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NFL football is a violent game, and traumatic injuries are unfortunate but unavoidable. But are bigger players more likely to be hurt than their smaller peers?

15 Oct 2012

Audibles at the Line: Week 6

compiled by Rivers McCown

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

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

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

Thursday, October 11

Pittsburgh Steelers 23 at Tennessee Titans 26

Tom Gower: If you hear some loud weeping, wailing, and gnashing of teeth from the Chicago suburbs, pay it no heed. That's just me agonizing over the (utterly predictable) outcome of tonight's game.

Well, my earlier e-mail was a bit premature, as the Titans go into half with a 16-10 halftime lead. This looks more like the Matt Hasselbeck of last year, with an occasionally efficient passing game, though of course the score was set up by a blocked punt. Special teams has been a strength this year amidst the abbatoir of suck on offense and defense. The real surprise to me has been the defensive performance, where they've been able to get off the field on third downs against a Steelers offense that came into the game with the league's best DVOA in such situations.

One of the things about last week's Pittsburgh game against the Eagles was the second half was really short. The same was true of tonight's game: each team only had four possessions. The Titans didn't really get any defensive stops per se, as the Steelers had 13 points and a missed field goal, with two of those drives ending with Ben Roethlisberger missing an open receiver on third down. Getting a touchdown, partly a gift due to an unnecessary hold on third down by Ike Taylor, and the halftime lead was just enough to keep Tennessee in the game. Then they took advantage after Shaun Suisham missed from 54 yards. It was an unexpected win, for a number of reasons, but not a shocking one, especially given the Polamalu Difference.

J.J. Cooper: The Steelers are battling a number of injuries, but that's what
happens when you're relying on the same core of players who have been together for five or more years. Well, actually, it explains the Steelers' injuries on defense. Apparently there is a Steelers offensive line jinx that requires at least one Steelers lineman a game to limp off the field, tonight there were three.

But more than anything tonight's game is a pretty clear example of how the FO DVOA ratings for the Steelers are pretty accurate. This is just not a very good team right now, especially defensively. Pittsburgh generates very little pass rush, and without Troy Polamalu in the secondary they don't have the defensive backs to make up for that with coverage.

Sunday, October 14

Dallas Cowboys 29 at Baltimore Ravens 31

Andy Benoit: Joe Flacco is looking sharp and efficient on opening drive.

Cowboys are having success running off tackle left. Ray Lewis is struggling to get off blocks early.

Ben Muth: I don't get why the booth can challenge touchdowns but doesn't look at plays where the guy gets ruled down at the 1. Cowboys just had to waste a challenge on a obvious touchdown where Felix Jones was ruled down at the one.

Aaron Schatz: Fairly remarkable in Baltimore, where the Cowboys' poor offensive line is pushing around the Ravens and DeMarco Murray is slicing through the defense. He has 81 rushing yards through the first 18 minutes. Unfortunately, I've only been watching this game for a few minutes so I can't particularly say which linemen are playing really well or poorly, but I'll keep watching...

Ben Muth: Dallas is running all over Baltimore. They're Having particular success off left end behind Jason Witten and Tyron Smith. The backs also have been lowering their pads to get an extra three yards at the end of every run. The only thing that's stopped the Cowboys running game was back to back illegal shift penalties.

Rivers McCown: Is it just me or do the Cowboys always have exponentially more problems before the snap than other teams? Sheesh.

Vince Verhei: One of the Cowboys' big runs came when the runner (not sure if it was Murray or Jones, honestly) ran right over a defender and rumbled downfield. Turned a gain of three into a gain of 20 or so.

Ben Muth: Flacco missed a wide-open Ray Rice on third-and-goal from the 2. But it didn't matter because the Cowboys grabbed Dennis Pitta's facemask on the jam. Rice goes up the gut for a one-yard touchdown on the next play. Lucky break for Baltimore.

Tom Gower: That Flacco missed pass to Rice on third down was preceded by Ed Dickson dropping what would have been a touchdown on second down. The big play on the drive was a huge gain when the Cowboys, for some reason, neglected to cover Ray Rice on a checkdown.

Ben Muth: Yeah the long pass to Rice was interesting. It looked like Sean Lee was responsible for Rice in coverage and Rice was responsible for Lee in protection. When Rice didn't release immediately, Lee blitzed. Rice went to block Lee and got a chip on him, but then just turned around to receive a pass. Lee kept blitzing and left Rice unaccounted for.

The Cowboys continue to be much better at stopping the Cowboys than the Ravens are. A Tyron Smith hold puts them in second-and-15, and Tony Romo throws a pick on third-and-long. Baltimore hasn't been able to stop Dallas until penalties put the Cowboys in bad down and distances.

Cowboys drive into Ravens territory again thanks to a long catch-and-run from Witten, who beat Ed Reed on a crossing pattern. This time it was Doug Free who jumped offsides, and the Cowboys couldn't overcome first-and-15. They settled for a field goal.

Andy Benoit: Jacoby Jones with a kickoff return touchdown. Breaks out the Prime Time dance. A really crisp, polished one, in fact.

Aaron Schatz: That was like two or three extra gears. There are some good blocks early, but Jones basically was past the blocks around the 20, jetted right past Dan Bailey, and was gone. Pure speed.

Rivers McCown: Well, at least Trindon Holliday worked out well for Houston.

Andy Benoit: We’re seeing with the Cowboys the same thing we saw when the Chiefs played the Ravens last week: teams can pile on the rushing yards, but that doesn’t mean they’ll pile on the points. Is Baltimore’s run defense a problem? Not really. It’s not a good run defense, but if it were a problem, the Ravens defense as a whole would have given up more than 19 points in the last six-plus quarters.

Cowboys guards have held up just fine against Haloti Ngata and Pernell McPhee. Bit of a surprise.

Aaron Schatz: Ngata apparently was having a hamstring issue during the week, and they said he went off to have his knee looked at in this game.

Well, that's why we always say that passing is better than running. Good passing will always gain more yards than good running. Even with a good running game, you usually need to string a lot of good plays together with very few bad plays in between if you want to score a touchdown.

Ben Muth: Ngata has come back, but he's moving like he has rocks in his shoes.

Andy Benoit: Cowboys given their timeout back after referee Mike Carey admits that the refs were late spotting the ball.

Dez Bryant makes a nice adjustment on a ball for his first receiving touchdown of season. Another underneath-type route on the outside against off-coverage. The only negative is that Bryant hasn’t made any of his usual four or five mistakes yet ... which means he’s due for a rough fourth quarter.

Vince Verhei: Bryant goes to the locker room. His lousy fourth quarter has begun!

Ray Lewis hasn't been a sideline-to-sideline guy for years, but if you try to run between the tackles, he will still lay your ass out, as Phillip Tanner just learned.

Ben Muth: Rather than go for it on fourth-and-5 from the 35, the Cowboys take a delay and punt it. The Ravens fair catch it at the nine-yard line. Really wish the Cowboys, who have moved the ball up and down the field, would have gone for that.

Of course, the Cowboys get a three-and-out, meaning Garrett made the "right" call.

Andy Benoit: DeMarcus Ware had a quiet day. Michael Oher doing a solid job on him: only one quarterback pressure for Ware until his fourth-quarter sack, which was an inside spin move off a stunt. Jason Hatcher did a good job overwhelming left guard Bobbie Williams to set up Ware’s stunt.

Vince Verhei: Lance Dunbar breaking tackles for a first-down run for the Cowboys. Four-headed monster for the Cowboys!

Aaron Schatz: Three-headed monster; Tanner is a sort of a mole coming off the neck.

Cowboys could use some of those one-word super-hurry up Audibles the Patriots have been using, because they're having a bitch of a time trying to line up plays in their two-minute offense against Baltimore.

Ben Muth: The Cowboys went from first-and-10 to third-and-27 thanks to a chop block and a false start. But they went from third-and-27 to first-and-10 thanks to a great run after catch by Bryant on third down and a diving catch by Witten on fourth. This game should end with Dallas scoring and then getting the two-point conversion called back due to a penalty.

Aaron Schatz: The Dallas-Baltimore game has 22 penalties, and I don't think that counts anything declined.

Ben Muth: Bryant has the big catch-and-run, then he catches the touchdown. He's played well all game. So of course he drops the two-point conversion. Dez being Dez.

J.J. Cooper: Cowboys recover the onside kick and have a timeout left so they still have a chance.

Wow, pass interference on the Ravens. Cowboys at the Ravens 35. Would love to see the win expectancy for the Cowboys from this situation.

Andy Benoit: Cowboys had horrendous clock management in final 20 seconds, didn’t use a timeout until six seconds were left, setting up a 51-yard field goal. They could have tried for one more play.

Ben Muth: The Ravens didn't ice Bailey, he misses the 52 yarder. Yay for not icing.

Oakland Raiders 20 at Atlanta Falcons 23

Matt Waldman: Matt Ryan hits a 25-yard out to Julio Jones in bracket coverage on play-action. Not as impressive as it sounds; Jones does well with high-low coverage when he can break to the ball or laterally. He's challenged when he has to adjust low or deal with imminent contact. Ryan then throws an interception to Joselio Hanson on a crossing route to Harry Douglas where he hesitated and tried to aim a ball he shouldn't have. Really dumb play for Ryan and he knew it.

Darren McFadden has two runs off left guard with nice cutbacks, he's punishing the safeties. The second one was worth rewinding a few times due to a stiff arm at the second level, then he lowered the pads five yard later into oncoming safety Thomas DeCoud. McFadden lays out William Moore and leaves him on the ground for another 4-5 yards. Of course, you have to take the bad with the good when it comes to McFadden, who loses the ball when Jonathan Babineaux punches the ball loose while wrapping the runner in the backfield. Falcons recover.

Jacquizz Rodgers loses yardage on a third-down toss play that I didn't really understand. First, Rodgers isn't the fastest back. Quick, yes. Fast? No. Second, the Falcons tend to run the ball better when they get north and south as soon as possible. If they have David Wilson or McFadden, I'd understand a toss sweep or pitch. They don't. The Falcons then miss a field goal. If this team plays down to its competition, the Raiders can pull off the upset.

Rod Streater picks up a first down with a diving comeback in tight coverage at the left sideline on third-and-12. Carson Palmer's throw is from the opposite hash and really high-risk. NFL Films will make it look like replay high-end cinema for the Raiders NFL Yearbook.

It's going to be interesting to see how many angle blocking plays the Raiders use compared to the zone-blocking scheme they'd been running before the bye. Thus far, the only angle blocking I saw was a power draw on third down ... and the pulling guard ran into the back of his teammate. The Raiders are like the Bad News Bears of pro football. There's a perverse masochistic joy that comes from cheering them on. I admit I have that streak.

Ryan does a nice job of climbing the pocket a couple of steps to deliver a deep post to Jones about 45 yards from release point to reception point, but gets hit just as he's finishing the release. The quality of the ball looks fine, but you can see there's a little less velocity on the throw due to the hit and the pass arrives about 3-4 yards short. This wouldn't be a big deal if Jones just had one defender over top and to Jones' back, but there was underneath coverage that cut off the pass for interception No. 2 at the five. I'm still skeptical that Ryan has vastly improved his deep arm as the media reports almost weekly. However, I can't blame that throw purely on Ryan's arm.

Now if you want to see a real arm, then watch a deep fade Palmer completes to Denarius Moore that covers about 52 yards from release point to reception point. Moore nearly stumbles to reach for the ball at full gallop. This is the kind of throw Ryan still can't make, and it's why they don't run these deep patterns as often. This was a straight, five-step drop, plant and throw. Ryan would need play-action, 5-7 steps, and a couple of hitches that resemble javelin throwers.

Andy Benoit: Once again we’re seeing the Falcons come out throwing. They’ve been a very high-volume passing team in the first half this year.

Matt Waldman: Darrius Heyward-Bey takes an end around, jukes Abraham, gets the corner, and then dips back inside from the sideline to lower the shoulder on Dunta Robinson. Robinson needs to return to our hometown of Athens (yes, he's from here) and get some lessons from his Pop Warner coach on how to hit and wrap. Heyward-Bey earns another five-to-seven on the play. In fact, this is the weakness of the Falcons secondary: they know how to hit, but they don't know how to wrap. If the Packers turn things around and get healthy for the playoffs, those receivers will eat the Falcons alive.

Andy Benoit: The Raiders are having some success with screens and runs on the edges against the Falcons. Saw the Redskins have that type of success against the Falcons defense last week, too.

Matt Waldman: At least one of those edge runs was a play with a pulling lineman as opposed to the zone-blocking scheme, which was the bigger of the two runs.

I hope the Falcons continue to work Jones on shorter perimeter routes and slants. Let him catch the ball with his back to the defender, quick-hitting breaks, and then work down field with the ball. He's pretty good at that.

Andy Benoit: Ryan’s third pick was a direct result of a blitzing Philip Wheeler getting a clean shot on him. It's a case of good defense winning the play.

Vince Verhei: Moore with a 25-yard catch-and-run touchdown. Falcons defense may have been playing two-hand touch on that play.

Matt Waldman: Mike Peterson needs to take that trip 55 miles east with Robinson for those coaching tips. I've got a 12-pound cat that hits and wraps better than those two.

I'd love to see the tracking of power plays versus zone plays for McFadden this week.

Andy Benoit: The Raiders are having some success throwing inside downfield against the outside technique of Asante Samuel in a Cover-3.

Matt Waldman: Ryan nearly throws his fourth interception; instead it bounces off Michael Huff's chest.

The Raiders' linemen are getting pushed around on many plays. They need a lot of thumbs to account for leaks sprung in this dike. Michael Turner nearly gets a touchdown but is hammered at the goal line high-low by Miles Burris and Tyvon Branch. Then Jason Snelling loses yards on third-and-goal from the one, forcing a field goal to tie. Oakland can win this game if the Falcons continue to play this way.

Mike Goodson has two nice runs. One where he looked like a human corkscrew off right tackle. Then he breaks a longer run off right tackle at the end of the third quarter, but it's nullified by a holding penalty. Goodson has been breaking tackles all day. His 40-plus-yard screen pass where he weaved up and down the sideline and spun away from a hit-and-wrap to get into the red zone was a thing of beauty. There was a time that Goodson, Kregg Lumpkin, and Reggie Bush were five-star recruits from the same high school class. Goodson is looking more like the player that was a freshman All-American at Texas A&M.

Ryan has been dealing with pressure all day and Tony Gonzalez is an afterthought thus far. Ryan does a good job stepping up and finding Jones with a perfect throw between bracket coverage on a dig route for 18 yards between high-low coverage, but takes a hit in the chest as he delivers the ball. However, Jones loses the ball while getting wrapped, and Oakland challenges the play as a complete pass rather than a completion, fumble, and recovery. Jones is charged with the drop. This is one of Jones' few weak points as a receiver -- making plays against tight coverage where he has to hang onto the ball when hit.

McFadden frustrates me. They run a zone play to the left side, and there's a beautiful chance to press and cut back to right tackle, but he's so one-hole focused as an angle runner for all these years that this scheme isn't helping him. No gain.

Palmer throws a pick-six to Asante Samuel on what initially looks like a cross up on the perimeter with D. Moore. Samuel returns it for 71 yards and eludes Palmer in the process. Palmer throws the ball behind the receiver's break on the out and Samuel undercuts it. Poor throw.

Derek Hagan finds the sweet spot between the corner and safety up the right flat and makes two sweet moves to beat the safety for 38 yards, most as a ball carrier to get inside the five. Exciting game.

The Falcons run four verticals on every play on the final drive. Ryan takes the check downs, finally completes another pass to Gonzalez to get inside the Raiders 45. Matt Bryant hits the game-winner, crisis averted.

Andy Benoit: The Falcons look good this year, but this undefeated thing isn't going to last. They're playing with house money now: four wins of a touchdown or less, and they've recovered seven of the nine fumbles they've forced on defense.

Indianapolis Colts 9 at New York Jets 35

Rivers McCown: Phil Simms, who spent the whole pre-draft season talking down Andrew Luck, is now spending the first quarter anointing him.

I don't want to say that the Colts run defense is bad, but Shonn Greene actually had a 21-yard gain at one point. Also, Simms is saying that the Colts need Jerry Hughes to be a player, like Dwight Freeney or Robert Mathis. Yes, that seems likely to happen.

Andy Benoit: LaRon Landry's unnecessary roughness penalty nullifies an Antonio Cromartie interception return for a touchdown. The pick still counts, at least. Landry is known for these type of flags, but his hit didn’t look all that unnecessary. Luck appeared to be near Cromartie’s path to the end zone. If he wasn’t a quarterback, the flag wouldn’t have been thrown. But at that point, he’s not supposed to be considered a quarterback.

Vince Verhei: If the Jets are going to win this year, they're going to need more drives like their first touchdown against the Colts: 14 plays, 80 yards, but only three completions for 23 yards. Two of those completions converted third downs, including the touchdown pass to Stephen Hill. Not a lot of Tim Tebow on the drive, by the way.

Jets score another touchdown right before the break to take a 21-6 lead into halftime. Big play on the drive was a Tebow fake-punt pass for a 23-yard gain. He also converted a third-and-1 inside the 10 on a shotgun dive play. Sanchez finished with a touchdown to Hill. Sanchez has nine completions, only one for more than 10 yards, but he does have two touchdown passes.

Should mention the MVP for the Jets today, by the way: Antonio Cromartie. He's been man-handling Reggie Wayne all day, and though he's given up a few flags, he has an interception for a touchdown, while Wayne has one catch for 7 yards late in the third quarter. This after Wayne set a personal record with more than 200 yards last week. Luck has thrown 23 passes, only three to Wayne.

Rivers McCown: This on the heels of shutting down Andre Johnson on Monday. I thought it was likely just bluster that he proclaimed himself the best corner in the league, but if he's going to keep this up...

Andy Benoit: Joe McKnight, sitting on the bench, has the look of a drifter you'd see at a bus station.

Matt Waldman: In Utah, I'd imagine so. In Jamaica, looks like a neighbor I once had who was a spear fisherman.

Vince Verhei: McKnight, world's fastest hobo, rips off a 61-yard run. He goes to the locker room afterwards, but Greene finishes the drive with a touchdown to put the Jets up 28-6 with about 90 seconds left in the third. I'll be surprised if the Jets throw five passes in the fourth quarter.

Colts kick a field goal to make it 28-9. Clearly, they are anticipating three more opportunities to get touchdowns.

Rivers McCown: PoorClockManagementStrong

Cincinnati Bengals 24 at Cleveland Browns 34

Andy Benoit: Jermaine Gresham’s 55-yarder was one of the worst looking touchdowns I've ever seen. Bad defense by the Browns, not good offense by the Bengals.

Matt Waldman: What happened? Why was it bad offense?

Tom Gower: D'Qwell Jackson was in coverage on Gresham and got stiff-armed, and at least one somebody, who may or may not have been T.J. Ward or Usama Young, did a horrible job of playing safety.

Matt Waldman: Just saw that Gresham play. Woof, it wasn't pretty

Another week where Josh Gordon makes receiver look easy. Not that he's a fantastic player at this point, but his fluid adjustments around the football are so noticeable. He makes a one-handed grab on a deep cross with the ball over his inside shoulder, and gains about half of his 71-yard touchdown reception without anyone near him.

I just need to make this apparent to folks here: I've had what has been up to this point an inexplicable man-crush on Cedric Peerman's potential as a running back. If he has a strong game I will probably be insufferable about it.

Detroit Lions 26 at Philadelphia Eagles 23

Andy Benoit: Nnamdi Asomugha’s first pick of season was just a case of him beating Calvin Johnson on the play. He had safety help and was able to play outside technique, then took Johnson off his route path and gained the favorable positioning on the deep ball.

At what point do we ask what’s up with the Lions offense? Does it need fixing? What would those fixes be? More complexity?

Rivers McCown: Not being completely one-dimensional would be a good start.

Andy Benoit: Maclin's long touchdown was a coverage bust by Lions. Bunch concept for the Eagles, two defensive backs picked up the two receivers in the bunch, but left no man on Maclin.

Kansas City Chiefs 10 at Tampa Bay Buccaneers 38

Vince Verhei: Ronde Barber, age 37, gets a pick-six for Tampa Bay. Only six other men that age have scored a pick-six in league history.

Ben Muth: Brady Quinn: 16-of-24, 145 yards, two picks.

All is well. The Mayans were full of crap.

St. Louis Rams 14 at Miami Dolphins 17

Danny Tuccitto: The end of Miami's touchdown drive to go up 17-6 showed how much of a focal point Reggie Bush is in their offense. First, they faked the handoff to him, he continued into an out route, Ryan Tannehill flipped him the ball under pressure, and he hit the R1 button a few times before going down. On the next play, they got him a middle screen, which worked like a charm thanks to Jo-Lonn Dunbar not recognizing it whatsoever. Bush took that down to the one-yard line, and the Fins scored on the next play. On the actual touchdown, they motioned Bush out wide left, which took a defender out of the middle of the field, and that allowed Anthony Fasano to end up wide open in the back of the end zone.

The more I watch Miami (not just this week), the more I feel sorry for Sean Smith. Seems like every successful pass play by opposing offenses goes towards Nolan Carroll or Richard Marshall. Meanwhile, he's on the other side taking care of business.

And just as I say that, he stuffs Brian Quick short of the goal line on third-and-goal.

Tom Gower: Well, Sam Bradford takes a sack on third-and-4. With only one timeout left, Jeff Fisher elects to let the last 20 seconds or so run off the clock and attempt a 66-yard field goal to force overtime. Greg Zuerlein has the distance, but goes wide left to finish the day 2-for-5.

J.J. Cooper: If he had made it they would have renamed St. Louis Zuerleinville.

Buffalo Bills 19 at Arizona Cardinals 16 (OT)

Ben Muth: I change to the Cards game just in time to see them give up a sack for a safety, with Chris Kelsay beating D'Anthony Batiste. That proves that playing the Cardinals is a more effective way to jump start your pass rush than paying over 100 million dollars in free agency.

Cardinals offense after two drives: five plays, minus-five yards, one safety.

Mario Williams shoves Bobby Massie aside and sacks Kevin Kolb to end the Cardinals third possession. Levi Brown is like the horrible overweight version of Peyton Manning: he actually has improved his legacy by missing a season.

Andre Roberts caught a quick out about a half-yard short of the chains. He got a generous spot, so it's close enough to measure, but he still comes up a link short. The refs ruled it a first down anyway. Seriously, the refs called it a first down even thought it looked short on the measurement. Chan Gailey challenged and the play was upheld. Bizarre.

On the same drive of the phantom first down, Larry Fitzgerald beats Nick Barnett for a touchdown. Yes, that's linebacker Nick Barnett. The Buffalo Bills defense has been crafted so Jairus Byrd and George Wilson are primary run defenders and Nick Barnett has to cover Larry Fitzgerald in the red zone.

Tom Gower: Dave Wannstedt has to be your early leader for Keep Chopping Game Film, and Romeo Crennel is the only guy I can think of within shouting distance.

Rivers McCown: Seconded. That unit is so much less than the sum of its parts.

Ben Muth: The Cardinals defense has been solid all day, but with two minutes left in the third, Buffalo ripped off three straight big plays. First was a 23-yard quick slant to Stevie Johnson. Then a 33 yard run by C.J. Spiller, where he made two Cardinals miss in the hole. Then, Brad Smith had a 15-yard run out of the Wildcat. Fred Jackson finished it off with a two-yard plunge.

Reagan Maui'a broke a tackle and gained seven yards on first down. He felt this was worthy of a spike that would have made Gronk jealous. The refs flagged him for delay of game (rightly so) and Whisenhunt exploded on Maui'a. I'm talking Jim Harbaugh-on-a-replacement-official or Jim Schwartz-on-a-vigorous-hand-shaker level screaming.

The Bills were driving in Cardinals territory when they went Wildcat with Smith again. Smith threw it deep and was intercepted by Patrick Peterson.

Tom Gower: Smith threw deep for Donald Jones, who probably got interfered with on the play, and the ball was probably slightly overthrown. Peterson was in the area because Johnson was in the same area of the field, well downfield. That doesn't seem right. On the ensuing possession, Kolb scrambles for a first down on first-and-20, then gets shaken up.

Ben Muth: John Skelton came in and immediately intentionally grounded the ball, but the refs don't call it. So instead of facing a third-and-18, the Cards only needed 11. Skelton completed a fourth-down pass to Fitzgerald to move the ball to the 44-yard line. After three straight incomplete passes, Whisenhunt calls for a 61-yard field goal. Jay Feely makes it because it's the Cardinals at home and all games must go to overtime.

Wow. O'Brien Schofield got a sack on first down so Arizona called a timeout. After two Buffalo runs and two more Arizona timeouts, Buffalo punted. And they shanked the punt, giving Arizona the ball on the opposite 45. A defensive holding and a 28-yard pass to Fitzgerald leave Arizona with a 38-yard field goal. Feely missed it off the upright, of course, because all games in Glendale must go to overtime.

Gailey didn't ice Feely on the 38-yarder. So that's 2-of-2 today in favor of not icing.

On the first drive of overtime, the Bills elect to punt from their 35-yard line rather than attempt a 52-yard field goal. It was a touchback. Gailey has been fluctuating between wildly aggressive (bomb out of the Wildcat up three with three minutes) and really conservative (back-to-back runs at the end of fourth, the overtime punt).

Tom Gower: Wow. Skelton throws for Rob Housler on the post and just doesn't see Byrd lurking in the middle of the field. He returns the pick to the 6, and the Bills are almost certainly about to win this game.

New England Patriots 23 at Seattle Seahawks 24

Aaron Schatz: Very strong pass protection on the first couple drives for New
England. Nobody's getting near Tom Brady so far.

Vince Verhei: Wes Welker runs a post-corner route. Earl Thomas is playing deep zone to that side, but is way too shallow and turns way too late. 40-some yard touchdown, 7-0 New England.

I scream at Russell Wilson to run, and he hangs back and hits Doug Baldwin for a big play on a post route. I scream at him to throw the ball away, and he scrambles away from pressure, breaks a Jerod Mayo tackle, and runs for a first down. And then he finishes the drive with a seam-route touchdown to Baldwin. He's hit 7-of-8 for 131 yards in two drives. Far and away his best game so far.

Aaron Schatz: Russell Wilson is excellent at play-action. When he says that his year at Wisconsin helped him learn how to execute play-action at the pro level, he's not kidding. He's particularly good in the handoffs that set up play-action, the way he continues his dropback after the handoff and looks like he still has the ball. The cameraman from CBS has been confused a few times. One of my favorite underrated quarterback skills.

Vince Verhei: Patriots take a 17-10 lead into halftime. Difference so far is in pass rush -- Seahawks are hardly sniffing Tom Brady, but Chandler Jones got a strip sack on Wilson to set up the New England field goal.

Seahawks had some Keystone Kops behavior at the end of the half. With about a minute to go and neither team in any hurry to call timeout, they throw a weak incompletion on third-and-4 to stop the clock. Then Jon Ryan drops the snap on the punt. He recovers and it looks like he has a chance to get a kick off, but he panics and soon gets overwhelmed. That sets the Patriots up in field-goal range. Seahawks defense stiffens at the goal-line, and Brady's incompletion on third-and-goal is called intentional grounding, and the ensuing ten-second runoff ends the half. A bullet dodged there.

Aaron Schatz: As long as we're going to be mean to Jason Garrett about the clock management at the end of the Dallas game, can we say mean things about Bill Belichick and Tom Brady and the end of the first half in Seattle? The Patriots were gifted the ball in the red zone with 40 seconds left and somehow came away with no points. They blew something like 15 seconds because Brady wanted to get everyone up to the line to run a play but then Belichick decided to go with a timeout instead.

Brady basically throws a pick with :06 left but Rob Gronkowski defends it and knocks it away from the Seattle player. With six seconds left, you need to run either a quick slant or a fade. You can't run a slow-developing pass play. Yet the Pats do, and Brady throws it away with one second left. Except, apparently, it was grounding -- from the look of things afterwards, he thought Deion Branch would be in the area but Branch ran the wrong route or something. Still, it was stupid to try to call a slow-developing crossing play anyway. No points. Bleh.

One other note: if you want to pass in the middle of the field with one timeout and 19 seconds left, have a play ready for the next down and save the last timeout for the final field goal. Instead, the Pats took the last timeout with 13 seconds left and thus lost the ability to throw anything outside the end zone or take a sack if necessary.

Paul McQuistan seems to have no idea where he's going. I know that we don't know the play calls, but I can take a guess, and he was just awful on the first two plays of the second half. On the first one, for some reason he blocked right, doubling the lineman, but for some reason letting Brandon Spikes go right through the line of scrimmage to get Marshawn Lynch in the backfield. I mean, somebody has to have the job of getting the middle linebacker, right? I can't think of who it would have been other than McQuistan. Then on the next play he just got burned when Rob Ninkovich came around on the stunt. He ended up basically trying to triple-team Chandler Jones to his right while Ninkovich went right by him on his left. Again, I can't imagine that was the general idea of the blocking scheme.

Vince Verhei: Been a long time since I've seen a quarterback run into pressure like Wilson does. Three-man rush, and the tackles take the outside rushers wide with one man in the middle. Wilson could step up to either side, but instead he tries to loop wide right into the path of the pass rusher. Breno Giacomini has no option but to tackle the pass rusher for an obvious holding call, wiping out the big scramble that Wilson proceeds to break off. But again, the holding penalty was Wilson's fault, not Giacomini's.

Tom Gower: Notwithstanding his (plenty of other) strengths, that third-quarter interception by Richard Sherman was a poor toss by Tom Brady. Deion Branch had minimal separation and Brady doesn't have the arm strength to hit that downfield throw in the very small window he had to hit on that play. The Seahawks are offensively impotent enough that the Pats not coming away with points in Seattle territory seems unlikely to harm them (they quickly went three-and-out after the pick), but on another day it would.

Aaron Schatz: Wow, Brady with his second interception of the day and only third of the season. I think this one is on him too, it went through Welker's hands but it was sort of behind him, not really thrown in the right place. It just so happened that Thomas was standing right behind Welker, therefore pick.

Seahawks receivers are really kicking Pats' cornerbacks asses when it comes to outpositioning them on deep passes. Unfortunately, the Seahawks offense can't seem to do anything else.

Vince Verhei: CBS shows highlights of the last Seattle win over New England. Rick Mirer! Drew Bledsoe! Seems like a mythical land, like Narnia or Oz.

Bad process, good results: Seahawks have a third-and-1 at the two-minute warning. They run to pick up the first down, but they have no play called, so they have to huddle up and get back to the line. Thirty seconds go by. They have a timeout, by the way. When they finally do snap the ball, Wilson runs a bootleg and throws a 45-plus-yard touchdown to Sidney Rice, who beat Tavon Wilson and the safety on a corner-post. Seattle leads 27-26 with 1:18 to go, and New England is out of timeouts.

Aaron Schatz: Patriots give the game away. Seattle takes lead with 1:18. Very frustrating. I'm not sure how the Patriots botched this one. Even leaving so many points on the board, they were really dominating this game through three quarters. But it seems like the Patriots offense just shut off on the last couple drives, and they also wasted timeouts for stupid reasons: one because they didn't like the offensive play they were running, once because they were stuck with 12 men on the field on defense. Agonizing.

Tom Gower: That comment from earlier about how the Pats were leaving points on the field repeatedly wouldn't come back to bite them today but would in another game? Um, yeah, I was more confident that they would win today than I should have been.

Vince Verhei: You know who played great in defeat? The Patriots' offensive line. One false start. No holding penalties. In 59 pass plays, they gave up seven hits and only one sack, and that sack came in a desperate last-minute situation. I don't have the hurry numbers, but it sure felt close to zero. And in 26 runs, they only have five tackles for loss.

Aaron Schatz: I'm just sitting here in shock. I can't figure out how on earth the Pats lost this game. They had this thing completely in control, numerous times. They were up 20-10 at the goal line early in the fourth quarter. They threw the pick there, but still went up 23-10 a few minutes later. Then they managed to stop the Seahawks with 3:14 left and got the ball back up 23-17. How on earth did they lose? I think the worst thing was the conservative playcalling on that drive with 3:14 left. You have an offense that almost never goes three-and-out, and the other team still has three timeouts to work with, so why on earth do you go into instant obvious "a one-yard run doesn't matter as long as we kill clock" mode. You need a couple of first downs there.

New York Giants 26 at San Francisco 49ers 3

Andy Benoit: FOX announcers are saying the Niners have NFL’s best offensive line. Aikman said it’s the best he’s seen in 10 years, and even compared it to Cowboys’ lines he played with. They have to be referring only to run-blocking. (Even then, the hyperbole is overflowing here.)

Vince Verhei: Run blocking only, yes, but it's not hyperbole. I covered this on ESPN this week, but they're absolutely destroying the record for ALY this season. They're gaining five or more yards on half their carries. Yes, they're probably going to come down to earth before long, but for one-third of a season they've been like nothing we've seen in decades.

Ben Muth: The 10 years comment is a little ridiculous (the Vermeil Chiefs come to mind), but I think there's a good chance they do have the best line in football. Their interior line is really good. Joe Staley is a top-10 left tackle and Anthony Davis has gotten much better.

Peter Koski: Niners offense is showing a lot of different formations on opening two drives. Lots of Pistol or Full House formations with tight ends and fullbacks in the backfield, including defensive lineman/fullback Will Tukuafu. The 49ers have been efficient at controlling the clock thus far, but not able to get the ball across the goalline. David Akers has another missed field goal.

49ers rush defense is smothering, but they are unable to get the pass pressure to move Eli Manning off his spot, resulting in a couple big third-down conversions and a Victor Cruz touchdown.

Andy Benoit: On the Cruz touchdown in the short slot, Donte Whitner bit on play-action just a hair and Cruz did a good job setting up Carlos Rogers at the top of his route.

Danny Tuccitto: Even though San Francisco has dominated New York in the first 18 minutes or so, I'm impressed with the Giants not getting caught off-guard by a couple of wrinkles the 49ers have put into the game plan to play off of what they've put on film. Foremost in my mind is the fake jet sweep left to Ted Ginn with a counter pitch to Frank Gore going right. Giants stuffed it. Also stuffed the Kaepernickat and, if I saw the play correctly, got an interception defending the 49ers' wheel route.

Andy Benoit: Surprising that Jason Pierre-Paul’s sack gives him just 2.5 on the year. He’s been dominant all season, just hasn’t been reflected in sacks, apparently.

What always stands out with Giants receivers is how they a.) get great separation late in the route and b.) don’t even need much separation to make the catch.

Vince Verhei: At this point, I think we also have to acknowledge that Manning is good enough to make about any receiver look good.

Aaron Schatz: Remember when he threw like half the passes over guys' heads? That feels like the era of Betamax at this point.

Matt Waldman: I agree that Manning is a fine quarterback. However, I also believe his receivers are helping him just as much as any in the league. The Giants offer a pretty nice dichotomy of drafting philosophy at the receiver position. Domenik Hixon, Cruz, and Hakeem Nicks are all nice athletes, but they all possessed a strong base of skill with the physical techniques of route-running and pass catching. This in my opinion is more important than the over the top physical promise of guys like Ramses Barden or Mario Manningham.

By the way, Manningham's big catch for 36 yards is on a pass from Kaepernick that the Giants weren't expecting. Manningham was let go -- in my opinion -- because he made rookie mistakes well beyond his rookie year. Talented for sure, but Hixon's catches today have vastly more cumulative value to a quarterback with accuracy and the confidence to make these throws than a great athlete who the quarterback can't count on to be at the right place at the right time.

Steve Smith epitomized this point when he was healthy, but his lack of great down field speed also feeds Aaron's point about Manning overthrowing passes. Cruz has Smith's hands and is developing into that kind of route runner, but has Manningham's speed and handling.

Aaron Schatz: Golly, I don't think he's developing. I think he was pretty much there last year.

Andy Benoit: The trend we're seeing with Alex Smith is interceptions on passing downs. The first of Antrel Rolle's two pick was on third-and-six, the second one was third-and-16. As we highlighted in the Film Room post, Smith is an early-down passer. He doesn't have the tools to consistently make big-time throws in obvious passing situations.

On fourth-and-15, Smith throws a check-down to Vernon Davis. He had nowhere else to go, apparently. But why not throw it "nowhere else" anyway? The check-down is guaranteed to fail. Nothing to lose on fourth down.

Danny Tuccitto: Smith probably wouldn't be in so many obvious passing situations if Colin Kaepernick refrained from taking seven-yard losses on second down every series.

Vince Verhei: Joe Buck is calling the 49ers game right now, and then is going to call the Giants baseball game tonight. If Tim McCarver is doing color, he'd better rip into Joe like he did Deion Sanders when Prime Time did the same thing. (I know he won't.)

Danny Tuccitto: I've got two TVs going, one with the Yankees game and the other with the 49ers. Wish I had zero TVs.

Rivers McCown: Joe could not stand to not call his precious Cardinals...

Ben Muth: If this ends in Joe Buck dumping water on McCarver, the last decade of their horrible announcing will have been worth it.

Aaron Schatz: So Danny, does it feel better to be a 49ers fan today, and know that at least your team got stomped beginning to end and never was in the game? Or does it feel better to be a Pats fan and know your team at least still played well even though they totally frittered away a game they had no business losing?

(It's probably worst for Ben, whose team sucked AND blew a close game.)

J.J. Cooper: Can I throw in a vote for "your team lost to a significantly inferior opponent on Thursday and in doing so reinforced that they are no longer an elite Super Bowl contender?"

Danny Tuccitto: Aaron, considering this 49ers fan has had the pleasure of witnessing *both* types of losses to the same friggin' team in the space of nine months, I'll go with "Option C: Neither."

I had this whole diatribe ready to go about how the 49ers game plan sucked today. Then, Harbaugh pre-empted me by admitting as much in the post-game press conference. Don't hear that from a coach very often.

Minus the planned vitriol, I'm reduced to just pointing out that the one team the Giants defense has shut down this season was Carolina and their endless barrage of read option. No clue why the 49ers thought it would be a good idea to try to replicate that.

I actually came close to understanding today that frustrating feeling Pats fans have about games against the Giants. There was one drive today where Nicks somehow caught a jump ball with Tarell Brown all over him, and then a play or two later Hixon made the Bert Emanuel catch. Then there was Cruz literally catching a juggled ball while being bear-hugged. All of this happens in quick succession, and I just feel like throwing my hands up, screaming, "Why does this Giants team have to be so good *and* so lucky?"

Ben Muth: The Cards were due to lose one like the Buffalo game, I can tolerate one loss for every five wins in overtime. Yeah, they didn't play well, but they hardly ever do.

The St. Louis game was much more frustrating because Arizona refused to change a thing even as Chris Long and Robert Quinn were rearranging Kolb's face. Plus, I still had delusions of a wild card at that point. The St. Louis game crushed those.

Minnesota Vikings 26 at Washington Redskins 38

Andy Benoit: Redskins continuing to run a lot of their offense out of wishbone. That sets up their option game and play-action game, which is a great way to feature Robert Griffin.

Vince Verhei: Scott Hanson deserves multiple awards for these sixty seconds.

Green Bay Packers 42 at Houston Texans 24

Rivers McCown: Remember the 2010 Chargers team that finished fourth in offensive DVOA, seventh in defensive DVOA, and dead last in special teams DVOA? They are the Texans' spirit animal.

Tom Gower: The 2010 Packers team that won the Super Bowl was pretty similar, only their special teams were just pretty bad instead of absolutely miserable like San Diego's. Without NORV!'s ability to underachieve almost any record, that's a more realistic fate.

Vince Verhei: J.J. Watt's post-sack move -- doing the Aaron Rodgers title belt motion, then throwing the belt away and saluting -- wins the celebration of the week award.

Aaron Schatz: Alan Ball on Jordy Nelson is just not going to be a good matchup for Houston. And of course, that third touchdown was set up by the defensive pass interference by Kareem Jackson. The fact is, despite their great pass rush, even with improved safeties, the Texans still suffer from a big problem with non-Johnathan Joseph cornerbacks.

Rivers McCown: Ball was on because Joseph was off. THAT is what I'm more worried about. Hiding a groin injury would make Joseph's last few weeks more explainable.

Aaron Schatz: Yeah, even with Joseph as their best cornerback, he hasn't been that great when he's been on the field tonight.

Tom Gower: The Texans lived in dime for about all of the first half. That's their normal sub package anyway, though of course without Brian Cushing they don't have nearly as dynamic a linebacker in there. The Packers' offensive line has done better than I thought they would, and while Rodgers was like normal 2012 Rodgers early (off kilter), he's responded with some sharp throws since. I concur with Rivers a lingering groin injury that affected his status for the Week 4 game against the Titans would explain a lot that's happened to Joseph since then, and without Jason Allen this year they don't have the same depth on the outside even with Jackson looking better in his third season.

Aaron Schatz: OK, I know that I picked the Packers in Upset Watch this week, but still, what is up here? This is an ass-whooping. The Texans can't run the ball, even though the Packers were 27th in defensive ALY coming into this game.

Vince Verhei: Houston is just having such a non-Houston night that I'm willing to write this off as a fluke. Just a bad night with no explanation, particularly by the offensive line. Getting zero motion in the running game, and Matt Schaub has been sacked as many times through three quarters as he was in Weeks 1 through 5 combined.

Aaron Schatz: I will say, it's remarkable how much the NFL commentariat jumps on the "wow, no team is dominant" storyline. Guys, we had 9-7 and 10-6 teams win the last two Super Bowls. There's been no truly dominant team in the NFL for a long time, and no one loss defines your team as doomed or "unable to compete on the national stage" or any such nonsense.

Rivers McCown: Guys I'm just gonna go lay down now.

Danny Tuccitto: So, with James Jones doing Arian Foster's Namaste move after his touchdown to make it 42-17 (!!!), is it safe to say that all end zone celebrations have polarized into an "actual celebrations" group and a "mockery of actual celebrations" group? Is it also safe to say that Jones mocking Foster up 42-17 is a tad ridiculous?

I'll add ... though not as ridiculous as if Jones had done it with the score the other way around.

Vince Verhei: Since you brought that up ... I was highly annoyed by the salsa controversy with Cruz and Rogers last week. I love the Victor Cruz salsa touchdown dance, one of most fun and classiest moves of all-time. But apparently Carlos Rogers did a salsa last year against the Giants and it got Cruz's dander up. Then Cruz said he does the dance in a tribute to his grandmother, and so Rogers agreed not to do it anymore? Ridiculous! If it's OK for Cruz to do it, it's OK for Rogers or anyone else to do it. (Well, maybe not today, but in a game where San Francisco actually played well.)

And as a young man I screamed with glee when Mario Bailey did Desmond Howard's Heisman pose with a big lead late in the Rose Bowl, so I'm fine with mocking guys late in the game too.

Danny Tuccitto: Heh. Fair enough. I understand the place for celebration mockery in the alpha environment of football. Just seems to me that the mockery end of the spectrum is rampant lately. You mentioned the Rogers salsa mockery. There's the ubiquitous discount-double-check mockery seemingly anytime someone sacks Aaron Rodgers these days. We even recently -- last week I think -- had the meta-mockery of Raji's dance from the discount-double-check commercial. Tonight we have namaste mockery by Jones. I just find it sad that we've basically come to a point where you have a group of guys coming up with original celebrations, and then everyone else resorting to mockery of some sort rather than coming up with an original celebration of their own.

Vince Verhei: Marshall Faulk on NFL Network: "When you have a game with two teams that are pretty darn good and evenly matched, it comes down to quarterback play. And Matt Schaub just did not make enough plays to help his team win today."

The Texans gave up a half-dozen touchdown passes and he is blaming the loss on Matt Schaub.

Posted by: Rivers McCown on 15 Oct 2012

239 comments, Last at 18 Oct 2012, 1:35pm by bravehoptoad


by Danny Tuccitto :: Mon, 10/15/2012 - 1:24am

Just want to point out in advance of the coming s***storm that, in my comment about the Giants being so good and so lucky, I'm using "lucky" as shorthand for "benefiting from seemingly rare, albeit predominately skillful, events." Obviously, it's a display of skill to make a juggling catch while bear-hugged or an Emanuel-esque catch, etc.; or, to go back to the NFCCG, Jacquian Williams stripping Kyle Williams in overtime; or, to go back to recent Super Bowls, the David Tyree catch, or the Manning-to-Manningham play eight months ago. When you're the fan of a repeated victim, it just seems mystical (and downright depressing) for the same team to pull these extraordinary feats off over...and over...and over...and over.

by theslothook :: Mon, 10/15/2012 - 4:04am

Andy Benoit: "As we highlighted in the Film Room post, Smith is an early-down passer. He doesn't have the tools to consistently make big-time throws in obvious passing situations"

Danny, I know you probably won't reply to this, but I bet this comment secretly boiled your blood. I made this comment to my friends during the NFCC last year(before 3rd quarter when it was very much undecided) and my friends absolutely lost it.

In fairness- this was a rough game and in a day in which Matt Ryan's 3 ints will be forgiven because of a win, Smith will undoubtedly be the goat for this loss- as he is for just about every loss the 49ers have suffered since 2005. I didn't actually see the game yet, but this is what gets said when you're reputation is built off game management and limiting turnovers. The media already overstates ints to a fault, but I've always felt like Alex Smith was one or two poor games away from being back in the media's cross hairs(which really is quite unfair). I guess the media has a hard time letting go of their favorite whipping boys.

by Karl Cuba :: Mon, 10/15/2012 - 11:53am

49ers pass DVOA ranking by down (through last week):

1st down - 1st
2nd down - 12th
3rd down - 23rd

Benoit was quite right.

by Danny Tuccitto :: Mon, 10/15/2012 - 1:32pm

No, I think Andy's Smith comment is about right. I think it's a combination of two things. First, there are risks he takes when down by a TD or two on 3rd-and-long that he never takes in the same situation during a close game. When it's close, he's content to take the sack or throw the ball away. When they're losing by a lot, he starts forcing passes to covered receivers, etc. I really don't mind it actually. I prefer that to the 4th-and-long play yesterday where he checked down to VD 10 yards shy of the marker. That was lunacy.

Second, I think Smith is the poster child for catastrophe theory in a sport psychology context. Most of the time, he's not all that "worried" about his performance because the game is close, and he knows the defense is there to bail him out. But in a game like yesterday's (or the ones of yesteryear when their D sucked), he doesn't just start worrying about his performance. If that's all it was, he'd be no different than the vast majority of QBs. Instead, he also gets this frenetic look about him, where you can see him physically panicking (i.e., choppy footwork, bailing out of the pocket under minimal pressure, his arm becoming laughably innacurate). When you combine the cognitive worry with the physical panic symptoms, at some point -- about midway through the 3rd quarter yesterday -- you get performance catastrophe aka 1.0 ANY/A.

by Karl Cuba :: Mon, 10/15/2012 - 2:05pm

My thought on that pass to Vernon Davis was, 'Why on earth is Vernon Davis being used down the field?'.

There aren't many good plays for 4th and 15 but if you run something like four verticals then you'll end up with single coverage somewhere, or maybe a screen pass. As it was they went for a flood which is not going to work unless the defense blows its assignments.

by Karl Cuba :: Mon, 10/15/2012 - 2:49pm

blank post

by bravehoptoad :: Mon, 10/15/2012 - 6:43pm

I couldn't watch the game yesterday...what in heck happened?

Turn your eyes away for just a few minutes, and the kids get in such trouble.

by Kurt :: Mon, 10/15/2012 - 8:36am

Good *and* lucky is fair. During their two SB runs there were five playoff games where they basically played the opponent to a draw (Dallas, GB, NE, SF, NE). Sure it's a bit lucky to win all five games, but it's also a hell of an accomplishment to play as well as those five teams and put yourself in position to get the breaks.

by Brad Benson's Nose (not verified) :: Mon, 10/15/2012 - 8:54am

You're either out of your mind or you have a short memory if you think the Packers played the Giants to a draw in the 2007 NFC championship. The Packers were extremely lucky to send that game to OT. They had a 90 yard TD reception when Corey Webster slipped and fell on a short pass to Driver, McQuarters fumbled an interception back to the Packers, a bogus holding call erased a long TD run by Jacobs. Despite the overtime, the Giants pretty thoroughly outplayed them. Can't argue with the other four much. I'll always have warm feelings for Wade Phillips' tenure as Cowboys head coach - he gave the game away to the Giants in 2007 when he inexplicably stopped running the ball despite the fact that Barber was steamrolling our defense.

by Kurt :: Mon, 10/15/2012 - 9:14am

I'll plead "short memory" with a dash of "missed chunks of the game due to kids crap", and concede the point.

by Mark S. (not verified) :: Mon, 10/15/2012 - 9:54am

I also thought they clearly outplayed the Pats in SuperBowl 46, and NE was lucky to be in the game. The Giants dominated that first half and were somehow down by 1 at the break. But YMMV...

by Arkaein :: Mon, 10/15/2012 - 11:30am

I think there were 6 fumbles in that game, and the Giants recovered 5. That's pretty much the FO definition of luck.

by Mark S. (not verified) :: Mon, 10/15/2012 - 11:58am

Six fumbles, and the Giants recovered 4. One of those was a botched snap that Eli fell on though. So really it's more like 3/5 recovered. They also outgained the Pack 388-264 (with 90 of the Packers' yards coming on one play where a cornerback slipped and fell down on a short pass, as mentioned above). Lawrence Tynes also missed a 37 yarder and a 43 yarder.

The Pack were very, very lucky to hang around in that one.

by horn :: Mon, 10/15/2012 - 3:40pm

Still trying to figure out how the Jints can win 2 SBs recently but be unable to beat da Iggles in the playoffs, and how da Iggles can beat the Jints like taking a nap in the playoffs [in NJ!] and reg season, but can't beat Carolina [home] or GB [home] or Arizona or NOS. feh.

by RaulGroom (not verified) :: Mon, 10/15/2012 - 10:02am

I think most FO readers will understand what you're driving at. It would be like a golfer having multiple career holes-in-one on Sunday in major tournaments. He would have to be one of the best golfers alive in order to have a chance for it to happen - but if it actually happened, it would be extremely lucky as well.

by Independent George :: Mon, 10/15/2012 - 11:01am

Having only listened to the game online, can someone tell me how the Giants managed to protect Eli using mostly the same guys who got their asses kicked last year? I know that replacing David Diehl is addition by subtraction, but all four of the other guys - Beatty, Boothe, Baas, and Snee - got debacled last year. It wasn't even a question of scheme, either - they just got mauled physically.

I know it's out of his scope, but I'd love a Muth examination of the Giants OL yesterday vs. the NFCCG - how do you get such different results with mostly the same people on both sides of the ball?

by JasonK :: Mon, 10/15/2012 - 11:30am

Beatty was out for the NFCCG. David Diehl started at LT, with Kareem McKenzie at RT.

It also helps the Giants OL that they drew an officiating crew that doesn't call much in the way of offensive holding yesterday.

by Mark S. (not verified) :: Mon, 10/15/2012 - 11:31am

Beatty did not play in the NFCCG last year. Diehl was at LT and Kareem McKenzie was at RT for that game. I think Beatty and Locklear and just much better tackles than Diehl & McKenzie (obviously). Plus, Chris Snee was not healthy last year. He seems to be back to full strength now. So, significant improvements at 3/5 spots on the O-Line.

by Karl Cuba :: Mon, 10/15/2012 - 2:01pm

To some extent you hold more. For example, I'm pretty sure that Brooks was being held on the long pass down the right sideline to Hixon in the second quarter.

I know that every offensive line holds but some do it better than others, the Giants seemed to be doing a great job of holding just below the threshold where it gets called.

Also many people's recollection of last year's NFC championship game seems to focus on the last quarter where the niners really started to thrash the Giants. It wasn't like that for the whole game.

Edit: I'd also add that when a quarterback plays like Eli did on that spell in the second quarter when he was throwing the ball with such precision and timing, I just don't think there's a great deal a defense can do unless it's getting instant pressure on every play.

by glickmania :: Mon, 10/15/2012 - 2:57pm

It was really odd to see 4th quarter Eli show up that early.

The few rollouts Gillbride worked in were also interesting and likely a direct result of the playoff pressure.

by tunesmith :: Mon, 10/15/2012 - 1:29am

Seahawks Defense is still underrated, apparently. Their stats don't look so good on this game, but they made the Patriots operate on the ordinary plane of existence, particularly in the 4th quarter. It's not so shocking for ordinary offenses to be stopped with three minute left.

by RickD :: Mon, 10/15/2012 - 9:57am

It's like you were watching a different game.

The Pats moved the ball at will for most of the game. That's why Seattle's "stats don't look so good."

The Pats had a massive brain fart when they went into clock-kill mode.

by ptp (not verified) :: Mon, 10/15/2012 - 1:36am

Seattle very easily could've walked away from today's game with 5 interceptions, not 2, and one of those dropped ET interceptions would've been a pick 6, so when you talk about New England leaving points on the board, or if you really don't understand how they lost this one, remembering this may help you balance everything out a bit.

by RickD :: Mon, 10/15/2012 - 9:58am

"Could have" isn't very interesting. The Pats "could have" won this game by 15 points.

by JoeyHarringtonsPiano :: Mon, 10/15/2012 - 10:16am

I think he was responding to a previous comment that the Patriots "could have" won the game and scored a lot more points. He was trying to argue the same point you are, that the "could haves" usually cancel out for both teams, and are thus irrelevant.

-I'm not Billy Bad-Ass.

by RickD :: Mon, 10/15/2012 - 10:33am

Well that would be a relevant point.

Of course, some of those missed interceptions would have precluded later passes. If the Seahawks drop 3 INTs on one series, that doesn't really mean that they "could have" had 3 INTs on that one series.

It was not a good game for Brady. I think the rain was clearly bothering him.

by JoeyHarringtonsPiano :: Mon, 10/15/2012 - 10:42am

"It was not a good game for Brady. I think the rain was clearly bothering him."

Which makes it that much more impressive that the Patriots were moving the ball at will and dominating (just not on the scoreboard) early on. Aside from those two INTs, settling for FGs instead of TDs let the Seahawks hang around (much like it let the Redskins take over the game from the Vikings).

-I'm not Billy Bad-Ass.

by ptp (not verified) :: Mon, 10/15/2012 - 10:49am

Specifically I was responding to Aaron's comments that he doesn't see how the Patriots lost this one. I don't think it's that hard to figure out: 1) the Patriots' defense is really, really bad, and 2) the offense couldn't put together a single game-killing drive in the final few minutes. Lamenting blown mistakes is a mistake-prone way to analyze because, wouldn't you know it, for all of the mistakes NE made, Seattle made a few of their own. NE also recovered both Seattle fumbles.

I don't know how DVOA will see this game, but I suspect the fluky mistakes and miscues were a lot less one-sided than many people think.

by QCIC (not verified) :: Mon, 10/15/2012 - 2:23pm

I think almost all of this is just confirmation bias.

NE has been good for a long time, SEA has been bad for a long time. Thus when you watch a close game between them you fixate on all the instances that NE failed to do what you expected rather than evaluating it from an "unbiased by history" perspective.

Of course seeing this type of mental shortcut as a bad thing is probably a mistake as many times it is actually helpful.

by theslothook :: Mon, 10/15/2012 - 3:55am

Three interesting takes I had.

1) When Tom brady gets no pass pressure, it usually leads to deadly short passes for 10 yard scampers in the middle of the field. When Aaron Rodgers gets no pressure- his passes torch you deep for touchdowns. I know his pocket awareness isn't as good as Brady's, but man, Rodgers is probably the scariest qb when you can't rush him. After 5 weeks of "whats wrong with Rodgers" speculation, I think that effectively shut everyone up.

2) I disagreed with Aaron, pats felt lucky in this game too. the Seahawks offense, despite some big plays, was pretty miserable for most of the game, gifting the pats offense with some great field position and scoring opportunities beyond the one's mentioned, and yet the Pats never took advantage. People will blame the coaching staff, but to me, this was on Brady and his receivers. As someone mentioned before, Tom Brady sure is lucky he wasn't picked off more; that near end zone int was just plain horrific. I also don't know what happened to their new look fast pace attack as this offense looked nothing like the one that impaled the broncos last week.

3) As a die hard colts fan, this loss reminds me why it sucks to be a fan of a mediocre team. They play well one week, giving you hope of a serious rebound and the possibility of a plucky wild card run. Then they get lead piped repeatedly in the face by a jets team that was on the verge of complete implosion and it quickly reminds me of all the work that still needs to be done. The defensive line and linebackers got shoved around all game(their first down defense was hideous), their offensive line once again bled like a sieve and even while Luck dealt with pressure well, many of his throws were just poor, especially when he got outside the pocket and just kept missing receivers. I just hope its merely rookie growing pains as overall, I still love what i see from him. (he may not have the big highlights of Russel Wilson, but hes a far more consistent qb overall).

by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Mon, 10/15/2012 - 5:53pm

"I also don't know what happened to their new look fast pace attack as this offense looked nothing like the one that impaled the broncos last week."

Seattle has a much better secondary than Denver and safeties big enough to deal with their TEs. Since Seattle didn't have to shift out of base to defend NE, NE's speed advantage (designed to prevent substitutions and exploit matchups) didn't work as well.

by MJK :: Tue, 10/16/2012 - 12:36am

Very astute. I think you have a very good point here. On the other hand, playing their base so much did hurt them. They were having nightmares trying to cover Welker and Woodhead for much of the game, and Lloyd as well when Brady didn't one-hop it to him (as he did for much of the second quarter). Shifting into a nickel might have helped...although then the Pats might have had more success running the ball. All in all, playing base was the right strategy when trailing...it kept NE passing and so helped keep them from burning the clock. But it very nearly didn't work.

Another reason why the Pats might not have used the blazing attack is simply it's a lot harder to pull off on the road, especially in the loudest stadium in the league.

by Insancipitory :: Tue, 10/16/2012 - 1:02am

Sherm is the guy who's going to match up best with Welker, maybe Thomas, but Welker is going to play out of the slot, that's going to put him on Trufant. Which isn't deadly, but it's not good. As the results indicate. Brandon Lloyd is what he is, he's going to make a couple miracle catches. But that generally really is it if there isn't something consistant for him to defeat in coverage. If Browner and Sherm man up and press staying on their sides, they'll each see some of Lloyd and Branch, both of them being quicker than the bigger Browner, so he has to give a little more than he might like to avoid getting beat huge over the top. I think on balance that's really what we saw.

The other aspect not really addressed was the additional matchup problem of Hernandez, who I was surprised came back as soon as he did. That Hernandez problem created a lot of the room for Welker, because the Seahawks would rather be beaten underneath time after time than deep for a score. Which I think any team would agree with. That's the real devil the Patriots make you choose. Get them off the field a little more often, giving up more huge plays and scores, or keep their offense on the field until they screw it up themselves or the defense makes a succession of great plays.

That not even a secondary like the Seahawks can really matchup against the Patriots is pretty significant in my mind. Can the Bears with they're veteran athletic linebackers and deep D-line reduce that rate of success while mixing in a higher rate of big plays from their front? Can the Giants endure the shelling long enough to give their D-line enough chances to discombobulate Brady? San Fran will probably have to do it like Chicago, might be able to do it like the Giants. Arizona probably did it like Seattle, but they also put Hernadez on timeout greatly simplifying things. The Packers would look to be a mix between the Bears and the Seahawks, doing it with scheme and pressure from predominantly Matthews, but athletes, experience, and scheme in the secondary then turning the rest over to their own offenses own explosive play potential.

What the Patriots have assembled on offense is truly something to behold. It was a great job by a really good defense to hold them to what felt like 10 yards per play. I don't think the Patriots can be beaten without generation of explosive plays on offense and defense. I don't think a defense dominant enough to grind one out with them exists in the NFL. If it does currently, it pretty much has to be the Bears. But I would pick the Patriots TEs over the Bears LBs.

At least how I see it.

by theslothook :: Tue, 10/16/2012 - 5:46pm

That might be generally true-but any offense can be stopped. There are really only two styles of defense that I've seen work against the pats historically- you either hit brady and force him to feel the rush and be discombobulated- giants sb comes to mind - or you play strong man coverage and cover all day and force him to take short throws for minimal gains. Both strategies rely on some great defensive effort talent rather than some kind of scheme because the pats simply have too many efficient players to take away like that.

by KB (not verified) :: Tue, 10/16/2012 - 6:42am

All I can wonder is does Brady really have a better 'pocket awareness' than Rodgers. All I can think of is Rodgers during their superbowl run in the divisional game against the Falcons. That to me epitomizes 'pocket awareness'. Maybe Rodgers was just in a zone he has rarely reached but Out of the hundreds of games I've seen Brady I have never seen anything come close to that.

by theslothook :: Tue, 10/16/2012 - 2:33pm

I was going more on the aggregate. Forget pocket awareness, that Atlanta game performance was all around possibly the greatest qb performance I've ever seen. There's only one more that I think was slightly better and one that was similar, but no, that was more of Rodgers just being in a zone than standard Rodgers(hes awesome, but he's not the demigod he was that game).

by Jeff88 (not verified) :: Wed, 10/17/2012 - 2:42am

Best game would go to the year before when Kurt Warner faced Rodgers and the Packers in a 45-51 win that was just a masterpiece of quarterbacking you will ever see. Kurt Warner was 29-33 for 379yds and 5tds.

by glickmania :: Wed, 10/17/2012 - 3:41am

That was a helluva game from both QBs.

I still have the image burned into my brain of McCarthy crashing to his knees in exasperated defeat as the LB hit the endzone with the game winner.

by jimm (not verified) :: Mon, 10/15/2012 - 7:16am

I am surprised that none of the FO writers seem to have been watching Wash - Minn. RGIII is the most exciting football player I have ever seen. I think he is also the best first year player I've ever seen by a country mile.

He gets the ball out quickly. His accuracy is incredible. And, he's as good an athlete as Michael Vick.

I've watched Luck 3 times now and RGIII three times, plus a few college games. I think Luck is going to be a very good QB but I think RGIII has the tools to be the best ever.

by QCIC (not verified) :: Mon, 10/15/2012 - 2:29pm

I said after week 1 or 2, that the Vikings are a playoff team being held back by a sub par QB. He does enough that the media will still fawn all over him after wins, but he doesn't really reach the level of adequacy you need. His ceiling (after another year or two of development) seems to be something like Romo, a run of the mill starter who is roughly league average. A nice thing to have if you want to avoid being terrible, but not so great if you want your team to actually compete for a title. In the mean time he is what the 20th best starter, 25?

His floor is never starting again after this year... He is just sooo inaccurate.

by commissionerleaf :: Mon, 10/15/2012 - 3:12pm

Romo is a -lot- better than league average. League average is someone like Fitzpatrick. And yes, I recognize he's trying to prove me wrong this year. But he's very good 15 games a year.

by glickmania :: Mon, 10/15/2012 - 3:26pm

Romo is a really good QB who really gets little help from his coaching staff and the skill position star isn't exactly the model of a solid player. I'd still put Roethlisberger ahead of him since he's gotten it done way more over the course of his career and makes less mistakes. Still, he's been playing for the superior organization his entire career which really helps.

Romo could be scary if matched up with the right coaching staff and organizational structure.

by QCIC (not verified) :: Mon, 10/15/2012 - 4:31pm

See I guess I don't see him like that.

I would put the Mannings/Rodgers/Brees/Brady/Big Ben/Rivers/RG3 ahead of him.

I would put him in the Flacco/Schaub/Vick/Romo/Dalton tier.

Which I guess technically makes him "tied for 9th", but IMO a guys who is say 10th or 11th from year to year is really an "average starting QB" because the guys who are say 24-32 aren't really starting QBs at all and rotate on a yearly basis.

So among the 20-24 QBS who will have a job for sure over the next few years I think Romo is more or less in the middle. I think he has benefited a lot from DAL hype and fantasy football influences stat bias.

It is entirely possible I am wrong of course, just my $0.02.

My point was that I don't think Ponder has any chance of getting up to that top class, and that this is a real negative this early in a career when there is a still a risk of substantial downside. More specifically if I were the MIN QB Ponder would not at all be stopping me from looking to grab a different QB if one was available int he draft or FA.

by glickmania :: Mon, 10/15/2012 - 4:45pm

Perhaps my wording was wonky cuz I actually agree with all your Romo points. Well, not about RG3 since he will still have to adjust to what defenses will do to him over the course of his career after they adjust and learn as they get more tape and then we'll really see how good he is. This weekend's game against the Giants should be interesting since they do well against run-option QBs. Not that WAS runs a pure run-option.

Back to Romo, I was just saying that he's pretty damn good and would likely be much better if surrounded with better support like the top QBs.

As for Ponder, I really don't have an opinion since I haven't seen many of his games at all.

by theslothook :: Mon, 10/15/2012 - 5:13pm

According to Pff, Ponder has thrown the fewest deep passes of any qb in the nfl. To me, the vikings are in a tough position, short term win versus long term(potential) gain. The successful winning formula is to hide ponder and ride out special teams, defense, and running game. The coaching staff might not survive another terrible season, but then, does this style of coaching ultimately lead to a low ceiling? Is ponder ever going to develop the tools to be a great qb if he's being masked and massaged so much? I guess I should ask Will what he would do if he were the Vikes qb.

Personally, as a colts fan, I'd much rather have the team throw luck into the fire than to hide him to win games. IMO, if you are going to be a great qb, you need to take your lumps(ie-throw picks, get sacked, deal with heavy pressures and coverage schemes, and to throw throw throw).

by QCIC (not verified) :: Mon, 10/15/2012 - 5:18pm

Yeah the constant passes laterally to Harvin that travel .5 yards downfield and rely entirely on YAC, while somewhat effective are not exactly helping him be an NFL QB.

by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Mon, 10/15/2012 - 5:54pm

Worked for Tom Brady.

by Insancipitory :: Tue, 10/16/2012 - 12:36am

Not this week.

by LionInAZ :: Tue, 10/16/2012 - 12:33am

When you consider that the Vikings don't have any serious downfield receivers, those outs to Harvin look a lot better.

by glickmania :: Mon, 10/15/2012 - 6:02pm

I love what I see from Luck so far. In a league where the passing game is king, he's got all the tools to excel. Combined with a little mobility the Colts are a good draft (you know where their holes are) or two away from being a big-time contender again.

by theslothook :: Mon, 10/15/2012 - 6:26pm

Before this year, I felt like the colts had holes everywhere except qb. Now, I actually feel like the receiving core and tight ends are good enough and the corners are acceptable- but the o line and dline along with the interior linebackers are just plain terrible. Come draft day, unless there's a big time receiver thats available, the colts need to find themselves either an impact pass rusher or a good middle linebacker.

by glickmania :: Mon, 10/15/2012 - 8:25pm

They were already on the decline in 2010 when Peyton's brilliance covered up so many holes. And it really showed last season how far away they are from contending. However, I have no idea if this GM is going to take the same tactic as Polian did with team construction. Will it be the same " get a lead then let your pass rushers take over" thing or will it be more balanced while concentrating on building around Luck which includes finding him (like you said) an eventual replacement for Wayne. Either way, finding more linemen will be a key on both sides of the ball so there is that, too.

Either way, the Colts are in a great spot since the most important position is already covered. The rest, by comparison, is easy.

by The Ninjalectual :: Mon, 10/15/2012 - 2:31pm

He's already the best "running" QB ever.

by bravehoptoad :: Mon, 10/15/2012 - 6:39pm

Steve Young?

by tuluse :: Mon, 10/15/2012 - 6:47pm

Randal Cunningham, Steve McNair...

by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Mon, 10/15/2012 - 7:00pm

Donovan McNabb, John Elway, Fran Tarkenton...

by dbostedo :: Mon, 10/15/2012 - 8:08pm

Cam Newton... Michael Vick...

by The Ninjalectual :: Tue, 10/16/2012 - 4:52am

I'll still Take Griffin--in Shanahan's specially tailored offense--over the rest of the lot.

Sure, he's not at the level Steve Young was in the Walsh offense, but they play such dramatically different styles of football.

by glickmania :: Tue, 10/16/2012 - 2:21pm

Can we see more than just 6 games first before making a determination on RG3? Just look at the adjustments made against Cam last year. It will happen to RG3, too.

He's been really good so far but to make any statements about best anything besides rookie at this point is pretty silly. No?

by Brent :: Tue, 10/16/2012 - 3:08pm

Yeah, I'm with you on that. Cam was the "best EVER" last year, but this year... Makes about as much sense as comparing Luck with Manning-as-rookie.

by jimm (not verified) :: Mon, 10/15/2012 - 7:24am

In both Viking loses Christian Ponder made a key to near the end of the half that cost the team 7. He also missed a bunch of wide open receivers.

The Viking coaches have devised a scheme to make him successful by throwing the great majority of his passes within a few yards of the line of scrimmage and trying to limit mistakes. But he is simply horribly inaccurate far too often. He now has 4 picks this season after not having any in the first 4 games. But he could very easily of had 3-5 in those games but people just dropped passes. He hasn't been entirely awful. He gets hot and has good 10 pass or so streaks. He runs fairly well. But I just see a guy who can't throw the ball accurately enough to be a top flight QB.

Watching him up against Luck and Griffin is depressing as a Viking fan, knowing how close they were to getting one of those guys. On the same field the delta in ability is so striking.

by RaulGroom (not verified) :: Mon, 10/15/2012 - 10:10am

"I just see a guy who can't throw the ball accurately enough to be a top flight QB."

I've had this feeling watching him as well - most modern NFL offenses are largely based around 15-20 yard throws that the defense must take away. Opposing defenses are losing track of Viking receivers in that "money band" and Ponder is just repeatedly missing them. Could be mental but if not, it's bad news.

by JoeyHarringtonsPiano :: Mon, 10/15/2012 - 10:18am

Remember that people were saying roughly the same thing about Eli Manning circa 2005-2006. Not saying Ponder will become as good as Eli Manning, but just saying that missing those throws now doesn't necessarily mean he can't make them dependably later.

-I'm not Billy Bad-Ass.

by DisplacedPackerFan :: Mon, 10/15/2012 - 10:20am

Not that Ponder is on this level, but until last night Rodgers was doing the same thing, missing open receivers open 15+ yards down field. Some of that, going back and watching some stuff, was some fundamental issues, his footwork wasn't as good, he was worried about his protection and not going through his reads as well, and a few of the passes were simply dropped. He had much better feet last night. I was actually starting to wonder in Philbin and Clements (who doesn't work with his as directly as much) was being missed more than I thought. That still might be the case.

I haven't watched Ponder closely this year, and he is still early in his year (first year with a full offseason, even if he did get starts last year) and he may still be adjusting to speed of the game some and making the play book intuitive instead of having to think about it all. But it's possible he is breaking down basic mechanics on some of the deeper throws, and that can be fixed with good coaching, even if it is just mental and the break downs are because he is worried and forcing things (which I think was part of Rodgers problems earlier).

Or he may just be what he is (like Alex Smith) and even with good coaching and more time he might not ever be accurate enough to carry his team at times.

by jimm (not verified) :: Mon, 10/15/2012 - 11:35am

I have really grown to like Rodgers a great deal. I hated him at first because I made a prediction that he would be a bust because he took way too many sacks (based it on pre season results when he was a backup - compared him to Rob Johnson)...he made me look stupid so I hated him.

But I really like the way he plays the game. At times he seems to be hanging onto the ball forever, but like Roethlisberger he makes so many big plays by waiting or buying that extra second or two - now I'm not sure if it's a weakness or a strength. I enjoy the way he handles the media and even his self deprecating commercials.

Ponder seems like Rodgers-lite to me. Another poster mentioned Eli Manning which I think is interesting in that Manning just kept getting better and Ponder certainly seems to have progressed this year. But I see him as Eli-lite as well. He's like Rodgers is that he can run well and make plays with his legs, but he just doesn't seem to have the same good sense of when to do it. And he doesn't have as good an arm. He's like Eli in that he's streaky and makes plays you don't expect but he doesn't seem to have the instincts Eli does in the pocket.

He's apparently extremely bright - not sure if that means anything or not. Can't see it hurting unless he realizes he can make a lot more money as a investment banker or some such thing and loses his desire to get beat to a pulp for a living.

by peterplaysbass :: Mon, 10/15/2012 - 11:57am

I think Ponder is like Eli in that his play doesn't change after mistakes. When Eli throws a pick, the cameras will show him standing on the sideline with that same vapid experession on his face as always - totally un-impacted (emotionally, at least). I can see that in Ponder.

I haven't had the thought about Ponder/Rodgers, and I'm not sure I see it. Ponder actually does do a pretty good job of knowing when to run vs. throw it away, but he doesn't take deep shots on pass plays that develope slowly, he prefers to find a nearby receiver that's schoolyard scrambled to a soft spot.

by commissionerleaf :: Mon, 10/15/2012 - 3:17pm

Eli: "What I say,'' Manning said after the 26-3 win in San Francisco, "and it sounds bad, but you've got to understand what I mean, is you've got to care enough not to care. You do your best and live with the results."

He is now in the running (against his brother) for my favorite NFL QB to watch play.

Process, not results.

[I find the juvenile bouncing of -say- Drew Brees off-putting.]

by LionInAZ :: Tue, 10/16/2012 - 12:42am

Come on -- you just can't make this kind of comparison. Rodgers spent his first three years on the bench behind Favre, largely because he wasn't ready to start. Ponder hasn't had that luxury -- he's learning on the fly without the benefit of a HOF QB to watch.

by Brent :: Tue, 10/16/2012 - 3:19pm

Modern offenses are based on that, yes. But only 5 or 6 QBs really convince you they can nail that throw every single time you give it to them. Ponder seems average for the NFL right now. IMO, that's all of them except the elite 5 or 6 and the truly bad Blaine Gabberts and John Skeltons. Ponder's young, so you give him some time to see if he has a chance to get there. If not, you replace him with a rookie who might, but probably doesn't either. There just aren't very many (by definition) top 5 QBs in the world.

by Will Allen :: Mon, 10/15/2012 - 10:45am

Hey, after last year, I was just hoping for a middle of the pack performance for Ponder this year, as a best case scenario. If he comes in around 16 this year, then I'll start considering his chances for a consistent top 10 spot.

Yes, I wish the Vikings had lost a couple more games last year.

by peterplaysbass :: Mon, 10/15/2012 - 11:59am


I'd love for Ponder to pan out, but man. Luck or Griffin would be pretty nice to have. Even Ponder + the picks St. Louis got would be pretty nice.

by BigCheese :: Tue, 10/16/2012 - 12:30am

Imaigne how I felt, as a Bears fan, on New Year's day, on a lay-over in the Atlanta airport, cathing parts of the Bears purposefully losing seven spots in the draft while guaranteeing a division rival a Top-3 pick in an effort led by Josh McNown. I still get teary thinking about that...

- Alvaro

Phil Simms is to analysts what Ryan Leaf is to NFL QBs

by nat :: Mon, 10/15/2012 - 7:33am

Horrible, mistaken-ridden game by the Patriots. Just sloppy decision-making all around.

Aaron sounds bemused by the intentional grounding call. Perhaps he should be. The rules require "imminent loss of yardage due to pressure from the defense". Brady threw the ball away to end the play and stop the clock. I don't think he was about to be tackled, although I was more focused on the clock, too. Maybe there's a secret protocol for the end of the half. But still, Brady of all people should know this rule, and how it is called by refs who like to be in the thick of things.

But clearly, it was a terrible decision to extend the play after the initial routes were covered.

by RickD :: Mon, 10/15/2012 - 10:03am

QBs throw the ball away to stop the clock all the time. He wasn't trying to avoid a sack.

" Maybe there's a secret protocol for the end of the half."

Actually, it's more like there's an understanding of the rule. QBs throw the ball through the end zone all the time, and often in a way where the ball isn't remotely catchable. This is the first time I've ever seen that particular type of throw flagged as "intentional grounding."

The refs screwed up.

Brady knows how this kind of play is usually called. That's why he was livid about the flag. That kind of throw has never been flagged.

by commissionerleaf :: Mon, 10/15/2012 - 3:22pm

Quarterbacks usually at least pretend they're sailing a throw to someone in the back of the end zone. Brady didn't even bother. The refs called it correctly and by the book, just in a situation where most QB's, most of the time, get away with it. Brady also happens to be the quarterback Most Likely To Complain to Referees about almost everything, so obviously he merits a little less sympathy than, say, Roethlisberger or Vick.

It's like offensive holding. There's holding on every other play; it is called only when it is egregious. And you can bitch when you get called for it that it wasn't "what usually gets called," but the refs are still right on the call.

by Anonymousse (not verified) :: Mon, 10/15/2012 - 10:47pm

" The refs called it correctly and by the book, "

No, they didn't, because "the book" says the quarterback has to be in "imminent danger of losing yardage". Brady wasn't.

by Travis :: Tue, 10/16/2012 - 9:12am

Sure he was. Look where Clemons (#91) is when Brady starts his passing motion.

by Anonymouse (not verified) :: Tue, 10/16/2012 - 5:27pm

QB's usually pretend they're throwing it to someone in the end zone? In my experience, QBs (both Mannings are good at this) usually aim for the sixth row of seats. Which is by distance much much farther away from an eligible receiver than Brady's ball to the end zone.

Your argument about 'Who cares how it's always called; you can make a case it's within the rules definition' is ridiculous. I suppose you'd defend calling a strike on a pitch right at the armpits, too, as long as you disliked the batter?

by Kyle Williams (not verified) :: Mon, 10/15/2012 - 7:51am


I held onto the ball!!!

by Danny Tuccitto :: Mon, 10/15/2012 - 1:37pm

And for that, I salute you.

by Willsy :: Mon, 10/15/2012 - 8:18am

I thought Muth's Mayan comment was all time funny.

by jimm (not verified) :: Mon, 10/15/2012 - 8:20am

Aaron Schatz, "I can't figure out how on earth the Pats lost this game."

I didn't watch the game but from the stats I see Seattle averaging 6.7 per play vs 5.6 for NE.

You sound so much like the fan of a team that just wins most games. Having the ball with 3 minutes to go and up six is far from a lock if you are an average team.

by Mark S. (not verified) :: Mon, 10/15/2012 - 9:57am

The Pats were up by 13 with like 5 minutes to play, and SEA had the ball on its own side off the field. You usually win in that situation.

by jimm (not verified) :: Mon, 10/15/2012 - 11:09am

you are correct sir...NFL Advanced stats had them at 90+ percent to win the game..

by RickD :: Mon, 10/15/2012 - 10:05am

Yes, the yardage/play for Seattle zoomed up significantly in the last few minutes of the game.

It seems odd that you "didn't watch the game" but feel confident to make fun of somebody who did.

by jimm (not verified) :: Mon, 10/15/2012 - 11:10am

it was more of a comment from a Viking fan perspective who has become accustomed to such collapses.

by putnamp :: Mon, 10/15/2012 - 2:35pm

I didn't take the comment very well either (see my above comments as 'ptp' - just remembered my password so I'm auth'd now). It's the same kind of exasperating point of view the Packers got on the final play of the Sea-GB game. That call didn't decide the game, there were a ton of other calls that went against both sides, but because people expected (and, I think, wanted) Green Bay to win it the cognitive bias kicks in hard and, hey, no.

by Candace Bergen (not verified) :: Mon, 10/15/2012 - 7:06pm

The final play, which resulted in a touchdown which shouldn't have been, didn't decide the game? Please don't use phrases like 'cognitive bias' when you're just justifying a controversial call which favored a team you root for.

by putnamp :: Mon, 10/15/2012 - 8:07pm

There were 118 other plays in that game, and there were miscalled and uncalled penalties that significantly affected both sides, so no, that one play did not decide the game. I've gone on at length about it in the past, so I won't get too long-winded here, but the phantom PI on Chancellor nullifies GB's last touchdown drive, there were an absolute litany of uncalled holding penalties on GB's line during that drive, and Seattle also benefitted from a number of officiating gaffes like (most noticeably, aside from the final play) Sidney Rice's flop that should've been OPI.

by BigCheese :: Tue, 10/16/2012 - 12:39am

That was a correctly called TD. I was with you up until a few weeks ago when, to make the argument that it wasn't a simultaneous catch, I went on youtube and looked at the re-plays. And, being able to change my mind when presented with evidence that requires this, I am now in complete agreement with the call. Tate had his hand on the ball at the same time as Jennings, and he never lost his grip on the ball. One vs two doesn't really matter, and neither should that his arm was between Jenning's chest and the ball. It was a simultaneous catch.

- Alvaro

Phil Simms is to analysts what Ryan Leaf is to NFL QBs

by Arkaein :: Wed, 10/17/2012 - 1:17pm

Since you admit that Jennings had two hadns on the ball when Tate only had one, then correcting your mind with more evidence, in this case clarification of the rules on simultaneous possession, should be enough to change tour mind back.


The NFL rules do not precisely define "simultaneous possession", but the NFL casebook does, available as a PDF from the link below. The examples are on page 38, 8.28 and 8.29. The key is not who "touches" the ball first, as you say, but whole "controls" it first. Regardless of whether Tate was touching the ball, that's not enough. And his hand did come off of the ball in slo-mo replay (23 second mark of the linked video below), and there's the whole non_OPI that the NFL admit was botched.

Seriously, I can't believe anyone is still defending this call.


by Insancipitory :: Wed, 10/17/2012 - 2:36pm

Tate yanks it down, and Jennings foreward with it. There's your control. He's not just controlling the position of the ball, but Jennings momentum. Then while they both lay in the endzone, with the officals standing over them Jennings repeatedly readjusts his grip. The only player who ever controlled the ball was Tate. Should you wish to beat your head against the wall, there is a nice breakdown at coldhardfootballfacts.com. Good news, it's fairly exhaustive. Yeah, and a game rife with no-calls for Green Bay that the Seahawks played their way through, a no-call that breaks for the Seahawks isn't particularly convincing, or heart breaking.

by Arkaein :: Wed, 10/17/2012 - 3:42pm

Please get a grip on reality. Arguing that Tate ever had control puts you against the massive concensus, as well as the video evidence that I carefully provided and that I'm sure you ignored. Arguing that Tate had more control than Jennings speaks of grand delusions.

And citing CHFFs as evidence for your argument is like a cherry on top of the BS sundae. After you take your meds, please suggest that your attendants more closely monitor your computer use, it may prevent further embarrasment in the future.

by Insancipitory :: Wed, 10/17/2012 - 9:15pm

You might like to know ad populum is a less than compelling benchmark. Tate controlled the ball from air to ground and Jennings momentum with it. The Packers lost because their player didn't do what he was taught for possibly most of his life. And that's the end all and be all of it. +1 for the L column. Your emotional outbursts over the impotence of your own ignorance are entertaining for me. I hope they continue.

by DisplacedPackerFan :: Wed, 10/17/2012 - 9:22pm

It's not what he has been taught at the pro level at least.

Tuesday, Packers coach Mike McCarthy was asked if he preferred defenders to bat down a Hail Mary pass or attempt an interception, as safety M.D. Jennings did Monday night. McCarthy said he wants players to follow their instinct and noted the pitfalls of both strategies: An interception could develop into simultaneous possession, which awards the ball to the offense. A batted ball could be caught for a touchdown off the ricochet -- precisely as Lions receiver Titus Young did last Sunday.

Which also points out that A LOT of players go for ints on hail mary plays so either lots of players aren't doing what they are taught, or what we think they are taught isn't what they are taught anymore.

If you really want I can dig up the transcript from McCarthy and Capers both saying that Jennings didn't go against his coaching.

by Insancipitory :: Wed, 10/17/2012 - 9:40pm

Well, coaching certainly shared in the loss with 8 first half sacks. I do like that they back their player, though. Whatever the methods of imparting their defensive philosophy; Jennings did everything he needed to to make a play, except make the play. But, hey, the other guys get paid too, so better luck next time.

by Karl Cuba :: Thu, 10/18/2012 - 10:35am

While I would generally agree with you assessment of CHFF, this article is pretty good. It is at least worth a look. (Disclaimer, I always thought that it was a catch but I also think that the blatant OPI should have been called)


by QCIC (not verified) :: Mon, 10/15/2012 - 2:39pm

Lots of times someone who didn't watch something is better able to dispassionately analyze it without making up fake narratives in their head about what is going on.

People watching games start going on about silly things like "momentum", and "clutchness", and "confidence".

During the MIN/WAS game I heard at one point the announcers talking how it was important for the WAS offense to get first downs if they wanted to advance the ball, as though that was some brilliant insight. In another game the announcers are talking about how it is important for an offense WHICH WAS DOWN IN THE FOURTH QUARTER to build confidence by running. How about the freaking score?

Certainly on this site there is a long standing problem with NE goggles, which makes sense because they have been an awesome team for its entire lifespan, and a disproportionate number of the posters and writers are NE fans. But it is not crazy to think that someone who didn't watch the NE game might have a better understanding of what happened than someone who did.

by Joe T. :: Mon, 10/15/2012 - 8:27am

You know, it wasn't that long ago when we considered anything beyond the chest bump, the high five, the hand-shake, the finger pointed skyward, to be an unsportsmanlike show of celebration. Now, we're criticizing players for purposefully mocking the accepted and rehearsed touchdown celebrations of opponents. Its all gotten ridiculous.

Act like you been there before. And get off my lawn.

by commissionerleaf :: Mon, 10/15/2012 - 3:25pm


That said, the first player to do the Gangnam Style dance after a sack gets a Christmas card. Two years in a row if they obviously mouth "ooh sexy lady" while dancing.

by Karl Cuba :: Mon, 10/15/2012 - 3:42pm

It's been done, the West Indies cricket team gangnam styled their way through their victorious T20 World Cup campaign, culminating in the entire squad doing the horseriding dance in the middle of the pitch.

by PatsFan :: Mon, 10/15/2012 - 8:29am

I am at the point where I want to see the opposing offensive coordinator call long bombs on every single play against the NE defense. Such a coordinator will be rewarded by setting the NFL single-game passing yardage record and/or single-game penalty yardage drawn record.

That said, I still first blame the offensive coaching and Brady for this loss. For the Nth time in a row, they can't get the one first down that would ice the game. (And after the defense did hand the O multiple chances to ice the game.) And that's even before we get to the crappy QB decision-making today and the beyond-crappy clock "management".

(I've also been watching pro football since 1976 and have never seen a QB get flagged for intentional grounding when throwing the ball out the back of the end zone like that. However, Brady and NE basically deserved to have that called on them as punishment for, as stated, the beyond crappy way they "managed" the last 1:18 of the first half.)

by RickD :: Mon, 10/15/2012 - 10:06am

Another "yes, the Pats' defense is terrible, but I blame the offense for letting the defense on the field" comment.

The mind boggles.

by Anonymousse (not verified) :: Mon, 10/15/2012 - 10:40am

The defense forced multiple turnovers, and held the seahawks in check for most of the game. They gave the offense back the ball with a 6 point lead and less than 3 minutes on the clock. It should have been enough to win.

by RickD :: Mon, 10/15/2012 - 12:31pm

The offense gave the defense a 13-point lead with less than 10 minutes left in the game. It should have been enough to win.

by commissionerleaf :: Mon, 10/15/2012 - 3:27pm

The defense held Seattle to 10 points until there were 10 minutes left in the game? You're telling me that isn't at least as much of an achievement as scoring 23 points in 3 quarters plus these days?

I have standard deviations to talk about if you disagree.

by Insancipitory :: Mon, 10/15/2012 - 3:43pm

As long as we're selectively discounting 10 minute periods, let's throw out the Patriots 2 TDs. Now for the same period of time in the game the Seahawks defense held the Patriots to 9 points. And all the NE fans think that's no big deal. Guess what? Richard Sherman agrees.

I might add, if we're going to remove 10 minute periods from consideration, we should probably select periods at the beginning of the game since games are typically determined by the score at the end.

by commissionerleaf :: Mon, 10/15/2012 - 5:27pm

Oddly enough, points count for just as much if you score them in the first quarter as the fourth, although I agree you'd never learn that from listening to a TV announcing crew.

My point was that this was not a game in which the Patriots offense couldn't do anything, nor was it a game where the defense was entirely helpless. Apart from the highlights, meaning apart from a couple big plays, Seattle was not moving the ball. Likewise, the Patriots were moving the ball most of the game.

Blame should be shared between units; the defense for giving up big plays at the end, the offense for failing to put up points it often (normally?) would.

The Patriots just had an off day, and seeing as it was on the road, on the West Coast, against a good defense that is especially strong in the secondary, we should not be too surprised.

by MJK :: Tue, 10/16/2012 - 12:39am

It was essentially a game where Team A was able to move the ball relatively at will, except only in small chunks. Team B was not able to move the ball, except for a few fantastically big plays.

Usually in that case, Team A wins, but it will always be close if Team B executes really really well (as Seattle did). However, all it takes is a few lucky breaks for B or a few critical mistakes for A and B will win. In this case, Team A made a few critical mistakes.

It's a pattern I've seen play out too many times for NE recently. Saw it play out a lot in the first part of the decade as well, except that NE was team B back then.

by Marko :: Mon, 10/15/2012 - 1:25pm

"I've also been watching pro football since 1976 and have never seen a QB get flagged for intentional grounding when throwing the ball out the back of the end zone like that."

I have been watching football since a few years before that. I have seen that play called intentional grounding a few times. Not a lot, just a few. I can't remember any particulars, other than the fact that the reaction is always the same as yours (fans and commentators saying that should not be intentional grounding because that's never called when the QB chucks the ball out of the back of the end zone).

by Anonymouse (not verified) :: Mon, 10/15/2012 - 4:13pm

Not sure what the rule says, but the rules digest states, in part; "Intentional grounding will be called when a passer, facing an imminent loss of yardage due to pressure from the defense, throws a forward pass without a realistic chance of completion."

As a New England fan, the part about "imminent loss of yardage" is how I would defend that play. There wasn't heavy pressure on the play at the end of the half, which is why (I think) Brady was barking mad.

The blame ultimately falls on the Pats for mangling the clock/time-outs/in-game tactics for the third or fourth time this season, but I think a fair case can be made that this was a bad call, and the three missed points came back to bite the Pats.

by BigCheese :: Tue, 10/16/2012 - 12:50am

Well, couldn't the argument be made that he threw the ball away becuase he was facing an imminent loss of the posibility of getting another play off? I know it's not the letter of the law, but he threw the ball away because the defense was about to make a very negative play for the Patriots. Only, instead of a sack, it was going to be preventing the field goal try. Usually with intentional grounding, you get penalized the yards you would have lost, as well as the down, thus making it just like a sack. This time he got penalized the play he was trying to get out of it.

Having said all that, if NFL referees are required to call by the letter instead of the spirit of the law, then it defintiely shouldn't have been called, as there was no expectation from Brady that he was comiting a penalty.

- Alvaro

Phil Simms is to analysts what Ryan Leaf is to NFL QBs

by Anonymouse (not verified) :: Tue, 10/16/2012 - 11:47am

That's certainly what Brady was doing, but according to the DIGEST, that's not a penalty.

The league already allows a QB to ground a forward pass when he is in no danger of taking a sack with the provision for an immediate ball spike. If the criteria is to call grounding when the QB aims "to stop the clock" only, allowing a spike play makes no sense.

by Travis :: Tue, 10/16/2012 - 1:12pm

The immediate spike after the snap is a special exception to the rule. Basically, the offense is giving up any chance of succeeding on the down in exchange for stopping the clock.

A passer can't drop back, see no one open, and only then spike the ball, nor can he muff the snap, see the play is lost, and then spike the ball.

by BigCheese :: Tue, 10/16/2012 - 2:30pm

Ohhhh! SO glad you brought that up, since it reminded me that last year Caleb Hanie took the snap form a spiker formation, looked up for a momento to see if there was a play to be made nad THEN spiked the ball. Intentional grounding called and the Bears, of course, lost that game.... so yeah, throwing it away to stop the clock is only valid if you do absolutely nothing else.

- Alvaro

Phil Simms is to analysts what Ryan Leaf is to NFL QBs

by ammek :: Mon, 10/15/2012 - 8:30am

One of the improvements that enabled Green Bay to win was the defensive line, which was more creative with its looks and stunts, and played not only stronger but faster than it has this season. I wonder if there's a connection to BJ Raji being out. I don't think Raji is a terrible player, but he doesn't always play as big as his body. In his defense, the coaches never seem to have worked out where to put him. It's only one game, but so far I'd say the training room is as good a position as any.

by justanothersteve :: Mon, 10/15/2012 - 9:12am

I think it's more that when Raji is in, he plays almost all the plays and by the second half he is worn out. With Raji out, they went to a rotation system and it kept all the players fresher. I'm hoping Capers and Turgo learn from this and limit Raji to about 60% of the snaps. I still think Raji is the Pack's best DL. But there are few DL, especially the big DT types, who can play 95% of the snaps and not get tired. I'm not sure if Ngata plays that many plays and he's probably the best big DT type in the game.

by DisplacedPackerFan :: Mon, 10/15/2012 - 10:10am

Grumble, I hit the wrong key and killed my whole browser just as I was finishing one of my overly detailed posts. So quick version. Raji hasn't played more than 79% of the def snaps in any game this year and was only at around 56% of all def snaps going into last night, though the injury vs Indy happened before about 50 defensive snaps (they had over 90 in that game) and he was only pace for 70% or so. http://footballoutsiders.com/stats/snapcounts if you want to look it up (I'm not recreating the table I had made in the lost post). Basically he has been around 75% of all def snaps this year. Though I agree that 60-65% is probably better.

Neal coming back from suspension and not being below replacement level looks like it should allow that lower rate to happen thanks to a few other factors. Worthy, assuming his injury last night isn't serious, has been improving and looks to be good to very good by end of the year. Neal looks like he might fulfill about 85% of his promise and be good as well. Wilson is a bit above replacement level. So they have 3 DE's that are actually DE's. Pickett and Raji are both better at nose but have been playing end.

Now I think the rotation they always wanted is possible. Pickett - Raji at nose and some of the heavier packages. Neal - Worthy - Wilson at end. With the amount of 2-4-5 they play that means 3 ends is deep enough to look like a 4 man rotation as far as snap counts. Merling and Daniels can also spell a few snaps (or in Daniels case take some of the 4 man front snaps). That should keep all the defenders fresher, and put players in positions they are better at. Pickett has always been a run stopping space occupier and it showed when was playing mostly nose last night. A fresh Raji is solid at that, but athletic enough to get push on the pocket. It really could help the defense a lot. It won't be quite the 2010 Raji - Pickett nose, Jenkins - Wilson - Wynn. Jenkins is better than Neal, Wilson is better than he was, and Worthy is better than Wynn. Raji and Pickett are about the same as they were. All that has already helped the pass rush and run def. I don't think everything will get back to 2010 levels, but I don't see 2011 disaster either. Numbers so far are a little mixed. Scoring looks more like 2011, but yards and big plays allowed, and sacks are closer to 2010. Turnovers are down from both, though that might be turning.

by justanothersteve :: Mon, 10/15/2012 - 10:28am

I hadn't realized they had cut Raji's snaps. I was going by what I had heard last year and hadn't noticed he was playing less this year. I did do some googling and according to Acme Packing Company's site was in for well over 1000 snaps or about 85% of plays last year. I stand corrected.

Neal took Merling's place on the roster after he finished his suspension. Though I wouldn't be surprised to see Merling resigned after last night's injuries to Smith and Perry (assuming one or both go on IR).

by DisplacedPackerFan :: Mon, 10/15/2012 - 2:56pm

Yeah Neal did replace Merling. I've been traveling a lot recently and he was in the snap count numbers and I got things confused.

I'm not sure they would bring Merling back unless Worthy is out for good, though I've heard some rumors that Lawrence Guy has started to flash in practice in the minimal reps he gets being on the practice squad.

If they lose Smith or Perry, I'm not sure. Zombo will be able to start practicing this week since he is on the PUP (as will Quarless, Sherrod doesn't look ready for practice yet so they will likely hold him out longer during the 3 weeks to start practicing window). They are already thin at ILB with Smith starting for Bishop. Zombo is an outside backer though they have practiced him at ILB at times. So if they lose Perry, Zombo has a better chance to make the team coming off PUP. I'm not sure about Jones playing ILB, he filled in OK after the injury last night and I'm more comfortable with him than Francois, but yeah, when Hawk is clearly the stud at ILB again you know you have replacement level at the other spot. If the d-line does play better that is a bit easier to cover for than nothing on the outside though.

by justanothersteve :: Mon, 10/15/2012 - 3:21pm

I wouldn't think they bring back Merling either. I haven't seen him show anything and think the team would be better off bringing back Muir (if they wanted to bring back anyone previously cut).

I don't think Zombo makes the team if he hadn't been injured. Even now, if there wasn't an injury I think he gets cut. I like Zombo, but he's like Harrell (Justin, not Graham) in that he just can't stay healthy. I'm more comfortable with Jones than Zombo inside. In any case, I hope I never again have to see Hawk in coverage when they are in nickel or dime.

I'm curious to see Quarless back. I think he was the best all-around TE on the roster until his injury. Not as athletic as Finley or as good a blocker as Crabtree, but the best combo TE. I'm not counting on Sherrod playing at all this year. That was just one nasty injury.

by DisplacedPackerFan :: Mon, 10/15/2012 - 8:37pm

I agree with you on Quarless and Sherrod. It's possible Sherrod could be ready but unless they suffer another O-line injury in the next 3 weeks (3 week window to start practice evals, then 3 more weeks after they start practicing to decide what to do) I think it's best to just shelve him for the year.

I agree that Zombo would not have made the team if injured, but I think they kept him just for a situation like this. Since he is familiar with the system already, he is a bit more valuable.

Some updates on the other injuries from last night. All snap counts are through week 5 so do not include the Houston game.

DJ Smith (knee) - Out for season. As mentioned Brad Jones filled in last night, but the position is thin now with just Hawk, Jones, Francios, Jamari Lattimore (primarily an OLB but on the chart for ILB too), and rookie Terrel Manning on the depth chart. Jones was an OLB the past 3 years and to this point was purely special teams (118 snaps all ST, through W5). Francios wasn't all that good in the 2 starts he got last year when Bishop and Hawk were both injured, he was on the roster for special teams (92 snaps, all ST). Lattimore is another converted OLB who plays some ST (59 snaps, all ST). Manning has been inactive for most games and has barely seen the field (9 snaps, all ST). McCarthy has been intentionally quite about plans to replace him.

Brandon Saine (knee) - Out for season, again he's purely ST with all 88 of his snaps coming on them. They have signed Johnny White, formerly of the Bills, to replace him.

Nick Perry (knee) - Doesn't appear long term, may practice on Wed. This is good. OLB is more critical for this team. If he does miss time, Walden (165 def snaps) and Moses (42 def snaps) will just get more. Perry was already in a rotation (189 def snaps) with them. For another comparison Hawk is at 212 def snaps, Smith 340 and Matthews 352. It's not good losing Perry, but he is still a rookie making a position switch, and was rotational already. As mentioned Zombo could make the team and get in the rotation, or just pick up some of the ST slack if the injury does make him miss time.

Sam Shields (shin) - Doesn't appear long term, may practice on Wed. If he misses time it will likely be picked up by Hayward, and Davon House is getting healthier every week so he might be inactive if Shields has to be. This one isn't as problematic because younger players have stepped it up at corner and safety already. As long as Jarret Bush doesn't need to be pressed into more than 5 defensive snaps a game it's OK.

by Flounder :: Mon, 10/15/2012 - 10:40am

Didn't they cut Merling and sign Muir?

by jimm (not verified) :: Mon, 10/15/2012 - 8:31am

I don't see any strong teams this year. Atlanta is 6-0 because of great fortune and a very easy schedule. Houston and SF are obviously no better than a bunch of other teams. I think we will have a new best team every few weeks.

What is more clear every week is the AFC is far weaker. NFC is up 19-9, outscoring the AFC 811-556. The NFC has 9 wins of 14 or more, the AFC has one win of 7 pts, all the other 8 are by 3 or less. The AFC is 8-7 in games decided by a FG or less.

Which all seems odd to me in a year where there doesn't seem to be any really powerful teams.

by Verified (not verified) :: Mon, 10/15/2012 - 10:38am

As a Falcons fan, I have to agree that they're no threat to the 73 Dolphins... They've shown a really bad habit of playing down to the opposition the past three weeks. Hopefully they'll come back strong from the bye.

Of course, even if they play .500 the rest of the way, that's 11-5, and probably the NFC South division title. The NFC South seems to have gone from one of the strongest divisions in the NFL to one of the weakest in just a couple of years.

by Peregrine :: Mon, 10/15/2012 - 11:24am

Yeah, Mercury Morris and his buddies have nothing to worry about. But I believe this is the first time the Falcons have ever had the best record in the league, so that's kind of fun. (Note: the 1980 Falcons were 12-4 and had a tiebreaker over the 12-4 Eagles, I think.)

The Falcons OL is the weakness of the team. Wonder if changes will be made during the bye.

by Marko :: Mon, 10/15/2012 - 1:19pm

The undefeated Dolphins were the 1972 Dolphins. The 1973 Dolphins lost 2 games but did win the Super Bowl.

by Ryan D. :: Mon, 10/15/2012 - 4:15pm

The 2012 Falcons are probably no threat to either Dolphins team.

by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Mon, 10/15/2012 - 6:47pm

Admittedly, those Dolphins players are mostly in their 60s now. I'm sure the Falcons could keep it competitive.

by BigCheese :: Tue, 10/16/2012 - 12:54am

What's more, coming into this week, the AFC had 6 wins over the NFC. Two were by the Colts over the NFC North (?!?!?!?) and one was the Music City Madness win over the Vikings (also in the NFC North... hmmm...).

- Alvaro

Phil Simms is to analysts what Ryan Leaf is to NFL QBs

by JoeyHarringtonsPiano :: Tue, 10/16/2012 - 5:34am

That "Music City Miracle 2" win was over the Lions, not the Vikings.

-I'm not Billy Bad-Ass.

by BigCheese :: Tue, 10/16/2012 - 2:31pm

You are, of course, correct. Same thing for every point in the post, though.

- Alvaro

Phil Simms is to analysts what Ryan Leaf is to NFL QBs

by Brent :: Tue, 10/16/2012 - 3:36pm

Completely disagree. Handful of strong teams. But no dominant teams, if that's what you mean. Atl, NYG, Hou, SF are very good (but clearly beatable). NE, Den, GB are scary, and could be really tough if they hit a streak, but have been inconsistent so far. Ceiling just not that high for, say, Sea or Wash (who are decent, but not up there with the best teams). I doubt we could pick the SB winner with any accuracy, but I bet we could figure out a handful of teams that are the most likely, and almost certainly be right.

by QCIC (not verified) :: Mon, 10/15/2012 - 9:18am

For a long time yesterday one of the channels was showing the Chiefs as having 4pts and I was all excited to see the two safeties. Then after 20 minutes it changed back to 3 :(

by Will Allen :: Mon, 10/15/2012 - 10:02am

Zone-Dar, God of Cover-2, was most displeased with the Horned Purple Heads yesterday. Lousy red zone defense, yielding 76 yard td runs, turnovers within their own 10 yard line. Zone-Dar says "Icky".

If Ponder and Co. don't figure out how to complete a pass that travels more than 20 yards downfield one in a while, getting to 8 wins is gonna be a lot harder than it should be.

by peterplaysbass :: Mon, 10/15/2012 - 10:06am

There are lots of things to point at in this game, but I believe if one or two of the Vikings first three scoring drives had been TDs instead of FGs, the game would've played into Minnesota's strengths. The Vikings looked like a far better team when it was 9-0.

by RickD :: Mon, 10/15/2012 - 10:09am

Yes, it was a classic "too many FGs let the losing team come back" game. The Redskins were getting clobbered early in the game. But the Vikings only scored 9 points.

by Will Allen :: Mon, 10/15/2012 - 10:22am

Yeah, I wonder if an inability to stretch the field correlates with poor Red Zone results. This may seem counterintutive, but perhaps a dearth of passes that travel well downfield prior to completion is indicative of opposing defenses being willing to yield yardage, confident that the offense won't be able to finish things off.

by peterplaysbass :: Mon, 10/15/2012 - 10:46am

That would be an interesting correlation to explore. The causation discussion would be fun as well.

I find it strange that Minnesota has so few TDs from running backs this year. They have relatively few overall, especially given their W-L record, but most have come through the air. When are we going to see Peterson rumbling into the end zone once or twice a week? I'd like to see him get eight or so TDs the rest of the way.

by jimm (not verified) :: Mon, 10/15/2012 - 11:15am

I thought Peterson looked hobbled yesterday...probably the ankle thing he was fighting. Just didn't seem as explosive as he has earlier this year.

They didn't seem to be getting much of a push up front as well. The Skins were leaving men wide open all over the field but Ponder was often missing them badly with poor throws or just not seeing them.

Not having either Harvin or Peterson on the field on 3 and goal in one of the sequences seemed really odd.

by Independent George :: Mon, 10/15/2012 - 11:08am

I think it's just that both rely on arm strength.

You don't usually need to throw as hard in the open field, as you have more real estate to work with; accuracy and timing matter more than pure arm strength. As the field gets compressed; you don't have time to wait for guys to release, or take a big windup to generate velocity. You have to flick it between defenders before they have time to react.

by Will Allen :: Mon, 10/15/2012 - 11:32am

I always thought Stubbleface was great in the red zone for this reason; he could just throw a lightning bolt with hardly any wind-up. I always like John Madden's comment, when asked if his tendency to throw such short passes, with such velocity, was weakness. Madden said that when he was coaching, he'd tell his qbs, "Down close to the end zone, you go ahead and throw the ball as hard as you want to. If our guys can't catch it, we'll get new guys."

by peterplaysbass :: Mon, 10/15/2012 - 12:03pm

Rivers has that quality, although I'm not sure how often he uses it in the red zone. He's got an extremely quick release that ought to make him tough to read for defenses.

Sometimes I get the feeling that Rivers is a wasted talent holding sub-par teams up to 8 or 9 win seasons year after year. He could've been a super star on a team like, say, the 49ers.

by Will Allen :: Mon, 10/15/2012 - 12:25pm

It certainly appears to me that A.J. Smith is a dope who had some good fortune in drafting for a while. It's a shame to see a qb like Rivers spend his career tethered to such management meathead.

by The Ninjalectual :: Mon, 10/15/2012 - 2:35pm

You don't blame Norv? Or was that just too obvious?

by Will Allen :: Mon, 10/15/2012 - 6:02pm

A.J. Smith is the moron who fired Schottenheimer in a dispute as to who would be the defensive coordinator, and then, before hiring Norv as head coach, installed the worst d-coordinator I've ever see who gt more than one job, Ted Cottrell, as defensive coordinator.

Blaming Norv is like blaming the lookout on the Titanic.

by Independent George :: Mon, 10/15/2012 - 12:25pm

Now that he's safely gone, I feel much more easy in my praise of Stubbleface as a QB (and not as a cultural icon).

I think Marino was the absolute best I ever saw at zinging the ball at relativistic speeds with a flick of the wrist. He's one of the few guys who actually looks worse in slow-motion - it's not until you watch at game speed that you see just how quickly he's getting rid of the ball.

by Will Allen :: Mon, 10/15/2012 - 12:34pm

Marino in the current rule environment would give defensive coordinators nightmares, as if he didn't when you could get away with contact with receiers more easily. Can you imagine him with Larry Fitzgerald?

by James-London :: Mon, 10/15/2012 - 12:43pm

This Dolphins fan can...

Phil Simms is a Cretin.

by DisplacedPackerFan :: Mon, 10/15/2012 - 2:38pm

Wow. That's a frivolous thing that would be worth inventing a time machine to make happen.

by commissionerleaf :: Mon, 10/15/2012 - 3:33pm

I made the same point in another thread. Although, we've seen Kurt Warner with Larry Fitzgerald, and that was pretty awesome.

by Insancipitory :: Mon, 10/15/2012 - 3:45pm

No sir, I didn't like.

by Brent :: Tue, 10/16/2012 - 3:40pm

I like that quote a lot.

by jimm (not verified) :: Mon, 10/15/2012 - 11:19am

I know the DVOA guys don't like teams that make long td plays - but I've always had a sense that those plays tend to win games because red zone offence is such a crap shoot.

The stats seem to show that such big plays aren't particularly predictive of future success, but they sure do seem to mean a heck of a lot in a given game.

by Anonymousse (not verified) :: Mon, 10/15/2012 - 11:45am

"I know the DVOA guys don't like teams that make long td plays - "

This just isn't true at all. DVOA LOVES long TD plays.

What it hates is teams that can only move the ball via the occasional long TD play, and go 3-and-out otherwise.

by billsfan :: Mon, 10/15/2012 - 10:03am

When did Seattle start wearing cycling jerseys instead of football uniforms? Are the numbers reflective, too?

The days when Tom Brady could set up a game-winning field goal in 1:18 are slowly becoming a distant memory.

(I also like the Eagles)

by RickD :: Mon, 10/15/2012 - 10:30am

My take-home from this weekend is that probably all of the best teams are in the NFC. The Texans were humiliated by the Packers. The Steelers are no longer anything special. The Ravens barely beat the woeful Cowboys. The Pats lost yet another game with their fourth quarter pass defense (sic).

But the Bills beat the Cardinals, so thing aren't that bad for the AFC, eh?

by James-London :: Mon, 10/15/2012 - 10:51am

And Miami beat St Louis...

Phil Simms is a Cretin.

by Brent :: Tue, 10/16/2012 - 3:44pm

I suspect small-sample-size weirdness. NFC is probably better top to bottom, but I don't think you can take too much from it. GB's best game of the year, Pats' and Texans' worst. Agree about Steelers. Ravens were in contention, but their D might be in trouble now. I just don't expect that much continued lop-sided-ness for the remainder. But we'll see.

by Brent :: Tue, 10/16/2012 - 3:45pm

I might be over-quota on hyphens now.

by Paul M (not verified) :: Mon, 10/15/2012 - 10:56am

Aaron-- re: Pats and how did they lose this game? Welcome to our world: GB vs. Indy; GB vs. Sea. Pats may be one of those Packer-Giant teams now-- get used to it-- they're note ver going 13-3 or 14-2 again. If they go 10-6 but get hot in December, you may look back at these early losses and it will all seem funny.

My take on league right now: three superior teams: CHI, NYG, and GB. Falcons are wanna-bes. AFC incredibly weak, with nary a team that matches up to the best of the NFC. Niners still have a huge Alex Smith problem. And Wilson and Griffin are damn fun to watch.

by BJR :: Mon, 10/15/2012 - 11:59am

Funny. The Giants were 7 point underdogs yesterday, and the Packers 4.5 point underdogs. Obviously looks dumb in hindsight, but I don't recall anybody round here proclaiming it was dumb beforehand.

by DisplacedPackerFan :: Mon, 10/15/2012 - 2:44pm

Actually Aaron wrote the upset watch piece for ESPN saying the Packers were going to beat the Texans. It may not have been shouted from the roof tops as being a dumb line, but the editor of this site was thinking the Packers were going to win, backed by some of the stats the site generates.

by BigCheese :: Tue, 10/16/2012 - 1:07am

Wow, how I really, REALLY wish that Chicago was indeed one of three elite teams in the NFL. However, untils uch time as Jay Cutler shows me he can win a game when entering the second half trailing bymore than a FG, I see absolutely no reason whatsoever to put them above the Niners. It's basically the same thing (although I do think Cutler has much more potential than Smith).

5 defensive TDs in 3 weeks against the Rams, Cowboys and jaguars, is NOT the sustainable recepy for an elite team.

Sure, yesterday was the day they took sole posession of firts place in the NFC North and I highly doubt the're going to relinquish that all year, but elite? I'm not convinced.

- Alvaro

Phil Simms is to analysts what Ryan Leaf is to NFL QBs

by Steve in WI :: Tue, 10/16/2012 - 2:20pm

Same here. I like what I'm seeing from the Bears, but I wouldn't even necessarily put them in the top 5 yet. I want to see a really impressive game from Cutler first. The last two wins were a heck of a lot of fun to watch as a fan, but they didn't convince me that Cutler can play from behind or that he can help them win a game where the defense gives up 30 points. (And the first half of the Jacksonville game was pretty abysmal).

by BigCheese :: Tue, 10/16/2012 - 2:40pm

Hmmm.. let's see. Texans, Niners, Giants are my top 3. Then it's some order of Ravens, Packers, Bears, Pats, Broncos and Falcons I guess. So yeah, could be in the Top 5, but just barely. But probably not.

- Alvaro

Phil Simms is to analysts what Ryan Leaf is to NFL QBs

by bubqr :: Mon, 10/15/2012 - 11:37am

No Eagles post here, so I'll start:

I'm pretty pissed off honestly, and really depressed by this team. What happened to the potential top5 offense (Vick/McCoy/Jackson/Maclin/Celek)? Peters alone doesn't explain this (and Kelce's loss doesn't explain it either). And that DL, seriously ? No sack in 3 games when you have Trent Cole, Cullen Jenkins and Jason Babin all healthy? What the heck is happening? That concerns me a lot more than the offensive turnovers, which we are used too (Vick and all). I'm so confused by this team: i don't know what to think of this defense, of this offense, even the "great" Bobby April's units have been bad for 3 years now.

by DEW (not verified) :: Mon, 10/15/2012 - 12:10pm

I would like to think that it's supernatural karma being visited upon them for signing the dog-killing scum, but that's obviously not true. Truthfully, when I look at the Eagles for the last few years, I see Vince Young's "Dream Team" comment and it looks a lot like ownership/coaching policy. They go for big and flashy: the excitement of Vick at QB, hotshot speed receivers and a RB like McCoy, a defensive unit that focuses on sack artists and alleged shutdown corners. All the while little things like line play and the linebacking corps get passed over. It's style over substance, very much akin to the Jerry Jones-led Cowboys of the past decade or so. Fundamental football is being overlooked in favor of headline-grabbing, highlight-reel-padding excitement.

by Independent George :: Mon, 10/15/2012 - 12:16pm

excitement of Vick at QB, hotshot speed receivers and a RB like McCoy, a defensive unit that focuses on sack artists and alleged shutdown corners.

To be fair, except for Vick, that actually is a pretty incredible combination. Two-minute drill notwithstanding, the defense (the pass defense in particular) has been positively brilliant this season. The problem is the turnover machine at QB (though I don't think all of those snaps yesterday were his fault).

by JoeyHarringtonsPiano :: Mon, 10/15/2012 - 12:46pm

I've been a Lions fan for many years, and watching that game yesterday, the Eagles seemed like a clone of the Lions teams I've been watching for the past 2-3 seasons. A lot of talent (although the Eagles have a much deeper roster) that gets squandered by sloppy, undisciplined play. Not sure who to blame that on. The coaches for not focusing enough on fundamentals during training camp? The players? The organization for the type of players they bring in?

I always used to wonder why Eagles fans are always so angry and frustrated when their team always seems to be in playoff contention (while my team always seemed to be fighting for a top 10 draft pick). Yesterday is the first Eagles game in recent years that I've watched from start to finish, and now I understand.

-I'm not Billy Bad-Ass.

by commissionerleaf :: Mon, 10/15/2012 - 3:39pm

Vick will settle down (appears to be settling down a bit in fact) and when he does this offense will be fine. The play calling could use some work, however; all the shotgun stuff is kind of inappropriate when you're running slow developing routes anyway and want the defense to respect the run.

Andy Reid should ditch the complicated stuff and buy Jim Sorgi's copy of the 2003 Indianapolis playbook. Levels, stretch, four verticals. Vick is obviously not making all of his reads (behind that line I don't blame him) so you need to simplify.

by nuclearbdgr :: Mon, 10/15/2012 - 8:59pm

Excellent Jim Sorgi reference!

by Mark S. (not verified) :: Mon, 10/15/2012 - 12:15pm

Honestly, I think Vick just isn't that good. 2010 is looking more and more like the outlier of his career.

I actually like their defense a lot, but yeah the lack of pass rush is certainly puzzling.

by RickD :: Mon, 10/15/2012 - 12:28pm

This sounds like the best explanation for Vick. He's regressing toward his historical levels. In 2010 he was highly motivated to prove himself after his prison stint. He seems to have lost that level of motivation.

by Will Allen :: Mon, 10/15/2012 - 12:43pm

These things are hard to judge, and certainly getting a contract that got him out from under his banko filing may lessened his energy level with regard to maximizing performance, but I also think he is now 32, has never been any good pre-snap, and always relied on his legs to mke him hard to defend. We wouldn't be shocked to see an extremely professional wideout or running back begin a steep decine at age 32, so a qb who relied on quickness and burst, who starts to go over the falls at age 32, isn't a shocker either, I'd guess.

by The Ninjalectual :: Mon, 10/15/2012 - 2:35pm

He's motivated to get a dog...

by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Mon, 10/15/2012 - 6:53pm

2010 was also a system change for the offense that caught opposing defenses very much by surprise. Vick was not a McNabb/Kolb clone, and it took the NFL 14 weeks to recalibrate. It was also a perfect storm for the WRs.

A bunch of line injuries this year didn't help, though.

by Dean :: Tue, 10/16/2012 - 4:27pm

Funny. I got buried around here when I pointed this out two weeks ago.

1) He never was all that good in the first place.
2) The hits are taking their toll and he's disintigrating before our eyes.

by Will Allen :: Mon, 10/15/2012 - 12:17pm

Hard to have a top 5 offense with a qb who makes a large number of bad plays. The Vick of 2010 and 2011 may have been Peak Vick, and even that wasn't hugely impressive. I mean, it was good, but if that was the peak, then it is not hugely surprising that a guy approaching his mid 30s, who always relied more on athletic ability than masterful decisionmaking, could become a liability.

by Yaguar :: Mon, 10/15/2012 - 1:05pm

I've only seen a couple of Eagles games this year, but I think the offensive line play has been absolutely horrible.

I say this as someone with no emotional attachment, positive or negative, to any player on the Eagles offense.

by Mark S. (not verified) :: Mon, 10/15/2012 - 1:42pm

IMO it's really hard to judge the quality of the PHI line because of the way Vick plays. I think he bails them out of giving up some short sacks but he also holds the ball way too long, making them look worse. Last year I thought their line was actually very good. The Peters injury certainly hurts though.

by theslothook :: Mon, 10/15/2012 - 2:55pm

Everyone knew he was inconsistent, but now that inconsistency now features more and more negative plays and fewer and fewer big positive plays. I can't remember a qb fumbling so much so often and not being benched soon after, but Vick still is out there. At this point, I have no problem calling Vick a serious liability at the qb position. We did this a while back; heres my new revised list:

(ordered by division)- forgetting all rookies even though I think I'd easily rather have Rg3 or Luck at this point.

Big Ben

Thats 17 qbs. Take out the 4 rookie qbs and your left with 17 out of 28 starters that I think are better than Vick, which leaves him right around the 10th or 11 worst qb. Sounds about right.

by Mark S. (not verified) :: Mon, 10/15/2012 - 3:29pm

I dunno about Smith, Palmer, or Dalton. But yeah I would take RG3 or Luck over him at this point.

by theslothook :: Mon, 10/15/2012 - 3:47pm

I initially wouldn't have either, but the freakishly horrible play by Vick, especially considering how much talent they have, is just amazing. Im even beginning to think that at this point, Fitzpatrick might be better with the same talent.

by glickmania :: Mon, 10/15/2012 - 4:05pm

Vick just can't read a defense. Never really could. Looks like Reid squeezed as much as possible out of him and now teams just know to defense him. He obviously tries to do too much at times and unless Reid decides to minimize his role in the offense (like against the Giants with the focus on the running game) the Eagles are going to continue to do what we've been seeing. They have the talent to beat anyone.

by BigCheese :: Tue, 10/16/2012 - 1:11am

No, seriously, when did "to defense" become an acceptable verb?

- Alvaro

Phil Simms is to analysts what Ryan Leaf is to NFL QBs

by Travis :: Tue, 10/16/2012 - 8:38am

According to the OED, around 1400, though it it now considered an obsolete usage.

by justanothersteve :: Tue, 10/16/2012 - 8:46am

I realize some have aesthetic issues with it. But it is accepted grammar. http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/defense

by bravehoptoad :: Tue, 10/16/2012 - 9:55am

Being on dictionary.reference.com makes it accepted?

I hate passive adjectives.

How it different from "defend?"

by glickmania :: Tue, 10/16/2012 - 2:29pm

I probably mean to type defend. However the usage is correct and I've heard/seen it plenty of other places. That said, it is odd. :)

And to add to the WTF ... I totally don't remember typing it.

by BigCheese :: Tue, 10/16/2012 - 2:34pm

As someone who pretty much taught himself english by reading comic-books and watching Cheers, I have no real clue about gramatical rules, etc. I form my sentences the way it sounds "right" to me (which I gues is how we learn our native tounge, really. As such, yeah, "to defense" sounds ABSOLUTELY HORRIBLE to my ears.

- Alvaro

Phil Simms is to analysts what Ryan Leaf is to NFL QBs

by glickmania :: Tue, 10/16/2012 - 2:58pm

There are lots of words that just sound wrong but really aren't. As others have noted they aren't used as much anymore.

And I've come to the conclusion that it was a typo. These things happen.

by bravehoptoad :: Thu, 10/18/2012 - 1:35pm

They do happen, no one's fault or blame.

Still, one of my favorite things about this site is that it's the only sports site I've ever been to that cares about language.

by theslothook :: Mon, 10/15/2012 - 5:07pm

My Mistake, that was poor math. There's 5 rookie qbs out there- Forgot about wilson. That leaves 17 out of 27 qbs, leaving Vick in the bottom 10.

I think it would've been easier to write who I think is WORSE Than vick.


The rest are toss ups/

by BigCheese :: Tue, 10/16/2012 - 1:13am

I haven't seen Freeman realyl play in over a year. has he REALLY regressed to the point where he doens't even make the Kolb/Fitzpatrick/Hasselbeck group?

- Alvaro

Phil Simms is to analysts what Ryan Leaf is to NFL QBs

by Dean :: Tue, 10/16/2012 - 4:29pm

Sam Bradford does not belong in this group. He might not be much better, but he is better.

by glickmania :: Tue, 10/16/2012 - 5:10pm

Very true. Guy has next to nobody to throw to with any real talent.

by Karl Cuba :: Mon, 10/15/2012 - 12:03pm

Alex Smith was awful, the Giants used their secret weapon and used vanilla zones on him. Dastardly of them, making him think. Then he started throwing high as he lost rhythm and his technique regressed.

I know Kaepernick took some awful sacks but I can't wait for the start of his era, he just has such ridiculous upside.

How can the niners only run twelve times when they gained 62 yards on those runs? They were only down by seven at halftime?

by Independent George :: Mon, 10/15/2012 - 12:11pm

The Giants scored a TD on the opening possession of the 2nd half, and I believe the first two of those interceptions came on 3rd and long following penalties. I think the bigger issue for the Niners is their drives stalling after dominating the 1st quarter of play, yielding only 3 points.

by Will Allen :: Mon, 10/15/2012 - 12:20pm

Watching Smith yesterday did make me wonder about how hard a pitch Harbaugh made to Manning when they worked him out.

by dmstorm22 :: Mon, 10/15/2012 - 12:40pm

It's funny because in the 1st quarter, Aikman mentioned how the 49ers might not have been in as good of a position in 2012 had Manning come on board.

by Will Allen :: Mon, 10/15/2012 - 12:45pm

Yeah, I doubt that quite a bit.

by peterplaysbass :: Mon, 10/15/2012 - 1:39pm

That's something people like to say to sound smart.

But we toddlers here in the comment threads of FO know the emperor ain't wearin nothin.

by BJR :: Mon, 10/15/2012 - 12:23pm

They were only down 7 by halftime, but it was immediately 14 after the long Wilson kick-off return. Then quickly 17 & 20 after the pair of Smith to Rolle picks. So from early in the 3rd quarter they were pretty much forced to abandon the run.

I know the Niners aren't 'built' to play catchup, but I was surprised by just how clueless they looked on offence once they found themselves behind. Even in 4th quarter garbage time they were unable to move the ball through the air.

by Karl Cuba :: Mon, 10/15/2012 - 12:45pm

But the running game was productive and the passing game was a joke. If the niners desperately need points then why abandon the run?

by BJR :: Mon, 10/15/2012 - 1:05pm

But it only became clear the niners passing game was a joke after they turned to it in the second half. Unless it was clear that the passing game was a joke coming into the game, I think down 3 scores in the third quarter they were pretty much obliged to abandon the run to maximise their chance of winning the game.

by glickmania :: Mon, 10/15/2012 - 3:19pm

Only thing I can think of is Harbaugh's comment after the game about a bad game plan.

That said, they were down 2+ scores pretty fast but even after the flurry of INTs there was only about 20 minutes left. Harbaugh is smart enough to know that long drives at that point aren't his friend and the opposition would happily trade points for running plays on a long scoring drive.

by kbukie :: Mon, 10/15/2012 - 12:16pm

I'm really curious how the DVOA will shake out after this week. #1 is either going to be a team that lost badly this week (SF/HOU), didn't play this week (CHI), is ninth in their own conference (GB), was 8th in DVOA last week (NYG) or barely squeaked out a home victory over one of the worst teams in the NFL (ATL).

by dmstorm22 :: Mon, 10/15/2012 - 12:42pm

My guess would be the Pack, but maybe SF keeps it. They were so far ahead and lost to a good team, while still playing decently well on defense in the red zone.

by Mark S. (not verified) :: Mon, 10/15/2012 - 12:45pm

My guess is that it will probably still be SF. They had some offensive success despite settling for FG attempts in the first 25 or minutes. The Giants had the #2 ranked DVOA offense coming into this week, so I don't think thier defensive ratings will get killed by that performance. PLus, they had a decent lead as #1, andf the #2 team also got stomped. So I think they stay on top despite the lopsided loss.

So I am guessing SF still on top, with GB, NYG, CHI, and HOU bunched up just a bit behing them.

by kbukie :: Mon, 10/15/2012 - 3:00pm

From Aaron's tweets, it looks as if the Giants somehow leaped to #1, and the top four are NFC teams and the top 7 is a combined 24-16 right now. Extrapolating the best I can, here's what I think the top 7 will look like, then, come tomorrow, assuming Denver doesn't look terrible: NYG, SF, CHI, GB, NE, SEA, DEN.

Aaron also mentioned 10 of the top 15 are NFC teams as well, so with New England and Denver in the top 7, along with what I can only assume would be Houston, Baltimore and Miami above average, five of the following NFC teams would also be in the top 15: ATL, MIN, ARI, DET, TB, PHI, WAS, DAL, STL.

by Mark S. (not verified) :: Mon, 10/15/2012 - 3:35pm

I thought the Giants *might* have a chance at #1, because they have 3 stomps under their belts now, with one coming against the #1 DVOA team at the time., and one of their 2 losses was essentially a draw that went the other way on the road.

by MJK :: Mon, 10/15/2012 - 12:30pm

Lost in the Pats-SEA discussion is the fact that at the end of the game, when the Pats secondary melted like cobwebs, it was in part due to injury. Patrick Chung went out with an injury, and their other normal starter, Gregory, was already inactive for this game from a previous injury, leaving the safety position manned by two non-starter rookies--one of whom did not have significant playing time.

Yes, the Pats deep pass defense sucked. But it especially sucked at the end when they foilded two rookie safeties.

This made the decision to run it into the line twice at the end, when the Hawks still had a full slate of timouts, even more frustrating. The defense at that point was obviously toast. Forcing SEA to burn two timeouts didn't make a whit of difference.

by Will Allen :: Mon, 10/15/2012 - 12:46pm

Do cobwebs melt, or do they simply burn?

by JasonK :: Mon, 10/15/2012 - 12:52pm

Of course they burn. That's how Web + Burning Hands becomes the poor man's Fireball!

by Insancipitory :: Mon, 10/15/2012 - 12:54pm

Without contact at the line to interfere with the route, a full speed Sidney Rice, taking a step to threaten the route up the sideline, then bending it back into the center is going to trip up ANY safety. People want to put that play on the Patriots failure and not as a credit to the Seahawks execution? Then blame the Patriots coaching and scheme. Once it fell to the safeties, if the throw was on target, the outcome was already out of their hands.

by Anonymouse (not verified) :: Mon, 10/15/2012 - 4:22pm

Saying that it was "in part due to injury" implies that Chung and Gregory would have done something positive on the play, when their actions during the game just lead me to believe that they probably would have found a way to run into each other, draw unsportsmanlike passes, and injure Tom Brady all on that one play.

by MilkmanDanimal :: Mon, 10/15/2012 - 12:54pm

While I typically would enjoy the Bucs beating down somebody, Kansas City was so inexpressibly horrible it just wasn't that much fun at all. Tampa had effectively no pass rush; the loss of Adrian Clayborn for the year appears to have put the nail on that one. Brady Quinn wasn't sacked once and really wasn't pressured all that much, and he still went 22/38 for 180 yards. Without being pressured. He's not Captain Checkdown, he's Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Checkdown.

by mrh :: Mon, 10/15/2012 - 4:46pm

Another week, another couple of passes clang off Chiefs for INTs. While some of this happens because of good defense - that's why they do tip drills - and some of it is bad luck - like the Barber pick-6 yesterday - and some of it is bad hands and some of it is inaccurate passing, I think part of it is the design of the Chiefs' offense. The passing game (so-called) is all short stuff so the defenses are bunched up and there is always someone nearby when a ball bounces off a Chiefs receiver. And the some [sic] of those parts is an historically bad level of turnovers. I know the play-calling is compensating for weak arms at QB but this offense is hard to watch even without the INTs.

by justanothersteve :: Mon, 10/15/2012 - 1:08pm

After all the Texans complaining about Cushing's injury last week, I'm surprised the media hasn't said anything about Texan OL Duane Brown injuring Packers LB DJ Smith on a similar cheap shot.

by JoeD (not verified) :: Mon, 10/15/2012 - 3:27pm

#PoorClockManagementStrong made me laugh very hard.

by Nevic (not verified) :: Mon, 10/15/2012 - 4:55pm

So, Aaron Rodgers will certainly have the top QB DYAR this week, right?

by commissionerleaf :: Mon, 10/15/2012 - 5:31pm

Probably but not certainly.

1. San Diego is playing Denver tonight.

2. He threw more incompletions than you'd like.

3. There are D adjustments now, and Eli's will be huge.

4. RGIII's rushing value.

by Independent George :: Mon, 10/15/2012 - 5:35pm

Eli's going to have another weird split, as I believe he went something like 2-9 in the second half.

by Mark S. (not verified) :: Tue, 10/16/2012 - 9:52am

Depends on how much of the second half counts as garbage time...the whole fourth quarter essentially was.

by Insancipitory :: Mon, 10/15/2012 - 5:55pm

Given DYAR is a counting stat, 58 attempts provides a lot of opportunities for counting, and for all of the miscues, there should be a nice little bump for the opponant too. But I would still expect Rodgers to be first, unless Rivers or Manning do something historic.

by DisplacedPackerFan :: Mon, 10/15/2012 - 6:09pm

1: Good point.

2: Agreed and I'm not sure what 7 - 11 for 63 yards, 1 TD, 3 FD, and 7 failed conversions is going to look.

3: I think you missed on this point.
San Fran pass defense DVOA going into the game: -14.1%
Houston pass defense DVOA going into the game: -36.1%

So Rodgers should actually get a bigger adjustment since he was playing the #2 pass defense (behind Chicago) and Eli was playing the #6 pass defense.

4: Agreed though rushing value is never as high as passing value (rarely above 60 something, I think a 66 is the best rushing DYAR I've seen in Quick Reads this year and 45 is the best from a QB) and Rodgers will have OK rushing DYAR since his two runs both produced first downs (against a -12.8% rush defense DVOA). Though RGIII did get his yards (and a quick glance only shows 2 unsuccessful runs) against a -36.3% rush defense, so perhaps he will crack 100 rush DYAR.

by dmstorm22 :: Mon, 10/15/2012 - 5:52pm

The DYAR leaderboard is posted on Insider on ESPN on Monday.

Rodger's was by far the best yesterday. Peyton or Rivers have to really go OFF tonight to come close.

by DisplacedPackerFan :: Mon, 10/15/2012 - 6:18pm

You know I have Insider but I am awful at navigating it. How do you find the content? I know they don't clearly label the content so even searching for it can be a pain. I did find this weeks leaders (while typing up this post) by doing a search for Football Outsiders and limiting it today, but I really hate the Insider layout.

So yeah, it will take a huge game to catch Rodgers.

by R. Johnston (not verified) :: Mon, 10/15/2012 - 5:25pm

As a Jets fan, I have to say that the idea of giving Joe McKnight the nickname "World's Fastest Hobo" is an immensely funny and appealing idea.

by The Hypno-Toad :: Mon, 10/15/2012 - 10:41pm

Can someone who pays more attention to rules and rule changes than I do answer this for me?
I thought when an offensive player fumbled forward and the ball is recovered by the offense that the ball came back to the spot of the fumble?
Is that not the rule anymore? Was that ever the rule, or am I entering crazy old man memory early?

by The Hypno-Toad :: Mon, 10/15/2012 - 10:51pm

I suppose the fact that Jim Leonhard so stupidly tried to pick it up and run with it might change the application of the rule (if it's a rule). Like if a defensive player bats the ball around then it can be spotted at the point of recovery or something?

by dbostedo :: Tue, 10/16/2012 - 12:05am

Here's the rules digest summary.

The rule is different on 4th down or inside 2 minutes. In those situations, only the player who fumbled may advance a recovery for the offense. If a defensive player gains possession, then re-fumbles, anyone on the original offense can pick it up and advance it, since they were momentarily the defense.

by The Hypno-Toad :: Tue, 10/16/2012 - 12:23am

Huh. Thanks for the link and the explanation. I feel like this rule used to be different, but I could easily be wrong about that.

by Insancipitory :: Tue, 10/16/2012 - 12:32am

It did. Wikipedia might explain it if you search for "Holy Roller play"

by omaholic :: Tue, 10/16/2012 - 5:34pm

Of particular importance regarding the play:

"The San Diego Chicken was performing at this game. After Dave Casper recovered the winning touchdown in the end zone, the Chicken fell on the ground and lay motionless as though he'd been shot and killed."


by The Hypno-Toad :: Mon, 10/15/2012 - 11:50pm

That was unexpectedly awesome.

by Walshmobile :: Thu, 10/18/2012 - 1:05pm

Is it me or are 95% of Asante Samuel's INTs on out routes (and 100% of pick-sixes)? I still don't understand why more teams don't run out and ups against him.