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06 Sep 2013

Audibles Opening Night Special 2013

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.

This week: a special Audibles on the opening night game between the Broncos and Ravens.

Baltimore Ravens 27 at Denver Broncos 49

Aaron Schatz: Nothing says football like Ryan Seacrest.

Wait, did Twitter just die when they said they were postponing the game 15 minutes? Or is that just me?

Matt Waldman: Is it just me or does everyone else see how the pomp and circumstance of the NFL on prime time network TV is borrowing heavily from professional wrestling?

Scott Kacsmar: I was just going to say something similar. I thought I stopped watching wrestling in 2001, but this reeks of the pageantry of a Wrestlemania. Just get that Arizona play-by-play guy in the booth and he can be Jesse "The Body" Ventura.

Mike Kurtz: Rodney Harrison did challenge Hines Ward's toughness. If Ward hits him with a folding chair during the halftime show, we will know the transformation is complete.

Rivers McCown: You'll know we've finally reverted to wrestling when, as one of my friends suggested to me earlier tonight, they dangle Jadeveon Clowney from the top of the stadium on a bungee cord during the Raiders-Jaguars game.

Mike Ridley: They stole that from Simmons' article today, unless said friend is Simmons.

Rivers McCown: I don't have THAT kind of cachet. That's Aaron's gig.

Matt Waldman: You know, all these color analysts and their touch screen monitors should provide excellent meteorological analysis until the game starts.They all look like weatherfolk.

Aaron Schatz: I don't know if NBC is any more prepared for this delay than CBS was during the Super Bowl. I also know that the discussion of the Ravens on this pregame show is one of the greatest examples of "postseason uber alles" I've ever seen, starring my least-favorite five-letter word in the history of football journalism.

Mike Kurtz: Back Judge yelling at the ravens to get out of the locker room. Can we have an unsportsmanlike for failure to take the field on time? Can we? Pleaaaase?

(Here they come. Aww.)

Ben Muth: And the refs are patting guys down pregame. It's officially wrestling.

Danny Tuccitto: I've begun to assemble a playlist for NFL pregame listening this year:

"Waiting Room" by Fugazi
"The Waiting" by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers
"The Wait" by The Pretenders

Rivers McCown: "I'm Waiting For The Man" - Velvet Underground

Aaron Schatz: I realize that Kevin Vickerson isn't anyone's idea of a Pro Bowl nose tackle, but I think Gino Gradkowski looks really good tonight.

Rivers McCown: Has anyone seen Demaryius Thomas? Is Lardarius Webb at least feeding him?

Scott Kacsmar: That interception by Chris Harris is so similar to the one he failed to make off Joe Flacco in overtime of the playoffs. This was easier, but wow are they similar.

Aaron Schatz: I thought for a moment there that Lardarius Webb had finally let Thomas out of the basement, but it turned out I was just confused between Julius Thomas and Demaryius Thomas. Man, I miss first initials on uniforms.

Ben Muth: Surprised to see the greatest linebacker that has ever laced up a pair of cleats, Daryl Smith, look so bad in pass coverage on that Thomas touchdown.

Also, is there a cooler sight in football than a quarterback hanging in the pocket to deliver a big pass as he takes a hit? Always so great.

Aaron Schatz: Next Baltimore drive, Robert Ayers dropping into coverage (um, why?) pulls a Terrell Buckley: diving in an attempt for an interception, missing, and letting Dallas Clark go 30 yards untouched.

Rivers McCown: Well, Trindon Holliday could've muffed that punt.

Scott Kacsmar: What's the worst two-year span of fumble luck a team has had? Denver may challenge it. 100 percent unforced error.

Aaron Schatz: Before we all want to crown Julius Thomas as the next Antonio Gates, let's consider the idea that Michael Huff may not be that great at covering tight ends.

Danny Tuccitto: Let's also consider that the Ravens forgot how to tackle on both big plays on that drive.

Aaron Schatz: Yes, I'll be considering that when I chart this game.

Ben Muth: Glad the Ravens didn't move Kelechi Osemele to right tackle after Michael Oher's injury. Unless Rick Wagner is a Jeff Linkenbach-esque disaster, I'd rather keep Osemele at left guard (where he's pretty good) and have a poor right tackle. My big pet peeve is when coaches will say "Backup guard X is better than backup tackle Y, so if a tackle gets hurt we'll move one of our starting guards out and play X." That seems to make sense until you realize that your starter is probably a much better guard than a tackle, so you've just downgraded 40 percent of your line with one injury.

There are plenty of things you can do to hide a crappy tackle, it starts to get tough to call plays when you're mediocre in multiple spots.

Aaron Schatz: Just in case the Broncos were wondering, Danny Trevathan is better in pass coverage than Ayers.

Rivers McCown: Pretty good game, well, I'll see you guys tomorrow.

...What do you mean it's only halftime?

Scott Kacsmar: First half summary: white guys dropping balls.

I'm glad Michaels and Collinsworth didn't do the "rare to see Dallas Clark drop that one." I swear one day I will find the time to put together a montage of countless announcers -- actually most of them will just be Dan Dierdorf -- saying that after an easy pass dropped by Clark.

Aaron Schatz: By making fun of Dan Dierdorf, Scott once again shows what a perfect fit he was for Football Outsiders.

Tom Gower: If you have the chance, add in Dierdorf saying "Wes Welker catches that ball 100 times out of 100."

A lot of the Ravens success in the passing game seemed to come against voids -- some possibly due to some early miscommunication -- or going straight at Tony Carter, who is of course only playing because Champ Bailey is out. Meanwhile, the Broncos are struggling to get pressure because without Von Miller they don't have anyone too threatening as a pass rusher. Of course, neither of these is a surprise.

It may seem weird because he has over 150 yards passing and a couple scores, but Peyton Manning has looked relatively off a good chunk of tonight. We are obviously in National Jump to Conclusions Week, so I will not start making definitive statements off two quarters of play. Ditto re: Julius Thomas, who I'm guessing is very much a beneficiary of playing with Welker, Demaryius Thomas, Eric Decker, and some possibly suspect coverage by the Ravens.

Vince Verhei: As a child of the 1980s, I demand that "Wait" by White Lion, "Right Here Waiting" by Richard Marx, and "Waiting For A Girl Like You" by Foreigner be added to our pregame setlist.

My two biggest impressions from the first half: I'm blown away by how well Baltimore's cornerbacks are manhandling Denver's wide receivers (keeping in mind that Julius Thomas is not a wide receiver). And overall, it's been a pretty ugly, pretty sloppy game, likely due to the oddball weather delay.

Aaron Schatz: Also sloppy because look, teams aren't right in Week 1 yet.

I'll have to see if I can find the link on FO and add it to Audibles later, but I think at some point I ran these numbers on the site... I ran a correlation of DVOA in every two-week span of the season to DVOA over an entire season. The weakest two-week span, of course, is Weeks 16-17, because of teams resting starters. But the next weakest span, BY FAR, was Weeks 1-2. Performance in Weeks 1-2 correlates to performance the rest of the year much less than performance in, say, Weeks 5-6, or Weeks 10-11, or Weeks 13-14. It sounds crazy, but maybe there was a reason once upon a time there were six preseason games, and it wasn't just because owners wanted to print easy money.

Well, it was mostly printing easy money, but the point about teams still not being quite ready stands.

Wes Welker traps that ball against the grass 100 times out of 100.

Scott Kacsmar: Good thing John Harbaugh uses his challenge for a five-yard play on first-and-10, but not on a big third-down play.

Danny Tuccitto: There have been two scores one play after turnovers, and another score three plays after Harbaugh's non-challenge. Over-under on percentage of game recaps that talk about momentum?

Aaron Schatz: What percentage is "all of them except Barnwell's?"

Danny Tuccitto: "Nocentage."

Tom Gower: Brandon Stokley is old and can't move the way he could 10 years ago. Clark has a costly drop. Ed Dickson had a couple missed plays early, get sprung again, and drops a pass on third down and will presumably head back to durance vile. Dennis Pitta and Anquan Boldin are not walking through that door.

Ben Muth: Well, I'll go ahead and jump to a conclusion. This Ravens offseason and team feels a lot like the 2011 Mavericks. An unexpected title winner that decided to let a lot of valuable pieces go due to cost (guys that had big postseasons being overvalued, like JJ Barea, Tyson Chandler, Paul Kruger and Boldin) or age (Ed Reed, Jason Kidd). Individually letting those pieces go made sense, especially when looking past just the next year, but it's hard to argue that all their moves collectively didn't make them worse in the immediate future. I don't disagree with the path either front office took, but it's still odd to see a defending champ put so much thought in the future at the expense of a team trying to defend a title.

Mike Kurtz: The Ravens secondary is playing very aggressive. Welker's touchdown was on a double-move after the catch. The long pass to Thomas came after a double-move where Webb bit hard inside and ran into a teammate. The Thomas touchdown came after a pump fake that the safeties bit on, creating all sorts of space.

This feeds into Aaron's comment about Weeks 1 and 2 not correlating well to whole-season performance; there's a lot of rust, a lot of adjusting to game speed, and likely a lot of nerves.

Scott Kacsmar: I thought I had a table on this, but Denver had a lot of games last year where they started slow and just destroyed people in the second half. Had to be one of the best second-half scoring differentials in history. Not sure I want to anoint John Fox for that, but they're doing something right at halftime.

Aaron Schatz: Denver had a 18.1% offensive DVOA (sixth) and a -6.2% defensive DVOA (10th) in first halves last season. In second halves, 26.2% (third) and -21.6% (second).

Man, the Ravens offensive line has just crumpled in the second half here.

Danny Tuccitto: Game has gotten boring, so gratuitous sport psychology thread-hijacking inspired by Mike's mention of "nerves"...

There are two types of competitive anxiety: 1) cognitive anxiety (i.e., mental symptoms like worry), and 2) somatic anxiety (i.e., physical symptoms like "butterflies in the stomach," being "amped up," etc.). For the vast, vast majority of athletes, somatic anxiety goes away a few minutes into the game, and doesn't show up again until "clutch" time (and only for some athletes). For most of a game, somatic anxiety is low, so higher cognitive anxiety is what causes mildly worse performance (e.g., "This play's important; hope I don't screw up. Oops, forgot one of my reads."), but in those higher somatic anxiety parts of the game (usually towards the end), the interaction of the two causes a player to catastrophically "choke," for lack of a better term.


Aaron Schatz: Boy oh boy. It looks like Denver's third-down defense has decided not to regress towards the mean until at least Week 2. Baltimore, please, a first down. Just one. Try it, it's fun!

Or a pick-six to Travathan, which is less fun. For Baltimore fans, anyway.

Or a moronic non-pick six touchback. What the hell? Anyone starting the Denver defense in fantasy just threw a brick at the television.

Mike Ridley: DeSean Jackson nods in approval.

If there's not a face mask on that play, Clark holds onto that ball 100 times out of 100.

Danny Tuccitto: Marlon Brown scores. Somewhere, FO reader batesbruce is saying, "I told you so."

The ball guy wearing "K" is impressing me with his ability to catch kickoffs that go out the back of the end zone.

Michael Huff is making a strong, early case for this week's Keep Choppin' Wood award.

Aaron Schatz: I'm curious what the charting is going to give us about Webb. I mean, I still haven't seen him as the guy getting burned. It's been safeties, or Corey Graham, or Jimmy Smith.

Rivers McCown: I guess the Broncos have enough firepower to get by without Miller and Bailey. Maybe.

The Ravens should have serious concerns about their secondary receivers. Dunno what to make of the secondary as a whole, but clearly some parts were not as polished as others.

Scott Kacsmar: A weather delay, Denver's lack of pass rush, Manning's lack of arm strength, then it went to halftime and what the frack happened? Should be some first act in that 2013 Broncos' America's Game feature...

But seriously. Great start for my "the year of the Broncos" vision.

Vince Verhei: "I'm blown away by how well Baltimore's cornerbacks are manhandling Denver's wide receivers."

I just want to make it plain and clear that I said this BEFORE the second half and five of Manning's touchdowns. Obviously, things changed.

Posted by: Rivers McCown on 06 Sep 2013

81 comments, Last at 10 Sep 2013, 6:53am by Jerry


by nat :: Fri, 09/06/2013 - 9:12am

Aaron makes two interesting comments that I would love to see explored a bit more:

Performance in Weeks 1-2 correlates to performance the rest of the year much less than performance in, say, Weeks 5-6, or Weeks 10-11, or Weeks 13-14.

Are these the originally reported DVOAs using opponent adjustments as calculated through those weeks, or the final DVOAs using the opponent adjustments based on the whole season?

Denver had a 18.1% offensive DVOA (sixth) and a -6.2% defensive DVOA (10th) in first halves last season. In second halves, 26.2% (third) and -21.6% (second).
Since we're talking Denver here, I wonder how this splits out for home and away? Is this a "Mile High City" effect, or a halftime adjustment effect?

by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Fri, 09/06/2013 - 9:27am

"An unexpected title winner that decided to let a lot of valuable pieces go due to cost (guys that had big postseasons being overvalued, like JJ Barea, Tyson Chandler, Paul Kruger and Boldin)"

Chandler is a poor example of over-valued due to winning. Chandler was not only central to Dallas's substantially better defense in 2010, he turned around and won defensive MVP the next season in NY.

If Kruger goes out and becomes JJ Watt this season, he'd be a Chandler.

by Duff Soviet Union :: Fri, 09/06/2013 - 9:53am

Yep, stick to football Ben. Chandler's been fantastic for the Knicks.

by Ben Muth :: Fri, 09/06/2013 - 9:58am

Yes, Chandler is better than Boldin. I explained myself hastily. I guess I was thinking more that both were guys that their teams would have loved to keep, but just realistically couldn't due to the cap implications.

by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Fri, 09/06/2013 - 1:22pm

Dallas actually could have afforded him. They let him escape in order to keep cap room for the Dwight Howard Sweepstakes.

Which they lost.

by RickD :: Fri, 09/06/2013 - 3:32pm

Or won, depending on how you feel about Dwight Howard.

by artmac (not verified) :: Fri, 09/06/2013 - 5:25pm

Dwight Howard is certainly a) a flawed player and b) not the player he was 2-3 years ago, but you can't tell me a Dwight/Dirk core wouldn't have been an instant contender. not a favorite, especially coming out of a brutal Western Conference, but a team w/a reasonable shot to make the Finals (as an obvious underdog to the Heat, sure, but that's been true of any team the last 2 years). also, if the Mavs had Dwight they probably would've been able land a better PG, as well as good outside shooting or other useful role players willing to sign on the cheap for a shot at a ring.

as far as Dwight, a max contract is definitely an overpay at this point, how much of one depending on what % of ca 2010 Dwight you think 2013 Dwight has left, but even at 80% of his prime he's still arguably the most physically dominant big in the game. and it's not like he was terrible last year, he was just a top 10 big man in the league instead of definitively the best, and on a crappy, ancient team too. now he's going from a franchise at almost Knicks-ian levels of incompetence and turmoil with a roster that would've been awesome in like 2006 to one of the smartest GMs in the league, a young team including a top 10 or 15 guy who's one of the best scorers in the NBA, and gobs of 3 point shooting. he doesn't have to be the primary scoring option, he should have space down low and the PG play should be at least reasonable (esp compared to what to get last year whenever Steve Nash was hurt). Houston still has to tweak around the edges - especially what they decide to do w/Asik - but they should be pretty good. dunno if they're an instant contender, but I'd expect them to be by next year.

the only thing I disagree with in Ben's analogy is that all the guys the Ravens let go are old, whereas Chandler was still in his prime and was let go for purely financial reasons.

alright, baskteball talk over, back to the NFL.

by akn :: Fri, 09/06/2013 - 4:52pm

The analogy also breaks down because there was no Flacco-esque cap eater, unless you're counting Dirk or Shawn Marion.

Come to think of it, I wonder why the last NFL CBA didn't include an amnesty clause to get out of those mammoth top-5 rookie contracts.

by artmac (not verified) :: Fri, 09/06/2013 - 5:31pm

you should count Dirk. the difference its not a huge over pay like Flacco.

it's kind of hard to compare NFL/NBA salary cap situations tho, for many reasons.

by Will Allen :: Fri, 09/06/2013 - 9:30am

I'll repost from the open discussion thread, because last night's game made me nostalgic.....

I was, as a small child, at the last NFL game in which a qb threw 7 td passes. It was the first NFL game I ever attended. My memory of the event is a bit foggy, lo these 44 years later, but I do not recall too many other similarities between one Joe Kapp and tonight's Peyton Manning. Manning may throw a better ball and read defenses more quickly, but in a contest of drinking a shot of Patron, every time Phil Simms said something stupid during a NFL broadcast, my money would be on Joe, even at Joe's advanced age. He once got into a fistfight on a Sunday night with Vikings middle linebacker Lonnie Warwick, in a dispute over which one of them was responsible for a Vikings loss earlier that afternoon. Joe earnestly believed that he was at fault, and Lonnie wasn't having any of it, due to his strong conviction that it was instead he, Lonnie, who was the goat. Before ya' knew it, it was an ethanol powered fist city in the front yard of a teammate's house.
I betcha' ol' Peyton's never done that!

by Travis :: Fri, 09/06/2013 - 9:45am

Joe Kapp got into a fight onstage at a Grey Cup alumni luncheon just two years ago.

by Will Allen :: Fri, 09/06/2013 - 9:57am

Wasn't that awesome?

by TimTheEnchanter (not verified) :: Fri, 09/06/2013 - 10:54am

No, but he did call out his "idiot kicker who got liquored up..."

by Will Allen :: Fri, 09/06/2013 - 11:00am

Ya' gotta point there, but Joe Kapp woulda' been drinking with the idiot kicker, and then punched him out, on video, after the idiot kicker ran his mouth.

by Bobman :: Fri, 09/06/2013 - 4:30pm

You kill me.

Peyton hires flunkies to do that kind of thing. (He also hires flunkies to drink for him, so he doesn't have to be dragged down by a hangover the next morning. Hey, those pre-breakfast practice footballs aren't gonna just throw themselves!) After the 2005 playoff debacle vs the Steelers, he hired two guys to represent himself, and two for each offensive linemen for a 12-flunkie melee to determine who actually lost the game.

The winner turned out to be Nick Harper's wife.

by Will Allen :: Fri, 09/06/2013 - 4:42pm

That Peyton's a winner, in any way you care to measure it!

by Yaguar :: Fri, 09/06/2013 - 9:56am

I think it says a great deal about Peyton Manning that the FO folk weren't even mentioning it as the third, fourth, fifth and sixth touchdowns came raining down - because frankly, it's just not that unusual. This is the third(!) time that Manning passed for six touchdowns in a nationally televised game.

by Ryan D. :: Fri, 09/06/2013 - 9:59am

Do the Broncos have a habit of not holding on to the ball on returns in blowout wins?

Last year, when Denver visited Carolina, Trindon Holliday took a punt back for 6 points, despite dropping the ball before crossing the goal line. The officials never even bothered to review the play, despite the replay being shown over and over again on the huge TV screen in the stadium, to a loud chorus of booing.


by merlinofchaos :: Fri, 09/06/2013 - 12:44pm

There's a reason we call him "Heart Attack Holliday."

Because he's probably going to do something special, we're just never sure which team will benefit.

by Will Allen :: Fri, 09/06/2013 - 10:13am

I know it's a stretch, but I always preferred "The Weight", by The Band. Yes, I am old.

Nice to see science confirming my long-held belief, that "clutch" is largely a myth, but "choke" is as real as it gets. Kinda' like a religion that maintains there is no Heaven, but Hell is right around the corner. Today's Happy Thought!

by DEW (not verified) :: Fri, 09/06/2013 - 11:13am

One could argue that "clutch," rather than being a positive quality of its own, is therefore the absence of "choke," not unlike heat and cold or light and dark. Clutch players, therefore, are those who maintain their standard level of performance in "crunch time" stress situations. (Of course, that also means that it's entirely possible that Guy Whimper is actually "clutch," if he doesn't stink any worse under pressure than he does normally...)

by Scott Kacsmar :: Fri, 09/06/2013 - 11:39am

That's what the definition of clutch should be, but people just have to drum up the narrative of a player going beyond his usual level of play, which is crap.

by Will Allen :: Fri, 09/06/2013 - 1:40pm

They do it in all the sports, even the ones where it easiest to discern the distinction. Take golf at the highest, most intense, levels, which is in the major tournaments. Everybody chokes. E-v-e-r-y-b-o-d-y. All of them. Without exception. There is just way too much time to think, and the motor control required is way too fine, for anyone to not have the anxiety degrade performance with some regularity, when you are leading after three, or three and and a half rounds, and what you have worked so hard for is almost within your grasp. Gagging nearly inevitably ensues.

Tiger Woods escaped this far better than most, however, when he was young, by staking himself to such big leads that he didn't have to put any pressure on himself. Even he, however, at his best, showed the signs. One of his Masters wins came after he did everything he could to gag it away on the last 9 holes, but the guy in 2nd just refused to not gag harder. I was surprised that they both didn't get the Heimlich as Jim Nantz intoned sonorously. People just had to maintain, however, that Woods actually improved in the toughest moments, which was ridiculous.

These days? El Tigre is like a man on the gallows after the trap door opens, on the biggest stage, in the closing round.

by Scott Kacsmar :: Fri, 09/06/2013 - 1:55pm

Tiger Woods is the greatest front-runner in sports.

by Will Allen :: Fri, 09/06/2013 - 2:12pm

As I am sure you understand, that is not a criticism! You have to work really hard, and be phenomenally talented, to be good enough to consistently build huge leads in the most competitive contexts, which takes choking out of equation, because the number of critical moments towards the end of the contest are reduced to zero. However, once one's ability to build such huge leads is greatly reduced, then the human inevitability of choking, like a drunken diner at Morton's, with 6 ounces of unchewed ribeye stuck in his craw, comes to the forefront.

I always appreciate the great athletes who 'fess up to being mortals. I heard Jack Nicklaus say once after he won a major that he was relieved to have had a two shot lead on the tee of the last hole, because, given the hole's difficulty, there was a very good chance that he would have choked if he had been absolutely required to par the hole for the win. When Stubbleface just admitted that he choked when he tossed the int at the end of the 2009 NFCCG, I thought better of him.

by Revenge of the NURBS (not verified) :: Fri, 09/06/2013 - 2:39pm

Jean Van de Velde should have taken a lesson from Nicklaus.

by Will Allen :: Fri, 09/06/2013 - 3:08pm

Someday, we will see the uber-smart approach to only needing to avoid a 7 on the last hole of a major, when a guy uses 7 iron, 7 iron, pitching wedge, and two putts.

by Scott Kacsmar :: Fri, 09/06/2013 - 2:56pm

Like I always say with the Packers, front-running becomes a problem when it's the only thing you do. At some point you have to show you can win when things don't start so well.

Now that may be harder for someone like Tiger to control given his sport.

by Will Allen :: Fri, 09/06/2013 - 3:07pm

The difference was that the Packers never get out to a 28 point lead against the best teams, the way that Tiger, when he was young, could get out to a 12 stroke lead against the second, third, fourth, and fifth best golfers. Stomping da' Raidahs is not like making Phil Mickelson look like a weekend duffer. (sorry, r.j.)

by Independent George :: Fri, 09/06/2013 - 3:51pm

So, maybe Rodgers needs to build his own a harem?

by Will Allen :: Fri, 09/06/2013 - 4:38pm

Have you been to the saloons and taverns of Green Bay? I went to a wedding there about 25 years ago, and all I can say is that the bachelor party was, er, instructive, as to the utility of sobriety in heading off decisions that one might later find less than optimal.

Lemme put it this way; if Mr. Rodgers intends to make his neighborhood a place to be explored like a Tiger would, he best add some value to the NetJets card, cuz' the habitat on the shores of Lake Michigan in Northern Wisconsin is somewhat dissimilar to that found in Florida or Las Vegas.

by Lance :: Sat, 09/07/2013 - 7:26am

Are you saying Green Bay doesn't have a Perkins Restaurant?

by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Fri, 09/06/2013 - 3:26pm

You do, occasionally, see examples of performance improvement under stress. It's usually not a matter of fine motor improvement and more often an exploitation of useful recklessness.


Klammer, in 1976, under enormous stress, won the downhill based on taking a racing line which was idiotically dangerous. It also worked. A less stressed racer would have chosen the more conservative line, so as to not die.

by Will Allen :: Fri, 09/06/2013 - 3:33pm

Now, just think of what Klammer could have accomplished, if they had set off an avalanche behind him!

by Dean :: Fri, 09/06/2013 - 4:35pm

Wow. That was absolutely amazing. Thanks for posting. He looks completely out of control, and probably really did come within a hair of dying (or at least being savagely injured) multiple times. Skiers these days might have much tighter form, but they would never show that level of daring.

by CaffeineMan :: Fri, 09/06/2013 - 5:16pm

God, I'm old. I watched that "live" and still remember it.

So are there certain sports where useful recklessness works better than others? Motorsports comes to mind (not a NASCAR fan particularly, but Earnhardt's "pass in the grass"). I've seen it a number of times in motorcycle racing (alas, can't think of an immediate example). Sports with fine motor control requirements and lots of time to think (golf) would seem not to lend themselves to that approach. But sports where the basic reckless decision is made ahead of time and the outcome of the action is determined by ability that is essentially unconscious would seem to be a better fit (ski racing, motorsports). Hmm.

by akn :: Fri, 09/06/2013 - 5:17pm

The study that was linked is almost 20 years old, and largely out of date with our current understanding of stress.

The neuropsychological basis for the whole choke/clutch idea is obviously not a very hot area of study, but models of performance anxiety/stage fright and social anxiety have been investigated. It basically has to do with an interplay between "bottom up" sympathetic and limbic input (emotional) versus "top down" regulation by the anterior cingulate and prefrontal cortex (cognition), and their combined influence on the insula (psychogenic pain). When someone "has lost it," the limbic input activates the insula, and when someone is "dialed in" the cognitive areas inhibit the insula. Limbic activity activates hippocampus activity (memory) as well, which why we vividly remember our choke moments, while we have a much harder time remembering our clutch moments ("in the zone").

Adrenaline (epinepherine, or "somatic anxiety"), while active in the body during high stress moments (like games), does not cross the blood-brain barrier. The brain does produce it's own epinephrine (locus ceruleus), which also affects the situation, but doesn't really fit the Tuccitto's model.

by Danny Tuccitto :: Fri, 09/06/2013 - 6:15pm

a) Obviously, not my model.
b) That study might be over 20 years old, but catastrophe theory and multidimensional anxiety theory (which catastrophe theory tries to improve upon) were still the prevailing theories as late as 2008 (i.e., when I finished my sport psych Masters).
c) Took a class in neuropsychology back in undergrad, as well as motor control and motor learning classes/research in grad school, but I'm nowhere near an expert in the underlying neurology of what we see/measure performance-wise. Certainly not near as much of an expert as you seem to be. I leave the neuropsych discussion to the neuropsychs. So, I readily accept what you said, and thank you for dropping the knowledge.
d) Part of the problem is that interdisciplinary research collaborations between sport psychologists and neuropsychologists (or medical doctors or biologists) is pretty rare...or at least it was back when I was knee deep in the literature.

by Independent George :: Fri, 09/06/2013 - 10:10pm

I'm not an expert, and I don't have a link or documentation, but I recall reading about a very real phenomenon reported by soldiers and police which could be interpreted as 'clutch', but is probably more accurately described as being 'in the zone'. A person who goes 'into the zone' in high-pressure situations would be rightly described as being clutch, but largely a non-repeatable event.

I'm paraphrasing something I read years and years ago, but what apparently happens is that under extreme stress, the brain sometimes 'overclocks' itself, and the world appears to be in slow motion. Soldiers have reported being able to see the spin of artillery shells as they fall, and police in shootouts sometimes report being able to distinguish minute details like the motion of a gun's hammer snapping forward, the rotation on a revolver's cylinder, and hearing individual shell casings hit the ground.

It's exceedingly rare - the individuals who have experienced it once often don't ever experience it again, even when put in similar (or worse) situations - but it's been reported too many times independently to be ignored.

I believe I've experienced it, too, but in the most absurdly mundane of circumstances. My parents had bought me a Nintendo for Christmas, and I found it buried in the back of the closet. So while they were at work, I would hook it up to the TV and play it before putting it back in its spot. One day, while unplugging the TV, I tipped it off the stand, and was about to shatter into a bajillion pieces (you youngins' probably don't remember how heavy those old CRT machines were). For a brief moment, everything slowed down, and I was able to dive and grasp the edge of the TV and prevent it from falling. I seeing things like the individual grains of wood from the TV stand, and bits of dust hanging in the air as I dove for the television. That's not as dramatic as seeing the spin of an artillery shell, but my experience matches the phenomenon exactly as described.

Anyway, that's just my roundabout way of saying that in certain circumstances, I think it is possible for someone to be 'clutch' by going into that state of mind on a critical play. The thing is, that phenomenon never lasts more than a couple minutes (and is most commonly estimated at around 7-10 seconds). That's enough time to elevate your abilities for a single play, and there's no guarantee it'll happen in the Super Bowl as opposed to, say, a random 3rd and long in Week 5. It's not exactly random (obviously, something is happening in the brain chemically), but the circumstances surrounding it are so poorly understood that it may as well be random.

It is theoretically possible that there exists someone with a mutant neurophysiology that causes him to go into such a state regularly and consistently when under duress. That would be the classic definition of 'clutch'. It's just never been documented as ever existing.

Additional lay question: would there be a correlation between people who are less affected by pressure, and sociopathy? That is, would a person who is utterly without empathy be more likely to not experience a performance degradation under a stressful situation?

by Jerry :: Sat, 09/07/2013 - 5:10am

Supposedly, players at the Gretzky/Lemieux/Crosby/Bird/Magic level often see the game slower than most of their peers, and that's one reason they're able to make some of the plays they do/did.

I actually have a couple of vivid memories of being able to figure out exactly where the basketball was going and what to do with it when I got there (which worked) during pickup games decades ago. So I can imagine elite athletes experiencing that more regularly.

by Emptyeye (not verified) :: Sun, 09/08/2013 - 8:08pm

I don't know that it's that the game slowed down for him, though I do know people praised Gretzky's instincts for where the puck was going, etc. when he played (Amusingly, I wonder how much "instinct" truly exists without practice. I know Gretzky's response when people talked about his "instinct" as though it were just natural talent was along the lines of "You do know that 'instinct' was the result of practicing four hours a day, seven days a week, basically since I could walk, right?").

by Jerry :: Tue, 09/10/2013 - 6:53am

No doubt the players at the pinnacle of the game work very hard, and their subconscious responses are a mix of genuine instincts and what they've practiced. What we're talking about here, though, is another attribute. As a layman, I'll call it "brain speed". As George and I have seen under very different circumstances, it's not a constant, but it's reasonable to believe that people process information at different speeds. I don't know that anyone's figured out how to measure this, so we all watch the world at whatever speed we watch it, and assume that's normal.

Imagine a wide receiver running a go pattern who spots the ball in the air. He may just adjust his path subconsciously to go toward the ball, or he may think consciously about how to adjust his path, or he may also think about where to place his hands, or he may also think about how to turn his body to shield the ball from the defensive back, or he may think about getting to a spot and leaping. If he's nearing the sideline, he might also think about how to make sure he gets his feet down inbounds. The more thought the receiver can put into it, and act on, the more likely he is to be successful.

by stan (not verified) :: Mon, 09/09/2013 - 10:27am

Steph Curry has this. Seriously. I saw him play at Chattanooga his freshman year at Davidson (Dec. 2005). He was much skinnier and couldn't jump high enough to dunk. Down the stretch of a tight game, he got 4 heavily contested defensive rebounds. Each time, the ball came off to exactly the spot where he was going straight up to rebound it. So despite his lack of size and jumping ability, he was just barely able to come out of the scrum of bodies with the ball because he was in the perfect place.

I remarked at the time that he seemed to have an extraordinary instinct for the geometry and motion of the game. After watching him many times in the years since, I am even more convinced. It shows in his shooting, his passing, and his heads up plays. He lacks what we call "athleticism", but he "sees the game" in a way that few athletes ever have.

by akn :: Fri, 09/06/2013 - 11:35pm

a) Sorry, I didn't mean to imply that.

b) My 2-minute PubMed search showed that catastrophe theory is still an active area of research, but I'm way out of my element. I'm an fMRI guy, so when you mention anxiety and stress, I naturally thought of their organic origins that I learned about in grad school. I don't know anything about the sports psychology world, or the prevailing theories.

c) Hey, you were dropping random knowledge in an Audibles because of a boring game, I thought I'd join in.

d) What my (very rough) search did show is there's very little published attempting to test those sports psychology theories with organic measures of brain function (fMRI, ERP, etc). Most (including the study you linked) rely on psychological and somatic measures, like heart rate, reaction time, accuracy, surveys, etc. It seems like it might be a rich area for collaboration, though you can't exactly throw someone in an MRI machine while kicking a last second field goal. I did find a single ERP study (measuring electrical activity of the brain based on scalp electrodes) looking into anxiety and sports performance, which showed that anterior cingulate/prefrontal cortical areas were particularly involved in "clutchiness."

by Will Allen :: Fri, 09/06/2013 - 10:18am

I, too, thought the new starting center for the Ravens looked good. Bryant Mckinnie still makes me mad, whether he gets whipped, or blocks his man.

by Peregrine :: Fri, 09/06/2013 - 11:16am

It might not have impacted who won or lost the game, but I'd sure like to see officials getting the calls correct the first time.

About Harbaugh's decisions with the challenge flag, making the first challenge wasn't overly silly, in my mind. The game was tied at 14, 4:07 in the 2nd quarter, and the Broncos had 1st and 10 at the Ravens 49. The pass went for five yards, but Harbaugh challenged and it was incomplete. Too early to use one challenge for only five yards? Maybe, but on the other hand the Broncos went three and out after the incompletion and the Ravens scored a FG to end the half ahead 17-14.

Problem is, after making that first challenge, Harbaugh had to be totally sure to throw the challenge on the Welker drop, and he didn't have the time. The bad news is that if he had thrown the challenge, the Broncos would have had to punt, so the upside was considerable.

The defensive team is clearly at a disadvantage when it comes to the decision to challenge. An offensive team that wants a closer look at a call can usually huddle up and string out the play clock until the challenge decision is clearer. But a defensive team that is thinking about challenging is at the mercy of the offense's tempo. I wonder if there's some way to make that more fair. One idea is that each team also has an assistant locked in a room with instant access to all of the different camera feeds, like on a short-rewind DVR. I don't know why coaches have to wait to see what the television broadcast shows on replay. Or maybe they already have their own feed? I have no idea.

by iron_greg :: Fri, 09/06/2013 - 11:18am

To be fair John Harbaugh let out a HUGE F-bomb after being forced to challenge the 1st and 10 OBVIOUS drop that the WR held on the ground seemingly forever. He was pissed about having to challenge it.

This may have made him hesitant to burn his 2nd challenge early in the 2nd half and lose a possibly critical time out on a play he didn't have the footage of yet as Broncos rushed to the line.

not sure we can be that critical of Harbaugh for the non-challenge or the 1st half challenge. Refs blew the 1st half catch badly it was such an obvious bounce pass.

may not have been the difference in a game of sloppiness on both sides but it mattered

by JIPanick :: Fri, 09/06/2013 - 11:35am

"Peyton Manning has looked relatively off a good chunk of tonight. We are obviously in National Jump to Conclusions Week, so I will not start making definitive statements off two quarters of play."

Good decision.

Not making definitive statements off two quarters, I mean.

by JasonG (not verified) :: Fri, 09/06/2013 - 1:11pm

Not sure from where the Peyton-looked-off sentiment is coming. I thought he was very sharp the whole game, but early on, every WR besides Welker was failing him.

Btw, the valuation/contract decision-making for QBs nowadays is out of control. Case in point, Manning (unbelievably good) completely outclassed the NFL's highest paid QB Flacco (blech per usual). (And I was saying this to myself in the first half, not after 7 TDs were in the books. Flacco's cross-field, double-covered screen brain fart for one and even his TD to Leach, for two, were awful. He had a WIIIIIIIDE open TE on the same side. Why didn't he see that guy? Why did he opt for the vastly harder play? Really poor QB play on both those plays.) Anyway, point is Manning makes throws that make me shake my head in disbelief (in a that was amazing good way, not a that was so stupid bad way) 5-10 times a game and that's not an exaggeration. Flacco can't carry Manning's jock. Yet Flacco is the highest paid QB in the NFL. Like I said, the reward structure for QB's (winning! as if it doesn't take 52 other men to win, too) in the NFL is so offbase. Of course, everyone knew this when Flacco signed. Everyone except Newsome. And he probably knew too, but had to anyway. Which again makes my point, the reward structure is perverted. Oh and Harbaugh is a $6 million a year coach? Yeah, sure he is.

by AnonymouslyCommentingBro (not verified) :: Fri, 09/06/2013 - 1:23pm

This isn't really fair - Flacco's supporting cast is nothing like what Manning has this year. I agree with your premise, that Flacco is overpaid, and Peyton most likely underpaid (by market value) or properly paid (by contribution to the team). Just think that last nights game, to me, shouted "Why did you not get more receiving talent!" MORE than it did "Flacco being Flacco"

Every QB has poor plays / misses an open receiver / etc. I recall Peyton saying that sometimes he won't notice if a cornerback slips in coverage, because his read dictated that the receiver wouldn't be a viable target from before the snap.

by DEW (not verified) :: Fri, 09/06/2013 - 1:32pm

Indeed. Flacco made a few poor throws, but there were far more instances of well-thrown balls clanging off receivers' hands (Dickson and Clark were both awful throughout the game), and it's yet to be seen if Smith, Jones, and Brown have any skills other than "run down the field and grab a long one/draw DPI." The Mad Bomber stuff works every so often, as Denver fans know to their regret. Flacco's overpaid, yeah, but the lack of receiving talent will hurt Baltimore's passing game more than any particular failings at the quarterback position.

by sundown (not verified) :: Fri, 09/06/2013 - 1:39pm

I can recall one pass, probably still in the first quarter, that almost was picked off because he was considerably behind the receiver. There was also another incompletion fairly early on where coverage was tight and he was a bit behind. But I agree that thinking he was "off" just shows how high the bar is set for him.

by Ryan D. :: Fri, 09/06/2013 - 1:44pm

I'm pretty sure that Aaron Rodgers (22M per season) and Matt Ryan (20.75M per season) are currently making more money per season than Joe Flacco (20.1M per season). This is, of course, assuming you believe the made-up numbers that go into the "total" value of the entire deal.

by Revenge of the NURBS (not verified) :: Fri, 09/06/2013 - 2:13pm

These days, the funny money in the contracts of elite (ha!) QBs tends to not be as funny as it is for other positions. Albert Haynesworth got a "$100M" contract, of which he actually received only(?!) $36M. Joe Flacco got a $120M contract, and he'll get most of it, quite possibly all of it. He's not the best QB in the league, or even close. But he's good enough, and if you have a good-enough QB, you take the bird in the hand and lock him down.

by Revenge of the NURBS (not verified) :: Fri, 09/06/2013 - 2:31pm

Flacco's contract is a little more out-of-whack than usual because the Ravens gambled and lost in the negotiations. They let him play out the last year of his contract, and he proceeded to have a great playoffs and the team won the Super Bowl. SOMEONE was going to give him a 9-figure payday, so he had all the leverage. The Ravens were left with the choice of a) letting Flacco name his price, b) rolling the dice in a weak free agent QB market, or c) rolling the dice in a weak QB draft. None of those options is especially great, but option A probably is the least bad, because it's the only one that leaves open the possibility of contending for the next couple years. The Ravens will probably regret this contract a few years from now, but in the short term, it was basically a choice between Flacco or nothing.

by Pat (filler) (not verified) :: Fri, 09/06/2013 - 3:25pm

Eh. I'm not sure you *can* regret a decent QB signing, so long as it's within a factor of 2 of the rest of the market. Virtually the only way you can get a starting-caliber quarterback is either by the draft or by trade (barring a franchise QB hitting the market just off a major injury), and realistically the draft is your better choice, and it saves you so much money that really, you can overpay the hell out of an older QB and it's not a big deal.

by JasonG (not verified) :: Fri, 09/06/2013 - 4:51pm

"SOMEONE was going to give him a 9-figure payday"

This is the crux of my beef. So what? Let someone else regret (for years) the contract. If you're a GM, have stones. Make the evaluation on the quality of the player, not the stupidity of others in the market, media or fandom.

Btw, this is the same for MOST other ubercontracts. A-Rod's first 10-year contract with the Rangers actually made sense (from the team standpoint I'm talking). His 10-year contract with the Yankees was moronic. Same with Pujols and the Angels. The Cardinals had the stones, security in their management, whatever to say "I'm sure the market will give you that crazy contract, but we sure as hell aren't getting on the hook for that." Flacco's play will not justify his contract, period. He's not the elite QB others are, period. Therefore, as a GM, you should not cripple your franchise giving him the contract he got REGARDLESS of other BS factors, yes even if those BS factors include "We just won the SB with him". (Note, I didn't say "he just won us the SB"). Yeah, yeah that's how things work. That's my point. They shouldn't work like that because look what it gets us, COMPLETELY out of line contracts.

by c0rrections (not verified) :: Fri, 09/06/2013 - 5:19pm

Yes but the baseball analogy kind of fails. The Cardinals were loaded with talent that could replace Pujols. The Ravens had very little options in replacing Flacco. They were coming off a Super Bowl win with poor position to go into a full teardown and finding QBs of Flacco's quality is actually fairly hard.

This is a point I constantly make about Tony Romo. Yes he's clearly not the best QB in the league or in the top tier of QBs (although as Will Allen and others point out all the time he get's far more crap than he deserves and is actually a very good QB). But you aren't going to be able to replace him with a better QB. Why? Because anyone whose better is already owned by another team who isn't going to part with him (Peyton Manning moving as he did was pretty much a once in a generation event). You're only other option is to get lucky in the draft. This is not a good strategy when you have good veteran talent at a lot of positions.

So basically Tony Romo level is your great QB replacement level. If he came on the market plenty of teams would bid for his services. And you're not going to find a better QB on the market because anyone whose better is locked up by a team already.

by milo :: Sat, 09/07/2013 - 5:00pm

Peyton Manning moving as he did was pretty much a once in a generation event

Not quite. Favre in 2008 & 2009. Brees in 2006. Warner in 2005.
Of the top 10 all time yardage passers, only Elway and Brady did not change teams, and Brady is still playing.

by theslothook :: Sat, 09/07/2013 - 8:00pm

I'll give you favre, but brees wasn't considered anywhere near elite when he was let go. P Manning had a risk of staying healthy, but he was a known quantity as far as how good he was.

by Ryan D. :: Sun, 09/08/2013 - 12:41am

With Manning, you had a top-two QB coming off of his first major injury, but interested teams were betting that he could still have 3-6 good years left.

With Favre, you knew you were renting him for a year or two, at best, because of his advanced age and flip-flopping retirement decisions. Plus, Favre was already considered washed-up compared to his former self, even though he did have a miraculous year in Minnesota.

Brees was damaged goods, like Manning, but without the prior reputation as a top-tier QB. New Orleans was hoping to land a solid starter in Brees, but probably didn't expect to get a guy that would be even better than he was before he tore up his shoulder.

Warner had just been run out of New York, because he still couldn't stop fumbling, and Eli Manning was taking his place. What Warner did in Arizona was a huge surprise, because everyone had written him off after his injury-plagued years in St Louis, and his fumble-prone years in St Louis and New York. This was a guy coming out of a multi-year slump in a huge way.

by BJR :: Fri, 09/06/2013 - 5:48pm

This is mostly true, but then there's the problem of replacing Flacco if you let him walk. The Ravens may have crippled themselves by overpaying him, but they may also have very well crippled themselves for the next several years by allowing their proven solid/good QB leave with no obvious replacement available, no matter how much money they saved.

Measuring a player's value isn't only about how good they are compared to other starters in their position, but also about their value compared to that of a replacement-level player. In the case of both Peyton Manning and Joe Flacco that value is very high.

by JasonG (not verified) :: Fri, 09/06/2013 - 6:11pm

57 and 60. Outside factors matter, of course, and can result in some overpay. But when they result in astronomical overpay, (and as an above average QB being given the richest contract ever that also forces the team to dump various other valuable players so that the franchise can't possibly have a rosy near future) well clearly I think it's a pretty ridiculous decision/structure.

Basically this is all coming down to good QB play is soooooo scarce that a second tier (personally I think Flacco is third tier, but YMMV) QB can be the highest paid player ever. If everyone else is on board with that logic, fine I'll be the 5% minority who thinks it's loco. I wouldn't pay out the nose for him. I'll take my chances trying to approximate his production for a fraction of the cost. I could upgrade many other positions with $20M a year.

by jonnyblazin :: Fri, 09/06/2013 - 9:07pm

Ozzie Newsome is a great talent evaluator, but not of QBs. So when he finally found a decent QB, he had to keep him. Because the Ravens QB play prior to Flacco's arrival was brutal, with Flacco they win playoff games every year.

And the Ravens MO has always been to resign great players and let the average ones walk. So they resigned Suggs, Ngata, Webb, Yanda, Rice, and just rack up compensatory picks for guys like Ellerbe, Kruger, and Cary Williams, who are replaceable. If you're good at drafting like Ozzie Newsome is, then you don't mind overpaying for Flacco because other positions can be filled through the draft. They'll be getting plenty of extra picks.

by BJR :: Sat, 09/07/2013 - 6:13am

As you say, good QB play is incredibly scarce. I would say that Flacco is being paid a fair amount given his importance to the Ravens (he is still their most important player by some distance) when the alternative is cheap, probably bad QBing, potentially for years and years.

In all honestly it's the likes of P Manning who are drastically underpaid given his importance to his team. Notwithstanding the fact that he probably isn't playing for the money anymore, he could hold out, but his team couldn't really pay him much more within the constraint of the salary cap without ruining the rest of the roster. So it's reached a point where any QB that has proven themselves capable of certain level of play is worth x percent of the cap, and although this now includes QBs of quite varying abilities, there isn't really much scope for the very best QB's salaries to go any higher.

by merlinofchaos :: Sat, 09/07/2013 - 2:43pm


by bravehoptoad :: Fri, 09/06/2013 - 11:44am

There are two types of competitive anxiety: 1) cognitive anxiety (i.e., mental symptoms like worry), and 2) somatic anxiety (i.e., physical symptoms like "butterflies in the stomach," being "amped up," etc.).

This lines up with a distinction Malcolm Gladwell tried to make between "choking" and "panicing." "Choking" is when you start over-thinking...panicking is when your instincts take over. Choking is more of a problem in sports -- when you have to start verbally reminding yourself how to correctly throw a forward pass, it's not good for your game. Panicking is bad in more intellectual endeavors (like flying a plane or playing chess). JFK Jr. might still be alive if he'd choked instead of panicked when flying his little plane over the Atlantic at night.

It's not a distinction that exists in conversational English, but it's an intersting one to attempt to make.

by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Fri, 09/06/2013 - 1:29pm

Considering that much of sports training is based on retraining your instincts, that definition of "panic" in a sports context is worse than useless -- it's precisely wrong.

by Danny Tuccitto :: Fri, 09/06/2013 - 6:26pm

Another example: Having mechanical swing thoughts before taking a shot in golf. Not good.

What it really boils down to is Fitts and Posner's three-phase learning process: cognitive, associative, autonomous. Pro athletes have made it to the autonomous phase for most of their skill set (e.g., the mechanics of throwing a forward pass, the mechanics of a golf swing), so one thing that happens during "choking" is that the combination of high cognitive anxiety and high somatic anxiety makes them revert back to thinking about things that should be automatic -- which comes at the expense of focusing their attention on much more important things.

Chuck Knoblauch and Steve Sax come to mind here.

by rja1 (not verified) :: Fri, 09/06/2013 - 7:38pm

When I play rugby, I overthink on the sidelines and instincts take me on the field.

by Billster (not verified) :: Fri, 09/06/2013 - 12:05pm

Was I the only one who felt Dallas Clark faked an injury for 5 seconds after his collision with a safety and midfield? He was writhing and then, after enough time had passed for flag / no flag, he was fine...

by Ryan :: Fri, 09/06/2013 - 12:20pm

I think he just had the wind knocked out of him. It was a big hit.

by BaronFoobarstein :: Fri, 09/06/2013 - 5:16pm

Yeah, sometimes you take a hit like that it takes a few seconds to inventory yourself and realize you're actually okay.

by Lance :: Sat, 09/07/2013 - 7:34am

I agree with this. However, for some, if you get rid of the pads and make the ball round then suddenly when someone takes a few seconds to inventory and realize nothing is broken a zealous contingent of Americans will call it "flopping" and claim that it's the main reason they don't watch some sissy Euro sport.

by LionInAZ :: Sat, 09/07/2013 - 7:33pm

Except that's not the way it usually happens. What people get upset about is when some player goes down clutching his knee when an opponent steals the ball away from him, maybe brushing his shoe.

Still, there's plenty of wimpiness in the NFL, with 3/4 of the QBs and WRs calling for late hits or DPIs if they get brushed a little bit. Maybe the NFL should fine players who make a big show of calling for a penalty.

by Ryan D. :: Sun, 09/08/2013 - 12:29am

I would love it if the NFL would penalize players for yelling or making motions toward the referees asking or telling them to throw a flag. That should be a 10 or 15-yard unsportsmanlike penalty. Plus, since this happens after the play most of the time, it would be a dead ball penalty more often than not, which would not result in a replay of the previous down.

by supershredder :: Fri, 09/06/2013 - 12:55pm

Anyone care to expound on Decker's poor night? I only had the energy to stay awake for the first half and I didn't see anything that could conclude what was up. Did Webb cover him at all? It wasn't until I saw his poor box score this morning that I thought about which defensive back was on him. I've been wondering how Manning would distribute with so many weapons.

by bernie (not verified) :: Fri, 09/06/2013 - 1:09pm

Decker looked like he just had a shitty night. He dropped a touch down that was in his hand son the fade route, he dropped a couple of other balls that were right on his numbers, and he got lucky with the fumble that shot out of bounds. Fortunately for the Broncos, his presence wasn't needed on a night dominated by the other guys.

by supershredder :: Fri, 09/06/2013 - 1:24pm

I take it most of the drops were in the second half

by smade :: Fri, 09/06/2013 - 4:56pm

I just want to offer kudos to the NBC production crew for their improved coverage of the sideline entertainment.

by young curmudgeon :: Fri, 09/06/2013 - 6:26pm

J Geils Band: "Wait (Stop a Minute)" which includes the classic line, referring to a potential romantic partner espied in a tavern: "the bartender says you're disengaged."

I, too, watched the Franz Klammer downhill win live. I have never been on skis in my life and know next to nothing about skiing. Nevertheless, Klammer's performance was one of the greatest athletic performances I have ever seen.