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29 Oct 2012

Audibles at the Line: Week 8

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.

Sunday, October 28

New England Patriots 45 at St. Louis Rams 7

Andy Benoit: Rams beat Patriots defense over the top for a long Chris Givens touchdown. If the Patriots can’t contain the Rams downfield, there’s no hope for them turning things around this season.

Aaron Schatz: Just to give a specific on this, it looked like simple Cover-2 with five rushers, four underneath, and two deep. Alfonzo Dennard passed Givens off to the deep safeties and Tavon Wilson just got completely turned around when Givens pulled a double move on him. The touchdown is all on Wilson, not on the other safety at all, even though by the time the pass is caught both safeties are in the camera shot. There's been a lot of criticism of the Patriots' schemes in Boston but I think this one was player, not schematic. Every team plays Cover-2, there wasn't anything particularly weird about this. Wilson just got lost.

By the way, so far we've seen Julian Edelman and Rob Ninkovich both play slip n' slide on the Wembley turf. I apologize if I've missed any Rams. This will happen all game.I thought they actually grow the grass differently for soccer so that the ball will slip across it faster, and it messes with football players trying to cut. But according to reader Dennis Wimann on Twitter, this grass sucks for everyone no matter what sport you play.

They couldn't play this thing somewhere else?

Patriots go for it on fourth-and-goal and score on a Shane Vereen run. I'm lovin' all these teams going for it on fourth-and-goal today.

I'm surprised by how little pressure the Rams are getting on the Patriots today. I realize the Rams are only an average pass rush, but even still, this is basically nothing. Even if they send five or six, even without the running back blocking (or with no back at all), the pocket is clean.

Addendum to previous comment: The Patriots don't seem to be getting much pass rush on the Rams in the first half either. They are shutting down the running game pretty good, though. Not a surprise.

Oh, wait, as soon as I write that an unblocked Dont'a Hightower just outright creams Sam Bradford. He may be coming out of this game. The Rams instead call a timeout instead of having to have Kellen Clemens come in for one snap. So, you know, showing a lot of faith in Clemens there.

Pats run the fake spike at the end of the first half and just miss a touchdown when it is out of Brandon Lloyd's reach. I feel bad for anybody who ran that play before Dan Marino did, because nobody will ever, ever remember them.

Carolina Panthers 22 at Chicago Bears 23

Andy Benoit: Jay Cutler's deep interception to Josh Norman was an underthrown ball to Brandon Marshall. He beat double (maybe triple) coverage, and got over the top of Haruki Nakamura, but the ball was underthrown.

Mike Kurtz: I disagree with Andy that Marshall had the coverage beaten. He had a step downfield, but based on the timing of that throw, in order for him to be hit in stride he'd have to be in the back of the end zone. Maybe if the throw was earlier then he would've actually been behind the coverage, but even then I'm not sure. Incredibly stupid throw regardless.

Matt Waldman: Cam Newton hits Brandon LaFell up the seam for a 62-yard pass. Most of the yardage comes after the catch because Chris Conte is out of position and focused elsewhere on this twin side look. LaFell accelerated by him for another 35-to-40 of those yards.

Andy Benoit: Cutler was sacked four times on his first eight dropbacks. I saw the Panthers pass rush get hot like that a few weeks ago at Atlanta, too.

Mike Kurtz: I'm completely confused by Carolina's kickoffs, it's like they've decided throwback uniforms give the Bears the kickoff return of three years ago.

Any time the Bears give Cutler five blockers, he gets rocked. Any time they give him six, he has a 60 percent chance of getting rocked. The first half has been a disaster for the Bears' offensive line.

Andy Benoit: Newton throws a blatant pick-six to Tim Jennings. Haven’t gotten a great look at it yet but it appeared he just badly overthrew Steve Smith.

Mike Kurtz: Smith slipped and fell down (possibly after the ball was free, I would have to watch again to tell). Nobody on Carolina really did anything wrong on that play, except maybe their equipment guy.

Matt Waldman: The ball looked a little off-target, but Smith's slip was the deal closer for Jennings to make that play.

Aaron Schatz: By the way, in case people haven't read our work on this in the past, this Bears defensive touchdown thing is totally unsustainable. They just got their sixth touchdown in seven games. They could have the same number of sacks and interceptions over the next nine weeks, and the chances of them getting no more touchdowns would probably be better than the chances of them getting six more touchdowns.

Vince Verhei: The Bears go for two and Cutler throws what would have been a pick-two in college. Defenses can't score on extra points in the NFL, but nobody on the Panthers knows that, apparently, and they ran 100 yards and threw a big party for nothing.

Andy Benoit: Cutler and Marshall connected for a few outstanding slant catches on the final drive. Marshall’s hands have improved a bit this year it seems.

Mike Kurtz: It may not have cost them the game, but Ron Rivera is possibly the most scaredy-cat coach I've ever seen.

Washington Redskins 12 at Pittsburgh Steelers 27

Ben Muth: The Steelers went for it on fourth-and-goal from the 1 on their opening drive. Glad to see good decisions actually working.

Andy Benoit: The Steelers should have began the game with a 15-yard penalty just for wearing those uniforms.

Rivers McCown: They look like a third-rate 1910's European Calvary unit.

Ben Muth: And now Washington goes for it on fourth-and-goal from the 2 and converts. Loving the aggression early in this game.

Andy Benoit: Ben Roethlisberger's touchdown to Heath Miller demonstrated his usual great pocket movement. The Redskins dropped eight. which is a questionable approach against a player like Roethlisberger because it encourages him to hold the ball and buy time, which is obviously his strength. By blitzing him, you’d force him to be a quick, accurate, timing-based passer.

Ben Muth: Robert Griffin just missed Logan Paulsen on the play-action rollout throwback that works every time for the Redskins and Texans. That may be my favorite passing play in football. They delayed Paulsen at the line of scrimmage, and then released him on a wheel route across the formation after he ran a shallow cross. Such a pretty play. Shame that the ball was just overthrown.

Then Washington tried a reverse pass from Josh Morgan to RG3. Griffin was double-covered but Morgan threw it anyway. RG3 got called for offensive pass interference and Ryan Clark just about decapitated him anyway. I thought RG3 was crying wolf earlier in the season about being targeted, but Clark had bad intentions on that hit.

Andy Benoit: The Redskins dropped nine passes today, the most by any team in a single game this season.

Ben Muth: Even more fourth-down aggression: the Redskins convert on fourth-and-4 from their own 40 down 15 with 7:00 minutes left.

DeAngelo Hall just had a bizarre personal foul. He got into a bit of a wrestling match with Emmanuel Sanders, then lost his mind. Hall takes off his helmet and starts bombing the official with expletives. It was a Billy Martin-style, right-in-his-face verbal assault. He got ejected for it. The Sanders/Hall conflict didn't look that bad, so I don't know what set Hall off.

Indianapolis Colts 19 at Tennessee Titans 13 (OT)

Rivers McCown: Interesting wrinkle on an early Colts play-action: they bring Reggie Wayne tight to the line and he sells the block rather than going out immediately. Not too often you see a team keep its best receiver as (mainly) a decoy on play-action.

Vince Verhei: I charted a Colts game a few weeks ago. They actually line Wayne up like a tight end quite a bit.

Rivers McCown: Midway through the second, the Colts and Titans are locked in a battle to see who can squander more opportunities against a bad defense. There's only been four possessions so far, but unforced penalties have kept it a 3-3 game. Tennessee is getting plenty of pressure on Andrew Luck.

They've called three offensive pass interference penalties on Tennessee in the first half. I can't even remember seeing three in the same game before.

Tom Gower: Didn't Nate Burleson get called for OPI three times against the Saints on Sunday Night Football last year? The two against Kenny Britt looked legit, while I'm not sure about the one on Kendall Wright.

Chris Johnson isn't getting outside easily, which means he isn't getting big plays. Until a touchdown to Wright at the end of the first half, the only downfield strikes the Titans attempted were the passes where OPI was called.

Rivers McCown: I probably said the exact same thing then, but yes, I do recall that now that you mention it.

If I had one complaint about Luck, it'd be that I think he looks for Wayne a little too often. Granted, you can understand that since the Colts don't have any other receivers, but every time the rush comes his instinct seems to be "uh, so where is Reggie Wayne?"

Speaking of, Tennessee is turning up the heat in the second half and blitzing way more often. The Colts offensive line is, to be charitable, having problems with this.

Tom Gower: One thing about the Colts-Browns game last week was how short it was early -- only three possessions each team in the first half. Today's first half was similarly slow, and thanks to a field goal block, the Colts only have six points early in the second half even though it feels like they've moved the ball fairly well.

Rivers McCown: Titans punt the ball with about a minute to play, eschewing a 60-yard field goal attempt going with the wind.

With about 50 seconds left and two timeouts, Bruce Arians runs the ball two straight downs, and Munchak calls two straight timeouts. The Colts convert on a third-down pass, then kneel out the clock after Dwayne Allen nearly fumbles. "No, please, you try to win this game, I'm not really up for it."

Andy Benoit: Vick Ballard’s game-winning touchdown should be viewed as the play of the year. Never seen a touchdown like that. This play needs a nickname. Like Elway’s Helicopter play.

Aaron Schatz: Reminds me a little bit of Jerome Simpson's flip-touchdown from last year. It was pretty great.

Rivers McCown: "DO A BARREL ROLL!" Peppy said. Ballard obliged.

Matt Waldman: Finally got to see that Ballard play. Looked like a reverse swan dive with his head hitting the pylon. You need Greg Louganis to describe that play.

Tom Gower: Unlike the Browns-Colts game last week, this game stayed "short," magnifying the effect of what in another game might have been relatively minor mistakes. The Titans seemed ready to win when they had the ball near midfield at the two minute warning, but stalled out on the edge of field-goal range. They had the Colts pinned on the punt, but couldn't get a third-down stop and went to overtime.

In overtime, the Colts were able to run the ball consistently, which they'd only managed intermittently for most of the game, and of course Ballard's dive finished things. Another big almost was the Titans defensive line, which got pressure, but not sacks. They also stopped some run plays, but gave up too many others. Luck's pocket presence and mobility, plus some very precise throws, sustained the Colts offense most of the day. The rook's good.

Let the record show that on a day when most coaches successfully went for it on fourth down, the Colts kicked a field goal on fourth-and-goal from the 2 early in the game.

Rivers McCown: The only words that come to mind on Luck's pocket presence are "preternatural" and "insane."

Atlanta Falcons 30 at Philadelphia Eagles 17

Andy Benoit: Maybe Juan Castillo wasn't the problem. The Falcons went 3-for-3 on third down during their opening drive, including two conversions to wide receiver Drew Davis. The second of those occurred when he was left wide-open in the back of the end zone for a touchdown. Eagles defensive backs were fooled badly by fake screen-action.

The subtle decline of Vick’s speed and quickness was evident on Eagles first third-down play. Thomas DeCoud chased him down in backfield from behind.

Matt Waldman: While I tend to agree with the initial sentiment, I thought Vick was looking down field to throw on that play, which is definitely a change from "early" Vick.

Andy Benoit: It will be bad for the Eagles if they fall behind two scores. With iffy weather in Philly, the downfield passing game will be limited. Tough for comeback efforts.

The second Falcons touchdown also involved a fake screen element to Julio Jones. They brought him out of the backfield into the flats, then dumped off a little screen to Jason Snelling in the middle.

Matt Waldman: Bryce Brown shows terrific balance around right end taking a hit to side of thigh with a lot of force and staying upright for a few more yards. LeSean McCoy getting a look at the sidelines after falling awkwardly the play before.

Andy Benoit: Julio Jones just ran right by Nnamdi Asomugha for a 60-plus yard touchdown. No jam. It was outside the numbers, and the perceived safety help of Nate Allen was irrelevant. Great throw by Matt Ryan. Jones has been involved in all three Falcons touchdowns today.

The Eagles ran more underneath and short passes today, which is probably partly a response to knowing that the Falcons corners would play off-coverage.

The Falcons used Kroy Biermann as a spy on Vick, and they also continued to drop Biermann into centerfield on third-and-long. They used mush rush concepts against Vick to try to keep him in the pocket.

The Falcons are benefiting from tremendous red-zone play-calling. They used Jones again as a decoy out of backfield for another inside completion to Snelling. They clearly game-planned to throw screens in the red zone.

Seattle Seahawks 24 at Detroit Lions 28

Vince Verhei: Seahawks get a field goal on their first drive. Eight passes, four runs. When in Rome, apparently, do as the Lions do.

Matt Waldman: Seattle's defensive backs focus on Brandon Pettigrew running deep to the endline and leave Ryan Broyles wide open on an out-breaking jerk route. He catches the ball and dives under the defensive back coming back to the goal line. Team is ecstatic for Broyles, who I believe will have 400-to-600 yards between now and the end of the season if he stays healthy because he's 10 times the technician that Titus Young is.

Andy Benoit: Marshawn Lynch shows somewhat-surprising breakaway speed on his 77-yard touchdown run. As a runner, looks like a slow guy. Laboring effort. But the results are speedy.

Matt Waldman: Funny enough, Lynch was known as a speedster at Cal. The weight gain to become a more muscular back and then too much weight gain early in his Buffalo career really made the "slowish" label stick.

Vince Verhei: A lot of people reading this could have scored on that run. Great blocking to get him free along the sideline, and once he hit the second level there were no Lions in front of him.

Matt Waldman: You have a lot more faith in our readers than I do.

Well shut my mouth on Young. He runs by the defense that thinks they have him covered, but Matthew Stafford climbs the pocket and wings it downfield behind them for a 46-yard score. Seahawks got caught peeping into the backfield.

Vince Verhei: Well, I exaggerate, but certainly think most NFL running backs would have scored. It was great blocking and lousy secondary play more than a great run.

Matt Waldman: I was just giving you grief.

Andy Benoit: Calvin Johnson has zero catches on three targets against Seattle with a little over eight minutes left in third quarter. The third attempt to him came out of the slot, which is a good way to get him away from the sizeable Seahawks corners.

Vince Verhei: Richard Sherman changed his Twitter handle to Optimus Prime this week in anticipation of playing against Megatron. Apparently Peter Cullen (who has been the voice of Optimus Prime for nearly 30 years, but of course you knew that) called Sherman and told him "one shall stand, one shall fall." Actually, Sherman and Johnson have both fallen a lot today. So I guess he was wrong.

Aaron Schatz: Is that all Sherman, or are the cornerbacks taking turns against him depending on where he's lined up?

Vince Verhei: They're moving Johnson all over the place, but Sherman and Brandon Browner pretty much stay to their sides. The Seahawks don't play matchups much.

Andy Benoit: Stafford's interception to Earl Thomas was a bad decision. He threw to Tony Scheffler against obvious safety help -- just didn’t see things clearly.

Rivers McCown: What happened to Stafford? Did KUBIAK's mediocre projection for him imbed itself in his mind?

Vince Verhei: To answer Aaron's question further, Johnson's first catch came against Browner. It was a basic play, he just lined up on the left side, ran a little post route, got inside position and caught the ball.

Aaron Schatz: Johnson just let one go off his hands in the end zone. Is that like his third or fourth drop today? What is up there? It's not all just the Seahawks coverage, that was wide open against Cover-2.

Andy Benoit: Titus Young's coming out party: two touchdowns, a big diving catch in the second half. Zero fist fights.

Matt Waldman: About time. I guess dominating camp to dominating a game takes about half a season.

Jacksonville Jaguars 15 at Green Bay Packers 24

Andy Benoit: Anyone watching Jags-Packers? What kind of coverage has Jacksonville been playing? They played man-to-man last week and had some success. Wonder if they're going with that again, because the Pack tend to struggle with man a little more.

Not a single soul was fooled by Green Bay’s third-quarter fake punt. They essentially ran a fourth down play with Tim Masthay at quarterback instead of Aaron Rodgers.

Miami Dolphins 30 at New York Jets 9

Vince Verhei: More fourth-down aggression: down 24 points in the third, the Jets go for it on fourth-and-1 deep in their own territory. A fullback give picks up the first down. Tim Tebow was on the sidelines, which begs the question of why he is on the team at this point if he's not even a short-yardage weapon. The Jets then go three-and-out and punt.

Matt Moore has gone most of the way for Miami and played OK. So we now know the Dolphins have at least two quarterbacks better than anyone on the Jets.

Danny Tuccitto: Two continuing-the-theme observations about the Dolphins:

1) While charting, one thing I've noticed is that Reggie Bush has this awful habit of cutting back into purposefully unblocked defenders on stretch plays. When he lets the play develop, and does things correctly, it's almost always a positive play. When he doesn't, it's a guaranteed five-yard loss. Today he was doing things correctly.

2) With the Jets lacking a bona fide No. 1 wide receiver, Sean Smith played a side more than he usually does. And still, he didn't allow much when New York threw in his direction. Again, most of the bigger plays -- using that term loosely given the Jets' offensive ineptitude -- came with Nolan Carroll or Jimmy Wilson in coverage.

And two observations about the Jets:

1) Having suffered through it with the 49ers for years, there's nothing sadder than watching a run-only offense face a team with a stout run defense and any semblance of a pass defense. It's almost preordained that they won't score more than 13 points, so once the opponent hits 14, it's effectively game over. Today, that came one minute into the second quarter.

2) The blocked punt touchdown happened because the personal protector blocked the wrong guy. The personal protector: one Tim Tebow.

New York Giants 29 at Dallas Cowboys 24

Andy Benoit: The Giants double team DeMarcus Ware on third-and-9, it's a deep drop for Eli Manning, who hit Rueben Randle deep. The Giants came in leading the NFL with 36 plays of 20 or more yards this season.

Aaron Schatz: Just awful tackling by the Cowboys after that catch. Michael Jenkins slipped on the turf, and I think Gerald Sensabaugh got juked by Randle without Randle actually juking. That was what, 10 or 15 more yards for the Giants?

Oh look, Dez Bryant and Tony Romo are fighting after an interception about reading the defense. We've only seen that, what, 100 times this year?

Andy Benoit: It was on Bryant. He did not square his route at the top, and ran a lazy seam-type thing instead of crossing the safety’s face.

Rivers McCown: Bryant muffs a punt and the Cowboys have three turnovers in the opening quarter. America's game of the week, indeed.

Andy Benoit: Jason Pierre-Paul intercepts a swing pass from point-blank range, runs it back for a touchdown and follows it up with a dunk. Pierre-Paul is a defensive lineman.

Danny Tuccitto: At what point does Jerry Jones just blow this Cowboys team up, and start over? Yes, this is a trick question because it's Jerry Jones.

Ben Muth: Romo really underthrew Bryant on that deep ball against busted coverage. He may have babied it, not wanting to overthrow Bryant like he did to Miles Austin last year against the Giants.

Danny Tuccitto: This is the fourth time I've watched a Giants game this season, and that Bryant play (the one Romo underthrew badly) was the third time I've seen a blown coverage involving Corey Webster. All three seem to have involved miscommunication with safety help that may or may not exist.

Tom Gower: I'm going to describe Pierre-Paul's pancake of Tyron Smith and subsequent sack before the Cowboys field goal that made it 23-10 as "impressive."

Aaron Schatz: Cowboys go for in on fourth-and-goal. Jason Garrett surprisingly doesn't wuss out even though Romo totally overthrew his receiver on the third down. Romo bootleg in for score untouched. Not only does it make this a much more exciting game, it also caps off "National NFL Coach Grow Some Balls Day." What a wonderful day it has been.

I'm not quite sure what's happened to the Giants in the third quarter here. Anyone have any ideas?

Danny Tuccitto: Good thing Jerry Jones didn't blow this team up at halftime.

Vince Verhei: I haven't seen much of the game, but it looks like the Giants offense has been pretty crummy all day, they just got good field position in the first half off the turnovers. When the turnovers stopped, so did the Giants' point production.

Aaron Schatz: I feel like Jason Witten can get open in the middle of the Giants' zones at will. I went and checked and I'm right, apparently, 11 catches for 103 yards with 8:00 left in the game.

Danny Tuccitto: I'll do you one better. Those 11 catches for 103 yards so far? They've come on 11 short targets, and all 11 produced successful gains (four first downs). The only unsuccessful plays thrown his way have been on his two deep targets (both incomplete).

Aaron Schatz: Giants were third in DVOA versus tight ends before this week. In the first Giants-Cowboys game Witten had two catches for 10 yards. I have no idea what's going on and it looks like the kind of thing that's tough to see with TV angles, because all I can say is "golly, big hole in zone."

Ben Muth: Awful ball security on the Felix Jones fumble. The butt of your offensive lineman shouldn't be able to force a fumble.

Aaron Schatz: Cowboys have second-and-1 and throw three times. On the fourth-and-1, Cowboys offensive line just completely implodes. Brutal. Obviously, the Giants are good, but ... wow. Looks like Osi Umenyiora beats Doug Free, then Linval Joseph breaks a double team of the center and right guard, and finally the left guard loses Chris Canty although by that point Romo is toast.

Andy Benoit: Romo's third pick was a would-be coverage sack that he had to heave up because it was fourth-and-1. Really shouldn’t count as a turnover because it was fourth down.

Aaron Schatz: It doesn't in FO numbers! Fourth-down interceptions don't count as interceptions in the final two minutes, and the rest of the game they are graded differently than other interceptions (somewhat based on what their value would be if they were punts).

I'll add that people on the Twitters seem to have responded to the pick by posting about the great game that Stevie Brown has had at safety for the Giants. Brown has had a good game, but picking off that fourth-and-1 desperation heave really doesn't count as part of it.

Well, now we get to talk about Bryant's overturned touchdown. Three thoughts.

1) Yeah, his hand was out of bounds. It's incomplete. Great catch though.

2) I can't believe the Cowboys offensive line held up that long.

3) Andy, do you have any thoughts on Webster this year? We don't have the coverage stats yet, but I feel like when I've watched the Giants, he doesn't seem to be playing as well as years past. He's biting on a lot of double moves or getting beat by guys with speed.

Danny Tuccitto: ...and, as mentioned earlier, erroneously passing receivers off to phantom safety help.

Andy Benoit: How can Webster bite on a double move in that situation? All there is to defend is the end zone.

Danny Tuccitto: And, somehow, despite being down 23-0 midway through the second quarter, history will actually show Dallas to have blown a fourth-quarter lead in this game; a tale told by a Romo, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.

Oakland Raiders 26 at Kansas City Chiefs 16

Matt Waldman: Eric Berry makes a highlight-worthy play that won't show up anywhere this week on a third-and-2 toss from shotgun to Darren McFadden behind a pulling guard. Berry, in the middle of the field at linebacker-depth, reads the play, beats the right guard to the edge with great speed, and meets the pulling guard four yards into the backfield. He then blows up the play like a bowling ball, cutting the left guard and McFadden behind the lineman for the spare. Just a fantastic effort.

Andy Benoit: Carson Palmer has a surprising ability to extend a play with his feet. That was demonstrated on a well-thrown incomplete pass to Denarius Moore to open second quarter. Palmer is not a good runner as he's heavy-legged, but he has good movement behind the line of scrimmage, including outside the pocket.

Matt Waldman: Brady Quinn gets sacked on a layered blitz by linebackers off the right side. Peyton Hillis picks up the outside linebacker, but Rolando McClain comes through untouched off that edge with Hillis occupied and forces a fumble that Tony Moeaki recovers. Quinn decides to reward Moeaki by throwing a jump pass about 20 yards down the middle of the field on an ill-advised seam route that overshoots the tight end and gets picked off. This had to be a precise pass, but he throws it like Tebow throws an option at the goal line. The best thing Quinn has done in this quarter is run.

Quinn's leaping throw for an interception that came a play after getting sacked, results in Chiefs pulling him to get his head examined ... nice. The experiment is mercifully over. Matt Cassel now in.

Vince Verhei: Quinn finishes 2-of-4 for one yard with a pick, although as of halftime, he leads the team with 18 rushing yards. So there's that.

Andy Benoit: How does everyone feel about the NFL's new approach of doing fewer late window games? Things seem just a little quiet...

Aaron Schatz: It's annoying as hell, and it really reduces the value of both Sunday Ticket and Red Zone.

Andy Benoit: Good point on reduced value ... didn't think about that. To be fair, the price of Sunday Ticket was decreased this year, though. What also drives me nuts, scheduling-wise, is how often a team plays on Sunday night one week and then Monday night the very next week (or vice versa). Saw that with Texans and Broncos earlier this year, getting it with the Saints this week and next. Wish they'd change up the primetime schedules more for those two games.

Aaron Schatz: Well, as long as we're whining about this year's schedule, look at the ridiculous way they grouped together divisional games this year, where
teams are often playing each other twice in four or five weeks. I think there are a couple places where two teams play each other twice in just three weeks.

Andy Benoit: I think they grouped the divisional games because it keeps the division races tighter and allows for more meaningful games in the second half of the year.

Aaron Schatz: I like having more division games in the last month, but I still think you should have one game against each of your division rivals in
September-October and then one in December.

Andy Benoit: Yeah, the balance is always nice. I wonder if the league also views division games as more competitive, and maybe they think natural late-season injuries might have slightly less of an impact on those games. Maybe that's a stretch. I would love to watch Howard Katz sit down and make up the schedule sometime -- I have always been fascinated by it.

Aaron Schatz: They'd flex the December games so that it wouldn't happen that way. Back in the day, time zones used to be the only dictator of game times (or close to the only dictator) but the league has gotten smarter.

Vince Verhei: I hate only having two games at once, especially when one of them seems to have Oakland every week. I'm sure we'll get normal afternoons once baseball ends, but can you imagine if they did this in December, and the two games were, like, Oakland-Kansas City and Jacksonville-Buffalo?

I actually like saving the divisional games toward the end of the season. It gives more teams a chance to contend for the playoffs late in the year.

There are more than three minutes left in the game, and Chiefs fans are leaving the stadium so quickly they are crashing into each other in the parking lot. How do I know this? The Chiefs themselves announced it to the world.

Ben Muth: Did Jamaal Charles get hurt? He's only had five carries today?

Vince Verhei: Well, they had to get Cassel his seven carries, obviously, and there's only one ball to go around.

Hillis, by the way, only has four carries. Quinn, Dexter McCluster, Shaun Draughn, two each. Meanwhile, Cassel and Quinn have thrown 34 total passes.

Matt Waldman: He had some runs called back due to penalties, as well.

Vince Verhei: Some great quotes from Romeo Crennel today after the Kansas City game:

Is Jamaal Charles healthy? "As far as I know."

Why did Jamaal Charles have only five carries? "Now, that I'm not exactly sure either."

Danny Tuccitto: When I first saw that Quinn was out of the game in a flash, I was all ready to mention this quote:

"What I want him to be is, I want him to be the starting quarterback without having to look over his shoulder, so there is going to be no quick hook or anything like that."

Alas. Was a loss for my personal comedic stylings, but glad to see Romeo give us a second chance so soon.

New Orleans Saints 14 at Denver Broncos 34

Ben Muth: I love watching Von Miller play. He just explodes to the ball carrier once he gets off a block. Between him, J.J. Watt, and Patrick Peterson, the 2011 defensive draft class is looking very strong.

Vince Verhei: Touched on this in the FO feature last week, but Miller as a rookie was a good pass rusher who didn't contribute much to the run game. In his sophomore season, he's still a good pass rusher, but explosive against the run as well. Haven't checked in a couple of weeks, but at one point he was leading the league in Run Defeats, and had already topped his rookie season in that category.

Danny Tuccitto: Denver quarterbacks coach Adam Gase's wife is New Orleans interim head coach Joe Vitt's daughter. An old boys network, indeed.

Rivers McCown: Looks like Bountygate, in the mind of Roman Harper, continues to make this defense execrable.

Vince Verhei: You know how hockey has cool names for all their postseason awards? I think we should just take the Comeback Player of the Year Award and rename it "The Peyton Cup."

Rivers McCown: What? The Comeback player trophy clearly needs to be The Pennington Prize.

Aaron Schatz: Yeah, nothing against what Peyton Manning is doing this season, but that thing should be molded in the shape of Chad Pennington's shoulder.

Danny Tuccitto: How about we split the baby and call it The Peytonton?

Rivers McCown: Garrison Hearst needs to be in on any non-solo Pennington name.

Danny Tuccitto: OK, so The Peytontonson?

Ben Muth: What about Rocky Bleir? I feel like coming back from grenade shrapnel should carry a lot of weight.

Vince Verhei: Bleier, Hearst, Pennington all had amazing comebacks, but they came back to be good players. Manning came back from an unprecedented spinal surgery and will probably win another MVP award. And he's doing in on a new team with new teammates that went 8-8 last year.

Danny Tuccitto: Vince, this is right in your wheelhouse. Am I the only one who can't hear the name Virgil without immediately thinking of Ted Dibiase's bodyguard?

Vince Verhei: Well, there's Ted DiBiase's bodyguard, Dusty Rhodes' real name, the dude who wrote The Aeneid, and ... yeah, that's all I got.

Danny Tuccitto: Well, to Rome, Aeneas was the original bodyguard, so things come full circle. Also, re: Aeneas, all I've got is the dude who Virgil wrote about and the Cardinals cornerback.

Aaron Schatz: I think the surprise here is that the Saints offense hasn't gotten it going much tonight. Says good things about the improved Denver defense. We knew the Saints defense sucked, so Denver scoring a bunch of touchdowns is no surprise.

Vince Verhei: Denver came into the game sixth in defensive DVOA. That'll probably improve in the new rankings. Who do we credit that to? Miller, obviously, has taken many steps forward, but I guess we have to credit Jack Del Rio for the big improvement there.

Danny Tuccitto: More granular than the ineptitude of New Orleans offense overall, I'm kind of taken aback at how inaccurate of a game Drew Brees is having. There's about 10 minutes left, and he's 14-of-28. That includes a few drops, but it's mostly inaccurate throws. This year, he's already had a 46.2 percent game (Week 1 versus Washington), but, before that, he only had one game worse than 53 percent as a member of the Saints.

Aaron Schatz: I think it's surprising because of the corners. As both you and I wrote in the preseason, Champ Bailey has been declining for years and Tracy Porter had terrible charting stats in New Orleans. I don't think Chris Harris is thought of as more than a nickel corner, and Tony Carter is basically just a guy.

Vince Verhei: Yeah, but I thought their interior run defense would be lousy too. Wesley Woodyard's surpassed all expectations, and rookie Derek Wolfe deserves a lot of credit too. I just checked the snap count data (not counting tonight, obviously). Elvis Dumervil leads the Broncos' linemen in snaps with 396, and Wolfe is second with 377. Justin Bannan is third way back at 222.

Posted by: Rivers McCown on 29 Oct 2012

216 comments, Last at 30 Oct 2012, 4:29pm by commissionerleaf


by JasonK :: Mon, 10/29/2012 - 12:24am

"In the first Giants-Cowboys game Witten had two catches for 10 yards"

Witten was Doubtful for that game, owing to his preseason spleen injury. He was mostly used as a decoy to get Kevin Ogletree open.

On the Corey Webster and Safety Miscommunication thing, Kenny Phillips was the guy who was primarily responsible for getting the secondary lined up, and he's been out since the first quarter of the Eagles game in Week 4. Although his absence has led to the emergence of Stevie "Turnover Machine" Brown, the team does miss Phillips in other ways. That said, yeah, Corey has been having a rather poor year. Most of the time, Prince Amukamara has looked like the Giants' best CB.

by Danny Tuccitto :: Mon, 10/29/2012 - 12:37am

Yeah, mostly agree on the Kenny Phillips point, except I'll note that Phillips was the safety for at least one of my three Webster-passes-receiver-off-to-phantom observations (memory not so good in old age).

by NYMike :: Mon, 10/29/2012 - 9:19am

I don't know what Webster's responsibilities were on the Bryant bomb, but if he goes with Bryant on that play, there is no one within 20 yards of a receiver in the flat. Even if he covered Bryant, that play would pick up 25 yards. SO something was totally broken.

by mikeinhoboken (not verified) :: Mon, 10/29/2012 - 10:56am

Worse than Webster or Stevie Brown, fill-in third string safety Tyler Sash inexplicably let Bryant run right by him, while he looks for a pass in front of him. What are you defending with 16 seconds left! It should have been double coverage down the sideline, then triple coverage in the end zone. Instead, Sash takes himself out of the play and Webster and Brown whiff on the ball in the air. The minute while I waited for a replay was one of the worst minutes as a Giants fan ever.

by justme_cd :: Mon, 10/29/2012 - 10:34am

If it's possible to say Witten's record day was back to normal, he looked much more like his old self than the stranger protecting his spleen and dropping passes the last few weeks.

by DEW (not verified) :: Mon, 10/29/2012 - 12:38am

I wonder what the responsibilities of Denver's quarterbacks coach are. Maybe he's the guy who fetches Peyton's Gatorade?

I predict that after next week's game, the mainstream media will stop calling for Reid to bench Vick. Unless Reid actually does bench Vick, knowing that a Saints game is the perfect time for a young quarterback to build some confidence (or if Foles fails, it's an ironclad excuse to tell talk-radio hosts to shut up and sit down).

by BigCheese :: Mon, 10/29/2012 - 1:45am

Or... Vick will throw to INTs against the SAINTS defense and even Vick will be shouting for him to be bench.... oh wait, he already did that today, didn't he? Maybe he's afraid to make the Saints secondary look good?

- Alvaro

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

by td (not verified) :: Mon, 10/29/2012 - 2:10am

all well and good, but Foles was a 'John Skelton' type prospect, not even on par with either Tanehill or Weeden (who, to be fair, have both had their moments). I think, with really raw guys, best let them sit a full season if possible

by Noah Arkadia :: Mon, 10/29/2012 - 1:04pm

Tannehill has had more than just a few moments, as attested by the fact he's 14th in DVOA through Week 7 -a bit better than Luck. He's been slow to gain recognition for his very good rookie play at the toughest position in football, though.

Weeden, meanwhile, is 31st. I agree with the sentiment that he's been bad, but he's had his moments.

FO posters are a peacock. You got to let us fly!

by td (not verified) :: Mon, 10/29/2012 - 11:58pm

I wasn't criticzing Tannehill. He's a second-tier prospect compared to Luck or Griffin, but he could develop into a 'franchise' guy, and he's done a great job with marginal receivers (but talent everywhere else on the roster)

by Danny Tuccitto :: Mon, 10/29/2012 - 1:20am

Christ, I didn't see it at the time, but kudos to Vince on the Transformers voice talent reference. And again, as if anyone doesn't know already, Orson Welles was the voice of Unicron in his last movie before kicking the bucket.

by drobviousso :: Mon, 10/29/2012 - 11:27am

He was outstanding in that role, by the way. It wasn't some late career cash in. Welles was always a comic book fan, and most likely read the Transformers comic before being cast.

by The Hypno-Toad :: Mon, 10/29/2012 - 1:30am

The comment on Carson Palmer made me think of this. But I was really hoping to find "Mr. Heavyfoot Runs a Marathon."

by dbt :: Mon, 10/29/2012 - 2:15am

You did! It's the last 45 seconds of your link...

by TomC :: Mon, 10/29/2012 - 10:58am

Je m'aime de M. Piedlourde. (Don't know if the "I love me some..." construction works in French, but I thought I'd try it.)

by NYMike :: Mon, 10/29/2012 - 3:22pm

"Je m'aime" is "I love myself," so that's probably not it. Maybe, "Moi, j'aime ..."

On the other hand, high school French is very dim when I dig into last century to try to come up with something like this.

by Reader Martin (not verified) :: Tue, 10/30/2012 - 1:17am

I hate to tell you this, but the "I love me some ..." syntax doesn't work in English either.

by tuluse :: Tue, 10/30/2012 - 1:35am

I love me some language evolution.

by Brent :: Tue, 10/30/2012 - 11:16am


by Dean :: Tue, 10/30/2012 - 2:00pm

I think you spelled "illiteracy" wrong.

by The Hypno-Toad :: Mon, 10/29/2012 - 11:47am

Hooray! I'll have to start actually watching things I link to. Especially when it's only like 2.5 minutes long.

by BigCheese :: Mon, 10/29/2012 - 1:46am

So, no one had absolutely anything to say about Vikings/Bucs?

- Alvaro

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

by dbt :: Mon, 10/29/2012 - 2:16am

Did you watch it? What do you think? I was busy watching the Bears. (More on that in a moment).

by BigCheese :: Mon, 10/29/2012 - 3:22pm

Yes I did. Since it was the Thursday night game! You'll notice I wasn't wondering about Chargers@Browns (although I am STILL wondering how the Chargers lost a game where the Browns only scored once).

I too spent the early slate watching the Bears almost exclusively.

- Alvaro

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

by BigCheese :: Mon, 10/29/2012 - 3:32pm

As for what I thought, I felt somewhat vindicated in thinking before the game that the Bucs truly were better than their record, and the Vikings weren't nearly as good as theirs. I even feel a lot more safe in thinking they might not even go over on their 6-wins projection (they'll likely push).

And all this considering the Vikings were at home on a Thursday night, which seems to be a huge advantage.

- Alvaro

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

by jimm (not verified) :: Mon, 10/29/2012 - 8:48pm

that game was much closer than the score. TB recovered all three key fumbles in the first half all in the Vikings end of the field.

I thought TB was a better team than people thought and that they would match up well against Minnesota because their weakness is stopping the pass and Minn can't pass against anyone.

I think people assuming the Vikings and Lions are far worse than GB or Chic are making a mistake. I expect of the 7 games left det/minn vs gb/chic...that the series will be split 4/3 or 3/4. I just don't see any evidence that any of those teams is all appreciably better than the others.

by Podge (not verified) :: Mon, 10/29/2012 - 8:43am

First time that a nationally televised game hasn't got a single email in Audibles?

by artmac (not verified) :: Mon, 10/29/2012 - 10:06am

Audibles doesn't cover Thursday night games (or at least not that I ever remember it doing)

by Danish Denver-Fan :: Mon, 10/29/2012 - 10:10am

Incorrect. I actually think they've done it every week this year.

by artmac (not verified) :: Mon, 10/29/2012 - 6:41pm

i stand corrected. not sure why i was so certain i remembered it that way.

by BigCheese :: Mon, 10/29/2012 - 3:22pm

They certainly do. I even double-checked they did before posting.

- Alvaro

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

by justanothersteve :: Mon, 10/29/2012 - 4:34pm

If we're lucky, they won't cover this Thursday's Chargers-Chiefs game either. Though it could be interesting if either coach gets fired at halftime.

by omaholic :: Mon, 10/29/2012 - 5:36pm

Either coach? Why not both?

by glickmania :: Mon, 10/29/2012 - 10:48pm


Then who would I reliably bet against every week?


by MilkmanDanimal :: Mon, 10/29/2012 - 10:11am

Well, I was at that game, and my general impression is Doug Martin is really, really good, and his numbers would have been much better except for the fact that in the second half I think I saw the Bucs run the same play about ten times; shotgun, handoff to Martin, run into the middle of the line for one yard. Seriously, just slammed into the middle.

My other thought was whenever Martin was in the game, the offense was charging along, and the moment LeGarrette Blount went in, everything stopped. The difference was proverbially night and day; Martin has great vision and patience and waits for plays to develop, while Blount gets the ball and just charges forward, and if there's no hole, he still just charges forward.

by Anonymous 12342 (not verified) :: Mon, 10/29/2012 - 2:16am

I made me happy that no one mentioned that awful Browns Chargers game. Every time it came up on Red Zone I yelled at the tv.

by Trogdor :: Mon, 10/29/2012 - 2:38am

Didn't get to see this game, but I think this says about all I needed to know.

Taking over at the beginning of the 4th quarter, down by less than a field goal, this coach's team put together a 12-play, 7+ minute clock-chewing drive that ended in a punt from their side of midfield. Was the coach:

A) Norv Turner
B) ....?
C) umm... ??
D) OK, you got it, it was Norv Turner

by theslothook :: Mon, 10/29/2012 - 2:52am

I have to say, I'm completely baffled by the Chargers offense this year and by extension Philip Rivers. It wasn't that long ago I considered Rivers as a borderline elite qb and I have no idea what has caused that to change. Sure, the most common excuses I've heard are, "well, his run game is iffy, his o line kinda sucks, hes missing vincent jackson and darren sproles, his head coach is norv turner...etc etc"
but how valid are these? Consider only two years ago, McNiel and Jackson held out for at least half the year, the tackles were Clary and the inimitable Brandon Dombrowski, and the depth in his receiving core was made up of guys like Legadu Nane, Randy McMichael and Seyi Ajirotutu. Somehow, he made it work.

So what the hell happened? DId Rivers suddenly age and hit the wall? I don't watch the chargers enough so maybe someone who does can give some insight.

by evenchunkiermonkey :: Mon, 10/29/2012 - 3:42am

He's just trying to get Norv fired, even if its the last thing he does (as a Charger.)

by Noah Arkadia :: Mon, 10/29/2012 - 11:17am

There was this play in the Broncos-Chargers game where Rivers dropped back to pass, threw a laser complete to a WR near the sideline, and everyone, the stadium, the announcer and myself got excited. What a play! Then I looked at the yardage and it was an 8-yard completion.

When your epic plays are 8-yard completions, I think you have reason to worry. I only saw Rivers throw two passes over 10 yards in the 2nd half. One floated and was intercepted. The other was when the Chargers were in desperation mode near the end of the game. His arm doesn't seem to be the same.

I hold no faith of Rivers going back to be the player he was. And I blame his, what, seven children? At such a young age I don't think a high performance athlete can afford to have seven children. They take a lot out of you. Rivers probably hasn't had a good night's sleep since he was in college.

FO posters are a peacock. You got to let us fly!

by tuluse :: Mon, 10/29/2012 - 11:44am

He was 8th in DVOA just last year.

I guess he could handle 6 children, but the 7th one was the straw that broke the camel's back.

by Noah Arkadia :: Mon, 10/29/2012 - 12:53pm

I was half-kidding. That couldn't be the only reason, but I'm sure it doesn't help him any.

FO posters are a peacock. You got to let us fly!

by Danny Tuccitto :: Mon, 10/29/2012 - 11:36am

As if part of some cosmic synergy in the football stats world, Chase Stuart posted this today:


I think you'll find at least part of the answer there.

by speedegg :: Mon, 10/29/2012 - 3:22pm

So much for the genius that was AJ Smith.

by theslothook :: Mon, 10/29/2012 - 6:35pm

To me that offers a partial explanation at best. They signed gaither at left tackle so that partially explains some of their draft decisions as relates to o line. Besides that, teams fielding poor o lines does hurt your passing game, but it shouldn't be the sole reason why you went from having one of three best passing offenses in the league and then falling to mediocre. That's something that o line by itself isn't responsible for.

by tuluse :: Mon, 10/29/2012 - 6:57pm

Pissing off Vincent Jackson so badly he refuses to play for you probably doesn't help.

by Noah Arkadia :: Tue, 10/30/2012 - 10:00am

Yeah, I don't buy it either. The talent around him may be poor, but it's better than what, say, the Jets have. And Rivers' DVOA is actually worse than Sanchez's through week 7.

FO posters are a peacock. You got to let us fly!

by Brent :: Tue, 10/30/2012 - 11:35am

If your QB is getting hurried on virtually every play, then that's definitely the o-line's fault, and it could easily kill your passing game. No one is a good QB when they're running for their life. But it's even worse in SD, because they've had a clear downgrade at every offensive position in the last few years. At one point, they had truly elite talent at WR, RB, and TE. Now? There's no elite talent anywhere on that offense.

by theslothook :: Mon, 10/29/2012 - 2:58am

Btw Danny, having watched most of the 49ers' games since about 2003, the only years I thought were even close to this kind of Jets offensive ineptitude was the 2004, 2005, and 2007 seasons. And even those comparisons should come with an asterisk, Given that: A) 2004 season was the year the 49ers were way over the cap and purged everyone, B) 2005 was the first year of recovery and Alex Smith's rookie year, and C) the 2007 offense was designed by the great innovative genius that is Hostler.

Somehow the Jets, under the guidance of a qb in his 4th year, are this bad remarkable. Whats probably impossible to fathom is given the contract commitments, they're stuck with this same guy for next year too!

by Danny Tuccitto :: Mon, 10/29/2012 - 11:39am

Don't know about that. Those Jimmy Raye offenses in 1-2 B.H. (before Harbaugh) were atrocious. Teams didn't even pretend to respect their passing game.

by theslothook :: Mon, 10/29/2012 - 2:44pm

Aww, they were way more respectable than this jets offense is.

by DragonPie (not verified) :: Mon, 10/29/2012 - 3:42am

"I think it's surprising because of the corners. As both you and I wrote in the preseason, Champ Bailey has been declining for years and Tracy Porter had terrible charting stats in New Orleans. I don't think Chris Harris is thought of as more than a nickel corner, and Tony Carter is basically just a guy."

Tracy Porter hasn't played against either the Chargers or the Saints, so that's worth noting. It's possible that the Broncos ARE better without him and as a Broncos fan, my hope is that Chris Harris and Tony Carter turn out to be more than just guys. So far it's looking promising.

But I'm also hoping that Del Rio isn't hired on as a head coach anywhere.

by Kevin M (not verified) :: Mon, 10/29/2012 - 6:17am

"All there is to defend is the end zone."

The Giants appeared to still be defending against the short sideline pattern. There was 6-10 seconds after the Dez Bryant play so let's assume the previous play started with 16 seconds left. There obviously was enough time to run another short pattern to make eventual end zone throw "easier". If you're going to blame anyone on the play, blame Michael Coe for totally misplaying the ball in the air. Oddly enough, Phantom Safety Help is Antrel Rolle's nickname. He's usually in the vicinity of plays that ended up with the sentence, "Where the hell was the safety?"

Jacquain Williams has found himself a role as the Nickel LB who often covers TEs. No one else on the team is capable of filling that role now (Williams is out with a knee injury), including Michael Boley.

by Kevin M (not verified) :: Mon, 10/29/2012 - 6:26am

I forgot to add...

I'm not one to defend Jason Garrett (I'm a Giants fan), but something is lost in the complaints about passing 3 consecutive times after the 2nd and 1. The Cowboys finished the game with 19 yards rushing on 17 carries. In the previous 2 quarters, they'd failed to gain 1 yard at the goalline on 3 separate carries.

by BlueStarDude :: Mon, 10/29/2012 - 1:57pm

I think that's exactly right. Romo blew it on the 3rd down play when Austin was wide open on the shallow crossing route. As bad as his line and receivers have been, Romo has made way too many mistakes this year.

by Theo :: Mon, 10/29/2012 - 7:25am

Ingredients for a scuccessful London game:
1- at least one team with star power. Check. The away team Patriots.
2- a competitive game to entertain the 80% neutral fans. Oops. The rams couldn't get anything going after scoring on their first drive.

I'm afraid that jackson lost his wheels. All he could do was get a handoff, bounce into the hole and get tackled three yarrds downfield. The rams miss receivers, and are just a couple guys shor of a defense.

by Anonymousse (not verified) :: Mon, 10/29/2012 - 9:23am

I thought Jackson looked great. His offensive line, on the other hand....

by lk6 (not verified) :: Mon, 10/29/2012 - 7:58am

Can't get Ted DiBiase's theme out of my head now...

Money money money money moneeeeeeeyyyyyy

One of the best themes ever.

by Revenge of the NURBS (not verified) :: Mon, 10/29/2012 - 10:07am

I'm the Million Dollar Man, and you will be bought!

On this topic, there is a 3-disk set of WWF/WWE theme music from throughout the years. It's worth the money, exactly for situations like this. And yes, it includes the Million Dollar Man.

by Travis :: Mon, 10/29/2012 - 8:02am

I feel bad for anybody who ran [the fake spike] before Dan Marino did, because nobody will ever, ever remember them.

The rule allowing spikes themselves only was enacted in 1987 (before that, the QB had to throw the ball out-of-bounds), and I'm not aware of anyone trying the fake spike before Marino did in 1994. (Bernie Kosar claims he tried it against the Jets in the 1986 playoffs, but there's little evidence. You can hear the announcers screaming at him to throw the ball out-of-bounds in this clip.)

by William :: Mon, 10/29/2012 - 9:57am

Wow, all that wasted time in that clip. Ball's spotted at the 5 yard line with 35 seconds left, and all they got off was one half-hearted attempt of a play before settling for the tying FG? Amazing ineptitude.

by Noah Arkadia :: Mon, 10/29/2012 - 11:14am

Can you believe they were celebrating while the clock was winding down? Even Kosar was in there. What a bunch of idiots.

FO posters are a peacock. You got to let us fly!

by Noah Arkadia :: Mon, 10/29/2012 - 11:11am

I think he meant "after".

FO posters are a peacock. You got to let us fly!

by Travis :: Mon, 10/29/2012 - 11:27am

Yeah, I've never heard anyone talk about Neil O'Donnell's game-winning fake spike against the Steelers in 1998.

by RickD :: Mon, 10/29/2012 - 2:54pm

"after" makes no sense.

You don't talk about how "nobody will remember" somebody who did a play yesterday.

by Podge (not verified) :: Mon, 10/29/2012 - 8:42am

The Wembley grass thing is a bit out of date now. It used to be a problem, but they relaid it with semi-artificial stuff (the same stuff used at Lambeau, Mile High and Philly according to Wikipedia) and reports are that its much improved. I suspect the grass would be shorter and wetter than usual for an NFL game (soccer is best played on a slightly wet pitch), but not to a massive extent.

by Danish Denver-Fan :: Mon, 10/29/2012 - 10:07am

And to answer Aaron "they couldn't play somewhere else?":

First of all every major stadium in europe is used by a soccer team so the turf is likely to be the same everywhere - short trimm and moist.

Secondly Wembley is about the only major venue to not actually home ground to any soccer team. Therefore the greenkeeper doesn't mind NFL cleats tearing up the place. This would be near intolerable if the pitch were to be used next weekend or possibly even on wednesday.

Thirdly, and I think most importantly, Wembley is an absolutely legendary place. Even though it has been completely rebuild a couple of years ago, it has enherited a certain mystique. It's considered an immense honor to play at Wembley by british soccer players, as it means you either played with the national team or made at least the semi final in the FA Cup. If you want to promote anything sports related to the Brits it is THE place.

by RickD :: Mon, 10/29/2012 - 11:03am

To piggyback on this: Wembley is by far the best choice in the London area. If there's an issue with the pitch - replace the pitch! The stadium itself is very new, accessible by public transport from London, and really is the best place to be as a venue and in terms of its historical significance to the English.

by Podge (not verified) :: Mon, 10/29/2012 - 1:02pm

I'm not sure I see the argument about the cleats in the post above yours, because they don't look hugely dissimilar from the studs on modern football (soccer) boots (cleats).

The obvious alternatives are Croke Park in Ireland and Twickenham in London. Twickenham, despite it being done up a few times, is a bit crappy really though. Otherwise you're looking at football stadiums, with the of the Emirates Stadium or Old Trafford in Manchester being the only two that are really big enough to make the game worthwhile financially, but then there'd be issues with arranging football fixtures, especially as it would involve, for both of those, coordinating the fixtures of two clubs with the NFL (as for an NFL game in Manchester you'd need Man City to play at home on the Saturday and then Man United to be away. Same with Spurs and Arsenal if you were at the Emirates).

I guess Ibrox, Hampden Park or Murrayfield would be possibilities if you wanted to go up to Scotland, but I'm not convinced they would be viable.

by Purds :: Mon, 10/29/2012 - 2:56pm

The cleats might be the same, but the size of the guys wearing them, and the forces pushing the said wearers of cleats are very, very different. Not many 300 pound soccer players trying to hold position while another 300 pound guy pushes him around.

by Eggwasp (not verified) :: Tue, 10/30/2012 - 5:11am

You've clearly not watched many League Two games.

by mansteel (not verified) :: Mon, 10/29/2012 - 1:12pm

"It's considered an immense honor to play at Wembley by british soccer players, as it means you either played with the national team or made at least the semi final in the FA Cup.'

...or the final of the Johnstone's Paint Trophy (otherwise known as the "Piss Pot")!

by Theo :: Mon, 10/29/2012 - 7:24pm

"they couldn't play somewhere else?"

Asking the question means answering it.
My simple answer would be "No. Are you really so naive to think they should choose the pitch quality over capacity, money, exposure and logistics?"
So Aaron, where do you think it should take place?

I was at Wembley on Sunday, with me 84003 others. If such an amount of American, English, German, French, Dutch (and some other nationalities I've heard over the weekend) were interested in coming to England for an NFL game then I don't know what other stadium could be better.
Germany/Dortmund is an option, so is the smaller Schalke Arena.

by David :: Tue, 10/30/2012 - 4:36am

To be fair to Aaron, if Foxboro closed down, I wouldn't really know whether there were alternatives for the Patriots...

The other option that I didn't see mentioned in the comments would be the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff, which was used as the replacement for Wembley while Wembley was being refurbished. Good capacity, transport links etc., plus used as a rugby pitch, so perhaps slightly more suitable for football than soccer pitches. Having said that, it perhaps doesn't have the appeal for overseas visitors that London (or even Edinburgh) has

by Eggwasp (not verified) :: Tue, 10/30/2012 - 5:12am

There are no other options where 8-10m people live and another 10m within a couple of hours.

by Athelas :: Tue, 10/30/2012 - 9:51am

I thought there was some sort of time-space rift in Cardiff?

by Karl Cuba :: Tue, 10/30/2012 - 10:24am

Yeah, I've heard of something like that. It makes people there copulate in a random and overly graphic manner whether or not it makes any sense for them to do so.

by Theo :: Mon, 10/29/2012 - 7:14pm

it was raining also

by Ferguson1015 :: Mon, 10/29/2012 - 8:47am

Speaking of great comebacks, I think Drew Brees deserves to be mentioned in that conversation. He came back from a shoulder injury to his throwing arm and it wasn't just any ordinary shoulder injury either. There's a reason San Diego let him go, and only San Diego, New Orleans, and Miami even offered him backup money to play. And he not only came back, he came back and played amazingly.:


More than 1,700 miles away in Birmingham, renowned orthopedic surgeon Dr. James Andrews watched a replay of Brees going down. "I thought, my God, what an injury," says Andrews. Four days later he examined Brees and diagnosed a rare 360-degree tear of the labrum, the ring of cartilage around the entry to the shoulder joint. During surgery Andrews discovered a deep, partial rotator cuff tear. He says the damage in Brees's shoulder joint represented "one of the most unique injuries of any athlete I've ever treated."

Andrews and two other surgeons mended the labrum with the unheard-of total of 11 surgical anchors (three or four is common) and also repaired the rotator cuff. The 90-minute procedure was performed arthroscopically--a godsend for Brees. If the doctors had had to cut through shoulder tissue, his recovery would have been prolonged by months.

Still, Brees faced an arduous rehabilitation, with long odds. "Lord, I was just hoping to give him a functional shoulder," says Andrews. "An average athlete would not recover from this injury."

James Andrew handed Brees off to Kevin Wilk, a physical therapist and clinical director at Benchmark-Champion Sports Medicine in Birmingham who has been rehabbing Andrew's patients for 18 years. "Dr. Andrews told me, 'You've got your work cut out for you,'" Wilk says. "I had never seen an injury this severe in any elite-level throwing athlete. We were in uncharted waters."

by nat :: Mon, 10/29/2012 - 9:02am

and will probably win another MVP award. And he's doing it on a new team with new teammates that went 8-8 last year.

There's plenty to love about Manning's comeback season. But win-lost record ain't one of them. Tebow was 7-4 with the same team. And in case you hadn't noticed, Tebow stinks at QB.

Win-loss record is not a good way to judge an offense - if it were, you'd have to say Manning isn't doing great at all. If you were trying to say that Manning has bad teammates to overcome, it's hard to use last season to judge, with Tebow running the show. The previous season, the Broncos were 10th in pass DVOA with Kyle Orton at QB.

Manning's a clear step up from Orton, many more steps above Tebow, and one of the top three or four QBs this season. He might even be the best in the end.

And he just hang 305 passing yards and 34 points on a defense that holds teams to an average of 304 yards passing and 30 points. Erm... okay maybe this isn't the best week to start the MVP lock talk.

by jebmak :: Mon, 10/29/2012 - 9:21am

Can we start it by saying that before this week he had the #1 DVOA and #4 DYAR ... with the Broncos?

by nat :: Mon, 10/29/2012 - 10:24am

Why is it that Manning-fans always want to denigrate his teammates?

Stick with #1 DVOA and #4 DYAR... on a good team. The Broncos were 10th in passing DVOA in 2010 and have upgraded personnel since then, I think. 2011 isn't worth considering for judging the Bronco's offense, naturally.

Unless you want to hitch your wagon to "Manning: at least he's better than Tebow" - which seems a weak argument.

by Independent George :: Mon, 10/29/2012 - 10:39am

I would actually argue the opposite route - this might be the best team Manning has ever played on. His receivers and RBs aren't as good as the mid-2000s Colts, but I think his OL is slightly better, and his defense is vastly superior.

by Danish Denver-Fan :: Mon, 10/29/2012 - 10:13am

He didn't start MVP lock talk. He started probably MVP talk - a different animal completely.

by RickD :: Mon, 10/29/2012 - 10:53am

He said "Manning came back from an unprecedented spinal surgery and will probably win another MVP award."

The word "probably" was used. Yes, that was a good game on national TV. But we're a long way from thinking that Peyton is the presumptive MVP. Aside from the dubious statistic QBR, he's not leading the league in anything.

Comeback player? Definitely. MVP? Not yet. I cannot think of any argument that puts hims ahead of Rodgers or Brady as a clear-cut frontrunner.

by dmstorm22 :: Mon, 10/29/2012 - 11:28am

Well, he leads the league in normal old passer rating (109.0) as well.

He also leads the league in Y/A and its brothers NY/A and ANY/A, is 3rd in TD % (behind Rodgers and Fitzpatrick(!)), 2nd in Y/G (Behind Brees). I'm guessing will lead the league in DVOA, and probably DYAR/G (he's played one less than lil' Bro, Brady, Rodgers).

by tuluse :: Mon, 10/29/2012 - 11:35am

He's likely to win his division, while it's much less clear for Rodgers (I would say <50% for the Pack right now). As for Brady he lacks some kind of novelty that the voters go for. It's just normal good Patriots.

My guess would be that Matt Ryan and Peyton Manning have the inside track on MVP right now.

by RickD :: Mon, 10/29/2012 - 12:16pm

Peter King thinks Matt Ryan "is the leader in the clubhouse."

The point is, we're far from a point where anybody is "probably" going to win the MVP.

by Ryan D. :: Mon, 10/29/2012 - 12:51pm

Imagine Tim Tebow is still the starting QB in Denver for this season instead of Peyton Manning. What would be the record of the Broncos as of right now? How well would they have played against the hardest part of their schedule?

I think every game would look just like the playoff debacle against New England from last season, and the Broncos would be thrilled to have 2 wins (Oakland, maybe SD) right now. Manning is a gigantic upgrade at the most important position on the field, and he's going to turn Miller/Dumervil into Freeney/Mathis 2.0 by allowing them to constantly play with a lead.

by commissionerleaf :: Mon, 10/29/2012 - 1:18pm

Except that they've been behind early almost every game. Only the Oakland and New Orleans games were really big leads.

Anyone else expect Manning to wink every time the QB comparison with Brees came up during the game on NBC? Sort of "Yeah, 2009 was one game, bitch."

by tunesmith :: Mon, 10/29/2012 - 3:36pm

I think the Broncos would have won at Atlanta with Tebow, just because he wouldn't have thrown those interceptions. Tebow is very safe with the ball in high-leverage situations. But I think the Broncos would have lost at San Diego with Tebow. Before the bye, the other games would have been about the same. Denver/Tebow had already beaten Pittsburgh/Oakland in the same stadiums, and I don't think Tebow would have been able to bring Denver back against Houston.

As for New Orleans, hard to say - I think the defense played really well, but New Orleans probably would have gotten more shots given Denver's extra punting. So it could have easily been New Orleans winning. So I'll say 3-4 instead of 4-3.

by commissionerleaf :: Mon, 10/29/2012 - 3:50pm

Denver also wouldn't have scored the way they did in the second half at Atlanta. And Tebow mostly failed to throw interceptions by missing the entire field of play. I agree that the New Orleans and Oakland games are probably WWT (Wins With Tebow) at least potentially. But San Diego beats a Tebow Broncos team, and so does Pittsburgh, 9 times out of 10.

by Brent :: Tue, 10/30/2012 - 11:51am

"Tebow mostly failed to throw interceptions by missing the entire field of play," is the best sentence I've read all day.

by tunesmith :: Tue, 10/30/2012 - 3:17pm

I'd also agree it was true, but I'd also point out that these throws were almost always intentional. I mean, you can criticize him for playing too cautiously in those situations, but I think it misses the point to argue that he's wildly inaccurate - he really isn't.

by commissionerleaf :: Tue, 10/30/2012 - 4:29pm

He's cautious AND wildly innaccurate. I could dial up a Youtube montage of his misses in Denver, I'm sure, but you get the idea. He's Derek Anderson with a cross pendant, the quarterbacking equivalent of a nameless baddie in a Bond film spraying a submachine gun for five minutes to absolutely no effect. He's Steve Martin, trying to poke his finger through a hole made by his other fingers and missing.

Of course, Sanchez isn't very much, you know, -better-...

by Candace Bergen (not verified) :: Tue, 10/30/2012 - 1:16am

Why would Rodgers or Brady be considered MVP favorites at this point of the season? Not that anybody should be right now, I suppose, but I don't see why Brady would even be in the conversation.

by apbadogs :: Tue, 10/30/2012 - 11:04am

I haven't seen much of Manning this year but watched Sunday night as was in awe at how sharp the Broncos looked. They are going to be a tough, tough out in the playoffs...if they are put out.

by nat :: Mon, 10/29/2012 - 11:26am

Probably = >50% chance.
Lock = >>>50% chance.
Yes, I was exaggerating for effect. Thanks for noticing.

Still, I wouldn't put Manning at >50% chance of being MVP - unless people are voting a sentimental lifetime achievement award rather than an MVP. And yesterday's game was not MVP-worthy in itself. It was barely above an average result against this particular defense.

by tuluse :: Mon, 10/29/2012 - 11:42am

Are you seriously suggesting that MVP voters do anything but vote for sentimentality?

by nat :: Mon, 10/29/2012 - 12:21pm

No, people are stupid - well some people are, anyway, some of whom are MVP voters.

But to the original points:

1) Using yesterday's essentially average result as an argument for an MVP award - bad
2) Comparing any team to Tebow and Orton's 2011 Broncos in a discussion about MVP - worse
3) Using win-loss record to judge the quality of any team's offense - still worse
4) Not knowing that last year Tebow had a better win-loss record than Manning does so far - epic failure

Disagree with any of that?

It was a stupid idea on at least four levels. You could add a fifth:
5) Not recognizing that - once again, and by far - the Bronco's defense contributed more to the victory than the offense did.

by Danish Denver-Fan :: Mon, 10/29/2012 - 12:34pm

Agreed. Mostly. Regarding 1)(see #78): I'm not sure what more you want from Manning yesterday. Granted the first drive or two was slow. Other than that he was lights out - TD drives of 98 and 95 yards. When his defense proved good enough to suffocate Bress, he simply stopped trying and began handing off (no attempts not marked "short left/right" by the NFL statkeeper in 4th quarter).

The Saints team were simply so bad that Manning only needed to play well for 40 minutes - so he did. Little doubt in my mind that he puts up 70-100 more yards if he had to. Instead he handed off to the tune of 225 rushing yards.

by nat :: Mon, 10/29/2012 - 1:39pm

This complaint doesn't hold up to scrutiny.

We can ignore all final 'real' drives and all 'kneel' drives so we can compare parts of games that aren't subject to this 'really trying' complaint. But that makes Manning's results look even closer to average by comparison. He only scored 31 points on "really trying" drives. But the average result was 29 points. So he only achieved about 2 points better than an average QB.

No, Manning could have done much better (see Brady, 5 straight TD drives against an average pass defense). Peyton wasn't playing at an MVP level and then letting up on the gas pedal. He was merely doing what just about everybody does against the Saints, but ever so slightly better. Maybe he wasn't trying very hard throughout the game. But that doesn't make it an MVP level performance. Quite the reverse.

No MVP performance here this week. Move along.

by dmstorm22 :: Mon, 10/29/2012 - 1:53pm

Fine, but looking at the whole season, I can't see any case for Brady over Manning.

Manning has been better in nearly every way (aside from their head-to-head, although Mannning played well in that game). There's an argument for Rodgers, Eli and the 'hey, they're 7-0' argument for Ryan, but Manning is right up there.

by nat :: Mon, 10/29/2012 - 2:33pm

I'm sorry. You're looking for the Irrational Brady-Manning Thread, aren't you. You want room 12A, next door.

....stupid git.

by dmstorm22 :: Mon, 10/29/2012 - 2:44pm

I'm saying in the context of this particular season, in the context of this season's MVP race. Manning has been better. There is an argument that he has been the best QB in the NFL this season, and nothing that happened last night changes that. He's had one bad quarter the entire season, basically.

by theslothook :: Mon, 10/29/2012 - 2:55pm

Actually, it was RickD that brought up not understanding why MANning is a favorite over Rodgers and BRady, so he was probably responding to that.

As to current playing ability, Im a bit stunned that people are so curious about his play so far, as outside of one terrible game against atlanta, hes been brilliant otherwise. We all realize individual stats one way or another don't tell even most of the story, but that cuts away at every other qb you want to compare manning to.

One step further, the broncos last year had an abysmal passing game and vince right before this year mentioned how seemingly little talent they really had. The FO book mentioned that even with orton last year, their receivers were doing nothing. Mike Tanier on sports earth was also doubtful about how great the receivers were. Of course, now it feels like everyone's shift in judging the broncos quality of receivers is completely after the fact. Truth be told, the broncos may have won 8 games, but they were a pretty bad team last year that won an incredibly crappy division and some amazing fortunes that were completely unsustainable. If Manning hadn't been there, no one would be surprised if this team was one of worst in the league. I'm not going to be lazy and say the turnaround is all Manning, but in reality, he, like elite qbs, enhances the quality of the roster in just about every phase. You heard drew brees talking about how the offense strategy changes when you face that kind of QB. You've heard Teddy Bruschi talk about how the defense changes completely when facing him.

I think Manning is the favorite to win it currently, but that doesn't necessarily make him the best qb in the nfl. I feel that's still Rodgers, but we all know MVP awards don't always reward people that way. Still, anyone who doesn't think Manning isn't at least deserving of the mvp is really not being fair imo.

by Bobman :: Tue, 10/30/2012 - 1:54am

Nat, you festering pile of parrot droppings, your kind make me sick.

That was some epic Graham Chapman you laid on us. My 3 sons, (12,10,8) can more or less repeat that routine (from Live/Hollywood Bowl) cold. It's what we watch when football is not on.

by nat :: Tue, 10/30/2012 - 7:52am

Thanks. I'm glad somebody noticed.

Next up: The Ministry of Silly Stats.

QBR meets Effective Yards. Seriously. Does anyone get anything useful from these two?

by Marko :: Tue, 10/30/2012 - 12:31pm

I noticed right away and laughed but didn't bother to comment. Also, that was never 5 minutes.

by RickD :: Mon, 10/29/2012 - 3:11pm

"Manning has been better in nearly every way"

Well, not including DYAR, which is the #1 stat used for evaluating QB play at this website. Or total yardage (Brady leads the NFL, Manning is nearly 300 yards behind.)
But Brady has played one more game.

Yards/attempt is a good stat for many purposes, but it might tell you more about the kind of offense the team runs than the overall contribution a QB gives to the team.

Yes, it's impressive that Peyton is #1 in that stat. But if we look at the next few players on the list (Josh Freeman, Cam Newton, and RGIII) its weakness becomes apparent. Freeman averages a half yard more per attempt than Brady, but Brady has made 100 more attempts and has ~34% more yardage. So there's a problem with looking at average stats.

I prefer cumulative stats for looking at the MVP race. Of course part of why they favor Brady right now is that he's played an extra game. We'll see how they relate after the bye week.

Of course, my main point is not that Brady is a better candidate than Manning, but rather that the notion that Manning "probably will win another MVP" is seriously premature.

by theslothook :: Mon, 10/29/2012 - 3:17pm

I hate all single qb stats. There are absolutely no ways for that stat to separate qb play from quality of team. I use to dislike QBR too, till I read it. It may have some big big flaws(see opponent adjustments, clutch factor) but it actually, imo, does a sensible job compared to dvoa and dyar for qbs. In addition to using things dyar and dvoa do(like sacks, pi penalties, down the field weighting), they take into account pressure stats and air yards.

Btw, I prefer rate stats to cumulative, even though I can understand why you prefer cumulative. Its hard to balance volume with quality and sample size.

by dmstorm22 :: Mon, 10/29/2012 - 3:32pm

Brady's DYAR lead is due to him playing one more game. Manning's DYAR/Game is higher. You mentioned this, but that is why I tried to use per game stats.

Anyway, they are close. I agree Manning isn't above 50% likely, but I would say he is the leading candidate, and he has been the best QB in the NFL this season. It may be close, but other than volume stats where Brady's leads are a factor of him playing more games (or I guess Rodgers leads in TDs playing the same amount of games), Manning has been, to me, the better QB so far this season. I might actually put JJ Watt high up the MVP list so far as well.

by commissionerleaf :: Mon, 10/29/2012 - 3:59pm

Here is another vote for Watt, based on the season to date.

Manning had one bad quarter at Atlanta, when he was apparently seeing something wrong (of course he won't tell us what). Other than that he has been lights out all season long, and appears to be getting more confident every week. But Denver would be a pretty good team without Manning, and they're 4-3. Manning needs to get them into the playoffs before we crown his ass.

Not that that should be very hard given that their competition is a Raiders team they beat handily a couple weeks ago, a team that is hoping for Brady Quinn to recover from a concussion (!) to start at QB, and a team that just lost to Cleveland.

Still it is troubling that despite Manning having a great season, Denver has not managed to beat any of the good teams on its schedule.

by dmstorm22 :: Mon, 10/29/2012 - 4:19pm

I agree with the argument that Denver doesn't have a great record, but they have the same amount of losses as New England and Green Bay, who have two MVP Candidates at QB. The teams with better records (less than three losses) are QBed by Matt Ryan, Jay Cutler, Matt Schaub, Eli Manning and Alex Smith. Other than Ryan and Eli, none of them are really having the years that Brady, Peyton or Rodgers are having.

Also, Denver wouldn't be very good without Manning. They were far worse than an 8-8 team last season (outscored by 81 points).

by theslothook :: Mon, 10/29/2012 - 4:39pm

Yeah I can understand for the life of me, why there is any skepticism about Manning whatsoever. Do people realize how phenomenal his stats are?(again, taking into account the fact that stats are biased, but they are biased for everyone). He's near the lead in all major passing statistics despite ranking out of the top 8 in attempts. Whats more, this isn't an example of Manning just passing less, Denver is second only to Pittsburgh in fewest number of offensive drives.

Finally- I'm even more miffed at the notion that Denver would be just slightly worse off with Tebow. Are you kidding me? The same tebow that can't crack the starting lineup with MARK SANCHEZ? The same tebow that was awful for 3.85 quarters before finally making some plays to win(and having one hell of a kicker). And finally, are we so quick to forget where the colts were just one year ago? I know this is is a bit superficial, but... 10 straight years of playoff births and double digit wins and then...to the worst team in the nfl. As we've seen before, teams lose hall of fame qbs and win less games. Teams don't lose hall of fame qbs and completely implode, unless they are named Peyton.

by Bobman :: Tue, 10/30/2012 - 2:11am

What makes Manning's 2012 performance more impressive--although not likely to be considered a key factor for MVP voting purposes--is the fact that he's known most of his teammates for all of six months. QBs the quality of Rodgers and Brady and Brees playing with guys with whom they have developed an in-game rapport SHOULD be lighting things up. Manning, conversely, SHOULD have some ups and downs because of his newness in DEN and his year lay-off, but aside from one quarter, it's been ups.

I think sentiment will weigh heavily on the voters, and like it or not, unless Ryan's team is 14-0 when the votes are due, it's Manning's to lose at this point.

Also, if you look back at drive stats over the years, you'll see that Indy nearly always had the fewest drives in the league, coupled with the worst starting field position, and were consistently at/near the top in drive yardage and DSR. So him being near the top in cume QB stats despite his team having a paucity of drives is not particularly meaningful (i.e. nothing new), except that it mirrors the climate of his previous four MVP seasons. Surely some more cerebral voters consider stuff like that. Others seem to vote for the uniform color they like best.

by theslothook :: Mon, 10/29/2012 - 4:57pm

Yeah I can't understand for the life of me, why there is any skepticism about Manning whatsoever. Do people realize how phenomenal his stats are?(again, taking into account the fact that stats are biased, but they are biased for everyone). He's near the lead in all major passing statistics despite ranking out of the top 8 in attempts. Whats more, this isn't an example of Manning just passing less, Denver is second only to Pittsburgh in fewest number of offensive drives.

Finally- I'm even more miffed at the notion that Denver would be just slightly worse off with Tebow. Are you kidding me? The same tebow that can't crack the starting lineup with MARK SANCHEZ? The same tebow that was awful for 3.85 quarters before finally making some plays to win(and having one hell of a kicker). And finally, are we so quick to forget where the colts were just one year ago? I know this is is a bit superficial, but... 10 straight years of playoff births and double digit wins and then...to the worst team in the nfl. As we've seen before, teams lose hall of fame qbs and win less games. Teams don't lose hall of fame qbs and completely implode, unless they are named Peyton.

by c0rrections (not verified) :: Mon, 10/29/2012 - 2:58pm

Seems to me like you aren't accounting for field position here. Why are you using yards as your evaluative measuring stick?

by theslothook :: Mon, 10/29/2012 - 3:40pm

@Nat Average performance? This is clearly an example of you looking at TDS and yards without context. Did you even watch the game? He basically took the air out of the ball after scoring his last td. Runs repeatedly, even on third and 10. From an efficiency standpoint, it was incredible. It was pretty obvious to anyone who really watched that Manning was in soak the clock and just play conservative at that point. If you really need proof of this, examine the pass to run distribution up till the 4th quarter, it was about 6-4 in favor of the pass. On the last 4 drives the broncos became heavily skewed toward the run.

It may have been against the saints defense, but it was still a pretty amazing performance.

by MJK :: Mon, 10/29/2012 - 11:45am

Manning has one big advantage in the MVP voting...he has the advantage of replacing someone who was terrible. People have to speculate how good the Packers or the Patriots would be sans Rodgers or Brady. People can see with their eyes how bad Denver was with Tebow/Orton at QB last year.

So fair or not, that will help Manning.

by RickD :: Mon, 10/29/2012 - 12:18pm

In my mind, ">=50%" is too low for "probably". I would use "more likely than not" for that.

And "lock" should be reserved for 100-(epsilon)%, for the ordinary usage of epsilon (a very small number).

by Danish Denver-Fan :: Mon, 10/29/2012 - 12:23pm

Related: It was also 530 total yards most against the Saints so far. Assigning credit is tricky, but Manning should get at least some credit for building a lead and then calling the right run plays.

Also: It isn't Mannings fault that Brees couldn't keep up and force him to throw more. Manning basically three quarters of mistake free quarterbacking (granted against a horrible defense). Then in the 4th quarter he passed for 27 yards with the game totally out of reach. Would his game really have been better if he'd hung up 120 and two TDs in the fourth quarter?

by Bobman :: Tue, 10/30/2012 - 2:19am

It's 2004 over again, with Manning supporters pointing out that he either did not play, or just handed-off in roughly five fourth quarters, while taking game 16 entirely off. That is, he gave up the opporetunity to accumulate stats in more than two entire games, artifically depressing his cume stats. Then you look at other historic seasons, and see (oh, God, this will get me banned and a THIRD iteration of the Peytom Branning thread created) some QBs throwing TD passes with three minutes on the clock and a 21 pt lead. It's just not apples to apples in terms of how they are accumulating those stats. Few nicknames have been less appropriate than the Simmons nickname for him of "statboy."

by Paul R :: Mon, 10/29/2012 - 9:23am

Ballard's touchdown was indeed a thing of beauty. I was most impressed watching the replay that he took off from the five-yard line. Fifteen feet in the air. If he hadn't done the pirouette, the defensive player would have knocked him out of bounds. The pirouette allowed him to spin over the top of the other player.

Matt Waldman's comment that we need Greg Louganis to describe Ballard's touchdown sent me to Diving.About.com. The best I could find there was "Forward 1&1/2 Twist in the Straight Position," which is a little wordy and only carries a 1.8 degree of difficulty. A better name is needed.

by Revenge of the NURBS (not verified) :: Mon, 10/29/2012 - 9:52am

To me, it looked like something out of Street Fighter 2. Perhaps M Bison's flying torpedo.

by The Hypno-Toad :: Mon, 10/29/2012 - 11:43am

Especially because of the lightning surrounding his body and his weirdly military uniform.

by Karl Cuba :: Mon, 10/29/2012 - 3:34pm

That was exactly what it made me think of too.

by J. Morse (not verified) :: Mon, 10/29/2012 - 11:41am

I have a vivid memory of Bears RB Neal Anderson making a similar dive; ball in the outside arm, he twisted while diving out of bounds to get the ball just inside the pylon. Maybe the 1990 season. Don't think he got hit mid-air, though.

by Travis :: Mon, 10/29/2012 - 12:08pm
by akn :: Mon, 10/29/2012 - 3:29pm

Actually, I thought the dive was a bad decision. He took off from basically 5 yards away, and there was a defender's helmet in close proximity as he held the ball out.

On Monday night's game between Chicago and Detroit, inexperienced RB Joique Bell was widely panned for launching ball first from the 4 yard line, for which he fumbled and the Bears recovered.

by Revenge of the NURBS (not verified) :: Mon, 10/29/2012 - 4:31pm

Often the difference between hero and goat is results-based. In this case, it worked, and he'll be on Plays of the Week, I'm sure.

I do worry though, that this will inspire future attempts that turn out less successfully. I've often said that when a young QB flings some ill-advised wild pass into traffic, the worst thing that can happen is that he completes it. Then he thinks he can get away with it. Same idea here.

But this attempt felt pretty low-risk as I was watching it. I haven't seen the Detroit game you mentioned, so I don't know how similar the cases are, but in this case, he was half-way out of bounds as he was flying. For a fumble to end up anywhere but out of bounds was pretty unlikely here.

by Eddo :: Mon, 10/29/2012 - 4:34pm

There's a big difference between the two cases.

Bell's leap occurred in the middle of the field, surrounded by 21 other players. He also had much less momentum, as he had just taken a handoff.

Ballard's leap was close to the sideline, with only a few other players nearby. A fumble is fairly likely to just go out of bounds in that situation (though there is certainly a touchback risk). He also was running at full speed, and was thus more likely to reach the end zone.

It was risky, sure, but nowhere near as risky as Bell's leap.

by Anonymousse (not verified) :: Mon, 10/29/2012 - 9:27am

"Wilson just got lost."

I think thats exactly what happened on that play. He got beat on the double move, but caught up well before the ball got there, then he just kind of cut underneath and ran completely in the wrong direction. I'm not sure if he thought he was going to run into the other safety, or if he misjudged where the ball was coming down, but it was ugly.

by RickD :: Mon, 10/29/2012 - 12:21pm

Wilson did the same thing against the Seahawks and that led to the 46-yard TD game-winning TD.

by Keith(1) (not verified) :: Mon, 10/29/2012 - 9:50am

I may be the only one, but does anybody else feel like Thomas is the most physically gifted receiver Peyton has ever had? Harrison was a great talent in terms of his ability, not his physicality; Wayne is the same way. Thomas just seems to be heads and shoulders above both of them, and if he gets to play with Peyton any significant amount of time, I can see him being highly paid on his second contract.

by Danish Denver-Fan :: Mon, 10/29/2012 - 10:19am

This particular N-word is going to be heavily compensated. Seriously, having Manning come to your team while you are on your rookie contract is like winning the lottery. I mean Thomas and Decker has gone from looking like OK recievers to elite talents, and you just KNOW that some GM is going to break the bank for them one of these years.

by The Hypno-Toad :: Mon, 10/29/2012 - 12:25pm

Am I missing a reference or something that prevents the first sentence of this post from being offensive? Because it seems offensive.

by RickD :: Mon, 10/29/2012 - 12:35pm

That was my reaction. Kind of like "this guy thinks that he can use the word without using the word by saying 'N-word'.

I thought 'N-word' was created to discuss the word, not to serve as a substitute for the word.

Seems a bit nerdy/racist.

by tuluse :: Mon, 10/29/2012 - 12:41pm

Given the user name, I'm going to guess it's more of a misunderstanding than anything.

by Danish Denver-Fan :: Mon, 10/29/2012 - 12:44pm

No reference. I may be crossing a line. Sorry if so - genuinly.

Actually it originately read: Nigga's gonna get paid. Now I'm just trolling. I'm also on a personal crusade against words that apparantly can only be used by some people. The N-word can as far as I can tell only be used by black people (how did you know I am not black, BTW?). Faggot is another such word. I'm physically disabled and there is no word you can call me that'll strike a nerve - why not these other groups?

This is probably going to start a Rule#1 debate, so if a moderator finds it out of line go ahead and delete this post. (Possibly letting the first line be).

by Independent George :: Mon, 10/29/2012 - 12:58pm

He can't help it. He's Danish.

This one works, too.

I've waited two long years for the chance to link SATW.

by Danish Denver-Fan :: Mon, 10/29/2012 - 1:03pm

Very funny! And probably true. Call me racially oblivious.

by tuluse :: Mon, 10/29/2012 - 12:54pm

You're missing the other problem. Some words are not appropriate for certain settings. This is a setting where neither of those words are.

by Danish Denver-Fan :: Mon, 10/29/2012 - 1:01pm

Fair point. Admittedly it is a pointless thing to write - at best.

by Peregrine :: Mon, 10/29/2012 - 1:30pm

Yep. Just don't even go there.

My European brother-in-law was visiting the US a few years ago and while we were talking in a pretty busy restaurant, he said the word out loud. Thankfully, the only thing anyone heard was me gulping.

by young curmudgeon :: Mon, 10/29/2012 - 3:11pm

"I'm physically disabled and there is no word you can call me that'll strike a nerve - why not these other groups?"

Well, perhaps because comparatively few physically disabled people were kidnapped, shipped to another continent, and forced to work for no compensation, then, after being 'emancipated,' subject to being hung from a tree if they spoke in any way other than subservient to a white woman. Or because relatively few physically disabled people have been pistol-whipped, tied to a fence, and left to die. Some, perhaps (spare me the cherry-picked counter-examples), but I'm not aware of it being part of the overall situation of the physically disabled.

And why are you on a personal crusade against words that can only be used by some people? How are you harmed, or even annoyed, by not being able to utter whatever slur pops into your brain? Look around you at the difficulties, problems, sufferings, injustices, and even mere annoyances in the world--is this really the best use of your 'personal crusading' time?

by RickD :: Mon, 10/29/2012 - 3:17pm

There are words that have been historically used by people in one group to degrade people in another group. As a result, it's become unacceptable for people in the first group to use that word.
This is really hard to understand?
FWIW, it's not considered widely acceptably for people in the second group to use the word either. It is a matter of great debate within the black community whether it degrades their own culture when blacks use the N-word to refer to each other. I doubt, for example, that Clarence Thomas would use that word when referring to Condi Rice or Barack Obama.

by Jimmy :: Mon, 10/29/2012 - 3:27pm

Not meaning to pile on here, I think you meant no offense and used clumsy language, all cool. However there are/were plenty of words in the English language that demean disabled people. No one uses them anymore because they are considered taboo and pretty much everyone you use them in front of will find them offensive (mainly becuase that kind of small mindedness is really offensive).

But again, I don't think you were trying to be offensive.

by commissionerleaf :: Mon, 10/29/2012 - 4:00pm


That is all.

by Jimmy :: Mon, 10/29/2012 - 5:18pm

Nothing in my post is political.

That is all.

by Dragon Pi (not verified) :: Mon, 10/29/2012 - 5:10pm

Actually, there are words that are offensive to physically disabled people that they could get away with, but that others would be heavily criticized for using such as cripple or gimp.

Anyhow, in my mind, systemic oppression such as racism that affects every aspect of somebody's life is a bigger deal than people who don't face this oppression's social acceptability if they are careless about using words that have a strong historical significance regarding that oppression.

by apbadogs :: Tue, 10/30/2012 - 11:09am

" why not these other groups?"
Because a LOT of people look for ANY reason to be "offended".

by Gri34 (not verified) :: Mon, 10/29/2012 - 9:57am

With these London games, how is it determined who will be the home and who will be the visiting team? Seems like a huge advantage to be the road team for these games.

Does the NFL just throw a ton of $$ at whoever agrees to be the home team?

by johonny (not verified) :: Mon, 10/29/2012 - 12:50pm

Given that the game was totally unwatchable perhaps they need to save the money to bribe fans to go to these games.

by Eggwasp (not verified) :: Tue, 10/30/2012 - 5:19am

Nah, I could have paid more money to go watch a 0-0 soccer game this weekend. 45-7 is fine. At least they are here and I still can't believe they come to see us.

by c0rrections (not verified) :: Mon, 10/29/2012 - 3:01pm

As near as I can tell its just the team with more league clout that gets to be home.

by c0rrections (not verified) :: Mon, 10/29/2012 - 3:02pm

That would be the team with more clout gets to keep the extra real home game rather than having the fake home game.

by RickD :: Mon, 10/29/2012 - 3:24pm

In recent years, certain owners have volunteered to give up a home game to play a home game in London. Often these have been owners with some kind of tie to England - such as Malcolm Glazer's Bucs. For some reason, the Rams agreed to do three home games in London, and then backed out of that deal before the first of the three was played. The Jaguars have taken up the Rams' deal, offering to play home games for four years in a row starting next year. Also, the Vikings are hosting a game in London next year. The common theme seems to be teams that have difficulty drawing fans at home and/or want to put pressure on their local government by hinting at the possibility of moving to a new city.

by Purds :: Mon, 10/29/2012 - 3:42pm

"The common theme seems to be teams that have difficulty drawing fans at home and/or want to put pressure on their local government by hinting at the possibility of moving to a new city."

That might be it. I was trying to figure these out as I looked at the history, and I couldn't see it. Good catch.

by LionInAZ :: Mon, 10/29/2012 - 6:57pm

If they had really wanted to scare local governments that they might lose their football team, it would have been more effective to have these games on LA (Rose Bowl or Collisseum). I chalk it to a quixotic quest to drum up support for NFL Europe. A straight-up expansion to London would be a scheduling nightmare, and I can't see how players or coaches would put up with such a move.

by David :: Tue, 10/30/2012 - 5:03am

"The common theme seems to be teams that have difficulty drawing fans at home and/or want to put pressure on their local government by hinting at the possibility of moving to a new city"

Hmm, let's look at the tape....

Year 1 (2007): Miami Dolphins

Strong fanbase in the UK (due to Marino popularity in '80s, proximity to UK and good tourist destination). Probably a big sales job by the league to the team ("We need the first one to go well, you've got a big following, we'll make it up to you")

Year 2 (2008): New Orleans Saints

Just after Katrina, part of a tourist drive to show New Orleans was still open for tourism (there was a lot made of this in the run-up). Fits in the category of team that might be looking at other homes (not sure, but I seem to recall that some were worried that New Orleans wouldn't have the municipal dollars to support a team/get a new stadium following the disaster)

Year 3 (2009): Tampa Bay Buccaneers

The owners of the Bucs also own Manchester United, so some potential synergy there (none whatsoever, really, given that all Man U fans blame the Glazers for saddling the club with debt). No real hints of the Bucs wanting to leave Tampa (that I'm aware of)

Year 4 (2010): San Francisco 49ers

Some stadium issues, but were resolved prior to the game being played. Doesn't really fit the profile of a team wanting to leave. General feeling was the Jed York wanted to make an offering to the league to solidify his position

Year 5 (2011): Tampa Bay Buccaneers (again)

Same as 2009 - however this was more likely to be driven by the problems with the lockout. Feeling of Glazer jumping on the grenade

Year 6 (2012): St Louis Rams

The Rams agreed to host four games in London, an agreement that they stepped out of when the city acceded to their stadium demands. Their place was taken by Jacksonville, who have agreed to play in London for the next four years.

Years 7 & Beyond: Jacksonville Jaguars & Minnesota Vikings

Ah, now we come to it - both of these teams have strong issues with their current stadium/home arrangements, and have seen the benefit that the Rams gained.

So, there have been five teams so far to host games (with the Bucs hosting twice), and two more announced for next year. Of the five to host so far, only one (Rams) have had a significant stadium problem, though both the Saints and the 49ers have had question marks.

I'd say that the first four years are characterised by teams or owners that are active in the league, and want to push the agenda forwards. This year, and the coming years, have seen a change, with teams seeing an opportunity to create some leverage on stadium/hosting deals

Also, I note that I ignored the 49ers/Cardinals game played in Mexico City in 2005 (which the NFL counts as part of the international series), and also Buffalo's trips to Canada (which it does not)

You may notice, by the way, that I'm slightly obsessed with this topic!

by Purds :: Mon, 10/29/2012 - 3:18pm

I agree with you. If you're a "known" team with appeal, then having an away game in London instead of at an actual opponents stadium is a good deal (well, you do have to travel to London, but so does the opponent).

Then again, almost every team the NFL would want to showcase will fit the "known" team label (Patriots, Cowboys, Giants), and someone needs to be the away team. NE got lucky this time, in being the away team against a world nobody (Rams) who had to travel really far. That's got to be the nearly best advantage. The best would be: East Coast known team plays "away" at West Coast work nobody that has a crazy home stadium advantage. Think NYG get to play Seattle in London as an away game. That would be advantageous as opposed to playing in Seattle.

Note, NE was also the "away" team in 2009. But, overall, if you read about the history of the NFL games, the logic is really wonky. Some teams seem to agree to it because it will give them exposure, some teams seem to agree to it to help out the NFL (NE seems this way).

by Revenge of the NURBS (not verified) :: Mon, 10/29/2012 - 10:03am

OK, I'll give you that kicking the FG from the 2 was probably an overly conservative move by the Colts.

But I didn't have a problem with kneeling down at the end of regulation. The running plays on 1st and 2nd down -- you can do those because you know that the Titans will use their timeouts. If you get decent yardage, great. If not, focus on picking up the first down and move on. Then, when Allen fumbled after picking up the first down, I think that was a gentle reminder that there's a fine line between aggressive and reckless. Bottom line is, the Colts were a lot closer to losing the game on that drive than winning it. Kneel down and fight another day in OT.

by Paul R :: Mon, 10/29/2012 - 12:29pm

I agree. Also Reggie Wayne took a shot to the head on the almost-fumble and stayed down for a minute. So, it's an away game, it's third and long, the defense is pounding us with the blitz, the rookies are jittery and our best veteran receiver is still trying to remember what day it is. Solution: Take a knee.

by Anonanon (not verified) :: Mon, 10/29/2012 - 10:07am

You're blowing Arians crap for kicking a field goal on fourth down in the first half of a tight game and ignoring the fact that he went for it on fourth down in the fourth quarter when he could have played it safe, kicked and plead the "We thought we could stop them on defense and have a chance to score a TD in regulation for the win" if it didn't work out. It may be the booze talking but I could see Dungy kicking in that situation. It seems that the Colts have gone for it on fourth more frequently this year than they used to and that's a good thing.

On the other side of the ball, unless Bironas was hurt, Jeff Fisher would have gone for the sixty yarder.

As for Vick Ballard, did he high jump for his HS track team? Because his form was pretty spot on.

by Paul R :: Mon, 10/29/2012 - 12:39pm

Maybe they could call Ballard's TD the "Fosbury Flop."

I was surprised they didn't try the FG. They had the wind. 60-yarders aren't that rare anymore, especially with the wind at your back.

by Johnny Socko (not verified) :: Mon, 10/29/2012 - 1:40pm

The Titans kicker spent most of the 2nd half lying on the training table getting his hamstring stretched-out. This could be the reason they decided not to try the 60 yard FG.

by Ben :: Mon, 10/29/2012 - 2:39pm

I know it was 4th and goal from the two, and I'm all for more aggressiveness on 4th down, but it was the Colts first offensive drive of the game, on the road, down 0-3. I don't think taking the FG is an unreasonable choice there.

by TomC :: Mon, 10/29/2012 - 11:05am

Reverse "missing-the-point-of-Audibles" complaint/observation here: I'm shocked that many of you sat through the ugly-fest that was CAR-CHI. Bears OL + Cutler's "pocket presence" + Cam Newton's "accuracy" + general Carolina loser sauce = excruciating 3+ hours.

by Steve in WI :: Mon, 10/29/2012 - 11:43am

As a Bears fan, I think yesterday's game probably took measurable time off my lifespan.

There was so much bad that I don't know where to start. The first Bears drive, capped off by Cutler's interception, is as good a place as any. First play, Cutler gets sacked but the Bears are bailed out by an illegal use of hands penalty. Second play, Forte runs for 6 yards. Third play, Cutler to Marshall for 9 yards and a first down. Fourth play, Forte runs for 9 yards. It's 2nd and 1 at midfield. So far, the run has been effective and you've got a short-yardage situation. While I understand the temptation to take a shot downfield, and perhaps that was even the right call since they were likely to pick up a yard or more on 3rd down if needed, Cutler never should have thrown into triple coverage. Even if Marshall had made a miraculous catch, it still would have been a bad decision.

I felt like a Bears loss was certain when Gould missed that 33 yard field goal attempt. I can't remember the last time I've seen him miss a kick that short; the nice thing about watching him kick is that anything under 40 feels like an extra point.

And then at the end of the 4th quarter, the Bears morph into a team that can move the ball into field-goal range at will. I think Cutler was something like 14 of 16 in his last 16 attempts if I'm remembering what the announcers said correctly.

Almost halfway through the season, I'm still waiting for the Bears offense to look good. Once again, the defense had to score and bail them out.

by Eddo :: Mon, 10/29/2012 - 12:50pm

The interception didn't bother me all that much. It was a shame, yes, but I do think Marshall was breaking open, so the decision wasn't that bad. The execution was very poor though - the pass was definitely underthrown.

Three of the six sacks were certainly on Cutler, and the first fumble was especially bad. It's almost like he was in a daze out there.

But in the fourth quarter, he looked great. In the third, Cutler himself wasn't too bad - Marshall and Spaeth had killer drops on great throws, I thought.

by Ryan D. :: Mon, 10/29/2012 - 1:09pm

The great play by Cutler in the 4th quarter (and especially the final game-winning drive) was made possible by the idiots coaching the Panthers defense. They called the exact same vanilla defense over and over and over and over and over and over while the Bears ran the exact same ~10-yard slant over and over and over and over and over and over again on the left side of the field.

For any Panthers or Giants fans that can remember back to week three, just picture Ramses Barden going up for that exact same pass approximately 32 times in that Thursday night game, but now put him in a Bears jersey. This is exacly what happened yesterday in Chicago.

It's like the Panthers were completely unwilling to change coverages, even when the other teams knew what they were going to do, and were only running the same exact play over and over again to exploit it. It's embarassing as hell as a Panthers fan to watch a defense roll out the red carpet for another team by refusing to adjust to something that is beating them.

by Independent George :: Mon, 10/29/2012 - 1:19pm

That's typical Ron Rivera, dating back to his days in Chicago. Ironically, the textbook example of this was against Carolina in the infamous Steve Smith game in 2005. They steadfastly refused to change from their base coverage no matter how many yards they gave up.

by tuluse :: Mon, 10/29/2012 - 1:24pm

That story line is over played. Two of the long touchdowns, the Bears had 2 defenders in the area to stop it. On the first one, Mike Brown was injured on the play and just collapsed, on the 2nd Chris Harris came over and delivered a huge hit... on Charles Tillman.

by Roch Bear :: Mon, 10/29/2012 - 2:05pm

True about the "Smith" game. The sad case of the sainted Mike Brown going, that season, from "a step slow physically but a step ahead mentally" to two or three steps slow physically, (and totally gimp on the play in discussion) along with the Harris pancake of Tillman.

But, the offered explanation is still reasonable for Sunday's game. Random variation is also possible. A nice explanation that often is important in late game situations (that the offense which is behind in the score, late, will take significant chances since it is do-or-die) doesn't seem all that applicable with J Cutler at QB. He is not exactly a cautious QB who only really takes chances at the end-game.

by tuluse :: Mon, 10/29/2012 - 1:25pm

You said there would be rollouts. Where are the rollouts Mike Tice?

by TomC :: Mon, 10/29/2012 - 1:53pm

I'm hearing this a lot from knowledgeable Bear fans, but I'm inclined to disagree. Rolling Cutler out is going to narrow his range of options (often down to 1) and (in my opinion) encourage him to force more throws.

by tuluse :: Mon, 10/29/2012 - 1:59pm

Maybe, but by the same token, it simplifies reads, and lets Cutler use his speed and arm strength more than his pre-snap reads.

The rules for grounding are relaxed out of the pocket too.

by Roch Bear :: Mon, 10/29/2012 - 2:09pm

Sure. But as a Bear's fan, I would love to see them try it and measure if it worked. Cutler's strength in not the ability to go from read-to-read anyway, so taking some reads away may not be as limiting as for him. He is accurate, strong armed and reasonably athletic so rolling out has possibilities. Anybody have a good feel for whether Cutler throws well enough when rolling left (nice variation if he can)?

by Marko :: Mon, 10/29/2012 - 8:31pm

Regarding the Bears offense, it seems obvious that they really miss Alshon Jeffery, who is out with a broken hand. I hope he isn't out too much longer. It's also obvious that they need to use Earl Bennett more and Devin Hester less, especially with Jeffery out.

They also need to not abandon the running game so quickly and to use Matt Forte more as a receiving option. I know that some of the sacks yesterday were due to Cutler holding the ball too long on screens to Forte that were blown up by the defense (Cutler has to get rid of the ball in those situations), so they were trying to get the ball to Forte. If the other team is taking away the screen game, they need to get Forte the ball out of the backfield in other ways, such as on wheel routes and routes over the middle.

by MJK :: Mon, 10/29/2012 - 11:43am

Normally I write into Audibles with a lot of opinions about the Patriots game. Except, after a game like that...there's really not much to say. The Patriots will do really well against teams that don't have an answer for Gronkowski or Welker, and will cream teams that don't have an answer for either. And their pass defense is much better with McCourty playing safety than CB (both because he's probably a better safety than their starting safeties, and because he's not a very good CB).

On to other games: Feel bad for Dez Bryant. He makes an amazing, game-winning catch, and then stupidly sticks his arm out and negates it all. He didn't actually have to do anything complex or difficult once he caught the ball...all he had to do was NOT do what he did (stick his arm down). You're wearing pads...you don't need to try to break your fall. Cradle the ball with both arms and everything would have been fine.

On the CAR game: I actually wish the NFL allowed a pick-2 on extra point attempts. (I.e the defense could score). It would come into play very rarely, so it wouldn't affect much, but the one or two times per year that it happened would be moments of great excitement and great highlights. Why not allow something that occasionally will make for great drama?

Little known fact: In college play, it is technically possible to score a single point apart from an XP on a TD. If the offense somehow commits a 98-yard safety on their extra point or 2 point conversion attempt, the defense scores a single point. Thus it is possible to lose a game 6-1 or 6-4. This is the only way for a team to have a final score of 1, except in cases of a forfeit (where the non-forfeiting teams wins 1-0).

by Danish Denver-Fan :: Mon, 10/29/2012 - 12:02pm

Has it ever happened? That a team scored a single point in a game?

by MJK :: Mon, 10/29/2012 - 12:21pm

According to Wikipedia, a defensive safety on a conversion attempt has never occurred. It would be extremely unlikely that an offensive player would run backwards 98 yards and then get tackled in his endzone. I would imagine the only way it would happen would be if a defender intercepted or recovered an offensive fumble, tried to run the ball back for a "pick-2", but then fumbled himself just short of the endzone and an offensive player recovered in the endzone.

Apparently, an offensive 1-point safety has occurred, in a 2004 Texas-Texas A&M game. The Longhorns scored a touchdown on a blocked punt. The Aggies blocked the ensuing extra point, and an Aggie recovered the ball on the 1 yard line. He tried to run it back for a 2 point conversion the other way, but fumbled it into the endzone. Another Aggie recovered the fumble in the endzone, and was tackled there. By rule, it was a 1 point safety, so the Longhorns got 1 point (which they had been trying for anyway). Still, after that wacky sequence, I bet some special teams coaches had some explaining to do!

Note that this kind of 1-point safety is possible under NFL rules as well.

by BigCheese :: Mon, 10/29/2012 - 3:53pm

No it's not. As soon as the defense gains posession of the ball, the play ends. Not sure what the rules says on a player on a try running back-wards 98 yards and causing a safety, but that could actually legally happen in the nfl.

- Alvaro

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

by Travis :: Mon, 10/29/2012 - 4:12pm

In the NFL, the defense cannot score in any way during an extra point.

Rule 11-3-2-c: If the defense gains possession [during an extra point], the ball is dead immediately. The defensive team cannot score during a Try.

The offense running back 98 yards and getting tackled in its own end zone would result in no score.

The only way the offense can score a one-point safety in the NFL is for the defense to bat the ball from the field of play into the end zone, then recover or have the ball go out of bounds.

A.R. 11.4: During a Try, placekick holder A1 fumbles. B1 kicks, bats, or muffs the loose ball (new impetus) on his two-yard line and it goes out of bounds behind the goal line.
Ruling: Ordinarily a safety (11-5-1). Award one point.

This has never happened in the NFL.

More on one-point safeties here.

by BigCheese :: Mon, 10/29/2012 - 4:30pm

Oooooohhhh... I never thought of that. Good to know! And if it ever happens, now I'll be prepared to explain it (over twitter, to the paid comentators who spent 5 minutes yesterday trying to figure out why an interception was being reviewed since no coach threw a challenge flag, and it wasn't inside the 2-minute warning. And then complaining about who decides what should get reviewed if they are just going to start reviewing things form upstairs because they felt like it. FIVE MINUTES. In a 3-man booth. Before someone let them know that turnovers are automatic reviews now).

- Alvaro

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

by Nevic (not verified) :: Mon, 10/29/2012 - 5:05pm

But this one-point safety is scored by the team that just scored a TD, so it is just like getting the extra point (the hard way!). A score of 1 is still not possible in the NFL.

by Travis :: Mon, 10/29/2012 - 12:10pm

6-4 has actually happened, but it took two safeties.

by Dean :: Mon, 10/29/2012 - 1:54pm

Funny, I read the first comment and thought "I don't need to reply, Travis will be all over this." Well done, as usual, sir.

by apbadogs :: Tue, 10/30/2012 - 11:12am

On CAR game...should it be troubling that about half the players on the field thought the missed XP could be picked up and returned, including Cutler (I believe it was him) running down the field trying to make a tackle? What if he'd got pancaked on a "non-play" and injured?

by Steve in WI :: Tue, 10/30/2012 - 2:25pm

I don't know how reasonable it is to blame them for not knowing the rules in the heat of the moment, but I had the same thought about Cutler. Especially since his season-ending injury last year came when he was trying to defend an interception return.

by johonny (not verified) :: Mon, 10/29/2012 - 12:55pm

Miami watched their 2nd round pick block the wrong man and get their 1 st round pick knocked out for the remainder of the game. For the second week in a row Miami's offense under impresses but the defense and special teams do enough to win. Moore did enough to score when the team had opportunities, but Miami's running game once again couldn't move the ball much. It's hard to imagine this was the same Jet team that nearly beat New England last week. This game seemed to illustrate why Miami fired Sparano and why perhaps the Jets should not have expect Sparano to create a new exciting offense this past offseason.

by Otis Taylor89 :: Mon, 10/29/2012 - 1:36pm

"Jason Pierre-Paul intercepts a swing pass from point-blank range, runs it back for a touchdown and follows it up with a dunk. Pierre-Paul is a defensive lineman."

As much of a freak JJ Watt is, I think Jason Pierre Paul may be freakier.

Anyway, I'll take those two guys to start my defense thank you very much.

by Ryan D. :: Mon, 10/29/2012 - 1:41pm

Is JPP considered to be a more freakish athlete for his size than Julius Peppers was earlier in his career? Peppers, to me, is/was the most athletic ~285-pounder ever.

by Slater (not verified) :: Mon, 10/29/2012 - 6:35pm

I think peppers showed better football technique and skills at year 3 compared to JPP....and he probably was a bit stronger. However, as an athlete, and not a football player, I think you could make an argument for JPP. Without even considering the blackflip stuff (which is ridiculous for a 285 pound man). JPP just seems to move differently...his flexibility and ability to contort his body and maintain good balance it just stands out--it doesnt look normal for a 285pd man to that stuff.

by Cliff Claven (not verified) :: Mon, 10/29/2012 - 2:17pm

I knew it was fake, but WWF really lost me when I saw Virgil, the bodyguard, on a rerun of "The Dukes of Hazzard" as a bad guy trying to take the Duke farm and get Boss some new Simoleans.

by KBee (not verified) :: Mon, 10/29/2012 - 2:18pm

Every time I think Andy Reid should be fired, I see idiots like Pat Shurmer, Romeo Crennel, and Ron Rivera, and say "there but for the grace of God go the Eagles."

by Kevin from Philly :: Tue, 10/30/2012 - 5:41am

Just because we could do a lot worse is no excuse not to try to get better.

by David :: Tue, 10/30/2012 - 10:08am

Yes it is. In fact, it's pretty much the basis for any cost-benefit or risk-reward analysis

I mean, it may not be the case for coaches in Philadelphia, but to say that high risks are no reason to discount slight rewards is just silly

by apbadogs :: Tue, 10/30/2012 - 11:13am

Disagree. The FIRST thing that should be decided before firing a coach is "Who is available to replace him?" Firing a guy who's been pretty damn successful and then trying to figure out who will coach is pretty shortsighted.

by Dean :: Tue, 10/30/2012 - 1:59pm

It's the same question they've been asking in Philly for seemingly a decade now. If you're going to replace him, who do you bring in that's better?

by Steve in WI :: Mon, 10/29/2012 - 3:29pm

One other thing about the Bears game: I know that Carolina's decision to squib kick every kickoff and give the Bears great field position in return for keeping the ball out of Hester's hands was unconventional, but I don't see why the announcers were so incredulous. The Bears weren't doing anything on offense even with great field position! I think the first 5 possessions that started with a squib kick ended with zero points for the Bears.

Now granted, Hester isn't the threat that he was a few years ago, but I can understand why Carolina would try something unusual to keep the ball out of his hands and prevent a big momentum-changing play. (I would have liked to see the Bears start putting a different guy deep and moving Hester up to the 30-yard line or so, just to see what Carolina would do then).

by Ryan D. :: Mon, 10/29/2012 - 3:56pm

The main reason for the ultra-conservatism from Carolina against Hester was that Hester was the main reason the Panthers lost the game against Chicago last season, when Hester had a 69-yard punt return TD and a 73-yard kick return to set up a Forte TD run.


by BigCheese :: Mon, 10/29/2012 - 3:56pm

That thought ocurred ot me as well. And then I realized that it would lead to the Panthers kicking deep and Hester and the Hands team trying to block the return. So, good thing they never tried that.

- Alvaro

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

by TomC :: Mon, 10/29/2012 - 5:05pm

The Bears actually did respond by putting more ball-handling types out there with fewer blockers (that's why Bennett ended up with a return, and Armando Allen, too, though they always left Hester deep). But Carolina didn't try the next counter move of kicking it deep against that personnel group.

by Steve in WI :: Mon, 10/29/2012 - 10:21pm

Yeah, thanks for pointing that out. I did notice that they started putting Bennett and Allen in the middle so that, say, Corey Wootten wouldn't end up with the ball again. I still would have liked to see Hester up there just to see what would happen.

by tuluse :: Mon, 10/29/2012 - 10:30pm

They had Weems up further too.

by Karl Cuba :: Mon, 10/29/2012 - 3:41pm

I agree with Waldman's assessment of Broyles, he has a much more rounded skill set than Young, he should be a more complete foil for Megatron than the more one dimensional Young.

by JoeyHarringtonsPiano :: Mon, 10/29/2012 - 6:21pm

Totally agree. I for one am really excited to see what Broyles can do the rest of the season (while feeling a little guilty that it took Nate Burleson breaking his leg for it to happen...but sorry, Burleson's last year as a useful receiver was 2010).

-I'm not Billy Bad-Ass.

by ilikeflowers (not verified) :: Mon, 10/29/2012 - 4:24pm

I was a little skeptical about those 9 drops by Washington receivers, so I checked out the game on Rewind. Wow. Even when I use the most conservative of drop criteria (bending over backward in favor of the receiver or the defense) I came up with 8 drops. So that 9 number is absolutely legit. Disgraceful. Not only that but there was only one instance where the receiver caught anything but an absolutely perfect pass. The Skins have nothing when it comes to their receiving core (or their db's).

by BigCheese :: Mon, 10/29/2012 - 4:32pm

Maybe RGIII can practice bouncing the ball off defenders' helmets while he runs a pattern to catch the rebound?

- Alvaro

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

by Independent George :: Mon, 10/29/2012 - 4:50pm

He'll just get flagged for OPI.

by LionInAZ :: Mon, 10/29/2012 - 8:02pm

Note to Rivers McCown: it's 'cavalry'. 'Calvary' is the name of a notorious hill in Jerusalem.

by tuluse :: Mon, 10/29/2012 - 8:49pm

Vince Verhei: Bleier, Hearst, Pennington all had amazing comebacks, but they came back to be good players. Manning came back from an unprecedented spinal surgery and will probably win another MVP award. And he's doing in on a new team with new teammates that went 8-8 last year.

And Chad Pennington came back from a shoulder injury to lead the 1-15 Dolphins to 11-5 and a playoff birth. Also, new team, new teammates. Actually even more new teammates since the Broncocs brought in Tamme and Stokley.

Also, Pennington was never as good as Peyton, so it seems unfair to say that after injuries Peyton is still better.

by LionInAZ :: Mon, 10/29/2012 - 9:58pm

Wow, that was pretty good. Brees only took the Saints from 3-13 to 10-6 + playoffs his 1st year there.

by denteigeler (not verified) :: Tue, 10/30/2012 - 11:31am

What nobody seems to be talking about in the Cowboys game is why didn't they kick a field goal on fourth down with 1:17 left? They had all three timeouts left. Kick the field goal, kickoff deep, stop them on three plays (Which they did) receive the ball with however many seconds left and only have to kick a field goal to win.