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

Audibles at the Line: Week 17

Audibles at the Line: Week 17
Photo: USA Today Sports Images

compiled by Andrew Potter

Each Sunday, the FO staff sends around emails about the games that each of us are watching. We share information about the games that the rest of the group might not be watching, ask questions, and keep everyone else informed about which games they might want to tune into (if they can).

On Monday, we compile a digest of those emails and produce this feature. By its nature, it can be disjointed and dissimilar to the other articles on the site.

While these emails are generally written with Audibles in mind, they do not represent a standard review of all the games each week. That means we aren't going to cover every game, or every important play. We watch the games that we, as fans, are interested in watching, so your favorite team's game might not be covered to your fullest desires or even at all. (If you are a Steelers or Patriots fan, you are probably in luck; if you are a Bills fan, not so much.) We have no intention of adding new authors solely to cover every game on a given Sunday, nor will we watch a different game from the ones that we're personally interested in watching just to ensure that Audibles covers every game.

Cleveland Browns 24 at Pittsburgh Steelers 27 (OT)

Bryan Knowles: A new year! A fresh start! A chance to get everything off on the right foot!

...and the Browns' team bus breaks down on the way to the game. The more things change, I suppose...

Scott Kacsmar: I'm trying to remember the last time I was this disinterested in watching a Pittsburgh game. Maybe when the Rams came to town on Christmas Eve in 2011 when I had the flu, and Charlie Batch started that game for an injured Ben Roethlisberger. All about playoff rest today, so it is a good thing that we aren't watching the Browns try to avoid 0-16 against a team that is sitting its best players.

The game started in about the fashion you'd expect. A disorganized Cleveland drive ended with a bubble screen that was nearly tipped into a pick by William Gay, and Landry Jones went down on a sack on third down for Pittsburgh's three-and-out start.

Rob Weintraub: The Browns just want that first pick -- even fumbling away an apparent pick-six during the dive for the pylon.

With less than a minute to play and inside the 10-yard line, of course they fumble before even getting off the potential game-winning kick. Overtime in Pittsburgh.

Aaron Schatz: The Cleveland Browns just lost 14 yards on second-and-goal from the 2. On a wide receiver screen. And they're gonna blow the No. 1 pick anyway because if they kick an overtime field goal, how much do the Steelers really care about beating them?

Rob Weintraub: Stat oddity -- the telecast just noted that the Browns have had two red zone turnovers in this game. But they also fumbled on an interception return diving for the pylon. Clearly that is not a red zone fumble in the official statistical count, but surely it should be?

Meanwhile the Browns are driving in overtime helped by Pittsburgh penalties. One of them is a facemask on Mike Mitchell. It appeared Corey Coleman got more of Mitchell then Mitchell got of Coleman. The real highlight was the excellent audio work by the CBS crew. They caught Mitchell overhearing the referee conference, realizing the penalty was going to be called on him, and freaking out. "Oh my god oh my God please look at this please look at it my goodness gracious"

Rare credit (from me anyway) to Mitchell for not f-bombing the refs.

Browns promptly lose 14 yards from inside the 5 and now face third-and-goal and are still very unlikely to win this game.

They get a field goal and lead 24-21.

Bryan Knowles: The Browns have wrapped up the first overall pick! The Steelers, despite not really wanting to even be playing this overtime, march down the field and score a touchdown for the win. Wow.

Aaron Schatz: My mistake. I forgot that Landry Jones is going to be a free agent and has to try to convince teams he should be their new backup. He cared!

Scott Kacsmar: The annual Cleveland quarterback carousel covered up what was a really poor defensive unit all season. Pittsburgh's backups put in respectable numbers by the end of the game. Maybe picking at the top of the draft in every round again will help, but there's just not much there to get excited over right now. The Jamie Collins trade was never going to change a thing in 2016 for Cleveland.

New England Patriots 35 at Miami Dolphins 14

Bryan Knowles: New England wants to lock up that home-field advantage early and often. They came out of the gates with a seven-minute, 13-play touchdown drive. Brady seemed determined to expose Miami's linebackers, with five of his six completions on that drive going to tight ends or running backs. Dolphins didn't seem to have any sort of answer for that -- Pittsburgh might well be taking notes on this one, considering they'll likely get Miami next week.

Vince Verhei: Week 17 is usually one of my favorites of the NFL season, as teams scramble for playoff position or just to get into the postseason, but everything is so settled this year that in the early games there's almost none of that going on. The Patriots need a win to clinch home field, and the Dolphins still have a chance at the 5 seed instead of the 6, and that's it. This is the only game with even that much at stake. All of the other early games are for draft position and nothing more.

Bryan Knowles: And it looks like there won't be much at stake in this one for long, as New England's now up 14-0 and cruising. The Dolphins have run a grand total of five plays -- a three-and-out on their opening drive, and an interception on their second. That's not exactly the start they were hoping for, here.

Aaron Schatz: Oh man does Miami look bad today. Dropping passes, and Jay Ajayi can't get anywhere against a very strong Patriots run defense. I don't think this is some sort of harbinger for next week's trip to Pittsburgh, but they look like they all woke up on the wrong side of the bed this morning.

Jay Ajayi has done a better job getting yardage after contact in the second half, and the Dolphins' defensive line is getting more pressure on Tom Brady. They have also kept the Patriots trapped deep on their own side of the field for the last couple drives. Patriots keep falling behind with holding penalties. Before that, though, Julian Edelman had a 77-yard catch-and-run with a big block downfield by Michael Floyd, which made it 27-14.

Dolphins are marching downfield now, with the offensive line providing Matt Moore with a lot more time to throw the ball.

And oh wow. So much for that Miami march downfield. Damien Williams caught the ball on the left side at the 5, and spinning around to try to get closer to the goal line, he had the ball punched out by Devin McCourty. Shea McClellin picked it up and it looked like he might go all the way on the return, but he did get tracked down and tackled around the Miami 20. Patriots were plus-10 in turnover margin coming into today, third in the NFL. Now they're at plus-12, and they have only recovered one of Miami's three fumbles today.

Rob Weintraub: After the fumble return, Brady extends his long-since shattered record for being caught on camera using expletives. Needless to say, if Cam Newton did this it would be the lead story on every sports debate show.

Bryan Knowles: We've gone final here, so the Patriots are officially the top seed in the AFC, and we'll see Miami travelling to Pittsburgh in the first round. That's New England's sixth home-field advantage under Brady and Belichick, breaking a tie with Denver for most top seeds since the NFL went to 12-team playoffs in 1990. Consistency.

Aaron Schatz: One other note from this game: The Patriots set a new NFL record with just two interceptions thrown in the regular season. TWO. The previous record was five, so they kind of obliterated it. That's a record that may never, ever be broken. And that's the whole season, not just Tom Brady, because the backup quarterbacks didn't throw any interceptions in the first four games.

Dallas Cowboys 13 at Philadelphia Eagles 27

Cian Fahey: With Sean Lee out, the Cowboys defensive front is struggling to diagnose or react to the Eagles play fakes. Eagles moved the ball down the field methodically on their opening drive before settling for a field goal.

This Cowboys-Eagles game has quickly devolved into a preseason game. Tony Romo came in for one drive and threw a touchdown, now it's Mark Sanchez the rest of the way. It doesn't help that the Cowboys defense has backups in who look lost.

It would make a lot of sense for the Eagles to be more expansive in their play calling, giving Carson Wentz opportunities to show he can diagnose coverages and throw receivers open without basing the passing game off of screens and play-action with a run-first foundation. Alas...

Bryan Knowles: This game has gone final, with Philadelphia winning. It's not meaningless -- it officially eliminates the Buccaneers. The dream is dead.

Carolina Panthers 16 at Tampa Bay Buccaneers 17

Andrew Potter: It has been well covered this week how remote Tampa Bay's playoff chances are, but the first requirement to give them even the faintest sniff is that they take care of business today against the Panthers. So far, no good: Carolina ran over and through the Bucs defense on their opening drive. Six plays, all successful, three straight power runs once they got inside the Bucs 25. They almost scored on the first of those, but Keith Tandy just managed to trip Jonathan Stewart as the last defender with a chance at him. Stewart did eventually score though, forcing his way over the top of Daryl Smith at the goal line for the 2-yard score.

Bucs managed a field goal on their opening drive, but by the end of their second they have already had two big drops (Russell Shepard and Mike Evans) and a handful of Jameis Winston overthrows.

Quirky situation in Tampa Bay as Cam Newton, one play after getting away with a sure interception dropped by Kwon Alexander, hurls one deep toward Corey Brown. Brown gets to it ahead of Keith Tandy, but the two are wrestling for it as they land. The referees award Tandy the interception instead of awarding Brown the catch, in what sure looked like a simultaneous possession situation. Nothing there to give a clear decision on review, so the call on the field stands.

Keith Tandy now has three interceptions in five starts this year, plus one he tipped to Brent Grimes against New Orleans in Week 13. He has made a big contribution since assuming that starting role in Week 12.

Both quarterbacks have been really poor today, and it is only by virtue of soap-handed defenders that we didn't have more than two interceptions at halftime -- one of which could easily have been taken back for a touchdown if James Bradberry had managed to tightrope the sideline. Brent Grimes shows him how it's done on the first drive of the second half, as Cam Newton stares down Ted Ginn and Grimes jumps the throw, stays in along the sideline, and scores to put Tampa Bay back in front.

Carolina's opening drive was impressive, but since then it has looked like the only way a touchdown is coming is a turnover return -- and so it has proven.

Cam Newton just threw what should have been another interception targeting Ted Ginn but Chris Conte couldn't haul it in. Almost identical to the pick-six to Grimes, with the only difference being the ball skills of the defensive back.

... and there's interception No. 3 on the day for Cam Newton, this time deep left targeting Greg Olsen. The ball was way overthrown, and Keith Tandy was there again for the easy interception. Newton should have at least five interceptions; he's been dire.

Not that Jameis Winston has been much better, mind you. These look like two offenses for whom the offseason can't come quickly enough.

Tampa Bay's long snapper, Andrew DePaula, was injured on a punt in the third quarter, and on replacement Adarius Glanton's first snap Kony Ealy got up to block Roberto Aguayo's field goal attempt. Not helping: a false start when they first lined up, pushing the attempt back 5 yards. The kick trajectory was low, the left side of the line allowed penetration, Ealy got the block, and Shaq Thompson recovered and returned the ball to midfield.

Rob Weintraub: And a holding penalty in the red zone wipes out first-and-goal for the Panthers, forcing a Graham Gano field goal, which he naturally misses. Still tied in Tampa.

Andrew Potter: A mark of how this game is going: Graham Gano just missed a 36-yard field goal, his third miss of the day. He had five misses all year before today.

Rob Weintraub: Cam hits Kelvin Benjamin twice in the last seconds, first on fourth-and-long, then for the touchdown with seconds to play. Down by a point, they go for two, because why not. Except for one small factor -- the Bengals need Carolina to win or they slide behind them in the draft. So I have been unusually invested in this game. And gagging all along. Sure enough, the Panthers receiver falls down on the two-point and the Panthers lose. Thus they will pick in front of Cincinnati in the draft, and no doubt get the pass rusher I covet at the time.

Andrew Potter: So the Buccaneers took the lead with three minutes to go, and Carolina responded with possibly the most shambolic touchdown drive of the year. They got to the red zone just fine, but then managed to blow both of their timeouts and squander the play between those timeouts by nearly failing to get the snap off, leading to a fourth-and-12 that they converted with a pass to Kelvin Benjamin. Sensibly, they went for two instead of tying the game, but Greg Olsen fell down on his route so the attempt was unsuccessful. An ignominious ending to an ignominious season for Carolina, while Tampa Bay makes heavy weather of doing their part but are still eliminated from the playoffs before the start of the second window of games.

Houston Texans 17 at Tennessee Titans 24

Scott Kacsmar: Tom Savage with a concussion situation after a quarterback sneak. Matt Schaub (2011 Texans) and Alex Smith (2012 49ers) are about the only quarterbacks I can recall getting injured on the quarterback sneak. Oddly enough, both were on playoff teams too. I'm not sure America was getting ready for Tom Savage on wild-card weekend anyway, but watching Brock Osweiler again feels like a bad start to 2017.

Tom Gower: Tom Savage went through the concussion protocol after his injury on the sneak and was subsequently cleared. He returned to the field to take the kneeldown to end the first half, and will apparently start the second half.

First half went about how you might expect given a Texans team that's only trying because Savage needs more reps and an eliminated Titans team playing Matt Cassel. Tennessee can't run the ball (DeMarco Murray 7-15), and neither can Houston (Jonathan Grimes/Alfred Blue a combined 11-15), which means we get a lot of third-and-longs. In third-and-longs, we get a lot of passes short of the sticks. On 16 third- and fourth-down dropbacks, we have gotten five throws past the sticks and two completions, if my count is accurate. So, if you wanted to watch some offense, you might have been better off watching last night's dreadful college football semifinals.

Tennessee went up 7-0 on Houston's first possession, when Savage was sacked on an overload blitz on third-and-long and fumbled a ball DaQuan Jones recovered in the end zone. They went up 14-0 late in the first half when Cassel found Rishard Matthews from the 2. That drive started at the Houston 36 after a net-33 punt. The Texans made it to the edge of scoring territory twice, but Nick Novak hit the upright on a 45-yard field goal attempt, and Osweiler was sacked on fourth-and-6 from the 34.

Contrary to what I just wrote, Osweiler starts the second half. The plot thickens!

Ah, things explained. Tom Savage was re-evaluated at halftime, and is now out for the game. I wonder if the NFL kicks the Texans out of their customary Saturday 3:30 time to give him a better shot of playing next week.

Bill O'Brien has been intelligently aggressive today, going for it from his own 39 on that quarterback sneak, on the fourth-and-6 in no man's land, and lining up to go for it on fourth-and-1 inside the 10 in the fourth down 14 before the Titans just challenged. He also tried an onside kick after their first score of the game when a Titans personal foul penalty put the ball at the 50. None of these are, or at least should be, controversial moves, but after Doug Marrone's reflexive conservatism in an interim role last week, it has been pleasant to see.

Both teams started throwing the ball past the sticks on third downs in the second half, so much so that I stopped keeping track after five of the first eight were, and all of those were completed.

Titans win 24-17. They moved the ball with some success against Houston's backup defenders (the Texans had one starter in the game their first defensive possession of the third quarter), and Houston's offense is still Houston's offense. I found the saga of Jeff McLane getting kicked out of the Philadelphia press box more riveting than most of the on-field action at Nissan Stadium.

Chicago Bears 10 at Minnesota Vikings 38

Bryan Knowles: Halfway through the second quarter, the most interesting thing to have happened in this game may be the protester in a Brett Favre jersey dangling over the field, clinging onto a banner. Week 17 football.

[ad placeholder 3]

Vince Verhei: Chicago's trick-play touchdown may prove to be the most entertaining play of Week 17. On the 17th play of the drive, with a third-and-goal from the 2, they spread the field and put Matt Barkley in shotgun. Barkley then motioned Jeremy Langford to line up in the pistol behind him, then stepped up to the right side of the line and appeared to be changing the play. But he was really calling signals, and the ball was snapped directly to Langford, who started left and then gave it back to Cameron Meredith coming back the other way. Meredith then lofted the ball to Barkley, who was wide open in the end zone for the score. 

Unfortunately for the Bears, that drive was about the only one that went their way. They've thrown an interception and lost two fumbles. Sam Bradford, meanwhile, is 17-of-22, is probably going to break the single-season record for completion percentage, and has thrown three touchdowns to put the Vikings up 24-7 just before halftime. It's funny -- at the time it was made, the Bradford trade seemed like a desperate short-term move that would hurt the team long-term. Instead, while the short-term benefits were minimal and they're going to miss the playoffs anyway, it looks they have made an upgrade at quarterback, and will be better off for the deal in 2017 and going forward.

Scott Kacsmar: So Sam Bradford is going to have the new single-season completion percentage record at around 71.6 percent. David Carr's 2006 season with Houston used to be the example of a really high completion percentage done the wrong way for an ineffective offense, but I think Bradford's 2016 will become the new example of that. Pretty sure he'll be dead last in air yards per attempt for the season, and obviously scoring points was a problem all year long, though the defense and special teams sure did a lot in that department. This is why a stat like passing plus-minus is great, and I look forward to seeing those results in the offseason to see where Bradford stacks up to those Drew Brees seasons he just surpassed.

Buffalo Bills 10 at New York Jets 30

Bryan Knowles: Reportedly, one of the reasons Rex Ryan was fired last week, rather than finishing the season, was because the front office wanted to see EJ Manuel, and Ryan thought that sticking with Tyrod Taylor was the superior option. At halftime, Manuel is 7-for-13 for 57 yards, and is underthrowing passes. Cardale Jones is active today, and frankly, the Bills should probably give him some reps to see what they have there.

Rob Weintraub: Cardale Jones gets intercepted on a deflection by… Darrelle Revis! Believe it or not that's his first of the season. Actually, what am I talking about, I can believe it easily. Still good for him to at least get one in what has been a terrible year otherwise.

Bryan Knowles: That... did not just happen.

The Jets kicked off after scoring, and none of the Bills decided they could be bothered to pick the ball up. That's a live ball, Buffalo! The Jets pick it up in the end zone, and score a touchdown on a 70-yard onside kick.

Scott Kacsmar: Not sure I've ever seen a touchdown like that one in Bills-Jets. We've seen a legit onside kick get returned for a (short) touchdown before. That was embarrassing.

Rob Weintraub: Buffalo just let a kickoff bounce at the 10 and roll into the end zone while Mike Gillislee purposely ran away from it allowing the Jets to recover for the gift touchdown. Not sure if Anthony Lynn can get an I.Q. transplant but boy is this team dumb.

Aaron Schatz: I believe there was a play in an Eagles game a couple years ago where a pooch kick was not fielded by the receiving team and the kicking team picked it up and ran it in for a touchdown... need to go look for it now.

Bryan Knowles: I don't think you can advance an onside kick, can you? So the only way that can happen is if you pick it up in the end zone.

I swear I've seen it happen before, maybe 30 or 40 years ago, but I can't remember where. This will drive me crazy.

Aaron Schatz: You can advance any kickoff. It's punts that can't be advanced by the punting team if they are muffed at the point of the attempted catch.

Aha. I found it. It wasn't a touchdown, but this is from the first play of 2014 Week 15, Dallas at Philadelphia:

5-D.Bailey kicks 47 yards from DAL 35 to PHI 18. RECOVERED by DAL-37-C.Spillman.

If I remember correctly, Josh Huff was back to return the kickoff and just kind of let it land there or something.

Bryan Knowles: I'm not sure that's right, actually -- the NFL Rules Digest says that the "Kicking team may recover but NOT advance UNLESS receiver had possession and lost the ball." Now, the online rules digest is not the best resource in the world (it's a pain to use), but I think that's right.

Aaron Schatz: I seem to remember an onside kickoff being advanced for a score but maybe that was technically fumbled by the receiving team. I don't feel like looking through multiple years of play-by-play right now.

Bryan Knowles: I remember where I "saw" that play I mentioned now -- about a decade ago, the NFL Network did a kind of fantasy "what if the teams of the decades played one another?" thing, where they awkwardly cut together footage of the '60s Packers playing the '90s Cowboys and so forth.

It "happened" in the matchup between the '70s Steelers and '80s 49ers, which implies that either the Steelers pulled it off or the 49ers were caught sleeping -- I do not have an encyclopedic knowledge of kickoffs from the 1970s, though, so I think I'll see if the internet can dig that one up for me.

Rob Weintraub: You definitely can advance an onside kick in college -- happened in the title game last year as an example.

Scott Kacsmar: Colts returned an onside kick for a touchdown vs. Jaguars in 2010. I also want to say it's happened in a Cowboys-Jaguars game, but don't quote me on that one.

Bryan Knowles: Scott, wasn't that a Jacksonville onside kick that Indianapolis returned? You can return the other team's kickoffs, but not your own, right?

Man, I was not expecting to be looking up kickoff minutia today.

Scott Kacsmar: Oh yeah, it's the 49ers-Steelers kickoff touchdown we're seeking here. Those are rare. I used to have a little list somewhere.

Bryan Knowles: I found the dang ESPN broadcast of the '70s Steelers and '80s 49ers "playing" each other (Steelers win on the Immaculate Reception, in case anyone's wondering), and I'm gonna find this dang touchdown I remember if it's the last thing I do.

Certainly more interesting than watching the modern 49ers, at the very least.

Found it! 1984, L.A. Rams v. Giants. Rams returner A.J. Jones let the ball go over his head into the end zone in Los Angeles, but the ball checked up rather than bouncing out of bounds, and Phil McConkey was able to fall on it for a touchdown. It's listed as a "fumble recovery in the end zone" over on PFR, but recaps of the game back me up on that.

Good lord, that was a quest down the rabbit hole for a piece of useless trivia. But have no fear, Bills! You're not the first NFL team to make that blunder.

Baltimore Ravens 10 at Cincinnati Bengals 27

Rob Weintraub: Speaking of draft position, Cincy typically are working their way out of prime range by throttling the Ravens. Andy Dalton playing well, as he always does when the lights are dimmest. Also impressing -- Rex Burkhead, who will be awesome for some other team next season, while Cincy continues to ram Jeremy Hill into repeated third-and-longs.

New Orleans Saints 32 at Atlanta Falcons 38

Bryan Knowles: The Falcons first five plays in this one:

[ad placeholder 4]

That's pretty efficient, I must say.

Tom Gower: And Sean Payton after the first four of those plays kicked a field goal on fourth-and-goal from the 1!?!

Bryan Knowles: Compare that to Chip Kelly, who went for it on fourth-and-goal from the 1, scored a touchdown, and is now sitting on a 14-3 lead. It's Week 17, you're mathematically out of everything, take a few risks, Sean!

Rob Weintraub: Especially in a rivalry game.

The Saints defense is a bigger concern than coaching cajones. Falcons put up in the neighborhood of 28 yards per play in the first quarter, which doesn't count a long DPI drawn by Julio Jones either. Only one offensive play was not run on first down, and it was the last play of the quarter.

Vince Verhei: Fun numbers:

Falcons now lead 21-10 early in the second. 

They are averaging 19.1 yards per play.

They are averaging 75.0 yards per rush. (Yes, Freeman's touchdown is their only run so far.)

They have eight first downs in nine plays and are 0-for-0 on third downs.

Bryan Knowles: Gotta improve that third-down conversion rate; undefined ain't gonna cut it in the National Football League.

Tom Gower: Good job, New Orleans. On the Falcons' fourth offensive possession, you got to third down. OK, so they converted it, and they only got there once before reaching the end zone. But that's something you didn't manage on the first three possessions. 28-10.

Vince Verhei: This morning I was hoping Atlanta would lose so Seattle would have a chance at the 2 seed, but hell with it, now I just want to see how many records the Falcons can break. They're now up to four touchdowns in four drives; 13 first downs in 19 plays; 1-for-1 on third downs; 13.1 yards per pass; 13.8 yards per rush; and it's 28-10 midway through the second.

At halftime, Falcons lead 35-10, with five touchdowns in five possessions; 18 first downs in 28 plays; 3-for-3 on third downs; 12.4 yards per pass; and 9.8 yards per rush. I'm going to update these numbers until they stop getting touchdowns on every drive. 

Many years ago, David Robinson scored 70-some points on the last day of the NBA regular season to clinch the scoring title. I kind of feel like this is the NFL's answer to that, with Matt Ryan's insane day clinching the MVP award. His halftime numbers: 17-of-19, 235 yards, four touchdowns, no sacks, no interceptions. Devonta Freeman, by the way, leads the Falcons in rushing (86 yards) and receiving (55).

On their first drive of the second half, Falcons go three-and-out, as Nick Fairley gets a third-down sack to force a punt. Fire Kyle Shanahan!

Seattle Seahawks 25 at San Francisco 49ers 23

Bryan Knowles: News from San Francisco this morning reports that general manager Trent Baalke has already been given his walking papers (or at least, informed that he'll be gone after the game today), and that head coach Chip Kelly has not yet been informed of his fate, though the writing is pretty clearly on the wall. There's also a report from Jay Glazer, confirming long-held suspicions, that the 49ers had been set to hire Adam Gase two years ago, to the point where they had informed Gase he would be the head coach, but Baalke intervened at the last minute and convinced the team to go with Jim Tomsula, instead.

I do wonder how much of that last part is Baalke and how much is owner Jed York -- as rumors and leaks seem to be the 49ers preferred method to deal with internal problems -- but letting go of arguably one of the top five coaches in the NFL at the time in Harbaugh, and passing up on a potential coach of the year candidate in Gase is emblematic of the franchise over the past couple years. They have seemed determined to make the wrong choice whenever presented with the opportunity.

Vince Verhei: First play of the second quarter, Shaun Draughn scores on a fourth-and-goal goal-line plunge to put the 49ers up 14-3. They fumbled the ball away on their first drive to set up the Seattle field goal, but otherwise it has been complete domination by San Francisco. Colin Kaepernick is 8-of-8 for 115 yards, as the Seahawks look like they have never seen crossing patterns or wheel routes before. Seahawks have only had the ball twice, going three-and-out both times. So that's no first downs in six plays from scrimmage from Seattle, nine first downs in 23 plays for San Francisco.

Carl Yedor: I don't think that missing Earl Thomas should be to blame for linebackers not picking up running backs slipping out of the backfield or struggling against the read option, but his absence has clearly been felt over the past few weeks. It wasn't long ago that the Seahawks were seemingly the only team that had a way to deal with Kaepernick, intercepting him six times in three meetings during the 2013 regular season and playoffs.

So after two lengthy touchdown drives for the 49ers, the Seahawks force (and recover) another fumble, two punts, and a turnover on downs that was only resulted because Pete Carroll called his final timeout with three seconds left in the half. Encouraging after how it had started for the defense, but with Dallas and Atlanta (almost) definitely the NFC teams with first-round byes, it doesn't look like the Seattle defense will be strong enough to make a Super Bowl run. But then again, with no truly great teams this year, this might be the time where they could sneak by.

Vince Verhei: Seahawks have come back and taken a 19-14 lead at halftime. The defense has woken up and stopped giving up 20-yard gains on short routes, and forced two more fumbles, recovering one. The offense's contribution consists largely of three big Russell Wilson passes: an 11-yard fastball to Luke Willson for a touchdown after the fumble recovery; a 41-yard bomb to Doug Baldwin to get Seattle out of the shadow of its own end zone; and a 42-yarder to Jimmy Graham to set up a first-and-goal at the 1 (Thomas Rawls would go on to get the touchdown). Graham's play, I can't even call it a catch. There was nothing to it that resembled football at all, no precise route-running, no timing between passer and receiver, no open-field running or tackle-breaking. It was a 42-yard rebound. He just went to the goal line (well, just short of it), boxed out the defender, stood there, waited for the ball to arrive, and jumped up and got it. Poor little Antoine Bethea was helpless there, with nothing he could do.

Seahawks special teams continuing their late-season collapse. We've had another missed extra point earlier today. Now a punt snap goes flying over Jon Ryan's head (my dad's favorite football play) through the end zone for a safety. So the 49ers get the ball, still trailing just 22-16.

On the subject of Seattle special teams, Richard Sherman has been returning punts for Seattle today. I'm guessing that won't be the case next week when he'll be covering Jordy Nelson/Golden Tate/DeSean Jackson.

Interesting. Seahawks get the ball up nine with about ten minutes to go. They get one first down, then Russell Wilson leaves the game and Trevone Boykin takes over. Atlanta's win means the first-round bye is gone, but the 3 seed is still better than the 4 seed, and this game isn't over yet. But if you must pull Wilson early, why do it in the middle of a drive? So he can get an ovation from the crowd -- on the road? Boykin loses yards on a first-down run, fumbles a second-down snap, and throws high on a third-down incompletion. And San Francisco uses a cross-field lateral on the punt return for a big gain into Seattle territory.

Carl Yedor: In spite of the Seahawks pulling Russell Wilson while the game was still in doubt, they manage to close it out thanks to a surprisingly good-looking drive from backup quarterback Trevone Boykin that allowed them to kneel out the clock after picking up several first downs, including two of their three third down conversions from the entire game. Bizarre ending to the regular season as they wait for the rest of the playoff bracket to be filled out.

Vince Verhei: 49ers finished off that drive with a Colin Kaepernick touchdown pass to Garrett Celek to pull the 49ers within one score, 25-23. They never get the ball back, though, as Boykin and the offense take over with 5:32 left and pick up three first downs in 12 plays to run out the clock. 

Atlanta's win (not final yet, but close) and Washington's loss means Seattle has clinched the 3 seed and will play the Detroit-Green Bay loser in the first round of the playoffs next week. If it's Green Bay, that means they'll play Christine Michael -- their own leading rusher this season. I assume that would be a first.

Oakland Raiders 6 at Denver Broncos 24

Aaron Schatz: Through the first 20 minutes, the Raiders have eight carries for 20 yards. You have to run on the Broncos, it's their clear weakness, it's the only way to consistently move the ball on them. If the Raiders can't get 3 yards per carry against the Broncos -- let alone 4 yards per carry -- their offense is going nowhere when we get to the playoffs.

Oh man. The Raiders... the Broncos are basically loading the box on every normal down because they can happily take the risk that maybe sometimes the Raiders receivers can beat their great corners one-on-one. It's not like Matt McGloin will actually hit anyone with an accurate pass. On third-and-29, they just played their coverage way back and the Raiders threw a zero-air yard pass to Amari Cooper on the right sideline. No blockers at all. Not even a smoke, because it's not like that was an audible from a run play. It went nowhere. Oh, and it looks like McGloin was hurt when Jared Crick slammed him to the turf after the pass, and Connor Cook may be coming in.

Vince Verhei: Oh, man, Connor Cook in the playoffs ...

Bryan Knowles: Are we ready for Brock Osweiler and Connor Cook in the wild-card round? Is the world ready?

New York Giants 19 at Washington Redskins 10

Aaron Schatz: Washington gets the ball back with about 2:30 left, down 13-10. They were getting up the field pretty easily against the Giants' zone coverage. Giants were rushing four, sometimes three. Kirk Cousins had plenty of time, but had to keep checking down to Chris Thompson. But that's fine, they could get little 5-yard gains and get into field-goal range and go to overtime. Except... first-and-10 from the Giants 43, 1:27 left, the Giants didn't play zones. They played man, and rushed four. And the pass pressure got to Cousins a little bit, and Thompson wasn't open underneath. It looked like everyone was pretty well covered, but Cousins threw to Pierre Garcon over the middle of the field, and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie picked it off. That should be it for Washington's season.

Bryan Knowles: Odd that Washington didn't have DeSean Jackson on the punt return there with the season on the line. Six seconds, 94 yards to go...

...And it doesn't matter; Trevin Wade takes takes a bounce-pass attempt from Vernon Davis during the ol' lateral drill into the end zone for the insult to injury, game-ending touchdown. So long, Washington.

Green Bay Packers 31 at Detroit Lions 24

Aaron Schatz: It's really interesting to see the Packers using Aaron Ripkowski as their main running back tonight. There's been almost no Ty Montgomery. Ripkowski just caught the first touchdown of the game to make it 7-0. And man, earlier in this drive... Aaron Rodgers gets out of pass pressure like nobody else in the league.

We go to halftime 14-10. It really feels like the Packers should have more offense than this, especially against the Detroit defense. This is what Detroit has done all year: limited possession by both teams. Through Week 16, the Lions had 10 fewer drives than any other team on both sides of the ball.

Bryan Knowles: NBC just put up a stat: the Packers have 11 "double-downs" since 2008, scoring on both the last possession of the first half and the first possession of the second half. That's tied for fifth most in the NFL. That sounds pretty good!

...Except that's just barely more than one per season. I'm betting the full list there is pretty much going to be the list of "team who score a lot of touchdowns in general."

Aaron Schatz: Aaron Rodgers just did a five-second scramble drill and found Geronimo Allison sliding in the end zone to put the Packers ahead by two scores. Great play. He's fully back. (Mason Crosby missed the extra point, so we're at 23-14.)

By the way, not a lot of discussion tonight... are the rest of you out there?

Tom Gower: I don't have anything to say other than "Aaron Rodgers does more insane things than any other player in the NFL."

Bryan Knowles: And "I wouldn't want my team to play Green Bay at the moment."

Scott Kacsmar: Washington's loss that put both of these teams in the playoffs took a lot out of this one. Not to mention Detroit Lions and playoff atmosphere just don't mix well anyway.

Bryan Knowles: Well, hang on just a second. We've got 13 seconds left, and Detroit's now down only seven. I mean, crazier things have happened, right?

Not much crazier, mind you...

Turns out, no. Still, would have been funny to see the egg on people's face had Detroit recovered that and gone on to win, after the league had already announced the playoff matchups.


139 comments, Last at 04 Jan 2017, 10:40pm

3 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 17

And we feel bad too, I can assure you. But the leg injury should be 100% by training camp, the roster outside of LT and FS is very young, and we trust our GM to make good choices.

So not the end of the world... just the end of this season.

5 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 17

Yeah, the future is very, very bright still. The Raiders honestly weren't as good as their record anyway, so this takes away the likelihood of a bad playoff loss with Carr at the helm.

Now they can get some extra motivation for next year, whatever that might be worth.

What this really does, though, is basically just gift the Patriots a trip to the AFC Title Game, as they'll have to beat a team QBed by either Osweiler/Savage, McGloin/Cook, or Matt Moore. Somehow, the Osweiler-Texans may have the best 'chance' of winning. More likely it will be a 2011 Divisional type beatdown (45-10).

2 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 17

GB was playing one true corner, who is slow as half frozen molasses, and a bunch of safeties. Injury has taken a sledgehammer to the corner position in Packerland. And yet Detroit had more trouble with non Hail Mary passes after the safeties entered the game. Maybe because the GB safeties know you have to keep running through the whole play. Time after time you watch a replay of a 20 odd yard pass downfield and either Randall or Rollins run, slow up and then scramble to catch up. Nobody on the coaching staff has corrected the issue or even acknowledged that this IS an issue. But it's right there on any game tape.

It is one of the most peculiar habits I have witnessed from a group of defenders.

9 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 17

That was an inexcusable miss by Stafford early in the game, and it really surprised me. The Packers pass rushers do a nice, and underrrated, job of hiding the injury problems on the back end. The only outcome against the Giants which would surprise me is an easy Giants win. I can easily see the Packers winning big, or close, or the Giants winning a close one.

56 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 17

It certainly seems to help Gunter. The performance by the defense in Weeks 15 and 16 gives me pause as to whether it helps the rest of the group much.

Probably the best thing the Packers secondary has going for it right now is Aaron Rodgers keeping the ball out of the opposing offense's hands.

36 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 17

Yeah, that's the intitial impulse, to see a huge mismatch between Giants receivers and Packers' dbs, but as you note, the productivity for the Giants just hasn't been there. The Packers defensive front, it seems clear to me, has a large edge over the Giants' blockers.

Well, we've seen Eli get red hot out the blue before, behind lousy blocking. We've also seen him stink the joint out, so I suppose anything's possible. It's a pretty intriguing matchup.

53 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 17

Stafford's mechanics, and thus his accuracy, have been so much better this year. However, he's clearly being bothered by the dislocated finger, as his accuracy has clearly dropped off since the 1st quarter of the week 14 Bears game.

7 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 17

Was anybody else a little horrified when just after halftime in the Oak/Den game, the network announced the "Winning play of the day" for the first half - which was the hit on McGloin that was penalized for roughing the passer for a helmet-to-helmet, and looked like it concussed McGloin?

You'd think an organization that wants to look like it gives a crap would be all over this sort of stuff.

8 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 17

A defensive front needs to have an excellent, and most importantly, disciplined, performance from 4 pass rushers to keep Rodgers from completely dominating a game, assuming the Packer's opponent's offense doesn't go off against the weak Packers secondary. The Packers o-line , of course, makes it hard for an opposing defensive front to have an excellent game, but that is why pass rush discipline is so important. If Rodgers easily gets outside the pocket, to view the field without obstruction, he's just going to kill you.

The Bears may have turned in the worst defensive performance in the league, all season, yesterday, by making Bradford as comfortable as Dak Prescott. The Bradford trade was a good one, short term or long term, given the severity of Bridgewater's injury. If either Kalil or Andre Smith had 11 or 12 starts, I think the Vikings likely win 11 games, even with all the other injuries. Hell, if Jake Long had not torn his achilles, I think they might have won 10 or 11 games. I'm as tired of watching bad Vikings blocking, year after year, each year worse than the one prior, as I used to be of watching bad db performances before Zimmer arrived. If Spielman stops wasting number 1 picks on receivers who can't run routes (Treadwell wasn't good enough to be activated yesterday in a meaningless game), maybe they can have some talent and depth on the offensive line.

This was as bad a week 17, in terms of meaningful games, as I can remember just off-hand, and the injuries have really hurt the prospect of an interesting tournament, on the AFC side. Ick.

79 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 17

I never know how much to make of it, in terms of how it reflects on a coach, when a team does that. I remember thinking, after Week 16 and 17 total no-shows by the Giants, in the 2009 season, that Coughlin had hopelessly lost his team. Then they go 10-6, 9-7, with a Super Bowl title. Ya' got me.

91 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 17

The players can't really afford to dog it; they need to have as much good play on film as possible, in order to maximize earnings. The coaches? I suppose they can go plain vanilla in their game plans, but I would think it would be rare that a coach could have that much career confidence.

94 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 17

I don't think the players are dogging. I think the coaches are playing younger players they know are worse than the veterans to see what they can do, and possibly going with vanilla gameplans or maybe even intentionally doing odd stuff to see how it works.

10 Unfielded Kickoffs

I remember a botched kickoff with the Steelers and the 49ers in 1990 because I watched the game while at a hotel near Walt Disney World. Google search didn't fail me:

69 Re: Unfielded Kickoffs

In reply to by Damon Rutherford

THAT'S the one I was trying to find but couldn't -- wasn't a touchdown, which threw me off.

Plenty of notes in the comments about teams who recovered ~the other team's~ onside kick attempt and scored, which happens "all the time", if by all the time you mean every decade or so. Recovering your own kick, though -- much, much, much rarer.

11 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 17

Dallas returned an onside kick for a touchdown against the Eagles. I believe it was Bill Parcels first year, 2003. He had seen the Reid Eagles do it on tape a few years earlier and prepped the team for it. I'm pretty sure it was, at least at the time, the quickest recorded TD in a game.

18 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 17

It was the first meeting in 2003. The Eagles opened the game with an onside kick, which Randall Williams recovered and ran back for the TD. I remember it being 8 seconds, but PFR has it as 3 seconds, which seems awfully quick. I believe it's still (and probably always will be) the quickest score in NFL history, coming at 14:57 of the first quarter.

As far as the kickoff Dallas recovered in 2014 against the Eagles, Huff was in the end zone when Bailey kicked it to around the 15. One of the up guys signaled back to Huff to come out and receive it, and proceeded to run forward to block. Huff missed that and thought the up guy was going to get it, jogged out of the end zone and let it fall 10 yards in front of him. He went after it, but the Cowboys beat him to it. That one was also the opening kickoff of the game.

132 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 17

Starts when the return man catches it (so no time comes off on a touchback).

If you take a look at the Youtube link posted towards the bottom of the page in reply #99 by Bryan, you'll see that the clock doesn't actually start until Williams is on the 20-yd line having already caught and returned it 17-yds.

12 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 17

Mike Tomlinism on full display in that debacle.

Rests injury risk offensive skill players. Starts injury prone (or coming off injury) defensive players.

Plays vanilla offense that almost gets (crappy, yet still necessary) backup QB killed. Plays exotic defense that leaves last-resort tackling to rookie DBs.

Ends up helping division rival draft position in game that means nothing to Steelers in W/L column other than propping up his own W/L %.

The standard is the standard!

19 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 17

Doesn't really matter what he does ... you're going to criticise him anyway.

- If they'd played their starters, you'd be criticising him for risking them getting injured with nothing at stake.

- If they'd lost to the Browns while playing their backups, you'd be criticising him.

You're not Terry Bradshaw using an alias, are you?

39 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 17

You are right- I complained that he has no logic. I gave 2 examples of his do this/don't do that on full display in the same game.

My opinion:You rest none, or you rest all.

JFC, Sometimes it feels like I'm talking to kindergartners.

The standard is the standard!

21 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 17

"If there's literally nothing else to be gained from winning or losing"

What makes you think this is the case?

Playing to lose is a good way to get people hurt. It's a good way to create bad habits, and its a good way to piss your players off.

23 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 17

Playing to lose =/= not playing to win.

Once it went to OT they could have just forfeited, for example.

As for pissing players off, well you're right Tomlin would never do that. It's all he's got going for him with the "he's a player's coach".

I'm pretty sure a rather well respected coach or two in the past has dropped a game to get a much easier playoff matchup on wild-card weekend .

The standard is the standard!

46 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 17

At the end of the 2004 season Mike Sherman of Green Bay had plans to not start Favre in the last game against Chicago. The league called GB's president and muscled GB into playing Favre for a half. That is the story anyway.

65 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 17

And benching a player is a whole lot smaller of an issue than telling a whole stadium of people to go home because you're not going to finish the game they paid for, and telling a network that they're not going to get to show the commercials they pay to inject into your product.

78 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 17

By rule, preseason games don't have OT. People know that when they buy the tickets. The same is not true of regular season games.

Again, you're asserting that a coach should just do something that is not only unprecedented, but would most certainly get him censured by the league.

83 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 17

Cleveland's draft position shouldn't matter to Pittsburgh, but just about everything else in that game was meaningless to the Steelers. Go check out Myles Garrett's youtube videos, or Matt Waldman's posts about him; he looks like Von Miller. The Steelers will be facing him twice a year for the next five years, because they won yesterday.

13 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 17

Mai pats this game pretty much sums up everything wrong with the afceast. Here were 2 10 win plus teams going at it was dull and predictable. I made it through 2 qrtd and called it a day. The Pats sure look superbowl bound. Floyd is an iffy person but a great addition. The question is will I watch much of another pats superbowl run. I dont see a need. Does this series warrant a game three bases on Miami defense the first two? If Brady wins or loses does not change my opinion of him and his team. Theyre great, pretty much a lock to win the AFC east again next season and even if they get upset...well weve seen that already too. Enjoy Patfans, it is truly amazing what they do, but its a bit old for us non Patfans or at least me.

14 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 17

At least the Dolphins are competently coached now. I think the lack of a consistently competently managed division rival for the past 16 years has made the Patriots era of dominance a lot less interesting than it otherwise may have been. Who knows? Maybe the Patriots would have had just as much success if there was team in the division like a Baltimore, with good ownership, GM, and competent coaching all this time, but it sure would have been more interesting to watch.

20 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 17

We thought the Jets were competently coached last season. What happened to Todd Bowles? But yeah, Gase looks better this year than Bowles did last year. I'm still unsold - it's remarkable just how weak their schedule was during their long winning streak. After their Week 6 victory over Pittsburgh (which is impressive and their best game of the season), they had 9 straight games against teams that finished at .500 or below, and the one .500 team (Baltimore) is the one that beat them.

24 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 17

I probably should have used a "relative to Philbin" modifier, which, yes, is a pretty low bar to clear.

Given the way Belichik has extreme respect for other coaches who are really good at it, it would have been a lot of fun if another team in the AFC East had been coached by somebody who is really good at it, for most of the past 16 years.

30 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 17

Oh, right, Philbin. Ha! Yes, Gase is clearly better than that.

The Dolphins have interesting roster-building issues. I'm still not sold on Tannehill, but he's moderately good and QBs are hard to find. The d-line is very good, as are Jarvis Landry and Jay Ajayi.

25 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 17

The Dolphins are definitely better than they were last year - but I'm with you in that I still don't think they're a good team.

They went 10-6 despite having -17 net points. Maybe Gase is really good at game planning and making sure they win close games, but that's usually luck, and a predictor for regression. It'll be interesting to see what happens if they end up in that 8-9 win range but are +30 in net points (there are a host of 7 to 9 win teams in that range) - or if they're talking about Gase differently next year.

That being said - their DVOA was basically 0/0/0 across the board - which is a huge improvement from 2015 (all significantly below average)

74 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 17

Miami seem to have finally found a competent staff. Now they have to find competent defenders. The D line is for real, (although Wake's 34, and Branch is a FA), but it's the worst group of Linebackers in the league. Yesterday, they had an UDFA middle linebaker playing OLB, for want of anything better.
The secondary's young, and Vance Joseph did great things with corners in Cincy, so there's hope for improvement long-term, but right now both starting safeties are on IR and the best corner of the group is Byron Maxwell. 10 wins was an unexpected and pleasant suprise, but this is a .500 team playing over its head.

Phil Simms is a Cretin.

42 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 17

Quoting (err, paraphrasing) you, will

"When you say that the guy with the 13th best winning percentage, of the 97 guys who have coached 100 games,"

As to telling me what to do (so that you won't get clowned again)? Take your own advice.

The standard is the standard!

51 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 17

You are a liar. This is what I wrote....

"If the contention is that Tomlin is not among the best NFL coaches, or that Tomlin is probably average at best, those seem reasonable arguments not worth spending much time debating. When you say that the guy with the 13th best winning percentage, of the 97 guys who have coached 100 games, is a bad NFL head coach, or that that the guy with 9th best winning percentage of those 56 who have coached 150 games, is a bad NFL head coach, those are remarkable claims, requiring remarkable evidence."

......which is in no way synonymous with your fake quote of.....

"one of the greatest of all time" fact, what I wrote was that it was reasonable to state that Tomlin was "average at best" and "not among the best".

In addition to being a liar, you are an asshole, by implying I was "telling you what to do". I made a polite request that you not interact with me. Of course, since you are a dishonest asshole, you keep going and going. I've never asserted that this website would be improved by banning any poster, but when a person consistently decides to be a dishonest asshole, like you decide to be, week in, and week out, to more than one person. well, I guess every rule has an exception.

I would prefer to not interact with you, if you would please have enough consideration to honor this simple request.

57 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 17

How can I be a liar when I linked to your comment? How did you know I was talking about you if those weren't the implied meaning of your comments?


further LMAO that you then have the gall to do so when you weaseled around pretending you couldn't read what Scott meant that kicked off the whole exchange to begin with.

Nonetheless Will. Let me sit this down and explain it to you.

YOU. YOU. YOU trotted out his career W/L metric as the focal point of your argument.

YOU. YOU. YOU cited it in context of being 13th (or 9th) best ever.

There was a reason you did so, and it wasn't because you think he's "average at best".

YOU. YOU. YOU now discuss a coach who routinely kicks Tomlins ass around the field and called him merely "competent". Therefore, by definition, Tomlin can not be competent per ----- you!

Finally, Will, you certainly don't get to play any moral high ground after you issued personal attacks on me and said I have a mental disorder.

The standard is the standard!

59 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 17

You are a liar because words have meanings, and I didn't write what you quoted, and, in fact, I plainly stated that that it was reasonable to argue the opposite of what you dishonestly placed in quotation marks. You're a liar and an asshole. I'll let you have to last word, if you will please agree to my request to not interact with me ever again.

63 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 17

For the Will Allen canard of 'I didn't write what you "quoted" '

Looks like I have never posted "Tomlin is a bad NFL coach"
yet (after you ignored what Scott explicitly wrote, and inferred your own meaning from it) you made an entire thread derailing shitfest insisting on some fake 'quote'

Or is google in on the conspiracy ? I know I'm practically god-like and all.

Maybe you should be calling for yourself to be banned, you liar and asshole?

Or will you respond with more personal attacks and claiming I have a mental disorder again?
The standard is the standard!

67 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 17

I'm going by Will's standard.

He makes up something I said and puts it in quotes, it's fair game.

I linked to his comment and google proof. Careful what wagon you hitch yourself to.

The standard is the standard!

71 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 17

This should be pretty self explanatory - you linked to him saying this about Scott Kaczmar:

"Nope, unless you can quote Kacsmar saying,over several years, that Tomlin is a bad NFL head coach..."

His next statement is this:

"Which, of course, is not the same thing as saying Tomlin is a bad NFL head coach."

You keep getting in fights with him because you keep misrepresenting things. Stop.

72 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 17

Let me make this easy for you. Mr "Stop".

I even put it in shiny red overlay since you don't know how to use ctrl+f

the only person on this site (per google) who has said what Will put quotes around is---- Will.

AKA he made it up and attributed it to me.

I gave him a dose of his own medicine and he threw a temper tantrum about it.

You can say it was childish (it was), but it was like ... well taking candy from a baby. I'm playing Star Trek 3D chess, he's playing checkers.

To quote your hero Will

"Happy to help you with this hard stuff"

The standard is the standard!

75 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 17

Um, no, I did not attribute it to you. I contrasted two different propositions, with the use of quotation marks. In contrast, when I directly asked who you were quoting, you said you were quoting me, or at least paraphrasing me, despite the fact that what I actually wrote was the opposite of what you claimed I wrote. You're a liar and and an asshole, and apparently inept with the use of quotation marks as well. I will say this, however. If your multi-year focus on a NFL head coach was not an effort to claim that the head coach was below average, and all this time you have been saying that he is no better than average, I'm not going to bother to go back and wade thrugh the large body of statements you have made about him.

Finally, if you will stop lying about what I have written, I will give you the last word. Try to string some sentences together that are not dishonest, will you please? Say anything you wish about my numerous failings, but please don't make an inaccurate assertion about what I have written. Promise to never interact with me, or mention me again, and I will be very happy to never mention you, or interact with you again. Wouldn't that be the better way, going forward?

80 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 17


I put that into google translate:
Here's what it spit out

Your white flag is noted, but not accepted, Will.

The standard is the standard!

77 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 17

I'm still very confused over why you brought up Tomlin referring to a post that had nothing to do with him. Trying to a pick a fight? Seems odd and out of place, and makes these comments sections worse as a result. Please stop.

81 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 17

When a poster claims Harbaugh is a "competent" coach , AND, Harbaugh has routinely kicked the shit out of someone else (coach) the same poster has claimed is "not a bad coach" (I'm giving Will the benefit of the doubt on his hilarious backpedal here), that means that the competent coach is better . Hence, the other coach is less than competent.

Now here's the key.

Will has routinely personally attacked me, said I have a mental disorder, because I do not think Tomlin is a competent coach; yet here he is admitting the very same conclusion!

When I see cognitive dissonance and/or hypocrisy from people who have wronged me, I'm going to call it out. If you don't like it, maybe you should have called out Will from the getgo instead. Interestingly enough--- you didn't.

The standard is the standard!

82 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 17

Most of us find your anti tomlin shtick pretty strange. Ok he may be a poor coach masquerading as an above-average one, but you basically give him no credit for anything positive the Steelers do and all the blame for every little thing they do wrong. To me...that makes it hard to take you seriously even when you throw in some legitimate nuggets in there

90 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 17

Much like online product and restaurant reviews, people (myself included) focus on the negatives.

If I go through the comments on this website, I'd wager 80% of them are critical in a negative nature. I happen to root for a (rather) successful team; as a general observation----- fans of less successful teams think I should be greatful for what I've got and not be so critical of it. They think I don't understand it could be worse. On the contrary, I quite realize so. However, I'm a boom/bust guy, I hate seeing mediocrity from what could be better.

The funniest part to be is I've been called a racist and told I have a mental disorder for not liking Tomlin. But I should just suck it up and take it when people don't like me or say mean or even untrue things.

C'est la vie.

ps, your comment about me in closing exemplifies exactly my point. focusing on my negatives while giving a damning faint praise of the positive.

The standard is the standard!

92 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 17

My last comment should have been taken as constructive criticism. If you had started with - "Tomlin isn't a great coach and here's several detailed, consistent reasons why" - I doubt anyone, including Will would have argued much.

Instead, your approach was - "Tomlin is a horrible coach and all of the problems the steelers have are 100 percent his fault. Not only that, all the good things the Steelers have done,including two sb appearances and a win, are entirely in spite of him. It was worse than him doing nothing, his contributions were actively sabotaging the team."

Legitimate criticism should rarely devolve into obvious hyperbole.

Finally - if you're really an honest football aficionado, your opinions should be adaptive as more information occurs. For ex: I use to believe Rex Ryan was a great coach as I was very impressed with his coaching with jets especially on defense. Then his stint with buffalo made me rethink that assessment.

With Tomlin, as I noted above, anything good with the steelers gets pereptually explained away as either not good enough or somehow executed despite his best efforts to ruin it. And of course, any and everything bad becomes yet another bullet point in character assassination.

131 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 17

I'm wondering what kind of racist would rant on Tomlin but praise Richard Mann.
or like the NFL to begin with. but that's another question.

a real dick move would be to retort with a "Have you stopped beating your wife..."

The standard is the standard!

84 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 17

You won't stop lying about what I have written, will you? The statement "John Harbaugh is a competent coach" has the virtue of accuracy, because it is not synonymous with the statement "John Harbaugh is only a competent coach", thus noting Harbaugh's competency entails no logical implications with regard to Tomlin's, even if we were to accept that Harbaugh's 10-8 record vs. Tomlin constitutes "routinely" kicking the "shit" out of Tomlin.

Look, I didn't respond to your last post to me, because you managed to avoid overtly lying about what I have written. That's all I ask. If you want to insist that you won an argument on the internet, that's fine with me, please just don't lie about what I have written, and please avoid interacting with me or mentioning me. I really don't want to interact with you. Fair enough?

15 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 17

Perhaps RaiderJoe will know the name of the Raiders player who received and returned an onside kick about 30-yds for a TD back in the 80 season?

The only other really weird thing I remember seeing on a kickoff return was in Tom Landry's final season when they Cowboys played the Giants. The return man caught the ball then decided to retreat into the endzone thereby being tackled for a safety.

44 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 17

And here it is ...

Wow - isn't that awesome. Straight into the arms of Jensen and he goes straight past the kicking team.

I'd forgotten that because of a penalty on the Giants they were kicking off from the 25-yd line - which is why it's probably likely to be the shortest kick return TD ever even during the years when they were kicking off from the 30.

(I just remember reading about this in the book celebrating their SB XV win - so never seen it before).

32 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 17

Ha ha: is featuring a video "Who is the NFL MVP, Brady or Rodgers?"

Matt Ryan really cannot get the respect from the media he deserves!

I wonder if the candidacies of Prescott and Elliott were hurt by a meaningless Week 17 loss. The media seem incapable of focusing on anything other than recent and shiny accomplishments.

50 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 17

This whole thing is a bit mind boggling to me.

Rodgers shouldn't even be in the conversation - he just hasn't been good enough this year. There are at least 5 guys more deserving (Ryan, Dak, Brady, Brees, Carr, maybe even Cousins).

I think if Brady had played 16 (at the same pace), he'd have a legitimate case with the ridiculous interception numbers, but Ryan has just been too good for anyone else to even be involved and Brady only playing 12.

I mean c'mon, Ryan beats Rogers by 2 yards on YPA.

64 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 17

I too would vote for Ryan-- but Rodgers 6th or 7th? Please... he had neither of his starting running backs for most of the season-- he was the team's leading rusher.. He had Nelson taking a good half year to return to form; Cobb hurt much of the time; and a new batch of receivers getting their sea legs. And Cook out for a month as well.

he had a godawful defense to try to overcome during the 4 game losing streak (158 points worth, I believe) And then he said "we can run the table" and they did... with him throwing for 15 TDs, running for a couple more and throwing no INTs... Despite him playing with a hamstring and/or calf injury for most of the time.. last night you saw what happens when he's healthy. no QB in the league-- now and perhaos ever-- could have made that 3rd TD pass to Allison-- the escape, the 360, the additional swing left-- throwing the wrong way-- and pinpoint through a narrow window in the back of the endzone.

Cowboys without Dak would still probably have made playoffs-- without Elliott definitely... Falcons without Ryan are an average team-- same with Washington without Cousins.. And we saw what happens without Brady-- the Pats still win., Carr i can see the Raiders being much worse without him... but the Packers without Rodgers this year? 5-11 if they are lucky and maybe a lot worse.

he's one of the Top 5 QBS of all time, and in these past 6 games you saw why...

102 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 17

Top 5 all time is a bit of a stretch simply because he's in the middle of his career still. I would also say - you're glossing over a lot of his early season struggles. Yes the defense stunk and his receivers struggled, but careful analysis by people showed he was missing throws and not reading plays and often playing way too much out of structure. This isn't some afc north rival based analysis either - I heard these comments from Packer fans on this board.

I could see him eventually getting there. More than a few times I've thought he was the finest qb I've ever seen, but a good chunk of this season wasn't that great/

109 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 17

Oh gosh, i don't want to respond but I will... I didn't "gloss over" his early season struggles-- I said 3 of the 6 losses were clearly related to his performance. Despite them his team won 10 games, won the division, and won the final 6 games after he pretty much said they would (I know it wasn't a flat guarantee but pretty darn close). Ryan had a better year; Brady had a better incomplete year; but given all the problems (injuries and defense) in context Rodgers season was almost at their level and better than the other supposed contenders for MVP.

As for Top 5 all time and my fandom-- a) Rodgers was mediocre at best for most of 2015 and not all that great the first 6 weeks this year. I didn't say it on this board but i was hardly kind elsewhere; b) There are other good players on the team-- Nelson, obviously, Adams increasingly, the O Line, Daniels, Matthews (most of the time), Peppers, Perry and Jones (some of the time), Burnett. but let's face it-- they have been a few bricks short of a load for a while, and only Rodgers keeps them playoff-bound for now 8 years in a row. McCarthy gets point for steadiness and turning around seemingly dire regular season situations-- but he is debited by a lot of weak starts and crushing playoff losses.

As for Rodgers Top 5 all-time, well of course he needs some more longevity. But given his situation and desire, that seems highly likely. I would simply put it this way-- i am leaving Graham and Unitas out of the discussion because the context gap is too great. We should really start with Montana. And then based on everything-- metrics, playoffs, sheer stats, longevity, the eye test-- it seems to me that the "Inner Room" includes Joe Cool, Brady and Manning-- with the first two clearly above Peyton. Then one can debate Marino, Brees, Favre and Elway (and maybe one or two others like Steve Young)--Rodgers has to be in that next group. He's more accurate than all of them, more productive in terms of TD/attempts, more sparing in terms of INTs than any of them (or anyone else), still near the top in this era in terms of yards/attempt, first in Passer rating, and, oh yeah, he wins. Only Elway of that group has more SB titles-- and they came late without him playing a dominant role-- though of course he gets credited for 3 other appearances. So i think he's better than all but one of that group-- and I'm not sure who that is but let;s say Elway for argument's sake. In 3-4 years he will be well beyond all of them and somewhere near to the Big Three.

110 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 17

In my time since watching football(early 2000s) - Manning Brady and Rodgers have been the best three qbs and there is a non trivial gap between the rest. Sussing it out between the three is pretty difficult and I'm somewhat biased in my view so I'll be open about that. I will say, however, that none has a prohibitive case over the other, but I do believe history will say Brady was the clear winner. Which means Rodgers will likely need at least another sb to validate his career. And since there are outspoken media types who dislike Rodgers like Skip Bayless and Cowherd, he may even need to win 3 sbs. Its kind of why that 2nd sb win was important for Peyton, even if he was pretty much a horrible player by the time he got that second one.

Brady will likely leave the game with the goat reputation by most people. I don't think its an unreasonable one, but it will always bother me that rings will be the foremost reason for that.

I'm curious what Manning's reputation will be once Brady retires. I think people love the idea of a great player with a marred history and that marred history was formed back in the early days when the media was trying to sell a larger narrative. It was a "Rivalry" but only because Brady had three sbs and Manning had none. By most statistical measures, it wasn't even a discussion back then - but that's what made the narrative so strong. "Brady just wins" was repeated ad nauseum until it stuck to him forever. Then when he became insane and godlike, he got the best of both words. All of that has nothing to do with how good Brady is in a vacuum, but it is what drove my anti pats rooting. And believe me, they have ruined over a decade of football for me. I'm writing this for pats fans to know - I respect the hell out of Ne. I've spent more time thinking about them than all of the other teams combined. I just wish they weren't so awesome all the damn time. I even sympathize with Aaron, who probably has to dial back his pats admiration because he'd be construed as an irrational fanboy. But let's be honest - they've ruled the NFL and no one has even come close to that kind of dominance ever. No other dynasty has lasted this long. But that's my problem.

117 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 17

Drew is great. Probably near to those three. But Drew also has comes with a bit more in terms of turnovers than the three above do. One of the hallmarks of those three players is that they bring year to year consistency of high offensive production with very small levels of downside. Brady and Rodgers minimize turnovers, while Manning minimizes sacks. Basically - their levels of efficiency and consistency are greater than a player like Brees, though brees' production is impossibly high as well.

139 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 17

Probably near. Let's see how he does in the playoffs, with a decent team around him, not the historically worst defense ever.

Player________ G Cmp% Yds/g TD/game Rate Int/g Y/A AY/A NY/A ANY/A
Aaron Rodgers_ 14 63.8 247__ 1.93 ___98.2 0.57 7.4 7.78 6.60 6.96
Dan Marino____ 18 56.0 251__ 1.78 ___77.1 1.33 6.6 5.92 6.16 5.54
Joe Montana___ 23 62.7 251__ 1.96 ___95.6 0.91 7.9 7.80 7.05 6.99
Tom Brady_____ 31 62.4 257__ 1.81 ___88.0 0.90 6.7 6.61 6.17 6.05
Peyton Manning 27 63.2 272__ 1.48 ___87.4 0.93 7.1 6.83 6.60 6.29
Drew Brees____ 11 65.9 322__ 2.18 __100.7 0.55 7.6 8.08 7.06 7.50

Joe Montana has a higher Y/A than Brees. That's it.

134 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 17

I don't know about the Brady/Manning debate. Starr/Unitas was a pretty intense rivalry. Starr was a great QB and won all the championships. I think most pundits consider Unitas the better QB today, but that wasn't true in the 60's when "Starr just wins." Brady's reputation may go down over time too as Belichick's legacy becomes closer to Lombardi's. (And I'm not saying Brady isn't a great QB. He clearly is.) I think it's likely Manning's reputation goes up over time as a great QB hampered by mediocre defenses and offensive lines.

112 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 17

If Rodgers had played the entire season like he has the last couple of weeks, he'd be at about the same place Ryan is - Ryan has been that good this year. Rodgers has had surrounding cast problems, but so have the other two. He doesn't get any special consideration here.

But Rodgers hasn't been as good. He was terrible (comparitively) the first 6 weeks or so. Ryan wasn't. At this point Brady has put up more DYAR than Rodgers has, in 4 less games.

Rodgers just doesn't belong in the MVP conversation - really nobody but Ryan does. Ryan really has been that much better than everyone else.

121 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 17

Yeah, as far as stats go, Ryan has more volume than Rodgers, and better efficiency by most metrics than Brady. He's been awesome this year.

Even over the last 6 weeks where Rodgers has been MVP Rodgers, Ryan has essentially matched him in everything. I've grabbed some stats from various sources that had done some of these calcs as I couldn't do QBR and I grabbed pre calculated AY/A from PFR though ANY/A would have been better just didn't want to calc that when someone had done AY/A. The Passing DYAR and Rushing DYAR were pulled form quick reads, so adjustments to weeks 12 - 16 could have affected those totals too. I split it out though because people thing about Rodger's rushing value, but Ryan had more over the "We can run the table" span.

Ryan . . 137 . 188 . 72.9% . 1697 . 9.0 . 14 . 2 . . 10.0 . 120.8 . 87.5 . 728 . . 20
Rodgers .142 . 200 . 71.0% . 1667 . 8.3 . 15 . 0 . . 9.8 . .121.0 . 83.1 . 755 . . 13

Ryan was worse over the first 10 games than the last 6 as well, but not by much, and Rodgers was much worse over his first 10. So if Rodgers had played the whole season like the last six games his numbers would be slightly better than Ryan's whole season, but Ryan's whole season would be slightly better if Ryan had played the whole season at that level too. Regardless Ryan clearly has had the better stats by nearly ever measure even when matched up against Rodgers best stretch.

He's leading Brady in DVOA by 6.4% (Rodgers by 22%), Ryan has Brady in AY/A and ANY/A if you prefer those as well. So you give Brady 4 more games and Ryan will still have the better numbers. I know that isn't all that goes into the vote for people, but Rodgers supporters can't use numbers, no matter how you slice them they almost all favor Ryan and trying to rely on other things, nope. Ryan was just better this year.

40 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 17

And here I thought the rule under discussion would be whether or not an attempted forward pass after recovery of a blocked punt would effectively nullify the block. (It does ... although that was decided after possibly the longest on-field huddle in the recorded history of officiating. AND THEN they had to review the play, because it was a change of possession ... which didn't really make sense to me since it was a turnover on downs and AFAIK they don't review all fourth-down plays, but whatever.)

I suspect that's because you all decided not to try to watch Indianapolis-Jacksonville. You chose ... wisely. (Despite the exciting finish.)

43 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 17

To everyone who wanted an open discussion thread: it would have been awesome to have you join the slack group.

The slack group is kind of more instant reactions than nuanced discussion but it's still good. And I'd personally appreciate it if the slack group had some of your more detailed commentary than just "Floyd's block!"

And yes, I did just copy and paste this from my comment in the black Monday thread.

54 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 17

Washington losing that game to a Giants team with nothing to play for wasn't quite as bad a choke as the 2004 Bills losing the Steelers backups to miss the playoffs....but it was pretty darn close.

It's really a shame, because honestly the Redskins are probably more worthy a playoff team than my Lions (the 3 game losing streak to end the season was not so much a collapse as it was a reality check/schedule-related). Even the Buccaneers would be better, but they lose out on the vagaries of NFL tiebreakers.

96 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 17

I still think the Lions will lose to Seattle, but I think they have a much better chance than I think they did prior to the Dallas and Green Bay games. Their secondary gets exposed against excellent offensive lines (not to mention Rodgers' scrambling ability) that give the opposing QBs loads of time to throw. Seattle's offensive line, as has been discussed extensively, is far less than excellent. Of course, Russell Wilson can scamble just as well as Rodgers.

100 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 17

I thought similar to you. I used to think he was a terrible HC, and was extremely disappointed when they hired him in 2014. Like you, my opinion of him has changed for the better.

He has had 2 winning seasons in 3 (with the losing season only 7-9) with roster talent that's been pretty mediocre. Going deeper than that, I also have to say that the team consistently looks well-coached and disciplined (perhaps that's a low bar to cross compared to the Jim Schwartz era). Even the last two weeks when they got blown out, you can't question their effort, preparation, or game plan. They just got rolled by teams that were clearly superior to them.

As to Will's point about in-game management...yes it was a mess early on, but he's actually gotten much better the past 1.5 seasons. He doesn't take weird timeouts anymore, he wins most of his challenges, and he goes for it on 4th down quite a lot.

Don't get me wrong, I don't think he'll ever bring a Lombardi Trophy to Detroit, or anything, I still think he's maybe above-average, at best. However, being consistently non-laughable is an important step forward for this franchise.

106 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 17

I can agree with that. I think the real unsung heroes have been the coordinators, namely Jim Bob Cooter. I still like Teryl Austin, though I don't quite understand how Detroit's defense is as horrible as it is given they seem to have more talent on that side of the ball than say the colts.

108 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 17

Agree about the coordinators. I'm still a Teryl Austin fan, too....I think that fantasic unit from 2014 buys him some rope. As for this year's defense, it's very much a stars and scrubs roster, so when the best players like Ansah, Slay, and Levy miss multiple games or aren't playing their best (Ansah has had a lingering high ankle sprain the whole year), he has very little to work with.

127 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 17

I've had the same experience with my Caldwell opinion. Making good user of coordinators is also an underrated HC skill. Too many of them become infatuated with control and their own abilities to their detriment.

Caldwell is at least an average to above-average coach. Much higher than replacement level. Which is not necessarily easy to get.

129 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 17

I think talent evauation, teaching/managing personalities, and hiring staff, are more important skills for head coaching success than game management. I think Caldwell is considerably better than replacement level at those first three tasks.

135 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 17

He's clearly learned a lot from his first stint with the Colts as evidenced by his growth in aggressiveness on the field. He also learned a great deal about the interpersonal/relationship side of the business from Dungy I imagine and has always conducted himself as a professional.

In retrospect, that 2-14 disaster probably said more about the state of the team than it did about Caldwell. Part of what exacerbated that team was the fact that the entire process was driven by Manning and when you took him out, the entire system fell apart - even if the sum of the pieces was probably better than what was shown on the field.

114 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 17

Dan Snyder is the one who should find a new name. Meantime, very few people are likely to confuse Washington's NFL team with Richmond's Eastern League team. If you really need to disambiguate, the baseball team is actually the Flying Squirrels.

137 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 17

why Squirrels? becujause squirrels are awesome and a logo of oen (preferrably a docile looking one instyead of some cartoony mean one) should be on a NFL helmet.

Richmond ios not in Maryland where the Redskins/Squirrels play

Besides even if Richmond was in Maryland or ifg Richmond Flying Squirrels played in same stadium as Redskins/Squirrels no reason NFL team coul;dnt have similar names. Furthermore, Flying Squirrels is not same as squirrels anyway. Flying ones have some sort of web action going on that makes them jum,p off brnaches and stuff> I don't know why exactly. Maybe to nab a nice berry before another squirrel or a deer or box turtle could get to it . A regular squirrel doesn't look like a bat. regular squirrel walks and runs and climbs trees.

58 onside kcik stuff

Bobby Bell of Chiefs returned onsider kcik for toyuchdown in win over Broncos on Thsnsgiving Day 1969. Cheisf won 31-17

62 Re: onside kcik stuff

This is the epitome of a Raiderjoe comment. Reference to an obscure AFL play from the '60s, a few mispellings - all it needs is a reference to the Squirrels. :)

70 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 17

Jason Sehorn also returned an onsides kick for a TD in 2000. I couldn't find video but the box score does dshow a 38 yard kickoff TD return:

99 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 17

Yeah, there are plenty of examples of teams returning the ~other teams~ onside for touchdowns. I found four from this millennium (though there may be more):

*Tyjuan Hagler (Indianapolis v. Jacksonville, 2010)
*Casey Fitzsimmons (Detroit v. Chicago, 2007)
*Randal Williams (Dallas v. Philadelphia, 2003 -- on the opening kickoff!
*The aforementioned Jason Sehorn play (NY Giants v. Jacksonville, 2000)

I believe the Williams play is the only onside kick-return-touchdown to take a lead in NFL history -- at least, I couldn't find any others, and you'd assume most onside kicks happen, you know, when a team is trailing.

...I now know far too much about kickoffs.

126 Re: Audibles at the Line: Week 17

It is. Pro Football Reference lists a couple returns from the 1940's as shorter, but both of those were late laterals after long returns.

Onside kick returns for TDs:
33 yards: Derrick Jensen, Raiders vs. Giants, 12/21/1980
37: Henry Jones, Bills vs. Cardinals, 12/19/1999
37: Randal Williams, Cowboys vs. Eagles, 9/30/2007 (surprise onside kick to open game)
38: Jason Sehorn, Giants vs. Jaguars, 12/23/2000
39: Willie Clark, Eagles vs. Cardinals, 11/2/1997 (surprise onside kick in 1Q)
40: Rodney Harrison, Chargers vs. Colts, 10/26/1997
41: Casey Fitzsimmons, Lions vs. Bears, 9/30/2007
41: Tyjuan Hagler, Colts vs. Jaguars, 12/19/2010
43: Mike Guman, Rams vs. Bengals, 9/23/1984
48: Mal Snider, Falcons vs. Bears, 11/16/1969
51: Bob Shaw, Rams vs. Giants, 12/1/1946
52: Greg Jones, Bills vs. Boston Patriots, 11/1/1970
53: Bobby Bell, Chiefs vs. Broncos, 11/27/1969