doing it is ambiguous and from a bad angle (behind the kicking team from the endzone). In fact, the NFL has released coaches footage from a side angle showing that Quentin Coples (the alleged Jets violator) was engaged with a NE blocker the whole play and could not have had more than incidental contact with the other Jets player. It's really not even close to the same technique the Pats ran.

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#145 by panthersnbraves // Oct 21, 2013 - 4:26pm

Home Team sauce in the cooking - Rams @ Panthers, almost all of the PF penalties went against the Rams. Then they lost composure, and it got really messy.

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#45 by MilkmanDanimal // Oct 21, 2013 - 11:39am

Yesterday was the first time Mike Glennon didn't make me cringe at QB; he showed some patience in the pocket and was significantly more accurate on his throws. His deep ball, however, has been just utterly terrible, and he badly over- or underthrew ever receiver down the field. He was bailed out on one ball by that ridiculous Vincent Jackson one-handed catch, but, for a kid with a big arm, he certainly hasn't shown anything resembling even vague deep accuracy. I've now gone from "actively depressed about his future" to just "generally pessimistic". This year, that's progress. I do think Waldman is correct in that there's something there in Glennon, it's just he's so rough and inconsistent that I don't know it will come out without solid coaching, and, based on the Josh Freeman Implosion Special, it's pretty clear Tampa is not a place you're going to find the kind of coaches that are going to polish off the rough edges.

Doug Martin's shoulder injury looked bad; he apparently said it wasn't separated, but no official word yet. Rookie Mike James actually had a nice game in a fill-in role, but, without Martin, the Bucs offense is going to devolve even further into "Mike Glennon stares at Vincent Jackson and throws him a quick slant".

Oh, also, regarding LaVonte David--he was so ridiculously good yesterday. By the middle of the 2nd quarter, by my count, he had six tackles, four for loss, plus he had a great breakup of what would have been a TD pass. This year has been an epic ball of suck, but David has been phenomenal. Yes, it's far too early in his career to be comparing him to Derrick Brooks, but, well, to do just that, he's got the same kind of speed and instincts as #55 did. I mean, David has really been amazing this year. Except for that whole "hit Geno Smith out of bounds and lose the game" thing.

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#63 by Peregrine // Oct 21, 2013 - 12:15pm

Yep, I was there, and the Falcons couldn't block David in the first half. Glennon's ball security on the fumble-six was absurd. That boy ain't running away from anyone, so better learn to eat it. How much longer does Schiano have? Honestly, I hope about 10 years.

For the Falcons, Matt Ryan is carrying the team. His ability to get rid of the ball behind our porous OL is very underappreciated. The OL was the biggest misevaluation on the team. Meanwhile, the defense is filled with youngsters - at times we had five rookies on the field.

No Super Bowl this year, for sure, but hopefully we can find some young guys to provide a core for the future.

Points: 0

#93 by MilkmanDanimal // Oct 21, 2013 - 1:52pm

I was more impressed by Matt Ryan yesterday than I've ever been before, simply because he was constantly getting rid of the ball just as he needed to. I did want to reach through the screen and strangle the announcers, who kept saying how Mike Glennon looks like Matt Ryan. Cue Triumph the Insult Comic Dog, because Mike Glennon looks like Mike Glennon coming out of my ass. Seriously, they're both tall and have a vague physical appearance between Glennon and a young Ryan, but please stop comparing them. Gaaaah.

Points: 0

#42 by JoeyHarringtonsPiano // Oct 21, 2013 - 11:37am

I know there's plenty of season left, and DEN-KC haven't even played yet, but if the Chiefs end up winning the division it would be wierd to see the Broncos as a wildcard team. I'm probably wrong, but the last time I remember something similar was the '99 Titans who were 13-3, but were 2nd in the division to the 14-2 Jaguars.

Points: 0

#62 by ian1432 (not verified) // Oct 21, 2013 - 12:13pm

2008 Colts went 12-4 and travelled to 8-8 SD for Wild Card. Mike Scifres had the game of his life, a few Colts drops and untimely (and 1 questionable) penalties in overtime and the Chargers move to the divisional round.

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#153 by nath // Oct 21, 2013 - 8:02pm

Yep, and that Titans team made the Super Bowl. Jacksonville lost three games that year, all to Tennessee.

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#164 by Paddy Pat // Oct 21, 2013 - 10:02pm

Baltimore in 2000 was a great 12-4 team behind 13-3 Tennessee, which they beat in the Postseason. 2001 San Francisco was a fantastic 12-4 behind the 14-2 Rams. They got bounced as a wild card in GB in round 1, but FO had them ranked first weighted at the end of the year.

Points: 0

#47 by Paul R // Oct 21, 2013 - 11:41am

I'm still not giving up on Richardson.
While he may have a rare medical condition that makes his body produce an unknown pheromone which causes owners to give up first-round picks, he's obviously got some kind of talent.
Many times, he takes a hand-off and suddenly the play looks broken, like he's expecting an opening which isn't there. Either that or the timing is wrong and he's arriving too early for the play to develop.
When that happens, it looks like he's the one making the mistake, wrong place at the wrong time, but it could be that he's just not in the same rhythm as the front line.

It's possible that he's just a bad running back, but I'm still willing to give him the benefit of the doubt. Synchronicity happens over time.

Points: 0

#49 by brad in vegas (not verified) // Oct 21, 2013 - 11:43am

Denver has zero pass defense. No defense = no super bowl.

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#51 by MilkmanDanimal // Oct 21, 2013 - 11:46am

Some fantasy advice--start Brandon Lafell Thursday night. Jonathan Banks the last two weeks has allowed 140+ yards to Riley Cooper and Harry Douglas. He has been abysmal. Of course, there have been enough other breakdowns in the secondary it's not entirely his fault, but, hey, there are always good reasons to put the best man cover corner in @#$!! years in zone, right?

Points: 0

#60 by Peregrine // Oct 21, 2013 - 12:02pm

It's curious that the Bucs don't use Revis as a match corner, like he was with the Jets. Yesterday the Falcons repeatedly lined up Drew Davis (he of the three or four career catches) opposite Revis.

And I wonder why more teams don't use a match corner concept anyway.

Points: 0

#94 by MilkmanDanimal // Oct 21, 2013 - 1:53pm

Because Greg Schiano is smarter than you and everybody else, of course. There is clearly no sane reason for using Revis the way he is being used. I'm beginning to suspect Schiano is actually a Saints fan, and one of these days he's going to tear off his Bucs shirt to reveal a Drew Brees jersey, and then he'll hit Vincent Jackson in the back of the head with a folding chair.

Points: 0

#120 by justanothersteve // Oct 21, 2013 - 3:16pm

You could also play the #2 WR on whoever the Browns play this week. I won one of my FFL games by picking up Jarrett Boykin Sunday morning. Haden is good, but he mainly went against Nelson.

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#58 by JoeyHarringtonsPiano // Oct 21, 2013 - 11:57am

The Lions loss was a gut-punch in real time, but having had time to process it, I can't get too upset about a close loss to a good Bengals team, even if it was at home.

What was disheartening is the secondary and special teams both playing like it's 2012 again, wasting an outstanding performance by the passing game. Chris Houston has been the only reliable DB for the past 3 years, and he played a terrible game (wonder if his hamstring's still bothering him). And Sam Martin's last punt...ugh.

The Bengals lost Leon Hall, but the Lions lost BOTH of their starting tackles, and it showed. Stafford was pressured constantly, but he did well considering the circumstances.

The Bengals defense did a great job blowing up any screen passes the Lions tried, which takes a big chunk out of their playbook. And the CIN front 7 is as-advertised. No running lanes at all..Bush had to make a bunch of cuts/jukes just to avoid losses. This is the first time I've watched that defense for a whole game, and I came away very impressed.

Points: 0

#73 by ChrisS (not verified) // Oct 21, 2013 - 12:55pm

The secondary was terrible and gave up too many big plays. A big part of that was due to the lack of consistent pressure by the line. The offense, CALVIN,played well enough to win.
I was talking to a buddy of mine and and he and I were impressed by the special teams play this year, it had not been a disaster. He said it was the best since Chuck Priefer left about 10 years ago. And then this game, well yikes.

Points: 0

#78 by JoeyHarringtonsPiano // Oct 21, 2013 - 1:16pm

Sam Martin has been great on kickoffs and punts. The opposing team's average starting field position is like 10 years deeper than it was last year, which has made a difference in terms of points given up.

But Martin has had a couple of stunning gaffes, too. Besides the shanked punt, he also mishandled a snap that cost them a FG against Minnesota (which was less critical, obviously).

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#74 by Chappy (not verified) // Oct 21, 2013 - 12:58pm

Don't you think one big issue was that Stafford missed on about 3 or 4 deep passes that essentially Dalton made? In audibles they focus on Dalton's arm being underpowered but in Stafford's case he missed long every time. I'm specifically thinking of one to Durham, but there were at least two more. These weren't easy throws by any means, but they were certainly makable. I feel like if Stafford hit on one or two of those throws it would have been a completely different game.

Points: 0

#77 by JoeyHarringtonsPiano // Oct 21, 2013 - 1:13pm

Yes, he missed a few deep throws, but he made others. That one to Ogletree to convert 3rd and 20 was perfectly in-stride. The first touchdown to Calvin was a perfect in-stride/back-shoulder that only 5 or 6 QB's in the league could make.

But I agree his deep balls are not quite as accurate as they could be. When he misses, it's usually too long. With Johnson, you almost wish he would err towards underthrowing it so he could go up and get it.

Overall, Stafford right now is a high-volume but relatively low-efficiency producer (kind of like Eli during his best seasons). The good thing is that there is improvement this year after regression last year.

The list of things this team can improve on is long, and the QB position is near the bottom in terms of priority.

Points: 0

#86 by Aaron Brooks G… // Oct 21, 2013 - 1:35pm

When you're offense is pass, pass again, and pass some more, you're not going to see efficiency.

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#97 by JoeyHarringtonsPiano // Oct 21, 2013 - 2:02pm

Very true. To be fair, they tried to run (25 times), but it was completely ineffective, at which point going pass-happy is the sound decision.

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#59 by commissionerleaf // Oct 21, 2013 - 12:01pm

On Trent Richardson: Somehow, it seems like the Indy line just doesn't work as well for Richardson as for Brown or Bradshaw. At this point it almost has to be something other than variance, because Richardsen is always getting hit at the line. Always. He's really impressive after contact, but Brown and Bradshaw often gain yards before running into anyone. And his fumble (unlike Ronnie Hillman's fumble) was just a really good rip by the defense, fairly forgivable.

On Colts-Broncos: I was convinced the Broncos were going to pull it out when they were driving in the fourth right up until the Ronnie Hillman fumble. Even after that, you could see a way clear until Vickerson's ticky-tack roughing the passer call. On which subject: Well played, Mr. Luck, that pratfall would put Tom Brady to shame.

On Manning: I didn't think Manning was hurt. I thought the Denver offensive line was playing poorly. injuries have started to stack up.

Raiderjoe watch: The Raiders defeated the Chargers, who defeated the Colts, who defeated the Broncos. Does this mean we can expect a sweep of the Broncos by the Raiders and a surprise AFC West Champion?

Points: 0

#67 by Paul R // Oct 21, 2013 - 12:21pm

I liked Luck's flop, too. The guy weighs more than my first car, and is probably more crash-resistant. No way can you knock him to the ground by chest-bumping him on the back.
The fact that he never saw Vickerson coming, yet was still able to improvise on the spot is just another indication of what a well-rounded talent he is.

Also agree re: Richardson. It looks like he's not in sync with the O-line. That will require some time. You can't just throw Joeseph Addai's playbook at him and expect perfection. In the meantime, I wonder how he'd do on a draw play or a screen.

Points: 0

#132 by RedDwarf (not verified) // Oct 21, 2013 - 3:40pm

I don't know if it was a flop or not. You saw what happened when the Colts punter took out Holliday (which was awesome, and I'm a Broncos fan), and that was only a 30 lb weight difference (though admittedly a lot more effort). Luck may be 240 but Vickerson has nearly 100 pounds on him. I think I'd go down pretty hard if someone bumped me solidly from behind weighing that much more. It was a cheesy call, but a really stupid play by Vickerson. How many years have refs been babying QB's and you rather obviously bump him well after the play? Dumb. As was several other plays by Vickerson and Knighton in the game-they mentally lost well before the game ended.

I do enjoy all the "sky is falling" and "Colts have shown a blueprint how to beat the Broncos offense" stuff (on other sites, thank goodness). Still scored 33 and that's with a goal line fumble (seriously, what is UP with Hillman and Ball unable to hold on to the ball? Moreno can't play every down!), and really poor field position all day.

Not sure why the defense is so much worse this year (it's not all Miller and Champ) but Del Rio better figure something out before the playoffs--that's what the Broncos need to get fixed. Hold teams under 30 and they'll win out.

Points: 0

#133 by Nathan // Oct 21, 2013 - 3:42pm

Anytime any team beats an undefeated squad there's a chorus of "the X's have provided a blueprint to beat the Y's!!!!" from the media. It's meaningless.

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#135 by dmstorm22 // Oct 21, 2013 - 3:48pm

Despite giving up 39 points, I thought the defense looked better this week than in past weeks, and Miller had no impact other than maybe getting double-team attention. Still, nowhere near good enough to reliably win in the playoffs, but I think the signs of getting better are there.

As you said, that offense can sleepwalk to 30 points, but the receivers are struggling to get open consistently. They are big enough and Manning is good enough to throw them open, but as someone who watches the Colts a lot, they aren't the greatest cover team and they locked them down pretty well.

The fumbling has got to stop. It is ridiculous. Happened last year, though as the year went on they solved it to some degree. This is what, the third time the Broncos have fumbled inside the 10 yard line (@NYG, vs.JAX). I honestly think they win that game if they get a TD there, and the Indy fans get treated to another amazing Manning comeback in the worst way, but the Broncos biggest flaw on offense showed up again.

Points: 0

#140 by commissionerleaf // Oct 21, 2013 - 4:04pm

Miller seemed to do a great job shedding his guy and overruning the play deep into the backfield every down. Not sure what' going on with that. Both defenses were a lot better at collapsing the pocket (Manning in particular had nothing resembling a "pocket" all day) than they were at bringing the QB down, which is a good indication of how good both QB's are.

Manning threw an incompletion to DeMaryius Thomas that was exactly the same mistake he made on the Eric Decker INT in the Dallas game, and a mistake (?) he's made at least one other time that I've seen. The route seemed to call for a deep fade to the sideline, and instead Manning throws a sort of "front-shoulder" to the DB and the receiver has to reach around the DB to defense the pass. Of course, DeMaryius Thomas is a big boy, so it was an incompletion instead of an interception this time, but it's a mysterious throw that Manning almost must be "missing" by six or seven yards.

Points: 0

#146 by RedDwarf (not verified) // Oct 21, 2013 - 4:40pm

Manning seems to have real problems on deep throws to the sidelines these days. I think that's where his arm strength is genuinely lacking these days. If he steps into it he's still getting it down the center of the field (twice to Decker recently), but the sideline go routes and back shoulder throws have been very wobbly and way off target. Something I'm sure defenses will notice until he figures out a way around that problem, and it's even more important because that's the best way to get teams out of press man.

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#201 by Anonymousse (not verified) // Oct 22, 2013 - 2:19pm

You clearly haven't seen any of Tom Brady play this year if you think those passes are off-target.

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#143 by rageon // Oct 21, 2013 - 4:13pm

Denver's offense looked worse than they have all season (by far), and despite a couple fumbles and that safety, they still scored 30+. As noted above, Denver is going to win any game in which they hold the other team under 30 points.

Unfortunately (for Denver), the fumbles aren't just some bad-luck that will equalize. Holiday and Hillman have longstanding issues, although in Holiday's case the upside probably does still outweight the negative. There isn't another guy on the roster who is an obvious upgrade for him. And Hillman is going to need to play as well, given that Moreno isn't all that great and can't run every play himself. Denver is just going to have to score enough to make up for the times it happens. Last night they didn't.

BTW -- Tons of credit to Indy for opening up the stadium last night for the game against Manning. No idea if the whole "Manning in the cold" thing is real or not, but still, I thought it was a great idea to do it.

Points: 0

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