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The Cardinals had a winning record with backup quarterbacks last year thanks in large part to their high-profile edge rusher who terrorized opposing offenses. We look at defeat leaders for every position, as well as overall leaders over the past few seasons.

06 Oct 2014

Audibles at the Line: Week 5

compiled by Luke McKenna

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 turn 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 Steelers or Patriots fan, you are probably in luck; if you are a Bills fan, not so much.) We have no intention of adding new authors 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.

Also, with today's Audibles we introduce a new writer to the Football Outsiders staff. You may recognize Andrew Healy's name from his posts over the last few months at Football Perspective. He will be taking over our Any Given Sunday column and adding to our inherent pro-New England Patriots bias. In his non-football life, he's a professor of economics at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles.

Cleveland Browns 29 at Tennessee Titans 28

Cian Fahey: Kendall Wright proving again that all he needs is touches and adequate quarterback play to be effective. He followed up a touchdown reception when he made a defender miss with a huge run on an end-around when he made another defender miss in space.

Rivers McCown: I'm sure you didn't fail to notice yet another Joe Haden DPI, Cian.

Locker out again. Whitehurst in. The Titans are throwing the ball on what is a surprisingly bad Cleveland defense (29th in DVOA coming into the game). Anyone watching close enough to have an opinion on what Mike Pettine/staff is messing up? Seems like the talent doesn't match the results.

Cian Fahey: The talent is overblown Rivers. They don't have any cornerbacks. Haden is badly overrated by most media. Gilbert is just a raw athlete who will take a while to even become average. Skrine is fine as a slot guy, but covering Justin Hunter? No chance. The Titans offensive line has been dominant too so there isn't really a pass rush.

Tom Gower: Titans lead 28-10 at the half. It's the first time since the Turkey Day Annihilation of the winless Lions back in 2008, when I made my Titans highlight film cameo, that Tennessee has scored 28-plus points in the first half.

Shockingly, the scores have all been the result of execution by an offense that looked mostly poor the last three weeks. The key to the start was not putting the ball in the air downfield, something they had done entirely too much of lately. The only throw downfield on the first scoring drive was a defensive pass interference call, and I don't think there was a throw more than 8 yards downfield on the second. The big play there was the aforementioned Kendall Wright jet sweep, the first time they had run that play this year.

They'd call pass plays on those drives, but Jake Locker had been taking advantage of his mobility, including a scramble for the second score. He left the game during the third scoring drive, though, after taking a shot to the same wrist that kept him out of last week's game on a DB blitz. Charlie Whitehurst has come in and played well, finding Wright in the corner of the end zone (seriously, why don't teams run more corner routes from the slot in the red zone? Eddie Royal scored on that a few times for Ken Whisenhunt last year) and then Justin Hunter for a 75-yard touchdown the next drive, with Buster Skrine roasted in coverage. I thought Skrine was roster fodder a couple years ago. He played much better, from what I saw, last year, but this season he looks back to being roster fodder, while Joe Haden isn't proving Cian's opinion of him wrong.

The thing that surprised me on the other side of the ball is that the Titans did a much better job early of limiting Cleveland's ground game. It seems odd to say with Ben Tate at 11-77 through two quarters, but it hadn't been the sustaining force I thought it might. Of course, some good Tennessee work on third downs to force punts has been part of that conversation.

Cian Fahey: Tom, have you noticed the right side of the Tennessee offensive line at all?

Tom Gower: Watching OL live is difficult for me. It's a thing I really have to pay attention to, so I rely on rewatch with the end zone angle to really judge things.

Cian Fahey: Just an abysmal second-half display from the Titans and Ken Whisenhunt in particular. Playing with a lead, with your backup quarterback and a passing game that is struggling overall, Whisenhunt had no interesting in running the ball. The offensive line was consistently excellent and the backs were good when given opportunities, but Whisenhunt put the ball in Charlie Whitehurst's hands to win the game over and over again.

Rivers McCown: Whitehurst will exit with good numbers because of the long Justin Hunter touchdown, but, as we knew from last week, he's a step or two late on most throws.

Tom Gower: I'm going to try not to go overboard here, but the second half was (1) Ken Whisenhunt reverting to pass-whacky type notwithstanding run game effectiveness and that Charlie Whitehurst was playing quarterback, including six straight pass plays clinging to a 28-22 lead in the fourth, and (2) defensive back injuries creating open holes in the secondary. Blidi Wreh-Wilson, as maligned as he's been, was out with a concussion, and Coty Sensabaugh went out with a knee injury. That left Jason McCourty the Titans' only reliable cornerback. The Browns of course reacted by going to three-wide sets and forcing Brandon Harris and fourth-round rookie Marqueston Huff on the field. With those two out there, Brian Hoyer was able to find favorable matchups and open receivers. What a disaster of a loss in a game that looked mostly in hand at halftime.

Houston Texans 17 at Dallas Cowboys 20 (OT)

Rivers McCown: Houston's pass rush (and blitzes) non-existent through one quarter. Saved by yet another DeMarco Murray fumble.

Rivers McCown: Houston is extremely lucky to still be in this game. Dallas has had all day to throw, as noted earlier. Some fumble luck and some good secondary play keeping Houston in it despite Ryan Fitzpatrick's inability to do anything.

Vince Verhei: J.J. Watt finally gets free for a shot at the quarterback, but Tony Romo is able to spin away and hit Terrance Williams for a long touchdown. Just not Watt's day, I guess.

Aaron Schatz: The Cowboys' strategy on their fourth-quarter winning drive attempt against Houston seemed a bit odd to me. I understand dump offs, because sometimes the deep guys aren't open and you just want to get some yardage -- especially when you have three timeouts to play with. But I don't get that there were a couple of just plain short passes that didn't gain much yardage and took time off the clock. In the end, they set up Dan Bailey for a 53-yard attempt. That's not a gimme, even indoors. A 35-yard attempt would have been a lot easier.

... and he missed it.

And after that, Dan Fouts says "it looks like the icing paid off for Houston." Because Bailey was guaranteed to hit the field goal without the icing, right? For crying out loud.

Vince Verhei: I know the kick was good, but I really, really hate Dallas' decision to try a 49-yard field goal on third-and-9 in overtime. That is way, way too much faith in any kicker, at exactly the range where another 5 yards makes a big difference. Yes, the kick was good, but that is bad process, good results right there.

Scott Kacsmar: No reason for Dallas not to run another play on third down to try making the field goal shorter. Teams can usually use the clock as an excuse for not doing that, but that's not an issue in overtime. I think they also ran a toss play on second down, which I hate in those situations. Can't afford to lose any yards when you're setting up a field goal.

Aaron Schatz: It's the same problem they had at the end of regulation, this belief among some coaches that "field-goal range" starts at yard-line X instead of field goals getting progressively easier the closer you get, especially as you move forward between the 40 and the 20.

Baltimore Ravens 13 at Indianapolis Colts 20

Rivers McCown: I've shat on Chuck Pagano's coaching plenty, but this makes two or three games in a row he's made the correct "go for it" call on fourth down.

Also Jacoby Jones had a punt bounce off his helmet. Because he's Jacoby Jones.

Aaron Schatz: I don't think the punt bounced off his helmet ... it glanced off his jersey or something. Ravens have really been screwed by the fumble luck fairy today. First Steve Smith gets stripped and it bounces right to the Colts, then the Jacoby Jones punt thing where it just barely touched him as he was trying to get out of the way of a weird bounce. Yet it's only 3-0 after a quarter because the Colts haven't been so swell on third downs and they failed to get that fourth down (although it was the right decision to go for it).

I will note that someone finally woke up Bjoern Werner today. He's beating the undrafted rookie left tackle James Hurst. Also saw Flacco crushed after a poor pass-rush pickup by Justin Forsett.

Scott Kacsmar: Colts have failed on a couple of important and-1 situations today. Wouldn't it be nice to have a big running back; maybe one they spent a first-round pick on to convert those plays?

Ben Muth: This has been an ugly game early. Baltimore has muffed a punt. Luck threw a pick to Haloti Ngata because he got hit while he was throwing. The Colts rookie center snapped the ball too early on a third-and-1 forcing a punt. Heck, even Bjoern Werner has a sack, so you know it's been a crappy game so far.

Aaron Schatz: Ravens go for it on fourth-and-1 down by the goal line and Joe Flacco gets sacked on a safety blitz. I'm curious about the protection there ... the tight end took the defensive end and James Hurst tried to backstep and turn to the left to get the safety coming around the outside. But the safety is way too fast for a UDFA left tackle to get back there to block him ... why not just have Daniels (who is closer to the safety) move left and get the safety, with Hurst getting the defensive end who is right in front of him?

Ben Muth: I'd love to see a replay of the sack Aaron just described but I'm watching the game on Sunday Ticket for PS3 so I can't rewind it, and CBS hates doing anything useful.

Aaron Schatz: Might be worth looking at for WoM this week as a separate note from whatever other team you cover for the rest of the article.

Rivers McCown: Impact of UDFA offensive linemen being felt in this game between Bjoern Werner actually penetrating and Jonotthan Harrison ruining run game chemistry.

Aaron Schatz: Colts are just killing Baltimore's third corner Asa Jackson today.

Joe Flacco has been under so much pressure today, and I feel like the Ravens just don't have their hot routes set up at all. I keep thinking -- if only five guys are blocking here, shouldn't somebody be open on a short pass? I don't know if it is Flacco or that offense, but I keep thinking, oh, just go with your hot route here. And there's nobody. Which means there's no reason for the Colts not to blitz constantly.

Pittsburgh Steelers 17 at Jacksonville Jaguars 9

Scott Kacsmar: I almost thought I was going to use #FireToddHaley in the first quarter, but the Steelers are finally testing this Jacksonville secondary vertically. Too many screens at the start. Blake Bortles had a really impressive opening drive, helped extended by a quarterback sneak on fourth-and-1. Using bootlegs and play action seemingly continues to be very effective against the 2014 Pittsburgh defense.

Cian Fahey: For the second week in a row, the Eagles get a double-digit lead without scoring a touchdown on offense. This was supposed to be an offensive team, right?

I'm a firm believer that Todd Haley has had a very positive impact on the Steelers offense as a whole, but his red zone play calling this year has been awful. Doesn't seem to have any interest in running the ball with Bell or Blount.

Scott Kacsmar: For the second week in a row Troy Polamalu tried jumping over the line at the snap, but mistimed it again and was penalized for offsides. I'm not sure he's pulled that off since 2010 against the Titans. I have no idea why he thought to even try it on a play where Bortles was obviously going to spike the ball in the hurry-up offense. Then again, Bortles has a fake spike touchdown pass this year, so maybe Polamalu would use that as his reasoning.

Cian Fahey: Those plays essentially sum up what Polamalu has been for a while. He'll make a flashy play every once and a while, but more often than not he's beating himself by being too aggressive. Applies to run and pass defense.

Scott Kacsmar: Roethlisberger just used the pump fake four times on one play. He usually never gets that much protection, but that was pretty funny to see.

Steelers had a first down at the two-minute warning with Jacksonville out of timeouts. That's an automatic "game over" situation where every team should just take three knees. Steelers actually risked a throw just to keep Antonio Brown's streak alive of games with at least five catches. Seriously. This really happened. Yet last week when they could have actually won a game with a throw, they ran. A 1-1 split with Florida's Little Sisters of the Poor isn't all that encouraging.

Rob Weintraub: For the record Polamalu pulled that jumping over the line stunt against Cincy in 2012, though he was patently offside then too but got away with it.

Still bitter.

J.J. Cooper: Polamalu pulled it off successfully last year in Week 1 against the Titans. It would have been the fastest sack I have ever recorded (0.15 seconds) but it was ruled a tackle for loss in a running play because the quarterback was just pulling back from center and there was no way to know if it would have developed into a pass.

Atlanta Falcons 20 at New York Giants 30

Andrew Healy: Steven Jackson has looked like 2010 Steven Jackson so far. Running with power and speed. A really nice run off left tackle for six on their second drive. He got stoned on second down on a no-hope play after a very nice piledriver up the middle on first. And Mike Smith kicks the field goal on fourth-and-2.

Matt Waldman: Falcons' play calling inside the 5 during its third offensive series after using jumbo packages successfully in the second: They go zero receivers the play after a good interior run by Jackson up the gut to get inside the 5 and then try to take the edge, losing yards.

I understand the desire to dominate and break the will of an opponent after some strong runs during the second and third series. However, I think the attempt to do this in the first quarter on second down is poor decision-making. The Giants defense is still fresh, the play call reeks of try-to-stop-us bravado, and when they failed, Atlanta went to its predictable third-down shovel pass from the shotgun to a scat back.

The Giants scout this and limit a potential seven-point deficit to a three-point deficit after they gave up the possession when its return man was stripped to set up this series in the red zone.

I get the intent, but not the timing -- especially when you remove three of your best skill players from the field in White, Jones, and Hester.

Andrew Healy: Julio Jones with the nicest 8-yard catch you will see in a long time. Ryan maybe expecting him to keep running. Ball way in front, full extension one-handed stab. Beautiful. Matt Ryan has looked very good so far, by the way. Would have had Hester for six on the previous drive without a little contact on the break to the post.

Matt Waldman: Note to Atlanta Falcons: NFL scouts have caught up to the wide receiver screen game. Throwing the play action wrinkle into the mix didn't help, either.

Andrew Healy: I may be wrong, but I want to say that the Giants are doing much better playing man than zone. I'd like to see the splits on that. They're playing more man now than in the first half, I think, and having more success. Ryan's stats took a hit when the Giants had a pick that would have been negated by holding, but Quintin Demps fumbled it so the Falcons declined the penalty.

Matt Waldman: One thing that scouting couldn't help was another play to the left featuring Antone Smith -- this time a pass to the flat where he runs through run wrap and leaves flames up the sideline for a 74-yard scoring reception.

Vincent Verhei: Latest adventures of Antone Smith, big play machine: Ryan hits him on a quick out a few yards past the line of scrimmage. Smith breaks a tackle and he's gone, a 74-yard touchdown reception.

Aaron Schatz: It's too bad that Atlanta doesn't play Philadelphia this year because Antone Smith vs. the Eagles defense would be a matter/antimatter collision of big-play variation.

Andrew Healy: Antone Smith has 17 touches this year and three touchdowns over 35 yards, including that one. Not surprisingly, they were in man there and that's the risk. The pass in the flat was the perfect play call there.

Cian Fahey: Odell Beckham Jr. marks his debut with a touchdown reception. A touchdown reception that showed off his incredible ball skills. The Giants are going to love Beckham, should be a very, very good receiver for a very long time.

St. Louis Rams 28 at Philadelphia Eagles 34

Cian Fahey: LeSean McCoy just fumbled the ball while carrying it in one hand away from his body. I don't understand how players can play this game for more than 10 years and still expect to get away with that kind of thing. It's just dumb.

Andrew Healy: Nick Foles the poster child for turnover regression. Looks like he made his mind at the snap to go deep to Maclin. No pressure and he doesn't get it to the outside. Looks like a pass intended for E.J. Gaines. Easy pick.

Scott Kacsmar: Eagles have seven return touchdowns on the year and aren't even done with their fifth game. Anyone know the record for a season? I remember hearing it in 2012 with the Chicago Bears, and for some reason I have a range of eight or nine in mind. Though I'm wondering if that was for interception returns only.

Aaron Schatz: Regarding the Eagles, Chase Stuart points out on Twitter that the 2014 Eagles, 2003 Chiefs, 1973 Redskins, 1970 Vikings, and 1942 Bears are all tied for most non-offensive TDs through five games (6).

Those other teams had 2, 2, 2, and 4 through the final 14, 12, 12, and 8 games. So they averaged 1.2 non-offensive TDs per game through first five games, then 0.22 non-offensive TDs per game the rest of the way.

Scott Kacsmar: Correction: the record for interception returns in a season is nine by the 1961 Chargers (2012 Bears had eight). I'm not sure what the single-season record is for total return touchdowns, but we did find the 1998 Seahawks to have 13.

Chicago Bears 24 at Carolina Panthers 31

Andrew Healy: Wow, not sure it was the greatest idea, but Cam Newton just knocked Lance Briggs five yards on a block on an end around.

Vince Verhei: Hey. I Tweeted this last year. Cam Newton as a lead blocker on reverses is basically death to linebackers.

Scott Kacsmar: Didn't Briggs get the interception a few plays after Cam blocked him? Nice payback.

Andrew Healy: Yup, exactly. Maybe not the greatest thing for those ribs.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers 31 at New Orleans Saints 37 (OT)

Andrew Healy: Another interception is fumbled away. This one on a Favre-esque dumb flip by Mike Glennon. At least that fits better with his projections than his mostly solid play so far. He had completed nine in a row before that terrible decision. And he is making some nice throws. They are probably going to overrule this one, though. Yes, they overturned that one. I wonder how much of that is on the Saints defense, though. They blitzed on the throw to Sefarian-Jenkins (went for 11) and still a clean pocket for Glennon. No pressure at all on the easy pass to Jackson to start the drive, either. Wow, a scary throw to Jackson, but kind of a great one down to the ten. Glennon's almost out of bounds after being forced left, Jackson broke his route and went deep. Pretty little rainbow. Then a bullet again from a clean pocket to Robert Herron for six. Glennon looked great on that drive, one crazy throw, mostly relatively easy ones. 31-20 Tampa. Big upset in the making.

Glennon takes a sack for a safety to bring the Saints within three. Maybe he could get rid of that one, but it's mostly on Logan Mankins missing Junior Gallette on a stunt. Kirk Morrison blames it on the crowd noise, but I'm not seeing that one. He and Dick Stockton also don't like the pass call on third-and-29 from their own 1, failing to mention that Bobby Rainey barely made it out of the end zone on second-and-29. Great, great play by Lavonte David getting Pierre Thomas for a loss on a screen on the next drive. David also forces the field goal on the following play. He might be awesome.

Strange decision by Brees to go deep on third-and-10 from the 49 at the end of regulation. The Bucs got killed on the previous drive by a Logan Mankins holding call after a good first down throw by Glennon had the Bucs set up well. Feeling better and better about the Patriots' line being just as bad with him as it is without him.

Vince Verhei: I know there are a lot of problems in New England, and people aren't happy that Mankins is gone, but he's been pretty horrible for Tampa Bay. Looks like the Pats did a reasonable job of selling high and at least getting something for him, rather than throwing him in the lineup and watching him get Brady killed.

Arizona Cardinals 20 at Denver Broncos 41

Scott Kacsmar: Interesting play with the referees letting the live action go after a great catch by Emmanuel Sanders. He was touched down (barely), but he got up and ran it out for a touchdown. Since Arizona was out of timeouts, had Sanders gone out of bounds at the 1-yard line, Denver would have gained 76 yards and had a first down without Arizona being able to challenge. I can't criticize Sanders at all here. Most players probably weren't aware Arizona wouldn't be able to challenge and it was close enough to where he maybe was up before the contact and it would have been a touchdown. Moot point now since Denver scored anyway, but definitely a reminder of why you can't blow all your timeouts in the first quarter.

Aaron Schatz: Peyton Manning's touchdown pass to Demaryius Thomas wow wow wow. Perfect ball placement just right over Thomas' shoulder and into Thomas' outstretched hands. And then Thomas found another gear -- people use that phrase a lot but, no, seriously, I swear he sped up and sped away from the defender and into the end zone. So beautiful.

Matt Waldman: Emmanuel Sanders epitomizes the concept of scheme fit in the NFL. Granted, injuries limited him in Pittsburgh, but the variety of routes he runs in Denver with Peyton Manning is greater than what he did with Ben Roethlisberger. Of course, Manning is a choreographer whereas Roethlisberger is an improvisational street performer by comparison.

Rob Weintraub: And now Drew Stanton has been replaced by Logan Thomas -- concussion possible for Drew.

Scott Kacsmar: Logan Thomas starts his career with a 100 percent sack rate on two plays. Looked like the referees cost another defense a fumble return touchdown thanks to blowing the whistle early too.

Rob Weintraub: Naturally Logan Thomas throws an insane sideline pass right over a defender's helmet and into Ellington's hands for a streak down the sideline for six. Not sure Palmer or Stanton even tries that throw, much less Manning.

24-20 Denver.

Vince Verhei: This game never felt as close as the final score will end up being. Arizona's first two touchdowns came as the result individual superhuman efforts. Calais Campbell made like Eel O'Brian (obscure comic book reference) and reached in the air to intercept a screen pass. That set up an Andre Ellington touchdown run. Then in the third quarter, Logan Thomas threw a pass that never should have been thrown, but it somehow got past the linebacker and into Ellington's hands. Aqib Talib took a bad angle, and then Ellington made like Barry Allen (less obscure comic book reference) and zipped past everyone and into the end zone. His burst on that play really was breathtaking. Otherwise, Denver really dominated.

Tom Gower: It ended up 41-20, so the final score was not really deceptively close. Ronnie Hillman found more running room than Montee Ball seemed to; I can't say for sure Ball was missing holes, because he was good at finding room for longer runs last year, but that seems to be a minor trend.

Coming into this game, I thought the Cardinals would match Patrick Peterson onto Demaryius Thomas. Instead, it was Antonio Cromartie on Demaryius Thomas, and Thomas set the Broncos franchise record for receiving yards in a game, even without a long touchdown that was called back on an offensive line penalty.

New York Jets 0 at San Diego Chargers 31

Rob Weintraub: The Chargers fourth-string running back caught a 50-yard pass then went straight up the gut on the supposedly impenetrable Jets run D to make it 21-0 just before halftime. Jets haven't lost four straight in seven years, but it's staring them in the face. Next week -- Denver.

Andrew Healy: Philip Rivers continues to play out of his mind. Got immediate pressure up the middle on the second touchdown to Gates and flipped up a pretty little Riversbow that dropped right into the arms of a well-covered Gates. Now he just showed great movement in the pocket to get away from a sack before flipping out to an uncovered Branden Oliver -- who looks good and Sproles-like, but let's call him Super Sproles and not Mini Sproles since he's a little bigger -- who went for 50.

Geno Smith kind of looks like the Bizarro Rivers.

Aaron Schatz: Does that mean that his mechanics are perfect?

Vince Verhei: Here is my professional football writer analysis of the first half of this game, with San Diego up 21-0: Philip Rivers is better than Geno Smith. (For their own safety, untrained amateurs should not attempt this level of analysis without trained supervision.) This was never more apparent than on a sequence late in the first half. Smith escaped pressure, then threw a fastball at the feet of his receiver. Once he got away from the defenders, he actually had time to set his feet, find a receiver, and make a throw, but he panicked and got rid of the ball as quickly as possible.

On San Diego's next drive, the Chargers had a third-and-forever. Jets got pressure, but Rivers pulled away from it and stepped up into the pocket. That pulled a linebacker out of coverage, as he stepped up to pursue Rivers, and Rivers immediately turned and flicked to a wide-open Oliver in the flat. Oliver gets the credit for slipping tackles and turning it into a big play, but he only had a chance because Rivers made a great play to get the ball in his hands.

The margin could be even greater, but Phillip Adams made a great play in the end zone to take the ball away from Eddie Royal on what could have been a touchdown.

Andrew Healy: The Jets QBs are entering the Kim McQuilken zone. 20 attempts, 34 yards, 14 sack yards, 1 interception. Adjusted Net Yards Per Attempt of -1.14. As a team, they have 65 total yards. If they stay under 100, that would be the first time since the 2010 Chiefs with Brodie Croyle at quarterback.

(Editor's Note: The Jets moved the ball in garbage time and finished with 151 yards of offense.)

Cian Fahey: While the circumstances were slightly different because one team is more likely to fire their coaching staff, the Giants never benched Eli Manning last year because they understood he wasn't the problem with their offense. The Jets did bench Geno Smith, seemingly acknowledging that they don't really know what is wrong with their offense.

Unsurprisingly, Vick isn't a saviour and Geno should be the starter still moving forward. What this has done to his confidence remains to be seen though.

Cincinnati Bengals at New England Patriots

Aaron Schatz: Patriots march up the field easily on their first drive. Tom Brady scrambled (!) and had two QB sneaks, including one to convert fourth-and-1. Apparently the Patriots got the memo about the Bengals being 32nd in run defense DVOA.

And then on their first drive, the Bengals used the Emory and Henry! So much fun.

Patriots march up the field easily for a second touchdown, assuming you ignore the totally horrible dropped interception by Emmanuel Lemur. Brady goes over the 50,000-yard marker, only the sixth guy in NFL history to do this. Gillette Stadium breaks out in a "Brady, Brady, Brady" chant. I've never heard anything like that here. Also, second touchdown went to Tim Wright, who has been much larger part of the game plan today than in any of the first four games.

Andrew Healy: Tim Wright gets the Pats' second touchdown. He has looked big and fast and dangerous even before tonight. It was curious why he wasn't playing more and getting more targets. How does a guy with his skill set go undrafted? He could be a real weapon. Look for him to have an expanded role.

Tom Gower: When I watched the Bengals seriously in the offseason after 2012, one of the things that really stood out was, you could throw on their linebackers other than Vontaze Burfict, especially in the middle of the field. Run a lot the first drive, then hit a bunch of open receivers in the middle of the field after you suck the linebackers up with the run game. There are times I don't understand why this isn't an issue every single week.

Aaron Schatz: So... what does the officiating in this game look like to all of you out there in TV land? I have to say that a 15-yard blindside block penalty on a fumble return that didn't actually happen seems a bit strange to me.

Scott Kacsmar: Officiating looks like Jerome Boger's crew trying to keep the game close while also supplying make-up calls. Then again, his crew just may have no idea what it's doing and the bad calls are balancing out on accident. But as always, Boger's slow to clean up the messes and is killing this game's pace.

Tom Gower: Typical Jerome Boger game management.

The blindside block is a foul because it's a player safety issue, which is why it was enforced even though the return didn't happen. The reasoning for that makes perfect sense to me, odd as it may seem.

Andrew Healy: Not the best night for the zebras. 84 yards already for New England with five minutes left in the second quarter. Two defensive holding penalties on Dennard pretty ticky-tacky even with the emphasis on that (not crazy calls, though). Don't like the blindside block call. Don't like the PI call on the play where Amendola got hurt. The illegal contact call on the Revis pick was also close, but I thought OK.

Aaron Schatz: Vincent Rey is a real problem on runs. He either over pursues or gets blocked out easily. He's playing for Vontaze Burfict, I believe.

Andrew Healy: Geno Atkins didn't seem to be doing much with Wendell-Vollmer on the right side in the first half. With Marcus Cannon taking Vollmer's place on the Pats just before the two-minute warning, Atkins threw Cannon aside and got Vereen for no gain.

So far, though, Solder-Connolly-Stork-Wendell-Vollmer has been solid. They're back with that group on the last drive of the half and providing a nice pocket for Brady. Seems like we have a winner.

Aaron Schatz: With 12:15 left in the fourth quarter, Patriots defensive tackle Chris Jones took down Dalton on third down for Cincinnati's first sack allowed all year. Bengals finish the game 0-for-7 on third downs. Yikes.

Posted by: The Outsiders on 06 Oct 2014

71 comments, Last at 08 Oct 2014, 1:45pm by liquidmuse3


by big10freak :: Mon, 10/06/2014 - 11:58am

The returned fumbled punt in the Carolina/Chicago game was crazy. Though I give the refs credit for not blowing the whistle until they were sure of the ball being secure/dead.

Detroit has a fair amount of high level talent but sure seems like minimal depth.

by Bright Blue Shorts :: Mon, 10/06/2014 - 12:07pm

Re: Philly Brown - I was always under the impression that once a member of the punt team touches the ball it is considered dead. However I guess that it's just more a convention that when there are bunch of punt gunners surrounding a football it would be stupid for a returner to try and pick it up and return it.

by big10freak :: Mon, 10/06/2014 - 12:12pm

The cover guy blew up the returner just as he received the ball so it was a live ball. That the ball popped out of the pile was just good fortune for Carolina.

by Arkaein :: Mon, 10/06/2014 - 12:23pm

It's actually not dead if the punt team touches it. It's an illegal touch, which is basically a zero yard penalty (but one that is not flagged or counted as an official penalty).

Because it sort of a penalty, the receiving team is free to pick it up. Even better, even if the receiving team muffs the ball or fumbles it, they still have the option of taking the ball at the spot of the illegal touch.

This is why occasionally you'll see a player on the return team take a lunge at a ball that has been touched or batted by the punting team, but not actually picked up to end the play. Even with a very small chance at making a significant return, it's essentially a zero risk play.

by Pottsville Maro... :: Mon, 10/06/2014 - 3:19pm

Not exactly the same situation, but the longest punt return in NFL history (103 yards) happened because the entire Saints punt team thought that a punt into the end zone was going to be downed, and Robert Bailey of the Rams picked it up and took it all the way back:


by Tarrant :: Mon, 10/06/2014 - 12:38pm

I believe when the punt team downs the ball it's actually a penalty/infraction for "illegal touching", but convention is that no flags are thrown and the penalty is for zero yards.

But as on any infraction of the type, the receiving team has the option of taking the result of the play, or the ball at the spot of the "penalty".

In this case, there was zero risk to Brown once he picked up the ball, because of the illegal touch - even had he fumbled the ball, Carolina could have taken the ball at the spot of the touch.

In most cases, if the ball is surrounded by a few members of the punt team, it would be dangerous for a member of the receiving team to grab it, so they don't bother. In this case, the ball was still live.

Kudos to the referees, though, for not blowing the whistle when the ball was underneath that small pile.

by tuluse :: Mon, 10/06/2014 - 12:53pm

Illegal touching is a spot penalty, like defensive pass interference. It just happens that on punts, the penalty is beneficial to the team committing it.

by TomC :: Mon, 10/06/2014 - 1:57pm

That's two weeks in a row in which the Bears ST not being prepared leads to a major shift in a game. Most of the fan and media attention has been on the potential firing of Mel Tucker, but I would put De Camillis at the front of the line to the chopping block.

by Tomlin_Is_Infallible :: Mon, 10/06/2014 - 12:09pm

Steelers actually risked a throw just to keep Antonio Brown's streak alive of games with at least five catches. Seriously. This really happened.

The "player's coach" shows again he's not concerned first and foremost with winning the game.

The standard is the standard!

by Tomlin_Is_Infallible :: Mon, 10/06/2014 - 12:15pm

How many times has a team
been penalized for offside on a kickoff two consecutive times?

The standard is the standard!

by intel_chris :: Mon, 10/06/2014 - 12:16pm

As a displaced Broncos fan living in the PHX area, I'd like some opinion on the chop block that took out Calais Campbell. I've read Thomas apologized, but I still wonder. My recollection is that Denver teams have a history of doing that. It is a point that sometimes makes me be ashamed to be a fan.

by big10freak :: Mon, 10/06/2014 - 12:21pm

Denver was the guilty party against a San Diego defensive linemen years back. Jamaal williams?

Ended the guys season.

I am working to restrain my comments knowing that Bronco fans will likely get highly offended at any implied criticism, but I don't think I'm alone as a fan thinking that a coaching approach that incorporates a high risk of harming another player is at best unprofessional.

by mehllageman56 :: Mon, 10/06/2014 - 1:12pm

I don't know if it's unprofessional, or just nasty. Cut blocking from the side was promoted by Bill Walsh, and he was certainly professional. No one really wanted to do it before 1978, because the head slap was still legal. If you dove at Mean Joe Greene's knee on a play, you'd be going off to the sideline on the next.

If you want unprofessional, try to figure out what the Jets were doing in San Diego this weekend.

by Sakic :: Mon, 10/06/2014 - 1:18pm

I vaguely seem to remember cut blocking being big when Mike Shanahan was running the Broncos but not recently.

by big10freak :: Mon, 10/06/2014 - 2:51pm

I hated it when Ken Still and Chuck Cecil were playing for Green Bay because those players regularly took cheap shots. Maybe not Andre Waters cheap shots but definitely looking to hurt guys versus playing football.

Football is tough enough without guys worrying about someone TRYING to hurt them.

by Keith_1 :: Mon, 10/06/2014 - 1:46pm

As a neutral fan, I really saw no problem with the dive block. You see this type of block all the time from backs and tight ends that are not very good as blockers, and it is just unfortunate that it happened. From what I saw, and in the replay it appeared, that JT dove to the outside of Campbell's right leg, aiming his shoulder at his thigh. Campbell moved to engage Clady at the same time, so JT ended up more on the side of Campbell's leg, and lower, as Campbell extended inside.

Should JT be taught differently? Yes, he probably could have just chipped and run a route. Do I think it was malicious/intentional to harm, instead of just intending to throw a low block? Absolutely no.

My issue with people making a deal out of this particular play is that there are hundreds of other plays each week where runners are tackled by their legs, and announcers seem to lament when players do not tackle by the legs. This could have happened to any number of other guys this week or any week.

by big10freak :: Mon, 10/06/2014 - 1:49pm


The defender was already engaged. In the other scenarios you describe the defender is most often moving with the ability to adjust course, use hands to protect, etc.

The lineman here had no such recourse.

by Scott C :: Mon, 10/06/2014 - 1:55pm

Additionally, when engaged there is a lot more force on the knees/ankles holding the legs to the ground, so bows to the legs are _far_ more likely to cause injury than when running.

Its illegal because it wrecks someone's season about 25% of the time it happens.

by Keith_1 :: Mon, 10/06/2014 - 2:05pm

He was not engaged. The penalty was on Clady, not JT; therefore, Clady engaged after the low. Otherwise, the penalty would have been on JT. JT began his dive pretty much on the snap, as Campbell was rising out of his stance. Clady had barely his hands off his knees.

by Scott C :: Mon, 10/06/2014 - 5:03pm

Its been ruled a "lure block", where one player in a pass blocking stance gets the attention/focus of the defender and another dives low while the defender's focus is on the other guy.

by Keith_1 :: Tue, 10/07/2014 - 10:09am

I know how it was ruled. That does not mean the rule is a good rule. While technically correct, it is still not something any fan knew about before it happened, and the outrage is extremely childish.

People are calling for an equitable suspension, a hefty fine, or a combination of both, for what they believe is an intentionally malicious action. That is an extreme over-reaction.

by Scott C :: Mon, 10/06/2014 - 1:58pm

Yes, a cut block while engaged knocked Jamal Williams out for the season. Charger fans have yet to forgive the Donkos for that, although it doesn't really come up so much now that Shanarat is not the coach.

by BroncFan07 :: Mon, 10/06/2014 - 2:18pm

A couple of clarifications here. First, Jamal Williams was not injured on a chop block. It was a downfield block where Steve Herndon went low on him from the side and broke his ankle. It was a pretty bad shot. As far as the Calais Campbell play, it's wrong to say Campbell was already engaged. Julius Thomas went low and hit him first. Clady started to block, but seeing what Thomas did, Clady backed off after making contact. If you read Peter King this morning, he quotes Mike Peireria as calling it a "Lure Block." That is, Clady was in a pass protection stance but Thomas went low. That was the reason for the penalty. It's also been noted that this was the first chop block Denver was called for since 2010. As far as dirty, the block that ended Williams' season in 2002 was bad. The Thomas play probably wasn't intentional, but I don't see the need for diving low at a guy like that.

by big10freak :: Mon, 10/06/2014 - 2:46pm

Thanks for the clarification on the Chargers play.

by Scott C :: Mon, 10/06/2014 - 5:01pm

Thanks for the clarification. I don't have that old game on film, and can only go by what I recall from 12 years ago on the old low-def tv, and the weeks of S.D. talk radio that followed on the subject.

by fmtemike :: Tue, 10/07/2014 - 7:54am

The classic Denver/Alex Gibbs chop block came from linemen taking an angle from the backside of D linemen flowing toward the play, and chopping them down from the back below the knees. That was what Jamal Williams was injured on (interestingly, Herndon played in NFL Europe and his O line coach told me Denver wanted him taught that chop block but he refused to). The block was legal because it's in the interior box.

The block on Campbell was legal except for the fact that Campbell was 'engaged' with Clady in the NFL's alternate reality world, where looking at a player in pass blocking set means you are being 'lured' into engagement. You might as well call penalties on trap blockers when the defender entering the gap looks at someone else and is 'lured' into the gap.

by tuluse :: Tue, 10/07/2014 - 11:32am

Trap blocks don't usually involve one player diving at another's knees.


by theslothook :: Tue, 10/07/2014 - 2:55pm

I agree - we make it illegal for defenders to go at the knees of qbs regardless - we should eliminate all shots to the knees. Idk why its persisted this long.

Btw the most eggregious denver chop block happened against the bengals IIRC - I believe the Tackle Foster cut block one of the bengal pass rushers on a play that he was nowhere near.

by The Hypno-Toad :: Tue, 10/07/2014 - 7:23pm

Yeah. That block was sickening. Monday night game, as I recall. I was watching it at a bar in Denver surrounded with fellow Bronco fans, and we were all outraged by how filthy that play was.

by Ryan :: Mon, 10/06/2014 - 12:26pm

Some seriously spotty officiating in the Indy game. The Reggie PI call was bogus and the Vontae Davis call was REALLY bogus.

I'm still baffled as to why AQ Shipley was benched in favor of Jonatthahtthtththtnonnnonnon Harrison.

by Bernie :: Mon, 10/06/2014 - 12:33pm

Eh, while I thought the Vontae Davis call was a little ticky tack, I could understand the reasoning behind it. The PI call which really left me scratching my head was the call on Greg Toler against Torrey Smith. If that was PI, then I have no idea how a corner is supposed to cover a receiver. It was one of the best pieces of coverage I've seen by anyone this year. He didn't even really touch Smith.
I think the call against Reggie on the TD would have been let go if Reggie hadn't extended his arms.

by Ryan :: Mon, 10/06/2014 - 12:48pm

Wait--sorry, I'm thinking of the Greg Toler call, not the Davis one. There was almost no contact between Toler and the receiver. Just a bizarre call. Fortunately it did not have any impact on the outcome because it was as bad a PI call as I've seen recently.

by Ben :: Mon, 10/06/2014 - 12:58pm

The Vontae Davis one wasn't totally unreasonable. As a Colt's fan, it looked a bit more like a 5 yard illegal contact, but he did impede the receiver.

The Toler call was ridiculous, though. That was just great coverage. I agree that he barely touched the receiver.

I also agree on the Wayne pick call. I think it was the shove that drew the flag. Heck, it would have been better if he had just run into the guy and flopped. It would have either been an illegal contact call the other way or no call, both ending up with the TD.

There were a couple of long passes to Hilton in the first half that looked like PI against the Raven's as well. The first one looked like the defender got there a split second early, so I can see the no call there. The second one was pretty egregious though, in my opinion.

Not the best game all around by the Zebra's.

by Ben :: Mon, 10/06/2014 - 1:00pm

I too was a little surprised about Harrison getting the start, even if that was the rumor all week. Harrison looked pretty good in the pre-season, but Shipley has been solid so far this year.

The center forgetting the snap count twice in one game is never good though...

by Ryan :: Mon, 10/06/2014 - 1:08pm

Shipley was graded as the third-best center so far this year by Pro Football Focus. Yet another example of "trust us, we know better" from Colts coaching/management. Hell, we won the game, but I just get the sense little cutesy decisions like this will come back to bite us at some point. I wonder how Luck felt about that decision.

That being said, Harrison was very good in pass protection.

by jonnyblazin :: Mon, 10/06/2014 - 3:45pm

I'm amazed the Shipley has been adequate thus far. The Colts traded him for a bag of peanuts to the Ravens last year, and even when Gino Gradkowski was having the worst C season in the history of C seasons, they didn't play Shipley there. Then the Ravens cut him, and then he's back starting at C and playing decently for the Colts.

by turbohappy :: Mon, 10/06/2014 - 1:39pm

Yeah that just seems dumb, I just don't get it. Shipley seemed to be playing solidly if unspectacular (after the first game, where he started after being on the street earlier in the week). Just don't get that decision at all. If it had been one of the players that had been injured, sure OK I get it, but if they felt that way about Harrison why even pick up Shipley and have him start the first 4? I didn't see anything in his play at ALL to get him benched. Unless it was something off the field or whatever I just don't get it at all. They won, but I'm positive it would have gone better with Shipley, not worse.

by turbohappy :: Mon, 10/06/2014 - 2:52pm

In general the contact penalties seemed oddly one direction, Indy got all the calls against them and Baltimore got away with some. The Toler one being the most egregious, but sure didn't seem even. Both calls against Reggie were legit though IMO, not homer enough to question those ;o)

by Bobman :: Mon, 10/06/2014 - 6:37pm

Hey, the Colts won on a day when the calls generally seemed to go against them. So when the law of reversion to the mean settles in, do they win a squeaker over a playoff team because they GOT the calls? Or will it be in a 52-7 blowout when they don't exactly need them? Or, will they get all the calls and lose anyway? Argh, I hate thinking about this. I just hope they get the calls in a game that matters.

by big10freak :: Mon, 10/06/2014 - 12:50pm

For a pretty exciting Sunday a quiet Audibles so far.

by bravehoptoad :: Mon, 10/06/2014 - 2:46pm

First time in forever my team wasn't covered in Audibles. I've gotten spoiled. It was a pretty good game, too, plenty to talk about (49ers Chiefs).

by dbt :: Mon, 10/06/2014 - 7:18pm

So... talk about it? I had it on but I wasn't able to watch closely most of the game.

by tuluse :: Mon, 10/06/2014 - 12:58pm

So regarding the Lions and kicking. I don't understand why teams bring in journeymen kickers that every other team has decided doesn't belong in the NFL anymore.

Grab 5 college kickers, have them compete and go with the best one.

I further fail to understand why a coach would, after having watched his shaky kicker miss two average difficulty kicks, stake the outcome of the game on a such a long field goal. The most likely outcome is pretty much what happened, he misses and the other team has a short field to get one completion and try their own fg with a non-terrible kicker.

by ChrisS :: Mon, 10/06/2014 - 1:32pm

Nah, you are looking at it all wrong. The coach is a mathematical genius and knows the true average on FG's is over 80% so the probability that his kicker will miss and have the team be 3 for 12 on FG's is infinitesimally small. God what a terrible loss. It does suck to have your top 3 RB's out for most of the game but come on Matt you gotta throw the ball near the receivers and also don't wait 5 seconds to do so.

by Perfundle :: Mon, 10/06/2014 - 2:11pm

I don't understand why teams bring in journeymen kickers that every other team has decided doesn't belong in the NFL anymore.

That sounds like a great description of Seattle's kicker, who has been variously employed by the Vikings, Ravens, Falcons, Lions, Broncos and Las Vegas Locomotives before settling with the Seahawks.

Along a similar vein, there's no such thing as determining who's the best kicker in a couple of months. Field goal kicking is far too random for that. Look at Jason Hanson: 58.3% from 40-49 and 33.3% from 50+ in his first four years, 77.3% and 61.3% in the following 17.

by tuluse :: Mon, 10/06/2014 - 3:34pm

When Jason Hansen started kicking, I think WW2 was just finishing up. I think there is a good chance the science of kicking is understood better now.

by jacobk :: Mon, 10/06/2014 - 3:47pm

Geez, now I feel old for remembering rooting against him when Wazzu would come to town to play the Huskies.

by Pottsville Maro... :: Mon, 10/06/2014 - 3:33pm

Last year, the top three kickers in FG% (Prater, Hauschka, Suisham) had all been cut by their original teams within a year of entering the league.

by Stravinsky :: Mon, 10/06/2014 - 1:20pm

Joe Flacco has been under so much pressure today, and I feel like the Ravens just don't have their hot routes set up at all. I keep thinking -- if only five guys are blocking here, shouldn't somebody be open on a short pass? I don't know if it is Flacco or that offense, but I keep thinking, oh, just go with your hot route here. And there's nobody.

Isn't there a guy named kubiak associated with baltimore's offense?

by ChrisS :: Mon, 10/06/2014 - 1:44pm

Cian said "Unsurprisingly, Vick isn't a saviour and Geno should be the starter still moving forward. What this has done to his confidence remains to be seen though." Would playing like crap for another half been better or worse for Geno's confidence than not playing at all?

by mehllageman56 :: Mon, 10/06/2014 - 2:50pm

He played better last year after being benched in the game against Miami last year. I'm more concerned that he went to a movie the day before the game and missed a meeting, along with other players. It just shows a lack of professionalism. I don't want Vick in there, because I don't want to root for him, unlike other Jets fans. Getting blown out on the road is one thing, showing a lack of effort the week after you cuss out a fan is Ryan Leaf territory. I remember someone on ESPN who was a member of the Niners talking about getting on a plane for a road game; he got scolded because he was wearing a Hawaiian shirt. Everyone else was in suits, and one of the other players told him, "What are you doing? This is a business trip." Winning organizations in sports have that attitude; I see this entire fiasco as an institutional failure on the Jets part.

by Duff Soviet Union :: Tue, 10/07/2014 - 7:12am

"Everyone else was in suits, and one of the other players told him, "What are you doing? This is a business trip." Winning organizations in sports have that attitude; "

It totally depends on what happens on the field. When the team is winning, stories like that are called "being professional". When they're losing it's called "being way too uptight".

Teams don't win because of what they wear on the plane.

by tuluse :: Tue, 10/07/2014 - 11:34am

Yeah, I'm trying to picture the '85 Bears making McMahon wear a suit.

by gecko85 :: Mon, 10/06/2014 - 1:59pm

Re: the INT in the end zone in the San Diego game, I'd have to check the tape, but I think the ball was taken away from Keenan Allen, not Eddie Royal. Could be wrong, but that's how I remember it.

by knucklebear :: Mon, 10/06/2014 - 4:44pm

You're right, it was intended for Keenan Allen. That throw reminded me of the 'bad' version of Philip Rivers. He tried to make the perfect throw downfield in between two defenders and ended up getting picked and leaving his receiver in vulnerable spot.

The crazy thing is that you can't completely tell Rivers to stop making those throws because they were a big reason the Chargers beat the Seahawks.

by gecko85 :: Mon, 10/06/2014 - 8:13pm

And his receivers *usually* come down with those. Allen needs to take lessons from Malcom Floyd, who came down with a similar contested ball earlier in the game. I don't think it was a bad throw...Allen had every opportunity to win that battle.

by BJR :: Mon, 10/06/2014 - 2:14pm

Per Chase Stuart on Twitter: "While leading in the 2H against CLE, the Titans ran 24 plays: 13 passes, 11 runs. Runs gained 29 yards. Passes gained 64 yards."

Maybe the devil is in the detail, but on the face of it doesn't seem like the play-calling was really the problem.

by Perfundle :: Mon, 10/06/2014 - 2:29pm

Looking at the play-by-play, I think it was more that passes were landing incomplete than the fact that they were being called. Of the six consecutive passes in question, attempted from 11:27 to 4:50 in the 4th:

The first was on 3rd down and was completed (but failed to convert), so that's fine.
The second landed incomplete.
The third was a sack.
The fourth was same as the first.
The next two fell incomplete.

I don't know whose fault it was that those three passes fell incomplete, but if you're going to call passes at that time in the time, you better make sure they get completed.

As for Chase's stats, a lot of that occurred in the third quarter, and I don't think the FO guys would have any problem with the play-calling up until those passes, because they mostly ran the ball other than on 3rd-and-long or if a penalty set them back on an early down.

by Perfundle :: Mon, 10/06/2014 - 2:14pm

LeSean McCoy just fumbled the ball while carrying it in one hand away from his body. I don't understand how players can play this game for more than 10 years and still expect to get away with that kind of thing. It's just dumb.

You might only notice it when they do fumble, but practically every running back will do this from time to time. The fact that they do get away with it the vast majority of the time is probably the reason they haven't corrected it.

by Will Allen :: Mon, 10/06/2014 - 4:11pm

I Red Zoned it yesterday, intermittently, over the early and late games. Enjoyed it, but you really miss insight as to the particulars of the competition, compared to paying attention to one or two games.

Saw the first half of the night game. That Brady kid is gonna turn into something one of these days, if he keeps getting pass protection like that.

by dmstorm22 :: Mon, 10/06/2014 - 5:00pm

Next week will be an interesting test. Buffalo poses some big problems at the d-line (especially if Kyle Williams is healthy and playing). Big game for both teams. The Bills can have first place this late into the season for the first time in 30 years (estimating).

New England's true level lies somewhere in the middle of Monday Night and Sunday Night. Where on that spectrum they fall will be interesting. It will show when they get that CHI-DEN-IND-GB-DET-SD stretch

by MilkmanDanimal :: Mon, 10/06/2014 - 4:23pm

15 penalties for Tampa. I am deeply shocked to say they were the better team in New Orleans, but had to borrow several howitzers to keep shooting themselves in the feet at an adequate pace. Scored a TD, got a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. Got a pick-six a few minutes later . . . and got another 15-ydard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. Their last drive was stalled by a holding penalty, the Saints' winning drive was extended because of a third-down penalty for an automatic first. It was painful. Of course, the good news is Mike Glennon continues to shovel dirt onto the corpse of "Josh McCown, Staring Quarterback".

Tampa shut down the Saints' WRs all day, but it seemed like this was the first time anybody ever threw to RBs against them. Actual pass rush, solid corner play, RBs were basically pickd up and just carried gently down the field, lest they exhaust themselves running the ball.

by theslothook :: Mon, 10/06/2014 - 5:25pm

The actual play between NE and Cincy was much closer than the final score would indicate. CIncy turned the ball over in so many fluky ways and had a ton of dropped passes. The defense in pass coverage did about as well as it could - but the run defense was horrid. I haven't watched the bengals really much at all, but I had no idea their d was this porous. What gives?

by commissionerleaf :: Mon, 10/06/2014 - 5:45pm

I suppose I agree that the game was closer than the score, but Cincinnati is capable of losing this way every week. The offense is more lucky than good (based on manufacturing plays via tricksyness and talented receivers, but lacking in vitamins (quarterback play) and minerals (between the tackles running)). The defense is very good, but not dominant.

If this had been Denver vs. Cincinnati the score would have been about 70-14. The NFC West could shut Cincinnati out on a good day.

by Bobman :: Mon, 10/06/2014 - 6:45pm

My impression was Cincy forgot--as an entire team--how to tackle last night. I remember some Colts defenses from a decade ago that never knew in the first place, and it felt like that. But Cincy has a good D and these Bengals seemed to hit with shoulder pads but not wrap up, or arm and hand tackle, or tackle while standing perfectly erect. It was just crazy in the 2nd half--I'd see a play and say "okay, they got him for a 2 yard gain" and it would turn into 8, or 12 or more.... If I was a Bengals fan, I'd have been yanking out big chunks of hair. Some of it my own.

by anotherpatsfan :: Tue, 10/07/2014 - 1:51pm

Other than your historical antipathy towards the Pats I am not really sure of the basis for the assertion that the play between the two was "much closer" than the score. Pats dominated statistically, and ten minutes int0 the game it was practically over from a win percentage perspective, and Cincy never sniffed any sort of comeback.

Ultimately it is certainly possible the game may say more about Cincy than the Pats, but it was a whipping.

by theslothook :: Tue, 10/07/2014 - 3:05pm

I don't have antipathy to the pats - I do root against them due to a past rivalry, but its not like I write off their accomplishments or don't respect them as a team.

The pats won the game - they played well. Brady and the run game were fantastic. But the bengals also fumbled 3 times and all three were recovered by the pats - 1 returning for a td and the other two setting up in the red zone. The bengals also missed a field goal and had a dropped interception.

If those plays go the other way - I still think the pats win, but its a closer game overall. And the plays I highlighted are all plays you would expect not to happen in a clean game.

by dougenglish :: Mon, 10/06/2014 - 6:08pm

Tim Wright went undrafted because he was a WR who only managed 590 odd career yards at Rutgers. Only got a chance in the NFL at all because Schiano understood the gaping hole of suck that was the scarlet knights passing attack.

Shift from WR to TE and now from Chas Dodd and mike Glennon to Tom Brady should do wonders for his stats.

by theslothook :: Mon, 10/06/2014 - 6:31pm

Two subtle things I noticed about Denver this week. For most of Manning's career, the offense has shown two formations and dictated playcalling based on opponent looks - always out of 12 or 11 personnel.

This year - they showed they are now week to week. In Seattle - they went two tight and even three tight end looks. They obviously were afraid of crowd noise and seattle pass rush.

This week - because it was at home - they went full spread with lots of empty and 4 wide looks. I'm not sure what it will mean going forward but its definitely different from the old manning regimes.

The other point. When Manning got to Denver, there was this view that now he would have tall receivers for the first time. That's true and all, but you can tell with how sanders is doing that the ideal receiver for manning is a guy who is quick and runs his routes crisply with anticipation than a true big body receiver who you can just toss it high too.

by Ben :: Mon, 10/06/2014 - 10:26pm

As a Colts fan, I'll agree with that last point. Manning's game has always been about timing and anticipation. Consistent route running is the best quality in a receiver in a Manning led offense. Conversely, the best way to disrupt a Manning led offense is to mess with timing by getting rough with his receivers at the line of scrimmage.

by liquidmuse3 :: Wed, 10/08/2014 - 1:45pm

Scouts thought Tim Wright was strictly a slow WR at 220. Why did Belichick let him slip through? It was his poor boy acolyte Schiano who picked him up, & only because he coached him. Remember though, Marcus Colston went in the 7th round, Dexter Jackson the 2nd.