Audibles at the Line: Week 10
compiled by Rivers McCown and Andrew Potter
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.
Philadelphia Eagles 27 at Green Bay Packers 13
Ben Jones: Better to be lucky than good ... Foles to Jackson
Mike Ridley: Scott Tolzien is in ... and looks like he just came off the practice squad
Rivers McCown: Tebow Packers
@TCBullfrog: When did #Packers QB become "drummer for Spinal Tap"?
@GDFar: I know the jokes are flying, but wouldn't GB rather have Tebow and 47 rushes than have to throw 17 times with Tolzien?
Mike Ridley: If only the Packers would've resigned Matt Flynn
@MilkmanDanimal: Reality show idea; Tebow, VY, and Matt Flynn have bake-off in jungle while singing and dancing, winner is new Packers QB.
Aaron Schatz: I'm sure before the season, Packers fans thought it would be all about the Tolzien-Boykin connection.
@MilkmanDanimal: Packers fans wildly cheer Eagles FG miss, forgetting for a moment that that means Tolzien is about to come back on the field.
Ben Jones: Call a facemask ... refs are royally screwing up GB-PHI
Aaron Schatz: One of the worst roughing passer calls ever in GB. Matthews clearly pushes Foles on the shoulder, officials call him for hit to head.
@sfckoski: Coughlin elects to run three times with Hillis to end the half with 2 TOs in his pocket down 3 rather than let Eli pass.
Scott Kacsmar: Eagles up 20-3 halfway thru 3rd quarter. With a 3rd-string QB in, let's stick a fork in this one.
Jacksonville Jaguars 29 at Tennessee Titans 27
Tom Gower: What scared me about this game is Titans could believe it's a game they could win w/o taking risks. If so, mistakes will cost you
Scott Kacsmar: Jags are up 10-0. Easily their biggest lead of the season.
Tom Gower: Second straight possession that ends with Locker Schaubing, throwing short of the sticks on 3D & not getting the first. 10-0 Jags
Tom Gower: Another bad downfield throw from Jake Locker & it's an easy pick. Struggled on those last week & today as well.
@GDFar: Even if Jake Locker was good, it would be time to move on because of injury concerns. Titans should look at QB in the draft.
Tom Gower: Should've noted this before now, but the Jaguars can't really block Jurrell Casey.
@MilkmanDanimal: Hey Bernard Pollard, when there's a rule basically named for you for protecting QBs, you should maybe stop hitting QBs in the head.
Tom Gower: Um... 3&14 screen, then I think Marlon Brown adjusted & Colin McCarthy didn't. Todman to the corner easy, Jags up 20-7. Oof.
@MilkmanDanimal: Henne just play-faked on 3rd and 12 up 2 with 4 minutes left, because the run there was clearly a real possibility.
@MilkmanDanimal: Brian Anger with a really nice punt, totally making up for that "drafted in the 3rd a few slots before Russell Wilson" thing.
@MuiEdgeGJJ: it would be hilarious if at this point Jacksonville messed up the victory formation. can't think they practise it too much
Tom Gower: I don't know what to say about this game, aside from it's a good example of a way to blow a game when you're the heavy favorite. The Titans came out conservative. They're not good enough to win a game playing conservatively unless they play mistake-free football. They turned the ball over four times, including a fumble on the first play of the game Jacksonville converted into an early lead.
I don't buy into that "they feel confident" and "momentum" stuff any more than most of the other statheads do, but in a time-delimited game situations change how teams are able to play. Get a lead on Jacksonville, force them to throw, and you should have a comfortable win. Give them a lead (and they were up 13-0 before the Titans managed a touchdown right before half), and they can do what they want to do. Don't punish them for mistakes, as the Titans turned two Chad Henne interceptions inside the 30 into three points. Last week was not a sign that Chris Johnson was "back" or any such nonsense. He's solely a function of the blocked yards, and this offensive line isn't good enough to create that sort of sustaining run game on a regular basis.
Somebody will probably make something of the Titans missing Jake Locker after he went out with a foot injury early. Well, he was lousy early. 4-of-9, 24 yards, picked off on what I thought was just a bad throw, and I don't think those numbers are underrating his performance. Ryan Fitzpatrick is just differently mediocre, which might have been enough to win with an extra defensive stop and if not for those pesky mistakes. At least I shouldn't have to listen to any more discussion about how the Titans are the favorites for the last playoff spot in the AFC.
Buffalo Bills 10 at Pittsburgh Steelers 23
Scott Kacsmar: Roethlisberger picked and some of the more pathetic "we're 2-6" tackle attempts you'll see from several Steelers.
@feb31st: If Buffalo could just pay Jairus Byrd next season instead of doing whatever they were planning on doing with him, that'd be great.
Scott Kacsmar: Poor ball thrown wide on 3rd down, but William Gay pushes the receiver. First down. I hate this game already.
@SigurWes: Wonder if Edge goes for endzone on that scramble pre-injury
Scott Kacsmar: This has been a very rough game for Stephon Gilmore. Just beat on a fade TD to Cotchery.
Mike Ridley: Cotchery did a great job of selling the block on his fade TD.
Mike Ridley: Pittsburgh just hardcounted the Bills ... on a field goal attempt
Scott Kacsmar: Bills just punted on fourth-and-5 from PIT 36, down 17-3 in the 4th quarter. That's disgusting.
Scott Kacsmar: Not to make it worse for Colts fans, but Jerry Hughes just picked up his 6th sack of the season. No chance for Roethlisberger.
Scott Kacsmar: Not that I advocate more of Jeff Tuel, but it did not look like EJ Manuel was ready to play this game. Call it rust, road jitters or just general inexperience (sixth-career start), but he did not give them much of a chance to win this game. Their best shot to take advantage was after an early interception by Ben Roethlisberger, which included some horrid tackling attempts from the Steelers. But without much threat from a passing game (don't recall Manuel ever really testing them deep), even a bad Pittsburgh defense is capable of shutting down a one-dimensional offense. The Buffalo running game was held in check.
Roethlisberger again had a slow start before coming on later, but there was nothing special about his performance. Early on he looked like a guy that wanted out of town, if you believe the rumor mill. There was just no rhythm with the receivers. Antonio Brown was shut out early, but came on strong with 104 receiving yards and two big punt returns for 74 yards. He was the best player on the field.
The game really lost its competitiveness when the hard count somehow drew the Bills offsides on a field-goal attempt in the third quarter. That led to a touchdown and those four extra points felt insurmountable for the Bills on this day.
Oakland Raiders 20 at New York Giants 24
@ptmovieguy: NYG spots Raiders 7. KR gets ball stripped, returned inside 10, OAK gets TD 2 plays later. OAK rejects NYG's ST suckitude handicap, allow blocked kicked returned for TD ties game up.
Mike Ridley: Glad to see that #OAKvsNYG is just as sloppy as we expected.
@TheRealChack: Two lost fumbles by the Giants in the first quarter. Of course, they also blocked a punt and scored off it.
@ptmovieguy: Bad Q1 for Peyton Hillis. Gave up sack vs OAK backup DB, then coughs up ball on screen. Coughlin calling Tyrone Wheatley. OAK's 17 points so far: 2 short drives from NYG ST TO, Hillis fumble, & Eli TAINT. Raider offense ineffective.
Cian Fahey: The courage to keep coming back after three ACL tears in the same knee is phenomenal. Terrell Thomas is an inspired football player
@sfckoski: Terrelle Pryor has looked terrible all day. Exposed is the word that comes to mind as best adjective to describe the performance. Fair to question OAK's play calling. Jennings had been gashing NYG, but OAK unable leverage him when they had lead
@ptmovieguy: NYG gift-wrapped game but OAK self-sabotaging offense prevented win. Felt like D took step back, DBs+middle run D exposed
St. Louis Rams 38 at Indianapolis Colts 8
Aaron Schatz: Mathis just pushed Jake Long all the way back into Clemens. Easily. Both DL look like they will very much dominate OL in this game.
Scott Kacsmar: Trent 3.0 with consecutive carries for no gain. Establishing the run in Indy means forcing Luck to have a 4QC.
Aaron Schatz: Hey Rams. Let's not put our third-string TE on Robert Mathis one-on-one, ok?
Rivers McCown: So, what does Trent Richardson have to do to get benched?
Aaron Schatz: David Reed just decided to take a deep kickoff out of the end zone and got tackled on the freaking 7. I keep meaning to do an article on the issue of kick returners getting too greedy with deep kickoffs. Just take the touchback.
Vince Verhei: As one of his harshest critics, I'd like to congratulate Tavon Austin for his 98-yard punt return TD against Indy.
@StanSellsBoats: Austin the return man: yup. Austin the WR: still unconvincing.
Aaron Schatz: Hey, kids. Tavon Austin breakout game. Just caught a deep TD pass from Kellen Clemens. Rams, 26th in DVOA going into this week, beating Colts (5th) 28-0. On the road. And it isn't halftime yet. #anygivensunday
@ScottieRock28: Everyone around me is just disgusted with this Colts game. The Rams fans here went from nonexistent to very vocal.
@The_Catch_IV: Colts maintaining their record of beating the NFL's best & worst teams, but disdaining from turning up to play vs mediocre teams.
@MilkmanDanimal: The Rams have scored four touchdowns. Kellen Clemens has completed four passes.
Scott Kacsmar: At 35-0 in the third quarter, CBS says Colts' WP is 2.5%. I'd go 0.01%. 94 years of NFL history would back that up.
Vince Verhei: The Rams currently have five completions ... For 42 yards a pop.
@MilkmanDanimal: The Rams are now up to five touchdowns, and Clemens has five completions. Patently insane statline.
Cian Fahey: The takeaway from today's Indianapolis game should be how the Colts can't rely on anything else when Luck struggles.
Aaron Schatz: I only watched the first half of the game; it was such a laugher by halftime that I decided to hit Red Zone for the rest of the 1 p.m. games. This game (or at least the first half) was really controlled by the defensive lines. Robert Quinn in particular was all over Andrew Luck. The Colts offensive line is such a problem. Going into this week, Luck had taken 50 quarterback hits, not including sacks. The next-highest quarterbacks in the league were Matt Ryan and Robert Griffin at 33 each. That's nuts. The gap will be even bigger after this game.
As for the Colts defense, as the game went on, the Rams interior line did a better job against the Colts interior line. Bill Barnwell might be right with his argument that Robert Mathis could be the Defensive Player of the Year so far, but you have to wonder what on earth opposing offensive coordinators are thinking when they single-block him. He is by far the one important pass rusher on the Colts. Why are you not doubling him on every play, or at least chipping him? There isn't much you can do when your expensive left tackle Jake Long can't block Mathis -- that's why you gave Long all that money -- but why would you leave third-string tight end Cory Harkey to block Mathis one on one?
By now everyone has seen the replay of Tavon Austin's punt return touchdown where he was calling his blockers off to give him room and the Colts may have mis-interpreted this as a fair catch signal, thus giving Austin room to run at the start of the return. Of course, even if he had room to run at the beginning, that doesn't change the fact that he made the rest of that return on pure speed. What drove me nuts is that for the rest of the game, Chris Myers and Tim Ryan insisted that the Austin touchdown was in some way caused by a "momentum change" because on the previous drive, the officials had changed their mind about a DPI flag on Darian Stewart. The announcers felt that Stewart had hit Coby Fleener before the ball got to him. I thought it was pretty bang-bang, and hard to tell. But what I do know is that while losing a big DPI gain is a bad thing, it doesn't suddenly make your punt coverage team slower, and it doesn't make them forget how to tackle.
Seattle Seahawks 33 at Atlanta Falcons 10
Andrew Potter: Seems like the refs in Seattle are way too quick with their whistles today. Waiting for Lynch to be blown dead as he breaks 3 tackles.
@ExcessiveFarce: Seattle’s run defense is looking much better, at least early on. OTOH, it is the Falcons.
@L_Crosby: The Falcons may be playing a lot of rookies on defense, but the LB and CB rookies are LEGIT. Looking good for the future.
@GDFar: Trick plays rarely seem to result in wide open receivers, but one-on-one deep is still very high percentage. Gave SEA a jump ball TD.
Vince Verhei: ATL's best play has been Matt Ryan scrambling up the middle. That's not good news for them.
Andrew Potter: Hard to believe the one-handed touchdown catch Golden Tate just made against Atlanta.
Vince Verhei: Michael Bennett was just called for roughing the passer because he wrapped his arms around Ryan's legs and sacked him.
@nath_on_fire: I like hearing the ATL-SEA announcer admit the roughing rules are because the league views star QBs as assets-- nothing about safety
@ExcessiveFarce: 2 defensive penalties let ATL start crawling back into the game. Though as @FO_VVerhei points out, the roughing was pretty Bsish
Cian Fahey: Marshawn Lynch has been phenomenally consistent this year...and a phenomenal running back too
Vince Verhei: I need a GIF of the kid in the Seahawks jersey dancing after the Lynch TD. Also: Marshawn Lynch for MV-non-QB.
Vince Verhei: Between sacks, hits, and personal fouls, Matt Ryan may not survive this game.
Vince Verhei: The takeaway from this game is that if anything, it was a bigger blowout than the final score would indicate. Atlanta’s points came on a 50-plus-yard field goal and a touchdown drive aided largely by multiple Seattle personal fouls. Meanwhile, Seattle moved the ball pretty much every drive, but kept shooting themselves in the foot with negative plays in scoring range. Brandon Browner left with a groin injury, and Matt Ryan kept looking at Walt Thurmond and Maxwell, but their guys were covered, and Ryan would usually dump off to a well-covered running back. It is amazing how good Seattle’s third and fourth corners are. Save for a few times when the middle of the field opened up and Ryan scrambled for good yards, the Falcons couldn’t do anything on the ground, and Ryan spent most of the second half running for his life. I don’t think he was officially sacked much, but he was under pressure on almost every play.
The Seahawks offensive line (again, missing sixty percent of their starters) played pretty good, but really Marshawn Lynch was phenomenal today. He picked up a lot of first downs by moving piles, as a rusher and receiver, and it seemed like he was getting five yards or more every carry.
In short, the team that is now 9-1 really is much better than the team that is now 2-7. Remember, everyone, I am an expert. Don’t try this at home.
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Cincinnati Bengals 17 at Baltimore Ravens 20 OT
Rivers McCown: Andy Dalton thinks @FO_ScottKacsmar never should have written that QB sneak article.
@fhyrew: Is it just me or was that Ravens touchdown a case of Flacco and Clark rescuing a terrible, low percentage playcall?
Rivers McCown: Dierdorf "Now he's learned his lesson" on Marvin Lewis going for it on fourth-and-1. Then Lewis challenges the spot. So much dumb.
Rob Weintraub: Here we go--Marvin stopped on 4th and inches earlier, now challenging spot to avoid 4th and two chain lengths. And he wins it! Marvin is unstoppable this year with the red hanky. What is going on?
@fhyrew: Return of the Suggs package, flea flicker, weird play action delay route on goal line. This is a kitchen sink game for the Ravens.
Rob Weintraub: Dalton INT on classic Red Rifle sail job in high winds. PF on return. TD Ravens and this one is over early. Cincy should really pull Dalton--he's going to get killed by the pass rush futilely throwing it another 30 times today. At least Josh Johnson can run. May be the only chance Cincy has of making a play to get back in this game. Think long term.
Rivers McCown: If I created a hypothetical #SchaubSoHard award, Andy Dalton would be top candidate.
@blotzphoto: Ray Rice looks like he has lost a step or two. Just looked incredibly slow on that dump off pass.
Rob Weintraub: HT--17-0 Ravens. Balt has done less than nothing on offense save punch it in when Bengals penalties set them up on the doorstep. 1st half--Ravens 94 total yards, Bengals 114 penalty yards. All that you need to know.
Rob Weintraub: Now Harbaugh is challenging a spot on a play: AJ stretched and converted 3rd down by one or two chain lengths. Game of millimeters. And Harbaugh wins the challenge. Eagle eyes out there. Bengals go and make it on 4th anyway.
Rob Weintraub: L. Webb makes incredible pick, yanking ball w/one arm away from Jones who had a catch. Makes Dalton's stats look worse, but all Webb. Ravens don't take advantage, 3 and out. Despite no Geno or Hall, Bengals playing great D in what will be a wasted effort.
@blotzphoto: When they play like this it looks like the Bengals brought the wrong play book. Ignoring Dalton's strengths,exposing his weaknesses.
Rob Weintraub: T. Newman with an INT, realizes pick-six is only chance for Cincy to score, runs laterally for a while looking for room, to no avail.
@blotzphoto: The Bengals D doesn't want to lose this game it seems.
Scott Kacsmar: For the 12th time in 31 games, the coin-toss loser attempted a GW FG on 2nd drive of OT. So why do all 31 choose to receive? And make that 9/31 modified OT games ending with coin-toss loser getting GW FG on drive 2. Most common outcome.
Rob Weintraub: Existential question for football fans -- would you rather have your team pull off a Hail Mary to force overtime, and not see it happen live, or get to the TV in time to actually witness your team lose painfully in overtime after said Hail Mary?
Answer -- both suck.
Not sure which team deserved to win less. Cincy was pretty bad on offense, and Andy Dalton did his usual sailing of balls in the wind. But at least they finally put together one decent drive. Baltimore did nada all day, was gifted 17 points via turnovers and penalties, and really has issues on the line. Joe Flacco basically made two good plays to escape the rush, scramble right, and hit a receiver -- for the first touchdown and for the big first down in overtime. Otherwise, he was either running for his life or missing high and wide.
I never know how much to draw from these division games. The two defenses plainly knew just about every play that was coming, and were seldom caught out of position -- that fourth-and-2 in overtime a prime example. Baltimore did a great job disguising zones and played excellent coverage, and the interior of the line, led by Haloti Ngata, of course, was immovable. Cincy barely felt the absence of Geno Atkins, Leon Hall and Rey Maualuga. Not only was Vinny Rey in there with three sacks, he was all over the place in the run game too. Another stupendously coordinated game by Zimmer. This was a very 2011 or late-2012 game from the Cincy perspective -- defense played well enough to win but the offense let 'em down again.
Cincy won two straight on field goals on the final play, blew out the Jets, and now have lost two straight in overtime. Probably on balance where they ought to be -- a little better than average.
By the way -- my first thought after I heard about the Hail Mary via my phone blowing up, after the shock, was that the Bengals should go for 2 and end it right there. Low probability of the win either way -- at least this way I wouldn't have had to see it.
Rivers McCown: I chose this game over the Scott Tolzien (nee Seneca Wallace) experience and it put me asleep at halftime.
I woke up to Dalton scrambling in the last few seconds, hitting the Hail Mary, and then they took me straight to the first play of the Houston-Arizona game, which was also memorable.
Glover Quin knows you should always spike a Hail Mary attempt.
Given the offense that I saw, I know exactly why the Bengals didn't go for two.
Detroit Lions 21 at Chicago Bears 19
@anhirsch: Both Bears and Lions go for it on 4th and 1 instead of 45yd+ FG's. Is this game being played in the future?
@TCBullfrog: My amateur opinion is that #Bears DLine has penetrated better on runs today, disrupting plays and giving LBs better route to the ball. LBs have played a bit better too. But if I was going to guess why the #Bears run D is so much better today it's because of the line.
Mike Ridley: Stafford with another trademark "screw mechanics" pick.
@JoshReedBTG: Bears opponents have failed to have a 95+ yard rusher just 3 times this year.
Scott Kacsmar: Lions - That's about as good of a situation to go for 2 as you can get, yet they kick the XP to keep it a one-score game. Bollocks.
@PigskinLover: I know it's been said, but Calvin Johnson is outstanding. Can't help be reminded of how Peyton made the Colts. Same situation right?
@pchicola: CHI does not deserve to win because Trestman didnt bench Cutler before. DET does not deserve to win because of their dumb penalties.
Carolina Panthers 10 at San Francisco 49ers 9
@Daniels_Ryan: That is at least the third time this year that the Panthers have given the ball away when they were supposed to be receiving a punt.
@sfckoski: Don't know if Aldon Smith lifted weights while away from the team, but he just bull-rushed Wharton on his first play of the game.
Vince Verhei: I think Cam Newton leads the league in "attempted throwaways that get intercepted."
@MilkmanDanimal: Starting to wonder if Cam is hurt; his mechanics have been awful today, doesn't look comfortable at all in the pocket.
Danny Tuccitto: don't know what's worse on 4th & 1 from the 2: billick suggesting FG to make it 2 score game (9-0 in 2Q?) or SF calling hard count.
Vince Verhei: Billick. Definitely Billick. I had to try very hard not to get angry.
Danny Tuccitto: for me, was a novelty thing. billick using awful CW logic Vince Verhei: 49ers are prepared for Cam runs, every time.
Vince Verhei: Eric Reid walks off after KO. Billick hopes he'll be back in the game. For Reid's sake, I hope not.
Aaron Schatz: Gore having big day for SF but OL still having problems. Most of his yards have come on double-digit runs, not 4-6 yarders. Through end of Q3 Gore has only four runs of 4 to 9 yards.
Vince Verhei: CAR up 10-9. PLEASE let that be a final, and bring up Billick's "go up two scores" argument.
Scott Kacsmar: I hope this Carolina drive brings up a fourth-and-1. Then again, with 10-9 lead, you'd be crazy to go for it. Make SF offense drive.
@sfckoski: CAR has been targeting Tarrell Brown all day. Soft coverage.
Tom Gower: Wow, Carolina, passing on 3&long in the 4-minute drill instead of calling conventional run. I like this new Ron Rivera/Mike Shula.
@TeutonSF: has Kap held ball too long vs blitz or have his receivers not adjusted to the blitz?
Scott Kacsmar: Panthers are dying to give the game away, but SF just won't take it.
Vince Verhei: 10-9 FINAL!!!! TAKE THAT BILLICK!!!
Tom Gower: Two pretty similar teams, I think, with outstanding front sevens, questionable secondaries, run games that are good but not great, and athletic, talented, but inconsistent quarterbacks who have to make the best with some not entirely threatening weapons in the pass game. It reminded me a bit of one of those physical AFC Central battles (Titans when they were good, Ravens, Steelers) in that every yard was hard-won and if you wanted fireworks you had to look elsewhere. The Panthers hit a long field goal (55), and the 49ers kicked a field goal instead of going for it on fourth-and-2 from the 5 to take a 9-0 first-half lead, a decision Brian Billick strongly supported. In a tight game like this one, that's the difference between winning and losing. Bully for DVOA's assessment of the Panthers as being a much better team than the conventional wisdom and the line for this game would suggest.
Vince Verhei: That end-of-half call was closer than you're giving it credit. SF had a fourth-and-1 at the 2. So it wasn't even touchdown-or-bust, they could have picked up a new set of downs. They ended up trying to get Carolina to jump offsides and taking a delay of game before kicking the field goal from the 6. Considering the health of their offense, it seemed unlikely that they would get back to the red zone (and in fact, they didn't), and I thought it was clear that taking advantage of that field position was the right thing to do. Besides, shouldn't San Francisco be a really good fourth-and-1 team? Aren't they all about power blocking and misdirection runs?
The bigger problem, though, is how bad San Francisco looked without Michael Crabtree and Vernon Davis (lost with a concussion shortly before that short field goal). Carolina's secondary is pretty bad, and though the Panthers hide that by playing lots of soft zones to prevent big plays (and that's a credit to Ron Rivera, by the way), there was still nothing for Colin Kaepernick to do but run for his life. They were playing with half an offense by the end of the game.
I kind of hope this game goes a long way in getting the Panthers defensive line the credit they deserve. Johnson, Hardy, and Lotulelei are all top-level guys, and I feel like they're handicapped by the guys playing behind them. They're not going to get a lot of coverage sacks in Carolina, so it's pretty much get the quarterback early, or don't get him at all.
Houston Texans 24 at Arizona Cardinals 27
Rivers McCown: Well, FO did say Arizona was the best defensive team in the NFL. And it wouldn't be a 2013 Texans game without a returned TD
Rivers McCown: I don't understand why Houston refuses to give DeVier Posey more snaps. Ryan Griffin is contributing nothing.
Cian Fahey: Andre Johnson is the second best WR in the NFL, which is basically the best because cyborgs should be disqualified
Rivers McCown: Arizona marching down the field on the backs of Jake Ballard and Rob Housler. Make a Wade Phillips D do anything but its first read.
@blotzphoto: Has Larry Fitzgerald been hurt? Or kidnapped by aliens?
Rivers McCown: Bradley Sowell versus J.J. Watt. That's not the matchup you want.
Rivers McCown: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A1zUpsRU39U
@pchicola: Down 10, why did Wade Phillips punt on 4th & 10 with 5 minutes remaining? Want to make sure Kubiak gets fired by the end of season?
Cian Fahey: That's the second underthrown fade route that a defender has misplayed to give Andre Johnson a TD in a week
Rivers McCown: Case Keenum is better than Matt Schaub. He has also been EXTRAORDINARILY lucky today.
@StanSellsBoats: Game with Andre Johnson and Larry Fitzgerald should be called the If-Only-They'd-Had-Better-Quarterbacks Bowl.
@heygirlitsryan: Andre Johnson can catch touchdowns, we now know the issue was Schaub couldn't throw them.
@Shake1n1bake: Never seen a better catch short of the sticks OOBs on 3rd down while trying to kill clock than Ellington just made
Tom Gower: Really low-risk, high-reward challenge here by Arians. No-brainer. Does he win it? Maybe not, but still worth it. Process > outcome
Scott Kacsmar: Bullock's such a bad kicker you may give a serious thought to going for it on that fourth-and-1 if you're Bruce Arians.
Rivers McCown: Case Keenum had about four adjusted interceptions in this game. And yet, considering the quality of the competition, and the fact that the Houston offensive line can't pass block to save its life, I thought he looked pretty good. Arizona blitzed practically the entire second half, and Houston had no answer for it. There was one throw in particular -- an Andre Johnson drop -- that was such a pretty deep ball I had to rewind it about four or five times to make sure I didn't hallucinate it.
Arizona had a pretty decent game plan: attack the safeties and try to fool Wade Phillips' defense. It mostly worked. D.J. Swearinger had a nice game, though. There were some Patrick Peterson -- Andre Ellington Wildcat plays that were pretty neat. Brice McCain got toasted, as he usually does these days.
In a three-point Texans loss, a blocked field goal kept the game from going to overtime. Are you surprised? Me either.
Denver Broncos 28 at San Diego Chargers 20
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Scott Kacsmar: I guess Julius Thomas is healthy enough. 74-yard TD.
@GDFar: Seems like Demaryius is the extra weapon we thought Julius Thomas would be. Julius a key part of ball movement.
Scott Kacsmar: Simms bashing Denver for taking too long. Well it's first-and-goal at the SD 7 with 0:19 left. And a timeout.
Scott Kacsmar: San Diego probably blew this one in the red zone on the previous drive. Settle for FG, miss it, great 2-min. drive by Manning.
Tom Gower: Been mostly on CAR-SF, but that DEN 2MW drive looked like DVOA #1 O v #32 D. Really pretty pass/catch on big play to D.Thomas
@MilkmanDanimal: SD rushing yards, 113, Denver 9; SD time of possession 22:29, Denver 7:31. San Diego is clearly winning this game, right?
@TickleMittens: Yes, that will score them points on Inside the NFL, those aren't counted until Wednesday... #MoralVictory #LooksBleak
Tom Gower: Demaryius Thomas #3 to complete the devastating FG miss, TD, HT, TD sequence. 28-6 & goodnight, Alice, barring oddness.
Scott Kacsmar: It's a good thing Mike McCoy knows this Denver offense...
@TCBullfrog: Jim Nantz immediately says "It's too early to go for 2", but CBS's graphic says "Go For Two" Simms and Nantz are basically mocking their own production people for advocating that the #Chargers go for 2 down 9
@RobertGrebel: No, it's not too early for SD to go for two. I don't understand this decision
Tom Gower: I didn't see much of this game. From what I saw, San Diego was moving the ball okay but not great, while Denver went up and down the field with ease. Given the eight-point margin, what I saw was apparently not entirely consistent with what happened the rest of the game, as what I did looked like a Denver blowout.
Scott Kacsmar: That was the first game in the Peyton Manning era where the Broncos didn't score 10-plus points after halftime. We were recently talking about how much John Fox deserves credit for their second-half adjustments and this just so happened to be the first game without him. That will be interesting to watch going forward, but here's a quick look at what happened today.
1st drive: 78-yard touchdown drive to go up 28-6 as Manning was doing what he wanted to this defense.
2nd drive: strip-sack on Manning. Too many of these this season.
3rd drive: 15 yards and a punt.
4th drive: Three-and-out with Eric Decker looking for a flag, which is part of his route-running on incompletions.
5th drive: 22 yards and a punt, staying pretty conservative and not attacking.
6th drive: ran out final 3:26 on clock in protecting 28-20 lead (always love that).
So credit San Diego for some good defense here. Denver may have eased up some after the 28-6 lead, but the defense did pretty well today and you always will take the four-minute offense to end the game cleanly, though any hit to Manning's knees is a concern. Might be wishing for a second-down run there.
Dallas Cowboys 17 at New Orleans Saints 49
Aaron Schatz: Dwayne Harris attempting to make up for the rest of the NFC East's lousy special teams BY HIMSELF.
@GDFar: Why are people raving about a player recovering a fumble that rolled right to his feet? He didn't do anything.
Danny Tuccitto: Welcome back to the nfl, Marques Colston.
Aaron Schatz: Great blitz pickup by Darren Sproles on TD pass up the middle to Colston in Q1
Aaron Schatz: The Cowboys also not so much with the tackling, apparently.
Scott Kacsmar: Romo couldn't have played much better against the Saints last year. Tonight, I don't think he's playing at all.
@sfckoski: DAL seemed too concerned with proving to the media that they could balance out their run/pass play mix in the first half.
Tom Gower: Very smart play by Colston there. Made the catch, looked to see if he could get a lot of YAC, saw he couldn't so went down.
Mike Ridley: Without Sean Lee, Dallas' defense is as poor as they come. Brees having his way.
@MilkmanDanimal: Dear Monte; no matter how hard you squint, none of these guys are going to turn into Derrick Brooks.
Aaron Schatz: Is this game still happening?
Scott Kacsmar: Can't stop Brees anyway, so love the surprise onside kick.
@MichaelEdits: Let's replace the Dallas Cowboy defense with Hole In Zone and see if anybody notices.
@GDFar Cowboys had 43 offensive plays to the Saints 40 first downs. Tells the entire story.
Tom Gower: I was impressed by neither Dallas' energy nor execution on defense tonight. On the road, against a potentially great offense, it's virtually impossible to win when that happens unless your offense has a particularly strong game. Failing to convert a third down until late in the game does not a particularly strong game make.