Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

Most Recent FO Features


» 2017 Defeats

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.

19 Jan 2015

Audibles at the Line: Conference Championships

compiled by Andrew Potter

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.

Green Bay Packers 22 at Seattle Seahawks 28 (OT)

Vince Verhei: Justin Britt out at right tackle for Seattle. Alvin Bailey starts in his place. Bailey has five starts this year, mostly in place of Russell Okung.

Andrew Healy: The Packers' opening drive was going great until Aaron Rodgers decided to go after Richard Sherman with Davante Adams on first down and again on third down. On third down, Sherman comes up with an end zone interception. On that drive, the Packers mostly lined up with Adams on one side and Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb on the other, switching the sides. They seem to have been indicating a clear willingness to throw right. They got a nice completion to Cobb out of the slot underneath Nelson's route.

Aaron Schatz: Well, they finally went after Sherman! And with Davante Adams over there rather than Nelson. First time he threw late and behind Adams. Second time, awesome pick by Sherman.

Cian Fahey: I suspect we'll hear a lot about how unlucky Russell Wilson's interception in the first quarter was, I don't buy it. He forced that pass to a receiver who was always covered. Defensive back was playing the inside from the start. A bad decision.

Vince Verhei: I say this as someone cheering for Seattle: I have no idea why Green Bay got a taunting penalty after the Ha Ha Clinton-Dix interception, but Sherman didn't get one for shouting at Adams after the incompletion on the previous drive.

(Green Bay kicks an 18-yard field goal to go up 3-0.)

Scott Kacsmar: When the game is scoreless, why would you go for the field goal there? And the cute fullback dive play for John Kuhn should be saved for home games against bad defenses where the crowd goes nuts because the white guy scored. Eddie Lacy had to get that carry there. Big mistake.

Andrew Healy: The Packers play ultra-dumb-Goliath strategy as an eight-point underdog, kicking a field goal from inside the 1 on fourth down. Mike McCarthy channelled Mike Tomlin from Super Bowl XLIII there, except this one is worse.

On the last play of the first quarter, Randall Cobb came wide open in the back of the end zone when Earl Thomas collided with Kam Chancellor on dueling crossing routes. So far, Rodgers has had great protection. He needed that time for that route to develop on the Cobb touchdown.

Aaron Schatz: Hilarious to have FOX show Richard Sherman after that play looking upset. Uh, guys, Sherman doesn't cover everyone. That wasn't his guy.

I thought it was interesting on the second Green Bay field goal... on third-and-long, the Packers had the stacked receivers on the right side. I think they wanted to run something to beat Sherman in the Cover-3. But it was a screen and Davante Adams did a terrible job of blocking so Sherman tackled Cobb easily.

Early in the second quarter, Seattle's offense looks awful so far. Wilson is not having a good game. I didn't like his back-shoulder throw to Doug Baldwin on third-and-7. And where are the read-options against this Dom Capers defense? Am I remembering correctly that they didn't run a read-option once in the first quarter? I think the first one was on second-and-11 there before the Baldwin throw, and I think Wilson made the wrong read. He had the left side open to keep but he handed off instead to Marshawn Lynch (who did get 4 yards).

Also, the visual on this game is nuts, with sunshine apparently on half the field and rain on the other half, or some mix. It feels like every time they switch camera angles, the weather changes, or it's all different filters on Instagram or something.

Vince Verhei: So far this is absolutely the opposite of what Seattle has done all year. Green Bay is getting amazing field position and moving the ball, but Seattle's scoring-range defense has been tremendous. 16-0, but Green Bay should probably have another 8 points or so.

You know what would really, really help. A first down. Just one!

Scott Kacsmar: This field position for Green Bay has been incredible. Offense really didn't earn any of the three field goals. Seattle needs a drive in the worst way. Seems like every early down is a solid Lynch run, but they end up with pre-snap penalties and the tackles are struggling in protection. Wilson still doesn't have a completion.

Cian Fahey: The second interception to Clinton-Dix was the worst deep ball that Wilson has ever thrown in the NFL. It was almost so bad that Ha-Ha wasn't going to be able to catch it. He snatched it from behind impressively.

Aaron Schatz: Wilson throws a second pick. I have no idea how he did not see Clinton-Dix as the deep safety on that throw. Worse than Joe Flacco not seeing Duron Harmon last week.

Scott Kacsmar: Wilson throws a bomb into very good coverage for another pick. The Seahawks look like the 94 Cowboys against the 49ers in the NFC Championship Game. Dallas went down 21-0 after a ton of early turnovers. Fought back to a 38-28 loss.

Now it looks like a Rodgers pick, which could be an early game-saver with Green Bay threatening again. Not a sharp game by either team, but at least Lacy and the Green Bay offensive line have shown up.

Aaron Schatz: 1994 Cowboys also No. 1 overall in DVOA, interestingly enough.

Cian Fahey: Russell Wilson had his best game of the season last week. Through the first two quarters or so of this one he's having the worst of his career. His interception late in the second quarter, the third of the game, gave his wide receiver no chance. He simply hung the ball up for Sam Shields to pluck out of the air.

Aaron Schatz: This is awful. He's not even being heavily pressured. He's just making bad decisions and bad throws. That throw should have been to the back pylon.

Cian Fahey: I typically hate how much we discuss refereeing, but it continues to be prominent through these playoffs for the wrong reasons. A bunch of calls through the first half have either been questionable or just plain wrong as far as I can tell.

Tom Gower: Really? Aside from the missed hands to the face on Jordy Nelson, and of course that offensive holding doesn't get called in the postseason, I think the officiating has been an almost complete non-factor so far. After last week's Green Bay game, I'm happy about that.

Aaron Schatz: Yeah. I'm with Tom. The Seattle offense has been so terrible that I haven't noticed any officiating at all.

Tom Gower: 16-0 Packers at the half. It's like the first half was "every doubt I've had about the Seattle offense in the past three years comes to life all at once." Marshawn Lynch is diving forward for yards, but not as consistently as my faulty memory has him doing so in Week 1. The Seattle offensive game plan hasn't been all about the read-option like I thought it was. Seattle's wide receivers aren't winning their matchups. And of course Wilson has thrown a couple picks. The latter two were really bad (when the best thing you can say about the second one is maybe he didn't see Clinton-Dix in the sun...), and Cian rightly pointed out the first one, though off Jermaine Kearse's hands, didn't look like a good decision. Plus, Alvin Bailey at right tackle has not been a strength. While it's easy to say because of the interceptions, Clinton-Dix has had a nice game overall from what I've seen.

Offensively, Green Bay has been efficient, but I haven't been that impressed by them outside of the offensive line. Rodgers hasn't made any great plays, and it would be a bigger lead than 16 points if Nelson and Cobb had done better with some throws. I don't know if that's a good or bad thing; if Rodgers can improve the same way he did in the second half, for whatever reason that happened (and it apparently wasn't as simple as Toradol at halftime), then the Packers could be even better.

Vince Verhei: I am really, really searching for positive things to say about Seattle.

They did finally start to blitz on Green Bay's last drive, and finally started to get a little bit of pressure.

Lynch, on the next-to-last Seattle drive, showed he can still gain consistent yards and move the chains.

It's hard to imagine how they could have played much worse, and yet they're still in shouting distance.

Russell Wilson's Seahawks have trailed at halftime in the playoffs three times (including 20-0 on the road against Atlanta) and have come back to take the lead every single time.

Alice In Chains sounds pretty cool.

That's all I got.

Mike Kurtz: Officiating is a factor because Seattle's defense is designed around taking advantage of lax officiating. It's a combination of perception and expectation.

Honestly, I'm astounded Seattle is still in this game. I'm also not sure what they're going to do on offense, aside from hope Marshawn Lynch just takes over the game. Green Bay's defense is playing extremely disciplined in the offensive backfield and giving Wilson a lot of man looks. Without the ability to move around, however, Wilson looks fidgety and indecisive. The Packers drew up a hell of a game plan and we'll have to see if they can keep Marshawn Lynch contained. If they can, I'm terrified if I'm a Seahawks fan of Wilson trying to carry the team down late.

Aaron Schatz: Let my frustration about Seattle punting on fourth-and-1 be registered. Yes, own 29-yard line. But you are a power running team down 16-0.

Mike Kurtz: If any team is going to trust their defense, Aaron, I'm by far the most comfortable with Seattle doing it.

It's also worth mentioning how inaccurate Rodgers has been this game. Not nearly as bad as Wilson, but he's missing wide-open receivers.

Cian Fahey: Aaron Rodgers' most consistent flaw is showing up in this game: poor ball placement on short throws. In terms of consistent flaws for NFL quarterbacks, that is probably one of the best to have as your worst.

Scott Kacsmar: Really? Not that I buy into this narrative (for any quarterback), but Rodgers is one of the ones most praised for short-pass accuracy leading to YAC for his receivers.

Cian Fahey: Yeah, it's something I've written about at different times over the past two years. Here is the Film Room I did on him last year.

Aaron Schatz: Well, Seattle finally got offense. They actually converted a second-and-31 after a sack and penalty on J.R. Sweezy for being an idiot. That led to third-and-17, and the Packers somehow ran a zone where nobody in the short zones bothered to think, "Hey, that receiver is running behind me and nobody is in front of me." It was like all five guys thought they were spying Wilson.

Then fake field goal for a touchdown! Jon Ryan makes a great play! We are now debating here in the Pats press box if Seattle should have gone for 2 to make it 16-8. As I've pointed out, I think the case for going for 2 is stronger when we consider the strengths of the Seattle offense in short yardage.

Andrew Healy: A couple of general thoughts:

1) Amazing how open Packers' receivers have been over the middle; Green Bay has done very little on the sidelines, though.

2) Seattle's fourth down to start the second half was a quarter-yard, too. Yes, it's their own 29-yard line, but it sure would be better for the Seahawks to go for it there. And it's not a close call. Even if the Seahawks weren't historically good at running.

3) Love the fake field goal sooooo much. Jon Ryan had a run-pass option, I think, on that one. Won't even quibble too much here about failing to go for two.

4) Russell Wilson's game today is so mind-blowingly outside the expectation for him. He's within range of his career low yards per attempt (he's 0.1 yard ahead of his low, 6-of-15 for 61 yards and 4.1 YPA). On third down on their last drive of the quarter, he throws a checkdown 2 yards downfield to Luke Willson. On third-and-12. He's Russell Wilson. He runs around and buys time. Not sure what is going on.

Mike Kurtz: I don't think Green Bay has thrown a pass since Rodgers rolled his ankle. They've had successful runs, but I don't like that formula for Green Bay, especially since Seattle has figured out their counter.

Aaron Schatz: They just did. Richard Rodgers on third-and-7. We wrote about it a few times, but covering tight ends is the relative weakness of the Seahawks pass defense.

Vince Verhei: Seattle has to just start blitzing every play. Rodgers is getting way too much time to get comfortable against four, but the blitzes are at least forcing incompletions.

Ben Muth: Russell Wilson has been every bit as terrible as Peyton Manning was last week.

Andrew Healy: The Packers' defense has been good today, but this one does seem like a terrible day for a really good player. The one good completion Wilson had all day came from a pretty big letdown on third-and-17 or something when the short zone defenders failed to give ground. On their drive in the middle of the fourth quarter, a terrible throw was nearly Clinton-Dix's third pick (a terrible decision mainly). And then another poor throw on third-and-14. Where is the real Russell Wilson? He even has just 6 rushing yards. He has been so un-Russell-Wilson-like in every dimension: running, escapability, throwing, decision-making, all of it.

Scott Kacsmar: Joe Buck actually thinks Green Bay's offense has gotten the better of Seattle's defense today. This is why I can't stand Buck. Seattle's defense has been very good, if not great, in this game. The story of the game is how bad Seattle's offense has played as another tipped ball turned into an interception.

Andrew Healy: Wilson's fourth pick is not on him. That one is on Jermaine Kearse and points out Seattle's big problem on offense: not enough guys to throw to who get open. They've been part of the problem, too.

Green Bay is averaging less than 5 yards per play. If Seattle's offense played its average game, the Seahawks would have won today and pretty easily.

Mike Kurtz: If Marshawn Lynch does somehow win this game, it's all on Mike McCarthy. It feels like he's been trying to run the clock out since halfway through the first quarter.

Cian Fahey: Russell Wilson is going to be a fascinating case study for quarterback analysis. He was simply incredible for most of the 2013 Regular Season, then he won the Super Bowl while not playing all that spectacularly. During this season, he's been talked up as much as anyone else despite regressing as a passer.

Now, we have probably the worst game of his career in the NFC Championship game. I've already seen one beat writer ask if this is the end of the sub-6-foot quarterback, I'm sure many more will follow that lead. It really does feel like there will never be any sort of accurate, middle-ground consensus opinion on quarterbacks. Just all extreme.

Aaron Schatz: Holy crap. Seattle finally pulls out the read-option with 2:30 left in the game for the touchdown and the first play after they recover the onside kick.

Cian Fahey: I...don't...know...what...is...happening...

The Seahawks just recovered an onside kick. Russell Wilson then took the ball on the read-option to get around the edge and run out of bounds for a first down. This is simply unbelievable.

Seattle scores on a Lynch touchdown run, then gets a ridiculous two-point conversion.

My head hurts.

Mike Kurtz: Like I said, lots of conservative play. Four turnovers and only six points to show for them. Rodgers' inaccuracy hasn't helped, but Green Bay played not to lose for a huge chunk of the game.

Andrew Healy: On the onside kick, Jordy Nelson is the one who should be going after that ball. The backup tight end gets in his way and manages to, I think, make first contact with the ball with his facemask.

I can't believe Green Bay may give this away. This game is the Bizarro Ravens-Patriots. It is interesting, but a comedy of terrible play and decision-making. Mike McCarthy may end up taking the cake, as Mike said. It starts with those first-quarter field goals.

But this game sure is interesting now… Fun two-point conversion.

Cian Fahey: I mean, if they catch the onside kick it's over. Not sure how you can really just blame the coach.

Andrew Healy: I don't want to go too nuts on the coach. It is more than that, but even the onside kick is kind of coaching, right? How often do you see two guys back to get the ball behind the line? Shouldn't they be coached to block for Jordy Nelson to get that ball? Instead the backup tight end I've never heard of is the one to make a play on it. Seems suboptimal even if he is slightly taller than Nelson.

Big props to Randall Cobb for making a great catch over the middle on the Packers' drive to tie it. Those throws over the middle do seem like they're still there for the Packers now that they have to go for it again.

Cian Fahey: There is going to be a lot of second-guessing with various things that the Packers have done. One of the ones that is coming up is Morgan Burnett sliding to the ground after his interception at midfield in the fourth quarter. I think it's unfair to second-guess these guys because they weren't unreasonable decisions at the time.

The one truly unreasonable expectation for me is the onside kick. You simply can't plan for the tight end to drop that ball.

Either way, simply a phenomenal finish to what was largely a sloppy, uneventful game.

Tom Gower: Seahawks win in overtime. Wilson made two very nice throws, to Kearse and Baldwin, big plays, after all three of them didn't do much for the first 60 minutes.

I don't know what to say about that game. I do know I was much less thrilled by it than everybody else seems to be, though I do have a certain academic respect for its nuttiness.

Andrew Healy: Life and football narratives are all about opportunities. Wilson may be getting the chance to rewrite his story. And… he does! Wow. Nobody will remember any of what happened before because he makes two beautiful throws to win it. No, it doesn't make him clutch, but it is at least a reminder that he's a very good quarterback who had a bad day. Great throws, crazy game, seems nuts that Seattle is back in the Super Bowl. Green Bay certainly should not have allowed this to happen.

Cian Fahey: Wilson's game-winning touchdown pass was inch-perfect to be fair to him.

Vince Verhei: Hopefully, by halftime of the next game, I will be able to say something coherent about this game.

Aaron Schatz: Hey, remember the Seattle offense from the rest of the season? They finally found their playbook from that offense in overtime.

Scott Kacsmar: That's an all-time playoff comeback there. Not one Mike McCarthy will be able to live down short of adding another Lombardi to his collection. Really poor job. Green Bay had all three timeouts. No reason not to get in better range for a winning touchdown or at least a shorter field goal. Mismanaged so much of this game today. Hope he likes the early field goals for that 6-0 lead.

Lynch was fantastic as expected. Wilson played his worst game ever for 55 minutes or so. Then I'm not sure he made a mistake down the stretch. Great throws. The monster onside kick recovery is one that will be forgotten in the grand scheme of quarterback narratives, but that was really Green Bay's best shot to end this game. Can't flub that return.

Aaron Schatz: I'm still thinking about how the Packers had Russell Wilson dead to rights on the two-point conversion AND had two defenders right next to Luke Willson and STILL couldn't stop him from catching it.

Andrew Healy: Football just happened. Random, insane football. A testament to randomness:

Wilson stat line through 55 minutes: 9-of-23, 108 YDS, 0 TD, 4 INT, -3.6 ANY/A

Wilson stat line after that (not including the rushing touchdown): 5-of-6, 101 YDS, 1 TD, 0 INT, 17.1 ANY/A

A pretty ugly game, but that wild randomness is still part of why I love it.

Aaron Schatz: Ian Dembsky just pointed out to me over text. Wasn't it nice that we had a crazy, memorable ending that didn't include any kind of officiating controversy?

Mike Kurtz: Not to take anything away from Wilson, but my takeaway from this game is less super amazing random football and more:

  • 1-10-GB43 (5:04) (Shotgun) E.Lacy left tackle to GB 39 for -4 yards (K.Williams).
  • 2-14-GB39 (4:57) (Shotgun) E.Lacy left tackle to GB 37 for -2 yards (M.Bennett).
  • 3-16-GB37 (4:50) (Shotgun) E.Lacy up the middle to GB 39 for 2 yards (B.Wagner; M.Bennett).

Maybe it's a me issue, rooting for a team with a infuriatingly conservative coach, but are you @#@% serious? You have Aaron @$^@$^@ Rodgers. You are up by two scores. They figured out you weren't seriously trying to score at least two drives ago. You're not any good at running, anyway! Just an absolute chickenshit game by McCarthy that allowed five minutes of great football to beat 55 minutes of domination.

Matt Waldman: Seattle fan here, so I'm sure some of you will take this with a grain of salt:

We can call this random all we want. Or, we can look at the fact Seattle outscores its opponents by a major margin in the second half of games; that in Wilson's rookie year the Seahawks nearly pulled off a comeback in the divisional game in Atlanta and a deficit against Washington in Washington a year later; and the fact that the Seattle coaching staff is a positive group that makes decisions to win rather than "not to lose," and doesn't shy away from players who make mistakes.

Aaron Schatz: It's not that Seattle came back in the second half. It's that they came back in the last three minutes!

Andrew Healy: A little tough to go too crazy about Seattle's second-half prowess when their offense continued to play terribly for 25 minutes of that second half. Anyway, I certainly agree that the Packers' coaching decisions gave the Seahawks an opportunity they should not have had. Even then, the Seahawks needed a lot of luck.

Vince Verhei: OK. It's halftime in Foxborough. I think I can talk about the game in Seattle now.

No, Russell Wilson did not have a good game. But even more so, he was an innocent bystander to Jermaine Kearse's terrible game. The first four passes thrown to Kearse were all intercepted. Two of them hit him right in the hands.

All in all, this was not a game Seattle won. This was a game Green Bay lost. How many times can one team fail to put a game away, or not even try? Part of Green Bay's red-zone struggles were due to player error, but kicking field goals inside the 2 or 3 or whatever it was, twice, was pretty unforgivable. It was 16-0 at halftime, but it probably should have been much much worse.

And then we talked about the ultraconservative play-calling, where they took the ball away from the likely MVP and ran right into a team desperate to stuff then run. They didn't even try a throw against a corner who was playing with one arm until right before the game-tying field goal.

Speaking of which: The Packers had to try a long field goal to force overtime, and not kick a shorter field goal or try for a winning touchdown, in part because of some lousy clock management. Maybe it wouldn't have mattered -- they did kick on fourth down -- but they still had two timeouts left when they kicked that field goal.

And really, the death blow was struck because McCarthy assumed Seattle would play as conservatively as he would in their shoes. Seattle had a first down in overtime at the 35-yard line, right at the edge of field-goal range. The Packers then put nine men in the box. Because, in McCarthy's mind, the only reasonable play there is to run three times and try a long kick, which would not have won the game even if successful. And as soon as I saw that formation, I thought "this is going to be a touchdown." And Wilson threw to Kearse, and it was a touchdown. And here we are.

After the game, McCarthy said it was very important to get his offense to 20 carries, which ... I give up.

So yes, I will take this win. But it goes without saying that Seattle will have to play much better than this to win the Super Bowl.

A few other random notes:

  • I am tempted to go back and chart this game, for my own sake, to see the difference in Seattle's defense when they blitzed. It felt like every play with four rushers or less was a miserable failure, and every blitz got Rodgers on the move and rushing his throws. Why they didn't blitz more throughout the game, I have no idea.
  • As for Kearse, it should be noted: he is not necessarily a good player (as we all saw today), but he is dangerous. Between regular season and playoffs, he has now scored nine touchdowns in his career. Those touchdowns have averaged 33.4 yards apiece, and six of them were go-ahead scores.
  • I think I can explain the lack of Wilson's rushing in two words: Clay Matthews. Good god that guy is fast, and he spent a good chunk of time spying Wilson from the middle of the field. I know he was on the sideline for some plays near the finish. I honestly didn't spot if he ever returned, but that would partially explain Seattle's offensive success late in the game.
  • He got the Seahawks on the board with a touchdown, but what a terrible day for Jon Ryan. Low, line-drive kicks making for easy returns. Micah Hyde had three returns for 40 yards. That's the first time any player has returned three punts against Seattle in a game this year, just the fifth time a player has had more than one, and the second time a player has gone over 30 yards.
  • Finally: Can I say again how stupidly complicated the NFL's overtime system is? Every time a game goes to overtime, everyone in the room asks me to explain the rules again, and then I get texts and Tweets from people asking the same question. I believe that since they went to the new awful rules, the team that has scored first in overtime has still won every game, right? SO JUST GO BACK TO SUDDEN DEATH. It's so much easier and makes so much more sense. (Although I mentioned this on Twitter, and someone raised a good point: this is still better than the college model, which takes forever and a day to play out.)

Andrew Healy: Well, mission accomplished on getting to 20 carries, Mr. McCarthy. You made it to 30 carries for that matter. Well played, sir.

Mike Kurtz:

Indianapolis Colts 7 at New England Patriots 45

Ben Muth: Thought this tweet was interesting and a good example that the key to being a successful GM is stumbling into a good quarterback somehow.

Cian Fahey: Grigson wouldn't be in a job if he hadn't had Andrew Luck fall into his lap. That roster isn't impressive on the whole.

It's amazing to me that Josh Cribbs is on the field during a championship game in 2015 in any capacity. His muffed punt in the first quarter is massive because the Colts might not get many defensive stops today and they only got that initial one because Brady missed an open receiver downfield.

Cian Fahey: The Patriots have Kyle Arrington on T.Y. Hilton to start. Makes the most sense. As good as Darrelle Revis is, Hilton isn't the ideal matchup, while Brandon Browner would have no chance.

Aaron Schatz: My guess is we're talking about the Patriots using the same coverage they did in the first game against the Colts: Revis on Reggie Wayne, Browner on Coby Fleener, and Arrington on Hilton with the safety shading to him deep to prevent deep throws to Hilton. Not sure what will happen when Hakeem Nicks comes in.

On the other side, interesting so far that the Colts have Vontae Davis staying man on Rob Gronkowski when Gronk goes out wide, rather than having a linebacker or safety motioning with him. Davis has been absolutely fabulous the last two weeks, but is he really physical enough to stay with Gronk?

Cian Fahey: My twitter followers have highlighted that the Colts have five ex-Cleveland Browns people working for them:

  • Trent Richardson
  • Josh Cribbs
  • D'Qwell Jackson
  • Mike Adams
  • Rob Chudzinski

That can't be a good sign.

Andrew Healy: It looks like the Patriots are going to continue to try to run the six-offensive-lineman sets. They have done it three or four times on their first two drives. It worked well on one play. Not sure how much sense it will make to continue with that with Josh Kline playing today given Bryan Stork's injury.

On the Colts' drive after the Patriots' touchdown to open the scoring, Jamie Collins single-handedly stops a run that had some potential by stringing it out wide and then shedding the block. He is awesome.

Scott Kacsmar: Dan Herron has been catching a lot of short passes in the playoffs. Luck had him for one down the field, but a really bad drop. Patriots had a similar play and Shane Vereen caught Brady's underthrown pass even after getting interfered with by Jerrell Freeman, who never located the ball.

Almost feel like calling this one a technical knockout in the first quarter at 14-0. An all-too-familiar script playing out.

Aaron Schatz: Pats brought out the four-lineman set again. They tried to twist it off expectations from last week. This time, they used Michael Hoomanuwanui (ineligible) as a blocker on a screen pass. They motioned Gronk over there too and had both tight ends ready to block but Brandon LaFell dropped the pass.

I've got to figure there's a third iteration to come, although I don't know when, where they actually throw a backwards pass to the ineligible receiver (who can catch a backwards pass, just not a forwards pass). Of course in that case, a drop is a live ball.

Vince Verhei: Wait, they've scored twice already? I thought it was once. (Checks box score.) No you're right. I missed one. Sorry, I'm watching the game, but I'm still not able to process much football-wise.

Cian Fahey: This game has started out all too familiarly. Luck being let down by his teammates while the Patriots simply execute on a much higher level as a whole.

Aaron Schatz: Colts come out in nickel against Pats' 12 personnel. LeGarrette Blount, two runs, like 25 yards or something. Thanks for the nickel, kids.

Cian Fahey: Aaron Rodgers is much more consistent overall as a player than Andrew Luck, but I think Luck has eclipsed him for sheer eye-openingly ridiculous plays. The throw to Hilton midway through the second quarter when he evades pressure and throws a perfect pass to the right sideline was just illogical.

Aaron Schatz: The catch (and foot drag) was as illogical and awesome as the throw.

A couple of Patriots penalties to extend that first Colts touchdown drive. Plus the amazing Hilton throw-and-catch. And it all started when Tom Brady threw a pick on a throw he never should have thrown, forced into a tight space (and slightly behind) a bracketed, real-life double-covered Gronk right near the goal line. Pats should be kicking themselves that this game is 14-7.

Cian Fahey: The Patriots have kind of ruined this game for me by what they did to the Ravens last week. I'm just counting offensive linemen and trying to figure out if anyone is ineligible on every play instead of actually watching the game.

Aaron Schatz: Also, Gronk going out wide an awful lot, and the only target so far is that interception. It's almost like they are moving him out wide as a decoy to open the middle for Julian Edelman and Danny Amendola.

Pats go for it on fourth-and-1 from the 4-yard line, convert, and apparently the refs then suspended all contact rules. Vontae Davis was practically inside Gronk's uniform on the second down. And it makes sense. What do you have to lose if you get flagged? One yard? More downs for the Pats won't give them more time.

Andrew Healy: Not sure I agree with that. The Pats' third-down play ended at 0:13. A new set of downs gives them two more plays.

Scott Kacsmar: Down 10, New England getting the ball to start the third quarter, why not let Luck do something from his own 43-yard line after a silly squib kick? Lame call to kneel.

Aaron Schatz: I don't find the squib kick silly. The squib kick with more than seven seconds left is silly. With less than that, where the offense is only going to get one play, no chance for a real drive, just a Hail Mary or a kneel, the squib kick makes sense.

The squib kick teams sometimes do with like 50 seconds left is absurd.

Pats do in fact march the ball down the field on that first drive, with lots of broken tackles by Blount. They end it with third-and-1 and instead of Cameron Fleming (71) reporting eligible, they have left tackle Nate Solder (77) announced as eligible. You know, Nate Solder, former college tight end? Any idea what they might do now that there's a different eligible lineman? Yes, of course, tackle-eligible pass and touchdown by Solder.

Mike Kurtz: I think Belichick has figured out that there's a huge schematic advantage on plays with strange eligibles. The defense doesn't even know about the eligible until after the play's already come in, then it has to be relayed to the coaches, who then have to quickly figure out what to do with that knowledge. By the time the defense even begins to figure out what to do, the play is happening, and players who are used to things working a certain way are suddenly confronted with something unusual. They didn't even pretend to cover Solder. Sure, they "knew" he was eligible, but that knowledge was fairly useless just because of the way the defense knows.

It's perfect, ruthless Belichick. I love it. Players should not be able to change eligibility by declaration, however.

Andrew Healy: You would think teams would be prepared for the player catching passes out of the left tackle position when eligible at this point, even though the Patriots do vary how they run these plays nicely. And they are doing things differently today than last week, so you couldn't prepare just by watching last week's film.

The Patriots have mostly defended T.Y. Hilton with Kyle Arrington supported by safety help. On the Colts' first drive of the second half, the strategy works well. Arrington plays underneath Hilton and blankets him. Luck had basically nowhere to go. So far, Hilton has one catch on five targets, the one catch being that sublime throw and toe-sliding catch just beyond Arrington's arm. Seems like a strong game for Arrington so far.

Tom Gower: We needed a good AFC championship game to take the bitter feeling about the NFC game out of my mouth. Like Super Bowl 34 (STL-TEN) and 38 (NE-CAR), it was an intriguing ending that will cause people to overlook how most of the game was not dramatic and, frankly, kind of boring. With New England, the far superior team, going up 14-0 early and now about to go up 27-7 or even 31-7 and a monsoon approaching, this game has not delivered. Outside of more eligibility trickeration, it hasn't even been that interesting. Rather, the Colts' limited defensive personnel have been getting beaten up. Brady hasn't been that good, but he's done enough and only has the one mistake, so, yeah, now 31-7 and we have a Super Bowl matchup to start over-dissecting.

Cian Fahey: I've struggled to stay focused on this game. The gulf in class between the two teams is just too great. Luck can always pull out crazy comebacks, but how likely is that when his defense doesn't even know how to tackle the opposing team's running backs?

Andrew Luck is receiving a lot of flack for floating that pass on the Darrelle Revis interception in the third quarter. However, I'd give Revis more credit than I would blame Luck. Revis and his receiver got tied up with the cornerback running into the flat. Instead of futilely fighting through the traffic, Revis abandoned his assignment and ran into the flat to undercut the route.

Revis' original man was left wide-open running down the seam. It was a risk from Revis, but seemingly a calculated one because he was likely going to get blocked off through the traffic either way.

Andrew Healy: After the AFC Championship Game, I talked to a couple of cornerbacks. First, I asked Colts corner Greg Toler about defending Gronkowski on the touchdown pass, and specifically whether he was looking for the slant there. Toler said, "I'm assuming the slant's coming. You don't want to hold him. I tried to get my hands on him and break up the ball. Couldn't get it out. Just nice throw, nice catch."

And I asked Kyle Arrington about whether he was always counting on deep help against T.Y. Hilton. "In a lot of situations (yes). In certain situations, everybody just had to win their one-on-one matchup. In certain situations, Dev (McCourty) would roll over."

Even with that deep help on many plays, a great game for Arrington who I think had Hilton the large majority of the time. Hilton ended up with just that one great catch on six targets.

Posted by: Andrew Potter on 19 Jan 2015

331 comments, Last at 22 Jan 2015, 6:44pm by intel_chris


by Perfundle :: Mon, 01/19/2015 - 3:21am

I mean, if they catch the onside kick it's over.

No it's not. Green Bay would've recovered before the 2-minute warning, and Seattle had one timeout. The likely result would've been, Lacy failed run, 2-minute warning, Lacy failed run, Seattle timeout, Lacy failed run, 38 seconds going off the clock, Green Bay punt. That gives Seattle the ball at around their 10 with a bit more than a minute left, which is certainly enough time.

Since we're talking about coaching failures, why in the world does Bevell often have these games where he pulls out the read-option in the final 5 minutes? Seattle's offense gets better as the game progresses, but that also means the offense is merely ordinary at the start of the game. I'm usually the first to defend Bevell's playcalling, and apart from this I didn't really have any problems since it was horrible execution that was the issue today, but the conservativeness with the read-option is really baffling.

by duh :: Mon, 01/19/2015 - 3:58am

I've always thought it was to limit the hits / risks to Wilson

by Perfundle :: Mon, 01/19/2015 - 4:37am

Also, I'm going to push back on McCarthy's so-called conservativeness in the fourth quarter. Here's what the Packers did in the drive before the two 3-and-outs:

0:55 1st & 10, GB13, Eddie Lacy rushed to the left for 5 yard gain
0:15 2nd & 5, GB18, Eddie Lacy rushed to the right for 7 yard gain
15:00 1st & 10, GB25, James Starks rushed to the left for 32 yard gain
14:20 1st & 10, SEA43, Green Bay committed 5 yard penalty
14:01 1st & 15, SEA48, Eddie Lacy rushed to the left for 5 yard gain
13:23 2nd & 10, SEA43, James Starks rushed to the left for 3 yard gain
12:41 3rd & 7, SEA40, Aaron Rodgers passed to Richard Rodgers down the middle for 7 yard gain
11:58 1st & 10, SEA33, James Starks rushed to the left for 3 yard gain
11:11 2nd & 7, SEA30, Aaron Rodgers incomplete pass to the right
11:04 3rd & 7, SEA30, Aaron Rodgers incomplete pass to the left
10:53 4th & 7, SEA30, Mason Crosby kicked a 48-yard field goal

So that's a very successful drive almost entirely on the ground, with only one completion (and that on third down), as well as two incompletions that stopped the clock and ended the drive. I'll bet anything, had McCarthy told Rodgers to air it out and he had failed, that he would be lambasted for not sticking to the run game that had worn down Seattle's defense. It's not like Rodgers had been lighting it up in the second half, with 2 successful completions for first downs, 2 failed completions, 3 incompletions and 1 sack. The next drive got them into 3rd-and-4 after two clock-draining runs, which isn't a bad place to be. As for the final drive, I'll consider the plays in reverse order:

3rd-and-16: You can't expect Rodgers to convert the first down here, and the likely result if he tried would be a clock-stopping incompletion. I imagine a short throw to gain a bit of field position would be considered just as conservative as the run, so there is no good option here.
2nd-and-14: This is probably the worst call to run it again, especially since Green Bay just saw Seattle run-blitz on first down.
1st-and-10: From 1998-2014, teams up by 7 to 14 points with less than 10 points left have run it on first down 6/7th of the time (this goes down to less than 3/4ths on 2nd down). Almost all coaches would elect to run it here.

So that boils down to one bad decision he made on second down. All of the others are excusable either do to the down and distance, or due to previous successes in the same situation. But I'll agree his two 4th-down field goals were horrible.

by ammek :: Mon, 01/19/2015 - 7:32am

The last three runs on that drive are all failed plays. And between the start of the second quarter and the beginning of that drive, the Packers RBs had run five times, all of them failed plays:

2nd&5: minus-3 yards
1st&10: 4 yards
3rd&3: 2 yards
1st&10: 2 yards
2nd&8: 1 yard

So eight of the previous eleven rushing plays were failures, and absolutely everyone in the building expected the Packers to run. Packer fans have seen this many times before. With a fourth-quarter lead, McCarthy transfers all the risk from his elite passing offense to his running game, his so-so defense and his onside-kick unit. In the past it has led to a lot of unnecessary close shaves. This time it came back to bite him.

by Perfundle :: Mon, 01/19/2015 - 12:55pm

So eight of the previous eleven rushing plays were failures

And as I mentioned, six of the eight previous passing plays were failures too.

and absolutely everyone in the building expected the Packers to run

But they had great success on the following drive despite that. With Seattle's defense buckling down and forcing failed plays no matter what the Packers did, why not stick with what had just worked? The packers certainly didn't have an elite passing offense against Seattle.

by jacobk :: Mon, 01/19/2015 - 10:45am

Narratives are funny things. You have to tip your cap to Green Bay. They needed some breaks in order to hang with an obviously superior team, and for most of the game those breaks bounced their way as they recovered both fumbles and got a pair of tip drill interceptions. When the breaks evened out late in the game the superior quality of the Seahawks shone through. The final score was almost exactly on the initial point spread and the over/under as the teams showed their true level of ability.

Oddly, judging by the interviews with the Packer players and some of the commentary on-line, they seem to think that the "deserving" team is judged by who has the lead 55 minutes into the game. Traditionally the NFL has determined who "deserves" to win by comparing scores at the completion of the game. Perhaps somebody should let the Packers know about that so they can adjust their game plans accordingly.

by Karl Cuba :: Mon, 01/19/2015 - 11:07am

Narratives are funny things, if Green Bay don't make a complete mess of two special teams plays then Seattle would be done for the year. You have to tip your hat to Seattle, their opponent made some unforced errors and they were able to take advantage but they would have no complaint at all if they'd lost.

Didn't Wilson fumble a snap and recover it? Doesn't that count in your fumbles recovered numbers?

by jacobk :: Mon, 01/19/2015 - 11:41am

You want to put a bad snap in with two open field run fumbles? OK, that's cool. No analytics either way I guess.

So early game lucky bounces are taken as a given while late game lucky bounces are total flukes. I thought a lucky bounce was a lucky bounce, but that's ok. I guess I'll just have to console myself with cheering for my hometown team in the Super Bowl.

by Will Allen :: Mon, 01/19/2015 - 11:45am

Fans like you are the most frequent reason I decide to root against certain teams, given I generally don't care who wins.

by Karl Cuba :: Mon, 01/19/2015 - 12:01pm

This. So much this.

by Bobman :: Wed, 01/21/2015 - 3:06am

Well, on the one hand, yes. Of course, on the other... YES!

by osoviejo :: Mon, 01/19/2015 - 5:03pm

I don't understand why so many people think who they root for, or why, is important to anyone but themselves. Especially when the message is delivered from the righteous high ground.

by Will Allen :: Mon, 01/19/2015 - 5:09pm

I don't understand why anyone would not understand that there isn't anything written on this thread that is the least bit important. Not a single word. That's why it is fun.

by osoviejo :: Mon, 01/19/2015 - 5:28pm

There are hundreds of such comments made every day on sites overrun with fanboys. It's certainly noisy, not sure it's fun. FO generally has a more thoughtful, interesting, and entertaining comment crowd. That's fun.

by Sakic :: Tue, 01/20/2015 - 10:24am

And that's why I read and post here. Intelligent football analysis...we all have our favorite teams but generally speaking most posters comments contain some pretty good neutral analysis of the games and specific plays.

by mrt1212 :: Tue, 01/20/2015 - 4:28am

As a Seahawk fan I admit that the Hawks got lucky as hell and I appreciate that it happens. They stunk and They won. It happens, play on!

And as a Seahawk fan, it pains me to have unflappable revisionist homerism associated with my fanbase. And a special desire to have Wilson be regarded so well when it ultimately shouldnt matter who plays so long as they win.

by Karl Cuba :: Mon, 01/19/2015 - 12:00pm

The onside recovery wasn't a lucky bounce, it was Bostic not doing his job. If he blocks Matthews as he should have then the game is pretty much over, no bouncing ball.

by RickD :: Mon, 01/19/2015 - 1:04pm

Yes, this point needs to be emphasized. Bostick's job is to block. All the guys next to him ran forward to block. He hung back and tried to catch the ball to be a hero. That's not his job. He was supposed to run forward. Had he done that, Jordy Nelson and his golden hands probably would have caught the ball.

As somebody else pointed out, that wouldn't have meant the end of the game, not mathematically. But pinning the Seahawks back at their 10 with a minute left, needing 6 points, is much, much better than giving them the ball at midfield with more than 2 minutes left.

by Pen :: Mon, 01/19/2015 - 1:53pm

So bad play cost Green Bay, not Seattle getting lucky. I agree. The better team won.

by Karl Cuba :: Mon, 01/19/2015 - 1:56pm

I refer you to comment 78.

by dank067 :: Mon, 01/19/2015 - 11:49am

Come on man, no professional athlete on a team that just blew a 12 point lead with less than 4 minutes left in a conference championship is going to say "well with the breaks evening out towards the end, I guess the more deserving team ultimately won." They had a 97% win probability at that point! If they had lost by 6 in a back-and-forth game or failed comeback they probably don't use the word "deserve," but you can't blame them for feeling that way after blowing a game that was almost impossible to lose. I can't imagine how devastated they are.

by Perfundle :: Mon, 01/19/2015 - 5:05am

Similar to my previous post, I hate that people judge decision making by the end result. Here are the likely reactions if several key plays went the other way.

Ryan fails to connect with Gilliam: "How stupid does Carroll have to be to have his punter, who has never played QB at any level, attempt a pass on the move across his body!? There's a reason why no punter has thrown a TD pass in the postseason!"

Burnett fumbles the ball back to Seattle while trying to run it back: "Did you learn nothing from the Dallas-Detroit game?? Just go down! What chance does Seattle have down needing two TDs without possession?"

Bostick doesn't jump for the ball, and Nelson fumbles it instead: "Are you just going to stand there and watch the ball fly past you? You're a tight end who should be able to handle it!"

Kearse fails to pull in the game-winning TD: "0 completions and 4 interceptions on passes targeting Kearse! Why is Kearse still in the game, and why is Wilson so stubborn to keep targeting him! Who cares that he's single-covered when three of the interceptions were when he was single-covered too!"

by ammek :: Mon, 01/19/2015 - 7:18am

There's no question that the Seahawks got lucky. Whenever they took a risk in the second half, it paid off: calling a Lynch run on 3rd&6; the fake field goal; Wilson's Flail Mary on the 2-point conversion; the onside kick; a deep pass on 3rd down in overtime. But they had to be bold, time was running out.

The risks the Packers took were less audacious: kicking field goals from the goalline; rushing two defenders on 3rd&19; calling runs in the fourth quarter; Burnett going to ground with the interception. The last time a Packer WR was targeted in the game was with 4 minutes of the 3rd quarter remaining. McCarthy put the outcome of the game in the hands of Brandon Bostick and Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, rather than Aaron Rodgers.

Packer fans have seen this many times before from McCarthy. Often he has gotten away with it (largely when Rodgers has done something magical on one of the many third-and-longs he finds himself in, following the traditional two runs into the line). But even when the end-result has been a sweaty-palmed victory, there has been criticism of his decision-making. He shuts down the offense, eliminates the risk of a turnover, and concentrates on the clock. But teams can score too quickly in the modern game, so in order to hold a lead, an offense needs to gain yardage and, preferably, score points. McCarthy gave his offense almost no chance to do that yesterday.

by Otis Taylor89 :: Mon, 01/19/2015 - 9:07am

That 3 and 19 (probably should have been 3 and 34) coverage call had to be the worst defensive coverage call in the history of coverage calls - WTF?
GB got so many outstanding play from so many different sources for most of that game, but you knew that so many plays they left out there could come back and bit them - and they did.
Plus it didn't help that Rodgers clearly wasn't 100%.

by PackerPete :: Mon, 01/19/2015 - 8:54pm

Absolutely correct. The Packers had significant pressure on Wilson all game long. On 3rd and 19, when a defense wants the ball to come out quickly on a short pass, Capers rushes 3 against a highly mobile QB. Wilson could have waited a full minute before throwing. Huge strategic blunder by Capers.

The other coaching blunder was failure to anticipate the fake field goal on the same drive. Seahawks are down by 16, putting together their first significant drive, and looking to make something happen. As an off the edge rusher blocks a kick about once every five years, the odds of a block were far lower than the chance that Seattle tries a fake. Packers should have had at least four back for all eligible receivers, or just played a base defense. Seeing that defensive formation, Seattle would have kicked, saving the Packers 4 points. Packers turned a nearly inevitable Seahawks punt into 7 points with two horrible calls.

by Pen :: Mon, 01/19/2015 - 2:12pm

Sometimes, running the game in reverse can give a good perspective of what really happened.
Seattle gets the ball and scores on three quick Wilson passes. Up 6-0. Seahawks start off hot.
Green Bay responds by showing they can run the ball. Drive stalls when LOB shuts down Rodgers, who is only 1-3. FG. 6-3.
Seattle responds with another TD drive and a whacky 2pt conversion to go up 14-3.
After a successful onsides kick, Seattle drives again for another TD. Up 21-3, the Hawks look unstoppable. Three Touchdowns in the first 7 and a half minutes of the game.

This game is a blowout.

Rest of the first three quarters we watch as Rodgers posts a 55.8 rating, the Packers can't move the ball, Russell Wilson can't put the Packers away, having the worst game of his career following that amazing start. Other than a couple of FGs by GB and a fake FG by Seattle, making the score 28-9, the game is all about Seattle's defensive dominance and an offense that keeps shooting itself in the foot.

Then the 4th quarter begins. Green Bay FINALLY puts together a complete drive against Seattle, albeit one that started with good field position at their own 44. Seattle 28 GB 16.

Seattle goes three and out.

Green Bay, starting at the Seattle 23 cannot put the ball into the endzone and after a Seattle goal line stand, settles for 3. 28-19.

Seattle fumbles the kickoff. Green Bay takes over at the 19. Again, another Seattle goal line stand results in a Green Bay FG.

Final Score 28-22. A game that was not as close as the score indicated if not for so many Seattle turnovers.

Suddenly, one sees that Green Bay, in fact, didn't dominate Seattle, they just got the breaks early and didn't take advantage of them. should have went for it on 4th and 1 both times. Never showed much offense the entire game. This was a game where Seattle's defense was stifling and if not for some lucky turnovers early in the game, Green Bay would have never been in it had Seattle not shot itself in the foot the rest of the game as well until they finally got it together at the end.

by Perfundle :: Mon, 01/19/2015 - 3:56pm

Sometimes, running the game in reverse can give a good perspective of what really happened.

Sometimes, a horrible idea is made even worse by the belief that it isn't.

by Pen :: Mon, 01/19/2015 - 4:13pm

Point being that our perception of the game is influenced by the score as much as it is by the actual game being played out on the field. Because GB got off to a lucky start and led early, we perceived Seattle as being outplayed for much of the game, when in fact, neither team was really able to accomplish anything and if not for the fact that Seattle kept giving Green Bay the ball in fantastic field position, Green Bay wouldn't have led by much, if any at all. People keep saying Green Bay dominated for 55 minutes.

No, they did not. They took a quick 13-0 lead based solely upon one successful drive and getting lucky enough to wind up with 6 points handed to them. After the first quarter ended, until Seattle dominated the final 7 1/2 minutes of the game, the two teams dueled to a standstill, with neither side generating much of anything other than Seattle scoring 7 and GB 6.

Take out the fluke beginning and that wasn't 55 minutes of domination, that was three and a half quarters of futility on both sides with Green Bay being the lucky recipient of 5 turnovers in which they were so NOT DOMINATING that they couldn't muster enough points to put Seattle away.

by Perfundle :: Mon, 01/19/2015 - 5:39pm

So you think teams play the game exactly the same regardless of the actual score and time remaining?

by Karl Cuba :: Mon, 01/19/2015 - 7:40pm

Exactly, recovering the onside kick is not so lucky if it happens at the start of a game when Green Bay aren't expecting it.

by beargoggles :: Mon, 01/19/2015 - 11:29pm

I'll make your game summary more simple:

Seattle sucked a** the first 55 minutes.
Green Bay ..... the last 5". But because they didn't do enough with the first 55" they were catchable.

Green Bay did some nice things first 55", aided by very poor execution by Seattle. Then, needing any 1 of a handful of events to close them out, they accomplished none of them.

by DRohan :: Mon, 01/19/2015 - 8:01pm

Interesting reversing the sequence of events like that. I think it was on this website once when an article did that with the careers of John Elway and Tom Brady.

by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Tue, 01/20/2015 - 10:21am

"Sometimes, running the game in reverse can give a good perspective of what really happened."

That's fine in baseball, which doesn't have a clock. But football does. You can't ignore the thermodynamics of a running clock, because it affects how decisions are made.

by Anon Ymous :: Mon, 01/19/2015 - 8:56am

If all you are comparing it to is the running at the end, sure, but GB's coaches clearly didn't have their players prepared situationally and made some bad calls down the stretch. I also think some of youe objectives are misleading. For instance:

1) It was a good play call whether it worked or not because Seattle needed a TD there as a FG does virtually nothing to increase their chances of winning. Make or miss, it is still a two score game that requires the defense to shut GB out the rest of the way.

2) Why would Burnett be in danger of fumbling it when there wasn't a Seattle player within 10 yards of him? I'd agree if he were in traffic, but he could have easily returned it 20 yards into near-FG position, and run another 5 seconds off the clock. If you want to play it safe, at least wait until someone gets close to you.

3) I think the everyone associated with GB - team and fans alike - would have chosen Nelson even without any foreknowledge.

4) Only if the ball were picked does this create any problems, and if you watch the replay Kearse has a full step on the DB very early in the route with no safety help. Most QBs make that throw.

by dank067 :: Mon, 01/19/2015 - 9:05am

You know, on Burnett's INT it looked like one of the linebackers was making the "go down!" motion with his arms, so if nothing else it was a team effort. It did look like there was a wall of offensive linemen in front of him, but they're offensive linemen... just another of the million what if's that will linger after this one.

by big10freak :: Mon, 01/19/2015 - 9:16am

Julius Peppers waved for Burnett to go down

by dank067 :: Mon, 01/19/2015 - 9:22am

Thanks. I remember it being a 50-something.

by Anon Ymous :: Mon, 01/19/2015 - 9:47am

Yeah, I saw that. While it changes the narrative a little, it doesn't change the conclusion - the team was situationally unprepared.

by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Mon, 01/19/2015 - 12:01pm

Remember the SD-NE game when SD made a late INT and the DB fumbled? That guy had no one in front of him, either. He got the ball poked out from behind.

or more recently, remember the Dallas-Detroit game and the double fumble?

by Anon Ymous :: Mon, 01/19/2015 - 6:33pm

Your description of the SD-NE game isn't accurate. Troy Brown was on him quickly and he was tackling the DB when he stripped the ball. Burnett had far more green space in front of him, and more importantly, around him.

The Dallas double fumble isn't comparable either since that literally would have ended the game, whereas Burnett's obviously didn't.

by ChrisS :: Mon, 01/19/2015 - 12:49pm

Burnett made a good play on the interception. It should not be overshadowed by a barely questionable decision to not attempt a run back.

by Perfundle :: Mon, 01/19/2015 - 1:06pm

1) I think all four decisions were correct, but that doesn't prevent people from making judgements in hindsight. Coaches always get excoriated for failed trick plays to a far greater degree than they get praised if they're successful. I've seen numerous failed fake field goals where something similar was said afterwards.

2) I was thinking of him fumbling it once Seattle players had caught up to him.

3) Had he succeeded, I can just imagine him being humble about it and mentioning that even though he was only supposed to block, the ball just happened to come toward him and he just did his job.

4) He had a full step on two of the interceptions too, with the only help a safety could make being picking up a tipped pass.

by Anon Ymous :: Mon, 01/19/2015 - 6:35pm

Sure, but these decisions would require a lot more contorting of reality. The majority of the mistakes made by GB were obvious at the time. Hell, several - including the fake punt - I was mentally warning them *beforehand*.

by Will Allen :: Mon, 01/19/2015 - 10:10am

Can we agree that guys should attempt to execute their assignments, as practiced? Bostick is supposed to block for Nelson. It is inexcusable for a guy to ignore his assignment.

by Otis Taylor89 :: Mon, 01/19/2015 - 10:14am

There was a coach someplace who's big tag line was "Do Your Job!"

I wonder what ever happened to him?

by Insancipitory :: Mon, 01/19/2015 - 11:24am

Al Davis? He became one with the dark side of The Force.

by Alternator :: Tue, 01/20/2015 - 11:52am

Betrayed by his apprentice, Darth Belichick, and now the student has become the master.

by Cythammer :: Mon, 01/19/2015 - 5:37am

When McCarthy called three straight run plays with four or so minutes to go, the Packers' defense had been dominating Seattle all day. They'd produced four turnovers and allowed only one field goal attempt. I think it really does make sense to go with the very conservative option there, because Seattle had shown absolutely zero evidence they could suddenly score two quick touchdowns. Not to mention, Rodgers had been mediocre all day and had thrown two picks. At that point I think all the evidence suggested that forcing a turnover would be just about the only way Seattle would get back in the game, so why give them a chance?
Seriously, when your opponent's QB is having a career worst day and the strength of their offense (the running game) is becoming much less relevant because of the time left, being super conservative probably makes sense. The fact that an almost beyond belief turnaround in Seattle's fortunes on offense occurred doesn't change the situation as it appeared with four and half to play. Even with Seattle suddenly becoming great on offense, they still only won because of an onside kick recovery and a bizarre, very lucky two-point conversion.

by ammek :: Mon, 01/19/2015 - 6:36am

The problem with this is that elite QBs don't really have consistently bad days. They can be streaky (see Vince's quick reads blurbs) but QBs of the quality of Rodgers and Wilson are always a threat on the next drive, regardless of how they played on the previous drive. Lightning-quick comebacks from two-score deficits are not rare in this day and age; McCarthy is still calling a zero-risk, eat-clock game like it's 1996. Every now and then it's worth reminding yourself that he is from the Schottenheimer coaching tree. This one was vintage Martyball.

by Duff Soviet Union :: Mon, 01/19/2015 - 7:12am

Yep. If anything, the fact that they'd shut Seattle's offense down so thoroughly actually made it MORE likely that they'd score on the next drive.

by dank067 :: Mon, 01/19/2015 - 9:21am


I like to avoid micro-analyzing specific playcalls—so much goes into choosing a certain play for a certain situation, and a lot of criticism/commentary is outcome-based. But if Aaron Rodgers is your QB you have to be more willing to pass in general during your four minute offense. He's one of the very very few QBs blessed with the combination of talent, brains and situational awareness that dropping him back is actually not that much of a risk, not even to stop the clock. Even taking a sack on first or second down wouldn't have been any worse than what actually happened on that one drive!

by Perfundle :: Mon, 01/19/2015 - 1:10pm

So you remember Garrett getting ripped for still passing when ahead when they played Green Bay last season? That was considered the only reason why Green Bay managed to make the comeback. There really is no winning scenario for a coach in that situation if the players don't execute correctly.

by ammek :: Mon, 01/19/2015 - 2:39pm

I never understood that. The Cowboys picked up 11 first downs in the second half of that game -- nine of them on passes, with 6, 10, 8, 5, 5, 10, 9, 4 and 12 yards to go. The Cowboys lost because the Packers turned their five second-half possessions into five touchdowns.

Seattle's offense wasn't anywhere near as potent as that until right at the end. But the Seahawks had 15 possessions in regulation time, so it was unlikely that 19 offensive points would be enough.

The Packers picked up only four first downs while they were leading in the second half. Execution was part of the reason (as was Seattle's defensive play), but running on 1st&15, 2nd&10, 2nd&9, 2nd&8 and 2nd&14 (for 5, 3, 5, 2 and -2 yards, respectively) was too much: the offense became conservative and predictable. Especially as the ratio on 1st&10 was 6 rushes to 2 passes (both of the passes were on the same drive, and completed, for 12 and 2 yards).

The 2nd&9 call typified the Packers' lack of ambition for me. McCarthy was in burn-the-clock mode. A run on 2nd&9, with the Packers leading and playing as conservatively as they had done, was extremely unlikely to pick up a first down. At best the Packers could hope it led to a 3rd-&-short. But the Packers' short-yardage running game had failed all game long, and the QB couldn't scramble or even move that well in the pocket, so 3rd-&-short wouldn't actually have opened up many options. The best way to burn the clock is to get a first down, and the best way to do that is to give Rodgers two shots. (As it was, James Starks ran for a reasonable 5-yard gain, bringing up 3rd&4. Rodgers' pass was then broken up)

by Perfundle :: Mon, 01/19/2015 - 3:55pm

At best the Packers could hope it led to a 3rd-&-short. But the Packers' short-yardage running game had failed all game long

No it hadn't. On the goal-line yes, but the defense plays a lot different in a compressed space. They picked up a 3rd-and-1.5 on their 29, a 3rd-and-1 on Seattle's 29, and a 2nd-and-5 on their previous drive. Your initial comment to me doesn't even mention all those successes in the running game on the previous drive. Are you pretending they never happened?

by Jeff M. :: Mon, 01/19/2015 - 5:50am

On the game-winning TD pass to Kearse, I don't think GB is in a called Cover 0, they just made a bad adjustment to motion (maybe something Seattle had seen on film and knew they could get Kearse 1-on-1 with).

DE/FB Will Tukuafu (2 career targets, 1 career reception) is motioned wide-left and Morgan Burnett shifts out to cover him, leaving Clinton-Dix to step down into the box and cover Luke Willson (who I'm guessing was Burnett's assignment before the shift). I assume that the play call actually intended Clinton-Dix as a single-high safety but the response to FB motion was to sacrifice the safety help and stay in man rather than switch to zone or a hybrid (this is all my best guess based on the broadcast footage and I haven't seen the all-22 yet).

by big10freak :: Mon, 01/19/2015 - 7:42am

Per the Packers it was Cover 0. They were completely focused on Lynch on that down

by Lance :: Mon, 01/19/2015 - 6:57am

"Finally: Can I say again how stupidly complicated the NFL's overtime system is?"

Agreed completely. Yes, now that FG kicking has gotten so much better, the old sudden death system often made it easy to run the return back to the 35, then drive just 30 or so yards to the other 35 and kick a field goal. Perhaps with the change in kick offs, it's no longer so easy to get that nice return. But it's still not so hard to drive just 45 yards and score that kick.

I always thought that the best solution was to have something like a 7 minute OT and give each team a pair of time outs. I suppose the drawback is the very real chance of a tie and thus the need to have a second OT.

Perhaps sudden death is best.

by Dired :: Mon, 01/19/2015 - 8:03am

I'm not sure i agree. It's not *that* complicated, and really only exists to stop the "winner of the coin toss wins by three" issue that used to get everyone all hot and bothered. So you either score a touchdown, or allow them to answer your field goal with a possession. After than, first to score wins. Anyone who really "can't figure it out" sounds like someone looking for a problem that doesn't exist so they can complain about it.

by young curmudgeon :: Mon, 01/19/2015 - 9:40am

Exactly right. Of all the things that are recondite, inexplicable, or illogical in the NFL (Megatron rule, what is pass interference, tuck rule, on and on, the overtime rules are just not that hard to grasp. And, not to be 'hot and bothered,' but the sudden death system of 'win coin toss, make two first downs, kick 50 yard field goal' was not good.

by Lance :: Mon, 01/19/2015 - 11:34am

Well, I understand the rules just fine. I just think it adds an un-needed wrinkle in the game, all just because people were mad that Peyton Manning didn't get a chance to take the field that one time.

Part of the problem started when they moved the kick-off spot back (people wanted more excitement with kick returns, after all!), meaning that teams often started possession needing just 40 or so yards to get into FG range. Add to that a) increased kicker accuracy, and b) liberalized passing rules that make it easy to go 30 or so yards, and there it is. You can see here that in the early 2000's when the NFL had moved the kick-off back to the 30 that the average starting position was ca. the 26-29 yard line. When they moved it to the 35, that average shot down ca. 5 yards. But because people love seeing pass-happy offenses more, the NFL changed the rules for overtime throwing in this wrinkle akin to an NBA overtime now having to feature at least 4 three-point attempts by each side or you lose, unless you beat the other team by 5 points.

by Perfundle :: Mon, 01/19/2015 - 2:08pm

No, it's more like making overtimes 40 seconds long. You don't see the massive difference between the number of possessions of a typical NBA overtime and that of an NFL overtime?

by big10freak :: Mon, 01/19/2015 - 8:11am

What I always find amusing is the new overtime rule is regularly attributed to Peyton Manning and his team losing to San Diego in overtime.

There are now, what, 3-4 rule changes that at least publicly tied to Manning fair or no? The overtime rules, pass defense rules and I thought one other type of rule change.

Pretty funny whether it's true or not.

by Peregrine :: Mon, 01/19/2015 - 10:03am

If I recall correctly, San Diego won that game with a Darren Sproles touchdown run, not a FG. But I also recall Peter King bloviating about how it wasn't fair to Manning, Brady (because he had to cite him again), etc.

The best OT suggestion I've seen was on this board a while back. First team to score wins, and both teams bid on what yard line they'd like to start with the ball. Team A bids the 12, Team B bids the 10, then Team B gets the ball on their own 10 to start. Any score wins. If teams bid the same number, then re-bid or toss a coin.

by Perfundle :: Mon, 01/19/2015 - 2:11pm

That sounds like perfect for statistical types and a complete nightmare for everyone else. I can just hear the shouts of "are we playing football or algebra/calculus here!?"

by Will Allen :: Mon, 01/19/2015 - 10:02am

I don't think it is all that complicated, and I really hate the 45 yard field goal after a forty yard drive to get a sudden death victory.

by ZDNeal :: Mon, 01/19/2015 - 10:43am

I disagree. Completely. TD wins really isn't difficult.

Also, it was the Vikings loss to NO in the conference championship game that caused the rule change. First year it was in effect in the playoffs only and Tebow beat the Steelers on a TD pass in the first OT game the rule was in effect.

by Lyford :: Mon, 01/19/2015 - 11:04am

"I believe that since they went to the new awful rules, the team that has scored first in overtime has still won every game, right? SO JUST GO BACK TO SUDDEN DEATH."

I could not disagree more. It's not awful, it's not complicated - you can't win with a field goal on the first possession, period. And no, the team scoring first has not won every game - the Panthers-Bengals tie this year was a game in which each team kicked a FG in overtime. Even if we've not yet had a team overcome a FG with a TD, it's still a far more equitable rule than the FG sudden death structure which was currently in place.

by Karl Cuba :: Mon, 01/19/2015 - 11:09am

Better than awful doesn't mean good.

by Dired :: Mon, 01/19/2015 - 11:52am

Better may not mean good, but that doesn't justify remaining worse.

by Mike B. In Va :: Mon, 01/19/2015 - 11:14am

Just play another quarter, a la the NBA.

by ZDNeal :: Mon, 01/19/2015 - 11:35am


by Dired :: Mon, 01/19/2015 - 11:56am

NFL players are conditioned to play 60 game-minutes, not 75. You'll get injuries, exhausted players, sloppy results and games that last forever. Most interviews say players don't want to play an extra full quarter, coaches don't want to have to game-plan for diminished ability for another quarter and no one on the East Coast wants a night game lasting that long.

There is no "duh" bulletproof solution; every overtime idea, tried or not, has serious issues with it.

by Andrew Potter :: Mon, 01/19/2015 - 12:27pm

So just accept that some games will be tied and move on.

I don't understand the issue with tied games. (Yes, I'm a European soccer fan.)

by ZDNeal :: Mon, 01/19/2015 - 12:31pm

Regular season I'm with you. But this is the tourney. And I'd prefer not going to penalty kicks.

by billsfan :: Mon, 01/19/2015 - 1:25pm

Penalty kicks would be AWESOME. Each team picks 5 guys to attempt a 33-yard FG from a tee. Still tied after the first 5, goes to sudden death. You figure after the kicker, punter, and maybe both QBs (who probably kicked or punted in high-school), there's going to be a steep drop in ability, and then, eventually, you have, say, Vince Wilfork winning it in the 45th round.

by ZDNeal :: Mon, 01/19/2015 - 1:34pm

Just use the kickers, but do it Pole Vault style:

Each athlete can choose what height they would like to enter the competition. Once they enter, they have three attempts to clear the height. If a height is cleared, the vaulter advances to the next height, where they will have three more attempts. Once the vaulter has three consecutive misses, they are out of the competition and the highest height they cleared is their result. A "no height", often denoted "NH", refers to the failure of a vaulter to clear any bar during the competition.

Once the vaulter enters the competition, they can choose to pass heights. If a vaulter achieves a miss on their first attempt at a height, they can pass to the next height, but they will only have two attempts at that height, as they will be out once they achieve three consecutive misses. Similarly, after earning two misses at a height, they could pass to the next height where they would have only one attempt.
An athlete passes the bar with the aid of a pole

The competitor who clears the highest height is the winner. If two or more vaulters have finished with the same height, the tie is broken by the number of misses at the final height. If the tied vaulters have the same number of misses at the last height cleared, the tie is broken by the total number of misses in the competition.

If there is still a tie for first place, a jump-off occurs to break the tie. Marks achieved in this type of jump-off are considered valid and count for any purpose that a mark achieved in a normal competition would.

If a tie in the other places still exists, a jump-off is not normally conducted, unless the competition is a qualifying meet, and the tie exists in the final qualifying spot. In this case, an administrative jump-off is conducted to break the tie, but the marks are not considered valid for any other purpose than breaking the tie.

A jump-off is a sudden death competition in which the tied vaulters attempt the same height, starting with the last attempted height. If both vaulters miss, the bar goes down by a small increment, and if both clear, the bar goes up by a small increment. A jump-off ends when one vaulter clears and the other misses. Each vaulter gets one attempt at each height until one makes and one misses.

by billsfan :: Mon, 01/19/2015 - 2:19pm

My method has fat people kicking field goals.

by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Mon, 01/19/2015 - 2:25pm

I propose the converse. We make the kickers run an Oklahoma Drill.

by aga :: Mon, 01/19/2015 - 2:54pm

someone sent me this video, when i mentioned your suggestion :)

by billsfan :: Mon, 01/19/2015 - 3:59pm


I can't believe that the guy with the massive head wound missed his kick.

by Noah Arkadia :: Tue, 01/20/2015 - 11:37am

That is awesome, I would love that. To keep it less crazy I would have the regular kickers kicking five each from five different distances: 35, 40, 45, 50, 55. Rinse and repeat in case of tie.

Who, me?

by Jerry :: Tue, 01/20/2015 - 4:37am

It won't work for television, where networks wait for all their early games to end before starting to show commercials in late games. And if you have any question about television's influence, note that the early game Sunday was on the West Coast while the late game was on the East Coast.

by armchair journe... :: Mon, 01/19/2015 - 11:56am

In practice it isn't complicated.. It is something relatively simple that when converted into rules language sounds convoluted.

Now, if you really want both concept and language to be simplified, delete the idea of winning with just a safety, and say only "first to 5 or more points wins."


by big10freak :: Mon, 01/19/2015 - 7:52am

The Green Bay offensive line had a really good game. The pass protection in particular was tremendous most of the day.

The special teams coverage units had their best game of the year by a mile.

If Richard Rodgers can somehow, some way, make himself a tick faster that guy is going to make a LOT of money playing football. As it is he certainly has a role in the offense.

That one-handed interception by Clinton-Dix was shades of the best of Nick Collins.

Boy the Packers defense played with an edge in the game. So often the other teams seemed to applying blows but not this Sunday. Yes there were borderline cheap shots but it was good to see the Green Bay defense taking it to the other team.

Why on the Clay Mathews sack and following late hit wasn't that play pushed back ANOTHER 15 yards? What am I missing?

I think folks have to look at the entire team's approach to truly grasp how the head coach chose to shut things down and try and use the clock. Everything, offense/defense was geared toward minimizing risk. The passivity was dumbfounding given that it had been the aggressive nature that had propelled the team into a good lead.

Mike McCarthy is not one for looking inward. It will be for Ted thompson to sit Mike down and force him to re-evaluate his in game tactical approach.

Good luck with that Ted.

For 55 minutes this Packers team was pretty awesome.

So, there's that

by BJR :: Mon, 01/19/2015 - 8:28am

I was equally bemused by non-penalty enforcement on the late hit on Matthews. Does this mean that at the end of a negative play offensive players have free reign to run around making late hits/cheap shots? Because that's what happened here.

by Dave Bernreuther :: Mon, 01/19/2015 - 12:09pm

No, because on an ordinary negative play that 15 yards is going to be accepted. That sack was so bad a backwards run and decision by Wilson that for the first time I can ever remember, a single personal foul was declined because it wasn't as good as the outcome of the play. (I've seen PFs declined when there are two flags on a play like a kick return or something.)

That was correctly enforced and they were correct to decline and have 2nd and long rather than 1st... But I agree that such a hit should be considered a dead ball.

I'd like to see the penalties/yards stats and graphics include data on total flagged vs accepted too. For all the chatter about the many Seattle penalties, they somehow never even mentioned that it was actually much worse, with several being declined, like after free plays. Those penalties weren't five yards but they were free passes to take riskless shots. They matter.

(Also, there was an offsides on the Sherman pick.)

by big10freak :: Mon, 01/19/2015 - 12:14pm


So there WAS offsides? That was what Rodgers said after the game and he always pitches it downfield on an offsides. At the time I thought it fascinating that he thought Adams against Sherman was a good matchup.

That there was offsides and triggered Rodgers reaction makes more sense


by Noah Arkadia :: Tue, 01/20/2015 - 11:42am

I think the point is after a late hit on defense, the 15-yards are tacked on at the end of the run. In this case it was an either/or proposition. More offensive favoritism, I suppose.

Who, me?

by Otis Taylor89 :: Mon, 01/19/2015 - 9:02am

I don't get that 15 yard penalty - wasn't it after the play?

by dank067 :: Mon, 01/19/2015 - 9:08am

Yeah, even if it wasn't a dead ball foul aren't those types of penalties usually always assessed after the play regardless? Either the officiating crew or McCarthy appear to have goofed.

by big10freak :: Mon, 01/19/2015 - 9:20am

I am pretty sure I know who my fellow Packer fans think goofed

by Mike W :: Mon, 01/19/2015 - 10:15am

They both goofed. Neither is surprising

by anotherpatsfan :: Mon, 01/19/2015 - 1:41pm

This may have been covered elsewhere but why was Matthews on the sidelines in the critical moments at the end wearing that dopey stocking cap? McCarthy claims he was "unaware" of why that happened.

by big10freak :: Mon, 01/19/2015 - 7:58am

And given that this entire thread will likely be devoted to all the 'what if' scenarios I wanted to write about all the good things I witnessed yesterday as a Packer fan.

Dom Capers had one fine day until he contracted 'mccarthyitis'

Pretty sure Slocum will be the one coach that feels the repercussions of yesterday's outcome. And this despite the fact that the coverage units were outstanding. But that fake field goal just cannot happen. And GB looked totally outwitted on that play

by Anon Ymous :: Mon, 01/19/2015 - 9:06am

Yeah, I thought GB's coaching was terrible at the end, but it had nothing to do with running it so much - I actually applauded the three-runs-and-a-punt approach after the pick - the entire team just seemed so situationally unaware with the field goal the quintessential example. The only acceptable defensive objective there is "concede the three, play the fake." That's it. Whether they make the FG or not, Seattle still needs two TDs and to shut GB out the rest of the way (just no 2pters and it would win instead of tie) so the situation is largely unchanged. Only a TD really changes anything there.

I'd have to watch the game again, but there were at least another half dozen plays where players were obviously not aware of what is going on. The only two I can think of off the top of my head is going down after the pick and the defender undercutting the pick - and giving Lynch the entire sideline - instead of just going around to limit any catch to 5 yards or so.

GB's clock management at the end befuddled me as well. You have all three timeouts, why aren't you using them? Granted, time wasn't what stopped that drive, but it still makes no sense to keep running clock and saving all three for under 30 seconds left when. The only possible explanation is that they were playing for the FG, but then why call the TO immediately at 19 seconds? If you are playing for OT, then you want the FG to end the game instead. Even as is calling TO there makes no sense. It was fourth down, so you can't even eat the ball after a bad snap, call TO and try again.

My impression was that GB's players won the game only for the coaches to lose it.

by Otis Taylor89 :: Mon, 01/19/2015 - 9:16am

You never really threw at Sherman after he got hurt. He was playing with one arm and they never challenged him, never made him try to make a tackle. The coaches had to know, right?
Seattle is a very good team, probably the best team in football, but in the SB they won't have the home crowd and won't be playing a Mike McCarthy team with a less than 100% QB.

by Will Allen :: Mon, 01/19/2015 - 10:06am

Yeah, that was also just inexcusable, not making an obviously injured player fight off blocks and make a tackle.

by Tomlin_Is_Infallible :: Mon, 01/19/2015 - 1:04pm

should have been outside stretch or pitch/sweeps his way over and over and over. 285 pounds of lacy crashing into that arm over and over.

McCarthy made Tomlin look smart in comparison.
Check the temp downstairs.

The standard is the standard!

by big10freak :: Mon, 01/19/2015 - 9:34am

Now it's certainly possible that Seattle's defense adjusted as the Packers got within field goal range but given that Packer fans have seen this scenario play out repeatedly I am more than 80 percent certain that once GB got to the 35 McCarthy was playing for the field goal.

Again, cannot prove it. But I have seen this guy openly settle for 50 odd yard field goal tries and afterward mention the strength of Crosby's leg as the determining factor.

Yes, I know that reads as pretty crazy. But all too true

by Anon Ymous :: Mon, 01/19/2015 - 9:43am

Please accept my apologies for the awful grammar on the "clock management" paragraph. Clearly my fingers weren't keeping up with my brain on that one. It probably should have gone something more like this:

"GB's clock management at the end befuddled me as well. You have all three timeouts, why aren't you using them? Granted, time wasn't what stopped that drive, but it still makes no sense to keep running clock and saving all three for under 30 seconds left. The only possible explanation is that they were playing for the FG, but then why call the TO immediately at 19 seconds? If you are playing for OT, then you want the FG to end the game instead because any time remaining only helps Seattle. It was fourth down, so you can't even eat the ball after a bad snap, call TO and try again."

by Perfundle :: Mon, 01/19/2015 - 2:17pm

If you're admitting that time wasn't what stopped that drive, why does it befuddle you? I'm pretty sure McCarthy was saving those timeouts in case Green Bay converted that last third down, at which point they'd come in vital. Calling timeout with 19 seconds left is indefensible however.

by Anon Ymous :: Mon, 01/19/2015 - 6:42pm

Because it was lousy clock management. GB running the clock down below 30 seconds without even using a TO pretty much boxed them in to a FG even if they converted the first down. Had they taken a TO along the way, they'd still have had around a minute left, forcing Seattle to defend the entire field and a more diverse set of plays.

The only reasonable explanation to their clock management is that they were playing for the tie. That may explain their actions, but it creates an entirely new reason for criticism.

by Karl Cuba :: Mon, 01/19/2015 - 10:14am

Slocum has to get some blame for the onside kick too. Bostic was supposed to be blocking, actually he should have blocked the guy who recovered the kick (Matthews i think). This have left Jordy Nelson with the ball floating down into his hands, game over and great road win in the Championship game.

by big10freak :: Mon, 01/19/2015 - 10:18am

Given McCarthy's track record yesterday I am fairly confident the Packers still would have bungled closing out the game

by big10freak :: Mon, 01/19/2015 - 9:19am

What this game captured was the very best and worst of McCarthy.

As the saying goes, McCarthy is a fantastic coach until the game starts.

Green Bay was READY. The game plans on offense and defense were very good. The players were flying around. The coaching staff had the entire team ready to play at their peak at the best possible time.

And then DURING the game, well, McCarthy.

I don't think it's outrageous to suggest that the team would be better if Mike were excluded from live game participation. Because it undermines everything else he accomplishes.

by ammek :: Mon, 01/19/2015 - 9:56am

I couldn't agree more. I mean, every fan seems to hate their coach's game management, but McCarthy's is egregiously bad.

I'm seeing the late-game collapse referred to as a "choke", but that's quite inappropriate. If you put McCarthy in the same situation ten times, he'd call exactly the same game on all ten of them. He didn't fold under pressure; he chose to distribute the risk onto the defense and the running game, as he always does when playing with a similar lead. That's a defense which ranked 30th in DVOA in the fourth quarter, and was tiring after a terrific high-effort first three quarters.

by big10freak :: Mon, 01/19/2015 - 9:24am

I commented during the game that I hoped that the teat didn't get greedy on Peppers usage and I think they did. Green Bay's defense got pretty much the first quarter off, and I was hoping the team would continue to keep Peppers off the field about half the defensive snaps until the fourth quarter. Instead it sure seemed like unlike the past few weeks the team had Julius on the field for almost all of the defensive snaps and come the fourth quarter he looked spent.

Given that Mathews pulled up lame with about 4-5 minutes left that meant the pass rush was pretty much gone late in the game

by Will Allen :: Mon, 01/19/2015 - 9:51am

Bill Walsh, who knew a few things about winning games, always said the key to NFL football was a 4th quarter pass rush. You can't have your pass rushers gassed in the 2nd half of the 4th quarter, and you have to be aware that one of your best pass rushers is 34 years old.

The fake field goal is just inexcusable, and it appears the onside kick was a ridiculous execution error; Jordy Nelson is the guy who is supposed to be trying to catch the ball, and Braxton's job is to protect Nelson. This game was too weird for words.

by big10freak :: Mon, 01/19/2015 - 9:54am

Absolutely agree on the need of that pass rush. The unit wsa harrassing Wilson all day until late and were making a huge impact.

That was also a factor against Dallas last week.

Though I am sure Capers didn't plan on Mathews getting hurt. Still, there was time to give Peppers rest especially in the third quarter

by Dave Bernreuther :: Mon, 01/19/2015 - 12:14pm

It's not illegal to bat an onside kick out of bounds, is it? Or a change of possession?

On a high kick like that, why even bother catching it? (I guess ordinarily you don't, because you don't try to high point those, you block...) if you're jumping up, just swat it out.

Like you're taught to do on a Hail Mary...

by Perfundle :: Mon, 01/19/2015 - 4:02pm

It's quite difficult to swat out a ball in the opposite direction to the one you're facing. You have no idea who's behind you, and might swat it right into a Seattle players hand. A Hail Mary is a completely different scenario than an onside kick, since if you swat the ball to the ground on the former it's an incomplete pass, whereas on the latter it's still a live ball.

by Dave Bernreuther :: Mon, 01/19/2015 - 6:49pm

Great point.

I've seen it used as a good strategy in the past when a ball is rolling, but in that situation with it coming towards you in the air you're very right to show how different that is.

by big10freak :: Mon, 01/19/2015 - 9:48am

From a Ted Thompson player personnel perspective he had to be thrilled that in a big game these guys all played well:

Eddie Lacy
Corey Linsley
Richard Rodgers
Josh Boyd

That's three rookies and two second year guys who all played big minutes.

by big10freak :: Mon, 01/19/2015 - 9:51am

What is this crowd's perception of the Mathews 'blind side block' penalty?

Wilson was clearly going to try and make a tackle. Mathews hit him in the chest. Freely admit my bias but thought it was a rough call.

by Will Allen :: Mon, 01/19/2015 - 9:55am

Observing it live, at full speed it certainly could be taken as deliberate head shot, and that sort of shot on qb, even a qb who is trying to make a tackle, is going to draw a flag more often than not. Guys just have to realize that you can't unload on qbs any longer, anywhere on the field, in any situation.

by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Mon, 01/19/2015 - 11:56am

What's the harm? You still have the ball. Is that worth a potential blindside (even if it wasn't) killshot on the QB of a team with no viable backup?

From an economic perspective, yeah, it probably is.

But the call was BS. This wasn't Sapp curbstoming Favre on an INT return, this was Wilson getting crushed while trying to make a football play. If you want to protect QBs, then just make illegal for a QB to be involved in tackling another player.

by Will Allen :: Mon, 01/19/2015 - 12:10pm

If that's the way the game is called now, the vast majority of the time, well, you or I may not like it called that way, but neither you, I, or any of the players should be surprised.

by Dave Bernreuther :: Mon, 01/19/2015 - 12:17pm

Speaking of QBs making football plays, I loved both 2012 QBs' efforts after their picks. In fact, Luck tackling Revis was, sadly, the highlight of the Colts game for me.

by armchair journe... :: Mon, 01/19/2015 - 12:03pm

No rooting interest. To me it looked like a cheap shot, as Wilson was engaged with another blocker already and effectively out of the play. Per the letter of the rules I'm not sure if that matters, but I was happy to see the penalty.


by ZDNeal :: Mon, 01/19/2015 - 1:35pm

I agree with this. RW being engaged with a blocker who was actually preventing RW from making a play made the hit look like a cheap shot made for reasons other than blocking him.

by ChrisS :: Mon, 01/19/2015 - 12:58pm

It looked like a blindside hit on a return, not called just because it was the QB. I have seen this called on similar hits to other (non-QB) players.

by jonnyblazin :: Mon, 01/19/2015 - 1:35pm

It wasn't a blindside hit because the he wasn't hit in the back, and it doesn't matter if Wilson was engaged or not, he was still trying to make the tackle. Bad call.

If the NFL wants to make special rules regarding who can and can't be blocked that's fine, but they can't arbitrarily decided that an important player got hit too hard and therefor throw a penalty flag.

by ZDNeal :: Mon, 01/19/2015 - 1:57pm

Ask Chad Clifton if blindside hits are only in the back.


That play was a big reason for increased scrutiny of blocking on returns.

Also, I'd say it runs afoul of Article 7b1 with the interpretation that Wilson qualified for protection under Article 7a8.

Is it cut and dry? No, but it's a reasonable interpretation by the Officials.


by jonnyblazin :: Mon, 01/19/2015 - 2:36pm

Actually I saw a gif, you are right, I misremembered, it should have been a foul. Contact to the helmet of a defenseless player.

by Pen :: Mon, 01/19/2015 - 2:38pm

I've seen the play again several times. There is no question that it was a shot to the head, not the chest. You have to watch closely in slo mo to discern that it was actually, barely, helmet to helmet, but it was mostly shoulder to head. In any event, CM was head hunting period.

by Bobman :: Wed, 01/21/2015 - 3:26am

I thought the penalty was BS--if it was anybody but a QB it would not have been called. Ergo, it was not the block that was illegal, but the "victim." But Wilson wasn't playing QB at the time, he was playing the role of LB attempting a tackle. When a QB leaves the pocket as a runner and doesn't slide, he's supposed to be treated as a RB, right? Why not when he's trying for a tackle?

By way of example, just two hours later, on a punt return, a Patriot totally cold-cocked a Colt cover man (head was not on a swivel, as they say) and no call. It's football. A QB is highly protected in the pocket, and if he leaves it and puts himself in danger, well, tough shit. My real problem is that they are officiating NOT according to the rule book. If the de facto rule is QBs are untouchable anywhere, then put it in writing; don't make guys hesitate, or guess. If that protection is not universal and explicit, then don't throw flags.

Another rule issue I have is "assisting the runner" which, although never called, is still illegal. But in the Pats game even the clueless announcers noted "Man, that's the second time Develin has pushed Tom Brady ahead for a first down." At the time those were crucial plays, one or both on 4th down. Uh, NFL, if it's really a penalty and the announcers are casually calling your refs out, maybe you should either make them throw a flag or have the rule erased. Because the one time in a million they actually DO call it, I am pretty sure it will be against a team I want to win. waah waah waah. Okay, I'll stop whining.

by Jerry :: Wed, 01/21/2015 - 3:56am

It may not be an explicit rule, but I'm sure officials are directed to protect QBs in that situation, and players know it. You can block a quarterback who's attempting to make a tackle - a simple shove is usually sufficient - but you can't take advantage of the opportunity to crush him, even if he has reason to expect you're coming.

by billprudden :: Mon, 01/19/2015 - 9:58am

"And really, the death blow was struck because McCarthy assumed Seattle would play as conservatively as he would in their shoes."

This deserves much consideration during the long days of spring - brilliant of you to catch it now, in the moment.

by Mike W :: Mon, 01/19/2015 - 10:19am

Seemed to me like McCarthy rubbed off on the Packers players. With 5 minutes left, all they wanted was for the clock to move faster. They played like they didn't think they were as good as Seattle, after going toe to toe with them for 55 minutes.

Nobody mentioned AJ Hawk's egregious misplay on the fake FG. He was the guy who ran right by the eligible receiver to needlessly go after the holder who was contained and clearly planning to throw. Just as bad as Bostick IMO.

by Will Allen :: Mon, 01/19/2015 - 10:23am

Oh, I agree, but some invective needs to be thrown at the coaching staff. That's a field goal attempt that shouldn't even be contested, resulting in a fake that ends with a tackle 7 yards behind the line of scrimmage.

by Karl Cuba :: Mon, 01/19/2015 - 11:02am

Sky TV in the UK has a guy who coaches special teams in college (and maybe Canada), he's very good and he said that the wing man should have made sure to get to the depth of the kick. If he does that then the holder has nowhere to go, the play is almost certainly a turnover on downs.

That and Bostic's grievous error gave the game away. When two guys on special teams screw up their assignments that badly you have no choice but to blame the coach for that unit.

by Will Allen :: Mon, 01/19/2015 - 11:08am

If it is true that Bostick is a regular screw-up in practice, then you have to blame the coaching staff for having him on the roster. Having the entire organization's fate in the hands of a guy who has established himself as a consistent bonehead is not tolerable.

by big10freak :: Mon, 01/19/2015 - 11:11am

Bostick is on the roster because he has an all world NFL body.

But he cannot play football. At least not effectively.

The coaches let the eye test supercede the results evaluation

by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Mon, 01/19/2015 - 11:53am

The holder wasn't contained. The guy out there containing the holder was Hawk! He got stuck on a blown assignment, having to cover two people by himself.

If he covers the receiver, the holder just runs for a first down. That might be the more ideal circumstance, but the pass was still a holder throwing to a lineman.

by Mike W :: Mon, 01/19/2015 - 12:23pm

If the holder was going to run he had to make it all the way to the end zone. That wasn't going to happen.

by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Mon, 01/19/2015 - 12:39pm

It was 3rd-10 at the 19. He could convert a first down.

by Mike W :: Mon, 01/19/2015 - 1:55pm

My mistake, yer right. Still think Ryan would have been caught, and Hawk was the only guy who could have covered the lineman.

by pablohoney :: Mon, 01/19/2015 - 5:55pm
by anotherpatsfan :: Mon, 01/19/2015 - 6:08pm

I am sure he would have been caught before scoring a TD, and maybe even before the first down. Don't care what he looks like, the guys chasing him do that for a living and are better at it than he is at running with the football. Once the guy crossed the line Hawk could get back in the play as well. Forcing him to run was the only smart play. Hawk totally misplayed it because the way he chose to play it gave by far the best chance for the worst possible outcome. Not smart football.

Watch the tape. He wants to throw all the way. 31 would have caught him before he gets 9 if he had to pull it down because Hawk played it correctly.

by Sakic :: Tue, 01/20/2015 - 11:23am

From what I've read after the fact it appears that the fake FG was put in solely based on what Seattle picked up scouting the Packers and specifically Brad Jones. Apparently Seattle had picked up the fact that Jones rushed FG attempts the exact same way every single time and Seattle figured they had a way to exploit him...in fact, if Jones hadn't been in the game they wouldn't have run it at all.

I'll give the Seahawks props for scouting that one and another mark against Slocumb for failing to correct that kind of behavior. Although the fact that the Packers weren't expecting the fake in that position at that point in the game is still much more of a black mark against Slocumb.

by EricL :: Tue, 01/20/2015 - 11:32am

Same as the Divisional round where Seattle noticed Carolina's long snapper stayed down long after snapping the ball, thus giving Chancellor a window to leap over the line.

Good film study finds these things.

That said, I expect a team coached by Belichick to be among the hardest to find exploitable tendencies.

by Karl Cuba :: Tue, 01/20/2015 - 12:26pm

Doug Baldwin blocked a punt earlier in the year when he timed his move inside from his gunner position so precisely that it really looked like Seattle had noticed that the opponent always used the same timing on their punt snap routine.

They're very well coached.

by Will Allen :: Tue, 01/20/2015 - 12:48pm

It's a great coaching matchup, and it really causes me to wonder how many really good coaches simply never get to a favorable situation where their skill becomes readily apparent. Now, I think the very, very, best, like Parcells, tend to succeed no matter where they are, but there are a lot of very good ones who simply don't get the right opportunity. Yeah, I think Belichik likely improved from Cleveland to New England, and Carroll did as well at his various stops, but I tend also believe that those guys were always good, and then got to a situation where it could become obvious. I bet a lot of very good coaches never get to the 2nd or 3rd chance.

by Jay Z :: Mon, 01/19/2015 - 10:25am

I do not fault McCarthy for the playcalling after the Burnett INT.

If you remember, the Packers did run out the clock with about 4 minutes to go. This drive did include passing. McCarthy will pass some to keep the ball.

Hardly anybody passes the ball on first down in that situation. It's going to be on second or third down. What killed the Packers is the run play blew up and lost four yards, which I think is about worst case scenario. Rodgers doing a kneeldown obviously would have been better than that. I don't know if the specific run play should have been changed or it was just bad blocking.

Packers were horrible at screens/dump-offs all day, so that wasn't working. Any pass was going to have to be downfield. 2nd and 14 or 3rd and 16 the throw is a lot longer than 3rd and 7/8. The Packers were not going to pass twice to try to pick that up. So it was going to be a pass and a run. 2nd down run was also bad, lost yardage.

Even in that situation you have to get some yardage on your runs. Execution was bad on the two running plays, that hurts a lot.

As far as what Bostick was supposed to do, I don't know. The ball went high, if he doesn't jump maybe the ball hits him in the helmet anyway. I don't think you can set up a on-side recovery unit where a front line guy will never touch the ball. If it's right to one of the players they have to deal with it.

by big10freak :: Mon, 01/19/2015 - 10:28am

Bostick himself stated after the game that he blew his assignment. That he was in there to block for Nelson but saw the ball and reacted.

He was clearly distraught at making the mistake

by Will Allen :: Mon, 01/19/2015 - 10:35am

Bostick himself stated that his job is to move forward, and block a Seahawk, leaving the ball for Nelson to move up and catch the ball. He simply chose, inexcusably, to ignore his assignment.

by Mash Wilson :: Mon, 01/19/2015 - 10:39am

Yeah... a couple of my knowledgeable Packers fan friends said that Bostick has been in the doghouse all year because despite having obvious physical skills, he just can't stop making mental mistakes and blowing assignments in practice. It seems odd to have him so close to such a crucial play in that circumstance.

I imagine that was the end of his Packers tenure, and it could be the end of his NFL career. Undrafted guys who get the reputation for being screw-ups aren't prone to getting many chances.

He seems from afar like a pretty good kid who just isn't very bright.

by big10freak :: Mon, 01/19/2015 - 10:44am

They have executed that exact coverage several times this season with Nelson recovering the ball.

But I do NOT want to pile on Bostick. What happened in that moment is illustrative of the Slocum special teams tenure. Sporadic special teams excellence but consistent performance breakdowns. So for every Hyde punt return there are multiple penalties or blown assignments leading to a big play by the opposition.

by young curmudgeon :: Mon, 01/19/2015 - 11:04am

A bit of sympathy for Bostick--in the heat of the moment, with the ball coming right at you, it has to be difficult to not simply react and try to catch it. Yeah, I know, 'follow your assignment, carry out the play as designed, etc.' But sometimes you just do something because it's there. For instance, lobbing a pass all the way back across the field in the general direction of a guy who's well covered by a defender who has already picked you off twice. The game is very tough to play, it proceeds at an extremely fast rate, a momentary lapse can have major consequences. He should be criticized, but not pilloried.

by Will Allen :: Mon, 01/19/2015 - 11:24am

The Wilson PAT pass is an acceptable decision, which does not contradict an assignment. Wilson's best option likely was the one he chose; it isn't as if an int can be returned on a PAT.

by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Mon, 01/19/2015 - 11:51am

There's a rule that needs to be changed.

by deus01 :: Mon, 01/19/2015 - 12:07pm

Defense should be able to return for two points.

by Perfundle :: Mon, 01/19/2015 - 2:28pm

It was a great heads-up play by Willson. If you watch the play again, his job was simply to block. He then turns to see Wilson in trouble and leaks out into the flat.

Also, Wilson was forced into such a bad pass because he got hit immediately after letting go of the ball. Ironically, a better pass might've failed to convert, because Clinton-Dix won't have hesitated and might've been able to tackle Willson outside of the end zone.

by Mash Wilson :: Mon, 01/19/2015 - 10:37am

Have said it before, will say it again. Overtime rules: Each coach (separately, privately) tells the referee what yard line on his own side of the field he's willing to take the ball on. Whoever bids lower gets the ball. Sudden death.

I believe I first saw that proposed somewhere on this site, many years ago. Still the best idea I ever heard for overtime.

by SmoothLikeIce :: Mon, 01/19/2015 - 1:50pm

This idea is incredible. Would be incredibly stressful though.

by pablohoney :: Mon, 01/19/2015 - 6:03pm

The second-guessing of coaches in that scenario may break the internet.

by Dired :: Tue, 01/20/2015 - 12:12pm

I've heard this idea for a long time, but I'm not sure it's that awesome. The bidding part would seem like a cheesy gimmick to many fans, and soon the math guys would just tell the coach what to pick (whether they'd listen is a different question). Beyond that, you'd still get "three passes and a field goal; game over" scenarios which, we're told, people hate.

The advantage of sudden death is it ends the game quicker, and that's a huge deal for TV, player health, coaching, even traffic considerations. Hypothetically, college's does too, but that never seems to work out in practice. So the idea of tweaking sudden-death it to avert the "coin toss win" but otherwise leaving it as-is makes a lot of sense, even if it annoys many fans.

by Mash Wilson :: Tue, 01/20/2015 - 4:36pm

The second-guessing of coaches in that scenario may break the internet.

That's the best part!

by Will Allen :: Mon, 01/19/2015 - 10:53am

To give some credit to the team that won, their defense played well. On drives 2 through 8, the Packers took possession on...

Seattle 19
Seattle 23
Green Bay 44
Seattle 33
Green Bay 44
Green Bay 20
Green Bay 39

....and the Packers scored 16 points. Now, Green Bay not adopting a 4 down strategy may have played a role (then again, maybe they only come away with 10 points if they had), and, much more importantly, if Rodgers was healthy, it likely has a different result, but that is a good defensive performance.

I don't think the next opponent will be as helpful, however, although I am hesitant to take too much from such a weird game.

by Dave Bernreuther :: Mon, 01/19/2015 - 12:31pm

The Patriots do have a habit of getting sneaky good field position every game without it ever being mentioned as a huge aid to their efficiency. (Kacsmar is the only one I've ever seen mention it as one of Brady's huge edges over Manning, both on the whole and in recent head to head games.) As demonstrated today, the Seahawks are well-equipped for that.

Speaking of field position, the other point to consider on those two early 4th and goals- with the way Wilson plays and the way Matthews was playing am I the only one who'd rather have zero points and Seattle inside the one than three and kicking off in half-rain? Especially the second time, at which point it was already clear Wilson wasn't effective?

The first worked nicely because of the return fumble, of course, but that's not a consideration when deciding...

With that offense I consider that eight points willfully forfeited, but even if you call it four or even zero, that first half was a prime example of the hidden benefit of trying for the score. More so than usual, in my opinion. I'll always pound the table at the time and remember them later (I'm still fuming at the 2011 Ravens decision to kick there... after a typical Flacco underthrow that was wrongly praised forced a wide open Smith to wait and get caught instead of coasting in for six) but I had a lot of extra anger about those two at the time, even for me. Playing scared as a dog on the road when you're getting good luck. You always have to assume that luck is going to run out and score all the points you can. Always. Coach to win. That sequence was simply disgusting.

by Will Allen :: Mon, 01/19/2015 - 12:43pm

Oh, I certainly tend to favor a 4 down strategy, especially on the goal line, when you like how your defenses matches up against the opponents offense. I also really dislike, however, how frequently teams try to kick long field goals in poor kicking conditions. Generally a bad idea, as opposed to simply trying to move the chains, it seem obvious to me.

by Dave Bernreuther :: Mon, 01/19/2015 - 6:46pm

Agreed. It astonishes me how many coaches completely forget - over and over and over - that even indoors, even with the best kicker, a 48 yarder is not a sure thing. (Which makes Jim Caldwell look even stupider....) You should NEVER be pulling up the ebrake once you pass the 35 the way so many coaches do, because those points are NOT money in the bank. Especially outdoors.

What makes McCarthy's decisions yesterday (see also: Tony Dungy, 2004-2008) so maddening is that it's not as if Rodgers is turnover-prone. You can trust him not to screw something up if he audibles out of a run into a 9-man front. He's not some green mediocre QB.

by beargoggles :: Mon, 01/19/2015 - 10:49pm

I guess we should credit Mason Crosby (?!) for having a great game here
Too bad his last kick wasn't for the win.

by Jay Z :: Mon, 01/19/2015 - 8:40pm

One thing ignored among all of the Seattle turnovers is Rodgers had two picks himself, both in Seattle territory.

They were ignored because Seattle gave the ball right back, but with the way Crosby is kicking that's two more FG maybe. Or maybe they get a FG on that first drive and are more likely to gamble on drive #2 or #3.

by Insancipitory :: Mon, 01/19/2015 - 10:53am


Seattle sits on Pacific Ocean but behind the Olympic Mountains in a rain shadow desert. This splits the ocean of air lumbering it's way from Hawaii before it crashes into the Cascade range behind Seattle. This causes the weather to behave unpredictably at times. Yesterday was one of those times. Sun wise, I think the Seahawks might be the northern most NFL team, so the sun is very low in the sky during the winter, even as the days are getting longer, so blinding sun breaks can come from very far to the south or west. A little wind, and extreme photosensitivity, seem like a reasonable trade off pleasant year round temperatures (until global warming started ruining summer).


Given how the Seattle defense and offense were playing, why wouldn't they want to punt? They force their share of fumbles too, their odds of improving their field position on defense or special teams probably weren't a great deal worse than the offense given how it had been playing. If the defense were exceptionally poor, or completely wore out, I can see going for it that situation, but down two scores, I don't think the time is quite right for panic.

by big10freak :: Mon, 01/19/2015 - 11:09am

One of the plays already being forgotten is the Clinton-Dix 'hand it in my hands and was going to score' dropped interception. No way does a young guy like Dix not try and take that to the end zone and given what was shown on the replay he had all kinds of space in front of him.

by Will Allen :: Mon, 01/19/2015 - 11:28am

As Drew Brees of the January 2010 NFC Championship Game can attest, or Joe Montana of the January 1989 Super Bowl can attest, the dropped easy interception is the biggest play in football that gets frequently ignored.

by big10freak :: Mon, 01/19/2015 - 11:56am

Much like the Jerry Rice non-fumble in the Packers/Niners game in January 1999. The Owens catch never happens if the fumble is called.

by Will Allen :: Mon, 01/19/2015 - 12:07pm

Well, bad calls are bad calls, and kind of beyond analytics. When we analyze qb play, however, the dropped int, especially the floating, easy int, that Brees and Montana got away with in those games (Brees multiple times), tend to be overlooked when we evaluate qb play.

Russell Wilson just stunk yesterday. S.T.U.N.K.. Just wait, though. If the Seahawks win in two weeks, the idiotic narrative of RISING UP! CLUTCH!WHEN IT COUNTS, REALLY,REALLY COUNTS RUSSELL WILSON!! will gain more momentum.

by Pen :: Mon, 01/19/2015 - 2:49pm

Wow, the idea that some QB's rise up under pressure and over perform really F'in annoys you doesn't it? Is it because you simply don't believe it or because it reinforces the popular notion that Manning isn't a clutch QB? Or was it simply that up until yesterday, Wilson could be added to that list of players and if he wins it all you hate him so much you can't stand the thought of him being back on that list?

You posted a lot about Wilson stunk, but I don't see anyone posting about how Luck stunk worse than anyone yesterday and he's the supposed Chosen One, Annointed footballs Michael Jordan (literally), despite having nothing to back up that claim.

Most of your posts are really good and reasonable, but mention Wilson and you flare up. Or is it just the notion of "clutch"?

by Will Allen :: Mon, 01/19/2015 - 2:57pm

Actually, I've been a big fan of Wilson since he was at Wisconsin, and have posted as much. Go ahead and engage in the pointless mind-reading, however.

Yeah, I didn't see much point in commenting on a 45-7 blowout.


by young curmudgeon :: Mon, 01/19/2015 - 4:17pm

Who was the green bay fan a few years back who simply couldn't comprehend anyone not bowing down at the altar of Packers' wonderfulness? Is Pen vying to replace him? Someone needs to tell him about the FOMB curse, particularly because I'm going to be rooting for the Seahawks in two weeks (as I did yesterday and this time last year.). Don't let your deserved excitement at their success blind you to the fact that they aren't perfect.

by Pen :: Mon, 01/19/2015 - 4:28pm

This is a strawman.

by young curmudgeon :: Mon, 01/19/2015 - 4:49pm

I'm simply suggesting a little restraint. Both yesterday and today,you seem to reply to any notion that Wilson or the Seahawks had some flaws in their game with a barrage of either invective or at least very strenuous assertion. Why not concede that, while they are an excellent team, luck did play a part in their victory (as, indeed, it does in every close contest)?

Otherwise you end up asserting that an interception occurred because the quarterback 'lost it in the sun!'. To an unbiased observer, that sounds a lot like special pleading.

by Will Allen :: Mon, 01/19/2015 - 4:54pm

Well, Wilson obviously grasped, unlike you, that It Really Didn't Matter Yet, hence he allowed his eyesight to be suboptimal.

by intel_chris :: Mon, 01/19/2015 - 5:42pm

Sometimes I follow your wit. Othertimes, it gets lost in the sun.

by Will Allen :: Mon, 01/19/2015 - 7:11pm

I'm only witty When it Really Matters.

by duh :: Mon, 01/19/2015 - 7:48pm

That's cause you're clutch!!!!!!!!1

by Pen :: Mon, 01/19/2015 - 4:26pm

So it's the idea of players being clutch you don't agree with? That seems to be what your words infer.

Why do you think no players can be said to have the characteristic that overall, they play better in the clutch? It would seem that Bart Starr sure the heck did when you look at his stats. People who remember him say the same thing from the eyeball test. Isn't that what science is suppose to do? Take our observations and find a scientific explanation? Well, the math matches the observation. Almost every QB with at least 150 attempts in the playoffs will see their stats decline from their regular season averages in completion %, TD%, INT%, AYA and ANYA. A few QB's only see two or less of those stats decline, the majority see all of them decline. The thing is, the ones who don't decline in at least half of those stats are also the ones who through public opinion, ie, observation, are referred to as "clutch".

It is therefore reasonable, from a purely scientific perspective, to define those players as "clutch" players. Wilson, if it edifies you any, fell out of the "clutch" category after yesterdays game. He might climb back into that rare company, he might not. His play the last 7 1/2 minutes was encouraging. But that's neither here nor there.

You took too much preconceived bias as to what I was saying about the study I did and tried to turn it into I'm a Wilson fan boy, rather than actually give the idea of clutch being defined in mathematical terms and applied to a historical context seriously. If the math matches the observations, that's usually called a valid theory.

by Will Allen :: Mon, 01/19/2015 - 4:36pm

Look, you believe what you do, and that's just great.

by beargoggles :: Mon, 01/19/2015 - 10:55pm

not to mention the Brady INT/fumble vs. San Diego

Hmmm, maybe that was Brady benefitting from Schottenheimer stink. God says, "we can't have Schottenheimer beating Brady"
And yesterday: we can't have Mike McCarthy beating RUSSELL@#$%ing WILSON!

oh wait, McCarthy actually won a Super Bowl once, that kills my narrative.

by EricL :: Tue, 01/20/2015 - 11:34am

Yeah, but that was before Wilson was in the league, so your Narrative still holds.

by dmstorm22 :: Tue, 01/20/2015 - 1:50pm

Yes, but as seen by one Peyton Manning, you have to win two Super Bowls to avoid being known as a playoff choker and fraud.

by Sakic :: Tue, 01/20/2015 - 3:39pm

Judging quarterbacks by Superbowl wins is the most overrated statistic ever.

by Insancipitory :: Tue, 01/20/2015 - 10:07pm

You'll never make it as a professional sports writer with that attitude, mister.

by Bobman :: Wed, 01/21/2015 - 3:38am

Obviously that narrative was not clutch. Pen can probably give you some advice there; he seems to know it when he sees it, like any good supreme court justice, Potter Stewart in particular.

by dank067 :: Mon, 01/19/2015 - 11:51am

That ball was thrown so hard I don't think the intended receiver would have caught it either... but yeah, another "what if."

by oaktoon :: Mon, 01/19/2015 - 1:19pm

Yeah but Burnett made his pick in the next series.... About 49th out of the 50 things the Packers did or didn't do to lose this game...

by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Mon, 01/19/2015 - 11:49am

Regarding the 3rd iteration of the eligible/ineligible game, I'm still trying to hash out whether the lineman lateral then pass is legal or not.

The NFL rules are remarkably liberal when it comes to who can throw a pass (mostly anyone). I think it would work like a fumble, in which case it would be legal. Basically, anyone behind the line can throw a pass, unless you're a lineman who receives a snap, because that's an illegal snap.

Also, the QB cannot *hand* the ball forward to a lineman to pass, because he's not an eligible receiver (Rule 3, Section 23).

That said, Rule 8, Section 1, Supplemental 1 makes some noise that suggests the official interpretation may be that only eligible receivers can make a legal pass, even if the rules do not explicitly state this.

There is some more possible interpretation wackiness to be had. 8.1.5.d -- "(d) All other offensive players after the ball has been touched by any defensive player or any eligible offensive player."

This suggests that if you throw a backwards pass to a receiver or hand the ball to a running back, that player can throw legally to an ineligible lineman.

I suspect that the refs would probably flag this, because the context of the rule is eligible receivers after legal primary contact of a forward pass, even if the rule text doesn't explicitly state this. (Lineman can catch tipped passes)

Now, on the other hand, Carroll could fight back and demand that the NE linemen who have caught passes and the WRs who played in-line change their jersey numbers (5.1.2). This would require them reporting on every play, which would prevent NE from being able to run the hurry-up (offense must lineup, player must report, ref must alert defense, then ref must report to officiating position before a snap is legal).

by tictoc :: Wed, 01/21/2015 - 12:04am

While I can't speak on the eligibility of a lineman to throw a pass, I do want to clear up something I thought I've heard explained both ways. On the NE wide-out ineligible formation, he is eligible to recieve a lateral correct? And why do I now have an irrational fear of Darth Hoodie pulling this off in the SuperBowl? Whether he runs or possibly, as you suggest, throws it?!?!?

-----------> to exist is to comply<-----------

by Jerry :: Wed, 01/21/2015 - 1:38am

Anybody is eligible to receive a lateral, which is why the occasional end-of-game lateralfest is so chaotic.

by Bobman :: Wed, 01/21/2015 - 3:41am

My assumption is that Edelman (former College QB, you know... it's apparently a secret or something) will be declared really, totally, and completely ineligible, will get a backward pass that he will then attempt to throw. VS Colts/Ravens, this will result in a 99 yard TD pass. Seahawks, might result in him needing a new clavicle, not sure. But I expect something like this to happen.

by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Mon, 01/19/2015 - 12:06pm

"Andrew Luck is receiving a lot of flack for floating that pass on the Darrelle Revis interception in the third quarter. However, I'd give Revis more credit than I would blame Luck."

Really? There wasn't an Indy player within ten yards of that pass. Luck threw to the wide open DB.

by Karma Coma :: Mon, 01/19/2015 - 2:09pm

You might be remembering wrong: http://www.nfl.com/videos/nfl-game-highlights/0ap3000000460486/Andrew-Lu...

Look at the replay that starts at 0:30 As Hilton breaks toward the sideline, Revis is engaged and backpedaling: http://i.imgur.com/zyPwrxf.jpg

When Revis decides to break on the flat route, he plants his right foot to stop his backpedal just as Luck beings his throwing motion: http://i.imgur.com/6KTyfyg.jpg . That still is a little bit misleading through, because from there, Revis actually takes 2-3 steps laterally on the 45 yard line before jumping the route. This is also where Arrington peels off and takes an angle towards the sideline to prevent a long gain if the pass is completed.

As Luck releases the ball, Revis hasn't really begun driving forward yet, his lateral momentum is just stopping: http://i.imgur.com/dGyXHG6.jpg

If Luck drills this pass and leads Hilton toward the sideline just a bit, Revis probably can't close the distance and Hilton makes the first down, though not much more with Arrington closing in. Revis gets credit for his instincts here, but the blame falls on Luck for lofting when he had a clean enough pocket to really step into it.

by TomKelso :: Mon, 01/19/2015 - 12:13pm

I'm trying to find a worse performance on a bigger stage than Andrew Luck's yesterday that has gotten a bigger pass.

12 for 33 with a 3.8 ypa and 2 interceptions is NOT good by any stretch of the imagination, and it's not all due to the Pats. Maybe Quick Reads will address it?

by Dave Bernreuther :: Mon, 01/19/2015 - 12:39pm

I excuse the picks due to game situation, and the percentage partly due to people basically never being open at all... This game was very grabby both ways, I thought... NE schemed guys open though, while Pep didn't. (Or ran routes shy of sticks with no hope for YAC... sigh.)

That's not to say he played well at all. He forced a ton of throws. Got lucky a few times. Wasn't on his best game.

But I think it's in part because the Pats played very well, in part due to expectations, and in part due to it not being the worst QB play of the day.

It actually reminded me a lot of what that 06 Colts Ravens game was, except that Manning was a lot better than Luck against an extremely tight-covering D. (Peyton faced more of a rush too as I recall.) Luck is capable of a lot, but he's still got plenty of room to grow.

Much like a lot of Manning years, though, they weren't winning that game even if he had been perfect.

by TomKelso :: Mon, 01/19/2015 - 1:10pm

I do agree with you about that Colt-Raven playoff game. Dallas Clark made a tremendous catch on the order of Hilton's, but Clark's occurred at a more crucial point in the game, which conversely made Peyton's performance look a lot better than it was.

IIRC, though, Peyton's numbers were actually rather mundane -- completion percentage over 50, with a ypa between 5 and 6. And two interceptions. Luck yesterday would have killed for those numbers.

by Dave Bernreuther :: Mon, 01/19/2015 - 6:14pm


My point about that game was that the way that D played, 5YPA was a pretty big achievement, as they were going to dominate anyone. That's the game Ray Lewis goes back to when he speaks of Peyton with awe. That defensive game was, top to bottom, among the better executed days in a decade of defensive brilliance, as per that D's leader... 9 times out of 10 it's enough to win, but they didn't.

(Not saying it was Manning's best game or anything - for my money the 09 Jets played almost as well as the 06 Ravens and he simply torched them in as near a perfect game as I've seen a QB have - nor am I trying to put Luck's effort yesterday on that level at all. He's not there yet.

But the degree of difficulty yesterday is high. He didn't play well, but he played better than the numbers indicate.)

by Pen :: Mon, 01/19/2015 - 2:59pm

Everyone excuses the picks. Everyone ALWAYS excuses the picks.

No one excuses Wilsons picks. Well, for the fun of it, not, mind you, because Wilson didn't have a rotten day and play mostly terrible...mostly.

Two Ints were right in Kearse's hands. Tight coverage or not, he has to make those catches, not tip them to defenders.

The sun came out of the clouds and was shining directly into Wilson's face on a third Int, so he may have not seen the defender, wearing light colors, only the shadow of the dark uniformed Kearse.

And by that reasoning, well, he really didn't have a worse day than Rodgers did he. (considering he really didn't have a very much worse day than Rodgers I find that kinda funny).

But Luck has a really terrible day and hey, let's make excuses, biggest of which is, it was a blowout.

But mind you, you're a Wilson homer and make idiotic statements if you don't agree that Wilson HAD THE WORST DAY EVERRRR and you better dare not make any excuses for him.

All excuses are of course, naturally reserved for Andrew Luck. You know, the white guy like Brady and Manning.

by Duff Soviet Union :: Mon, 01/19/2015 - 4:32pm

Can you please drop the persecution complex and straw man assassination? It is supremely irritating.

by Dave Bernreuther :: Mon, 01/19/2015 - 6:35pm

If you don't think there's a difference between interceptions in a closely contested game and late in one where you only have a prayer of winning if you take significant risks, I don't know what to say to you except that you're an idiot. A well-spoken idiot, but an idiot. This whole perception of excuse-making (and race now too? Really?) is largely a matter of you seeing what you want to see to fit your own narrative.

I haven't seen one word written anywhere by anyone saying that Luck played well yesterday. And what I see today are a ton of articles praising Wilson for his greatness despite 55 minutes of crap... as well as your response, which is full of excuses for Wilson. Thankfully, the media seem to be pumping the brakes on the QBWinz garbage today because even the most ardent idiots (the kind that try to act like Eli > Peyton because Rings!) can see that there was a LOT of luck (and bad coaching... I'm of the opinion that a lot of luck is tied more to the coaching than can be measured, with the Patriots "always getting all the bounces" being an example) involved in the Seahawks ever being in a position to make that comeback. They see that. The praise is somewhat muted because of it. But there's a lot more praise for the guy that threw a bunch of picks in a closer early game going around than there are excuses for the guy that was getting trounced from the get-go.

Thoughts related to your dumb reply but not really in response to it:

There are a lot of flaws in the 538 Gunslinger theory they've written about a few times this season, but it's a valid line of thought. Luck, like Manning, is/was/will be more tolerant of risk than Wilson, like Brady. This contributes to their greatness (without going so far as to really undercut it like it did often with Favre). Brady and Wilson, through a combination of their roster construction, offensive balance, coaching, and probably also their nature, don't have the same risk tolerance. They're great in different ways, but still great.

Greatness of course doesn't happen on every single play ever... as we saw yesterday. But neither of those guys would be better if they were more risk-averse. [Paradoxically, I don't think Wilson or Brady would be better if they were more.] To get the best of Luck, which is required for that team to have any chance against decent teams, he has to be willing to take some shots, even knowing the consequences. This doesn't excuse the times when he just takes dumb risks with little reward, of course. November & December had plenty of that. But that kind of stuff comes with the territory of throwing guys open and hitting big plays against good coverage sometimes. Just as Wilson's taking sacks after spinning out early rather than seeing/pulling the trigger to a guy about to come open comes with the territory in Seattle. They're both things they'll improve on as they grow. It doesn't make one better than the other and it's really kind of stupid to be arguing about. I'm as anti-narrative as anyone too but what annoys me even more are the cases (like your post) where a narrative is invented just so you can have a straw man to tear down.

by Bobman :: Wed, 01/21/2015 - 3:46am

Way too rational. And polite. I mean it fits the FOMB perfectly as it is a contextual analysis of why things might or might not happen on a football field, but given the situation, I'd have stopped after your first paragraph.

by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Mon, 01/19/2015 - 12:42pm

1. Wilson's first half was arguably worse
2. Indy lost by so much that it's hard to blame Luck for it.

It's not like he Groganed it out there. Indy got beat in all phases of the game.

by Dired :: Mon, 01/19/2015 - 1:00pm

Sure, but no one is claiming Wilson was any good in the first half-plua, or that he wasn't at fault for his bad play. The complaint is Luck is being given a pass for his mistakes because he's a star or something, not that he had the worst-ever performance.

by TomKelso :: Mon, 01/19/2015 - 1:04pm

1. Wilson certainly got ripped for his performance, and justifiably so. Luck seems to be skating by so far.

2. I'm not quite sure how a total team meltdown excuses the most prominent performer on that team. Part of getting beat that badly in all phases of the game includes his coming close to "Groganing" it, right?

by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Mon, 01/19/2015 - 2:23pm

Sure. But let's say Indy had gotten Good Luck.

What happens? They go from losing 45-7 to losing 38-24? No one was blocking, no one was tackling, no one got open, and no one was covering WRs. Luck missed some receivers and threw an unconscionable interception, but they were down 24-7 when it happened.

Redskins quarterback Sammy Baugh was interviewed after the game, and a sportswriter asked him whether the game would have been different had Malone not dropped the tying TD pass. Baugh reportedly quipped, "Sure. The final score would have been 73–7."

by Perfundle :: Mon, 01/19/2015 - 2:47pm

What happens? They go from losing 45-7 to losing 38-24?

No one is saying Luck playing better would've won them the game. If they lose 38-24 with him playing well people wouldn't be saying that he's not getting enough flack.

by PatsFan :: Mon, 01/19/2015 - 1:26pm

Easoning it, please.

by mehllageman56 :: Mon, 01/19/2015 - 2:27pm

Really you guys are showing your Pats bias by offering up two of the better Pats qbs in their history as sacrifices for this. Grogan doesn't deserve this at all (I remember him scaring the hell out of me against the Sack Exchange in 81), and Eason got stuck playing against a buzzsaw in the 85 Bears. Perhaps Grossmaning it would be a better term. I would prefer pulling a Sanchez, just because it sounds disgusting, except that Sanchez saves his worst for the regular season, to ensure his team never has a chance at all.

by big10freak :: Mon, 01/19/2015 - 12:23pm

A lot of Packer fans have suggested Dom Capers be put out to pasture as the game has passed him by

Well last year playing stumblebums at half of the defensive positions the Packers almost beat a 49er team with all kinds of playmakers healthy

And yesterday GB battled the fifth best offense in the league to a draw giving up only 22 points on the road. When you have the league's best offense you take that performance any day of the week.

I don't know how to evaluate coordinators. But if you go by results Dom looked like he was still capable of doing the job yesterday

by beargoggles :: Mon, 01/19/2015 - 11:01pm

Capers did a nice job yesterday. Either that, or the read-option was there all day, and Seattle didn't take it.

by Will Allen :: Mon, 01/19/2015 - 11:12pm

I need to go back and look at it again, but my impression is that Packers just became worn out, Clay Matthews and Peppers especially, and suddenly Seattle started having an easier time moving the ball. I think it happens more frequently than is commonly acknowledged.

by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Mon, 01/19/2015 - 12:23pm

So, if I'm a NE fan, outside of a loss, I think this is a bad outcome.

You're ideal strategy was a reasonably easy victory over Indy, combined with either a hard GB win over Seattle or a Seattle curbstomp.

If GB wins hard, then you get hurt Rodgers, combined with an overconfident GB team that already beat NE and thinks its work is done after beating the champs.

If Seattle wins big, you get an overconfident Seattle team that can't play the 'no one believed in us' game, because everyone believed in them.

But NE teabagged Indy, and now has the line moving its way. Seattle won a toilet bowl game, and gets to feel disrespected for two weeks, hearing about Brady's ring chase and how smart Belichick is, and how Carroll couldn't win at NE.

NE's argument is that they are GB with a defense. Problem is, they're basically Denver with better TEs and lesser WRs. NE's defense is built on solid DB player that can shut down primary receivers. Seattle doesn't have primary receivers. NE's offense is built on spreading the field then hitting Gronk for big plays. Seattle has 3 DBs who can matchup with Gronk size-wise. Seattle is somewhat vulnerable to QBs can who scramble out of the pocket and complete backyard passes, and to mauling O-lines with power backfields (like, say, Dallas, SF, or best-parts GB). NE... does not have this. NE does have a lot of tiny slot receivers with suspect concussion histories. We can review last year's Super Bowl for how well the rich man's version of those guys did against press coverage by a 6'3" DB.

Seattle is like a better version of NYJ or Baltimore -- a physical, mauling defense that doesn't give you time for trickiness and cares not for ticky-tack penalties. Except they have a better offense (not seen yesterday). Belichick is good at taking away the other's team's bread and butter, but that's just Lynch. GB saw how cover-0 with nine men in the box did.

I just see Seattle as a nightmare matchup for NE. I see Seattle winning by 10.

by Will Allen :: Mon, 01/19/2015 - 12:37pm

Let me know what Sherman's and Thomas' health will be like in two weeks, and I'll have a stronger view of who wins.

I'll take New England's o-line over Denver's 9 days a week, and my impression is that their defense plays more intelligently than Denver's. Seattle's offense depends, besides Lynch's running, of course, on Wilson extending plays and getting the defense to lose discipline. I like the Patriots' ability to play smart.

by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Mon, 01/19/2015 - 12:52pm

Maybe. But NE's defense really struggles with mobile QBs who spread the ball around.

Their games against Seattle, GB, NO, and Carolina have been defensive dumpster fires. Even KC tore them up with the Alex Smith Experience. The Jets are the one team in this mold that they beat regularly, but even NYJ plays above their heads against NE. I'm not sure you can expect Geno Smith to possess the body of Russell Wilson again.

NE wins these games occasionally, but they do it via outscoring them, not shutting them down.

by Will Allen :: Mon, 01/19/2015 - 12:59pm

My hunch right now is that the game will turn on the Seahawks o-line performance. If they don't play any better than they did yesterday, the Seahawks lose.

by RickD :: Mon, 01/19/2015 - 1:18pm

" But NE's defense really struggles with mobile QBs who spread the ball around."

Like Andrew Luck?

by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Mon, 01/19/2015 - 2:12pm

That's fair. I suppose I don't think of Luck as being mobile in the sense of the others guys. He always struck me as more Roethlisbergian -- he's hard to bring down, but doesn't really outrun anyone. I think of him as a north-south kind of guy. I did forget how often he runs, though.

He did okay offensively against NE until this last game, though. His defense is yet to keep NE under 42.

That said, Seattle hasn't given up 40 since 2010. However, they haven't won a game in which they gave up 30 since the Beastquake game.

by Anon Ymous :: Tue, 01/20/2015 - 9:47am

NE's "struggles" against mobile QBs is really more apparent than true, largely because they often go with a controlled pass rush. This gives the appearance of an inability to apply pressure which always makes a team look worse.

Luck may have scored 20 in his prior three meetings, but he also had 9 picks, including two pick 6s, so I wouldn't say he was even "OK", NE made him look pretty lousy. This past year, for instance, Indy was only going to score 3 points in the first 30 minutes if not for a gift possession before the half. I can only recall two times that NE had a difficult time with Big Ben as well.

The best two examples of mobile QBs doing well are Rodgers this year and, strangely, Geno Smith. I have no idea why they played so passive against Geno, since he's demonstrated that he's scattershot no matter what decision he's making. Aaron makes more sense, since he's the rare mobile QB who is at least as good from the pocket as he is on the move. To find other mobile QBs they struggled against, you have to go back to when they were making *all* QBs look good.

If you want to point at a factor that is more legitimately worrying, it is that the Patriots tend to get better at defending guys the more they see them. Manning is an exception, of course, but Luck is a model example of this. Big Ben as well, as one of the two times the Patriots struggled against him was in their first match up.

The Patriots have faced Wilson, but it was back in 2012 and he's a much better player now. It wouldn't shock me if NE needs a few drives to figure Wilson out, giving Seattle just enough time to jump out to a 10-0 lead and allow them to play with a lead most of the game.

by Purds :: Mon, 01/19/2015 - 2:29pm

Andrew Luck is a QB who CAN run, but not one who DOES run. When was the last called QB run for him? Or the last read option he kept? There was one in the previous playoff game that was called back because of a hold on an interior lineman, but I am almost certain Luck did that all on his own (ala Peyton with the scramble a few years ago), because if the team knew he would bootleg, why would you hold as an interior lineman.

Luck is a very different type of runner than Wilson (or Kap etc.)

by mehllageman56 :: Mon, 01/19/2015 - 2:43pm

You're right about Luck being a different runner than Wilson: he's huge. I don't think Wilson has ever forced a fumble on an interception return like Luck did against USC. Indy would probably be better served by incorporating read option into their offense a little, but they don't want to risk their qb's health.

by Bobman :: Wed, 01/21/2015 - 3:52am

@RickD Yeah, my first thought as well.

by mehllageman56 :: Mon, 01/19/2015 - 2:37pm

Most of the games you are referring to did not have Revis and Browner on the Pats sideline. As far as the Jets, I don't know if it is as much that Geno kills them running the ball as the entire team give them fits, probably because Mangold counters Wilfork, allowing the run game to succeed. By the way, Geno is actually pretty fast for a qb, he just doesn't like running, and when he does he does foolish things like holding the ball in one hand away from his body. I'm not sure how much Wilson's rushing ability will hurt them unless he hits on some bombs downfield while scrambling.

by Perfundle :: Mon, 01/19/2015 - 2:53pm

Seattle's offense depends, besides Lynch's running, of course, on Wilson extending plays and getting the defense to lose discipline.

Earlier in the season, sure. But against Carolina, and against Green Bay, Wilson's best passing plays were almost entirely from within the pocket. He's been pretty reluctant to leave the pocket recently, although a large reason is that defenders are smartly preventing him from leaving.

by Steve B :: Mon, 01/19/2015 - 3:07pm

Re: #108

Edelman, too. He was limping around pretty noticeably in the 4th quarter.

by BroncFan07 :: Mon, 01/19/2015 - 12:44pm

"If Seattle wins big, you get an overconfident Seattle team that can't play the 'no one believed in us' game, because everyone believed in them."

Um, not quite. Did you see Doug Baldwin's post game rant to reporters about how they didn't believe in the Seahawks? No team in the NFL has ever thought anyone believed in them.

by Perfundle :: Mon, 01/19/2015 - 3:34pm

To be fair, he said that people didn't believe in them down 16-0, and I'm pretty sure most people didn't, including several Seahawks players themselves probably. He certainly didn't say anything like that after they beat Carolina like everyone expected them too.

by Bobman :: Wed, 01/21/2015 - 3:55am

Hah! Throughout the game, my lifelong-Seahawk-fan wife kept joking about Angry Doug Baldwin changing his nickname to Really Angry Doug Baldwin or even Furious Doug Baldwin.

by young curmudgeon :: Mon, 01/19/2015 - 12:50pm

"Seattle doesn't have primary receivers".
It's funny because it's true! Had to laugh when I read it, but it really does capture a truth.

by TomKelso :: Mon, 01/19/2015 - 1:00pm

Whereas I think Seattle will win -- New England is susceptible to the run, which Baltimore could do very well and Indy simply could not -- I have to point out that while Seattle DB's theoretically have the ability to match up with Gronk, in DVOA, they are below average against tight ends, with Gates and Thomas in particular having good games against them.

Gronkowski is New England's biggest edge against Seattle, and it's one the Pats know how to exploit. I will be surprised if this one is a nightmare.

by PaddyPat :: Mon, 01/19/2015 - 1:43pm

When the teams played in Seattle in 2012, scat backs had a good day running the ball for NE, and Welker and Gronkowski were both fairly dominant. DVOA tracks a fairly comparable Seattle team this season to the one in 2012, but the Patriots' defense is another story from that year. My guess is that the Patriots game for Lynch and the running game, and a lot will depend on the Seattle O-line. On the other side of the ball, I will be very curious to see how well the NE offensive line is able to execute and whether the Patriots can develop a running game. I think that the odds of NE having some decent offensive production are rather higher than you are imagining.

by Pen :: Mon, 01/19/2015 - 3:03pm

"Seattle doesn't have primary recievers"

LMAO! I about spit milk all over the place. As if that's somehow an advantage lol. But I kinda get your drift. Strength of NE wasted lol.

by Perfundle :: Mon, 01/19/2015 - 3:39pm

NE's defense is built on solid DB player that can shut down primary receivers. Seattle doesn't have primary receivers.

Doesn't their defense revolve around Revis single-covering an opponent's #2, while Browner gets help with the #1? It feels like New England would win that matchup, especially since Richardson is out for Seattle. I imagine Belichick is not going to put no safeties back like Green Bay did, so it'll be up to Seattle's running game to soften coverage. How has New England handled the read-option this year?

by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Mon, 01/19/2015 - 3:53pm


Lynch is Seattle's #2 WR. =)

Seattle has an underwhelming #1 WR (Baldwin) and no clear #2-5. You're basically wasting Revis and Browner on the pu-pu platter of wide receivers.

This is a great strategy against a Denver or a Detroit. Or even an Indy, who has a clear #1. But Seattle just doesn't. Denver's #2 WR had a better season than Baldwin and SEA's next best receiver combined. Seattle doesn't try to do what New England tries to take away.

It's sort of like how SF and KC stymied Belichick in recent years. He structured his defense to deal with how most teams try to play. But SEA and SF and KC run contrarian offenses.

by Perfundle :: Mon, 01/19/2015 - 4:11pm

Baldwin has nearly twice the receptions of the next closest receiver. How is he not the clear #1? If Belichick sees that Wilson is not targeting whoever's being covered by Revis, he should tell him to come off his man and try to pick a few passes like he did against Luck.

I would go back to that first matchup to see what worked for New England. Everyone remembers the 4th-quarter comeback, but they probably don't remember Seattle's offense getting shut down for the entire 2nd and 3rd quarters: http://espn.go.com/nfl/drivechart?gameId=321014026

by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Mon, 01/19/2015 - 4:24pm

Perchance did you read my comment? Because as annoying as Pats fans can be, they tend to be literate.

Baldwin is the clear #1, but he's a poor #1. I think he was the 42nd ranked WR in the league, meaning roughly 1/3 the league has a #2 receiver who has better numbers than Baldwin.

But after Baldwin, it's basically a mish-mosh of replacement-level WRs, TEs, and RBs. It's hard to scheme to tendency when Seattle doesn't really have a tendency.

The conventional narrative for that game also seems to ignore that SEA opened FG-TD-fumble and had 180 yards on their first three drives. And that NE got 6 points out of their last 8 drives.

by Perfundle :: Mon, 01/19/2015 - 5:49pm

Yes, I did read you comment, thank you. And I'm a Seahawks fan, by the way.

First, if new England is good at shutting down good #1 receivers, they should be even better at shutting down Baldwin.

Second, regardless of whether he's a poor #1, that doesn't mean he's still not the receiver Wilson trusts and targets the most. Keeping him from getting the ball would severely cripple Seattle's offense.

Third, any difficulty of scheming against Seattle's lack of tendencies is offset by the fact that their receivers after Baldwin are noticeably worse than the typical team's #2 through #5.

As for the previous game, the opening success can be put down to Belichick's unfamiliarity with Seattle, considering it was only Wilson's 5th game and hardly anything was on tape yet; now they have three years' worth of tape. That New England adjusted after one quarter is pretty impressive.

by Pen :: Mon, 01/19/2015 - 4:35pm

Loved Browner, hated to see him go, but he couldn't hold onto his spot on Seattles team. Revis and Sherman are equal, but Browner isn't Maxwell or he'd still be a Seahawk. Add in Seattle's safeties and well, why does it matter if Seattle has no #1 receiver? NE won't have any advantage in the passing game unless it's Gronk. Seattle has a weakness to TE's. So I've read on comments here anyways. Haven't actually looked that up. Probably true though considering that SD game.

Seems like the real conversation should be, how is Seattle going to shut down Gronk?

by Perfundle :: Mon, 01/19/2015 - 5:52pm

Browner isn't Maxwell or he'd still be a Seahawk.

Well yes, Browner's contract ended a year before Maxwell's. that's really the only reason he's not here. Maxwell is likely not going to be with Seattle next season for the same reason. It certainly isn't because he's worse than Simon or Lane.

by Pen :: Tue, 01/20/2015 - 2:55am

Browner will always be one of my favorite players. I wish he were still in Seattle. But he got cut because A: Marijuana and B: Maxwell out played him during the suspension and C: he was making mistakes early on that year that seemed to indicate he didn't have his head where Carroll wanted it. His contract status weighed into that too, but if he had been playing the way he did in 2011 and 2012 he'd still be here. Always Compete trumped out.

I'll be interested in seeing how well he plays. I still think Seattle's secondary is better - caveat, how much will ET and Shermans injuries affect them? - so the passing game is even IMO. Except for Gronk. Can Wright and Chancellor handle Gronk? I don't think I want to see ET have to lay a hit on Gronk with that injury of his.

by oaktoon :: Mon, 01/19/2015 - 12:42pm

OK-- just to clean up the mess a bit... 1) Packers with tight formation near goal line has been an absolute non-starter for many weeks now (as has been the "Kuuuuuhn play"). Why McCarthy doesn't realize that spreading the field out gives Lacy and/or Rodgers the best chance to succeed is beyond me...

2) Not sure if it should have been balanced by a similar call vs Sherman, but Daniels decision to taunt after the first Clinton-Dix was selfishness personified. We'll never know if the Packers score from the 4-- they did get a first and goal at the 7, but that is three yards difference.

3) Rodgers did have various problems with short throws-- a couple of "handoffs" to Lacy misfired; he missed the ball for a TD to Nelson though the latter stumbled; he failed to lead Cobb properly on a 3rd and 8 (Wilson made the identical throw correctly on their drive after the onsides kick I believe); the second INT was a misfire between Cobb and Nelson and possibly a miscommunication. I can't blame it on the calf, since he was much better, partic. in the 2nd half, vs Dallas. Did it affect McCarthy's 2nd half play-calling? Maybe;

4) For all the good that Peppers did this year-- the forced fumble on Murray being the best example-- his yell to Burnett to fall down may be what he will be remembered for most;

5) Capers got real desperate or something at the end-- Packers got outcoached in more ways than special teams or McCarthy's conservatism;

6) The "block the FG" unit was on for the fake and, needless to say neither Slocum or Ron Zook (I had forgotten the Packers had hired him-- if I had known, nothing about the last 20 minutes of the game would have surprised me :) did not warn them to be alert for the fake... Because you know, why would Seattle even think about it, because we never would;

7) Rodgers is pretty bitter about the late play-calling. Didn't he have the ability/authority to countermand McCarthy? Not from the first formation, apparently. 7 linemen in tight formation, incl. 2 TEs-- Kuhn and Lacy in backfield-- only Nelson out wide-- Packers announcing a run there, which is why the previous successful plays with Lacy and esp. Starks are not valid comparisons. But he could have checked out of the 2nd down one which had 3 receivers bunched on the left, I think.

8) And yes Bostick's job on the OS kickoff was to block-- apparently Nelson reminded him of that just before the ball was kicked. 22 yr olds are 22 yr olds.. But why with Quarless, Rodgers, Cobb, Adams and Boykin also available is he even that position? Sure the Seahawks could have kicked in either direction, but that placement is always where the ball goes-- you have 6 players-- 3 for each side-- why is the 7th or 8th best option in position where the ball is headed??

9) Rodgers had a first down at the Seattle 35-- with 35 seconds left and all timeouts remaining-- and the Packers went nowhere. Got one 3rd down completion to Nelson to buy Crosby 5 more yards... Wilson had a first down at the GB 35 in OT and took one play to score... Of course defensive formations are a big part of it, but one team executed better than the other...

10) And finally, poor Ha-Ha Clinton Dix. What was going to be his best game as a pro was marred by a missed pick (Burnett's subsequent one negated that drop, however) directly in his hands and then an inexplicable failure to cover on a Wilson moonshot for the 2 pointer. Anyone claiming some great skill for the latter is nuts-- that was as much of a prayer as the Fail Mary throw-- and not thrown anywhere near as well. We can all speculate as to how the Seahawk defense might have played it knowing a FG could beat them, as opposed to tie, but it would have been nice to see Rodgers and Crosby have the chance.

11) My finally finally.... I'm off the Rodgers all-time train for quite some time, I suspect. Yes, the calf hurt. Yes, he didn't have the ball in his hands when the game was decided. Yes, McCarthy is mainly to blame for not giving him the chance to throw for the first downs that would have iced it. But overall he was mediocre. He missed the throw to Nelson that should have given 4 more points in the first half. He missed the throw to Cobb that could have given a first down, prolonged a drive, and led to more points. He made the decision to throw deep on Sherman, falsely believing he had a free play from an offsides. He knew Sherman's arm was hurt but never challenged him. And he bears at least some blame for the conservatism at the end-- either directly or indirectly. I don't want to hear about sample size-- in the biggest game he's played since the SB, he was found wanting.... And his team has now gone 4 seasons without beating a high quality/tough defensive team on the road.

by Dave Bernreuther :: Mon, 01/19/2015 - 12:46pm

I give him a pass on the Nelson throw. It was placed perfectly, Nelson got stuck a tad bit low on his plant and cut. If you watch it again he had to expend a bit of energy to keep from falling, and that split second lost was all it took to throw off the timing. No fault for either there. I suppose you could say the throw could've been a bit lighter, but in that spot you have to always be sure you miss wide, not behind a guy...

Also, I'm not sure it's accurate to say he falsely believe... He was right.

He didn't star by any means, but against that D with his limitation I think he was far from bad.

by oaktoon :: Mon, 01/19/2015 - 1:00pm

Mediocre ain't bad. They needed more than mediocre from him.

by beargoggles :: Mon, 01/19/2015 - 11:19pm

He also through a perfect pass that could have been a TD, albeit to James Starks.
I don't know, all the elite QB's, (Montana, Brady, and obviously Manning included), when playing elite defenses, all the normal processes speed up. The timing is a little tweaked. They think a throw is open but it turns out to be an INT, or they have a guy open by a step, and they throw it 1.5 ahead. Or the receiver, so excited to be open, slips a little bit.

He was definitely hobbled enough that even with miles of open space in front of him, he could barely hobble into field goal range. I also think his lack of mobility hobbled their play calling. In the short yardage goal-line situations they could have used him as a running option. Or tried to run out the clock late in the game, they could have considered a bootleg instead of a hand-off into a stacked line.

It's impossible to know how much this affected him, I think most of it was the pressure of playing a great defense, which has been a problem for a lot of great QB's playing great defenses. He didn't play great for sure, especially on the short throws.

by Will Allen :: Mon, 01/19/2015 - 12:52pm

I'd be cautious about discounting a qb's leg injury when evaluating the qb's inaccuracy. It is going to come and go.

by jonsilver :: Mon, 01/19/2015 - 4:10pm

re: # 10: It looked like Clinton-Dix misjudged where the arc of Wilson's prayerful skylob would come down, got caught too far from the landing point and couldn't re-calibrate and move far enough (and through the receiver) at the last second or two.

by pablohoney :: Mon, 01/19/2015 - 6:51pm

Yeah, he just misjudged the ball. It happens. Aikman (and everyone since) made it sound like he just gave up on the play, but clearly by misjudging the ball he left himself too far away to knock it down and too off-balance to tackle Willson.

by Tomlin_Is_Infallible :: Mon, 01/19/2015 - 1:08pm

UhOh. "Cheatriots" 2.0?


The standard is the standard!

by ZDNeal :: Mon, 01/19/2015 - 1:17pm

Belicheat seems to subscribe to the Jesse the Body mantra "Win if you can, lose if you must, but always cheat."

by dryheat :: Mon, 01/19/2015 - 2:39pm

That was Ken Patera.

by ZDNeal :: Mon, 01/19/2015 - 2:49pm

Looks like it was Gorgeous George, or earlier.


by Will Allen :: Mon, 01/19/2015 - 1:21pm

Good grief, I hope there is nothing to it, because if there is we'll never hear the end of it. Actually, even if there is nothing to it, we'll never hear the end of it.

If it's true, of course, they need to give Belichik the same treatment as Sean Payton, and ought to take away a year's worth of draft picks as well, to end the nonsense once and for all, with the equivalent of a public hanging.

by RickD :: Mon, 01/19/2015 - 1:21pm

You're not giving that story any credence, are you? Obviously a rumor started by a hater.

by jonnyblazin :: Mon, 01/19/2015 - 1:38pm

Yeah how could anyone reasonable suspect that Belichick is cheating? The very notion is outrageous.

by RickD :: Mon, 01/19/2015 - 1:56pm

You think Belichick would cheat in the AFC championship game now?

Belichick still thinks he was in the right regarding the Spygate nonsense. And a reading of the actual rules involved (not a memo from the league office indicating their 'interpretation') suggest that he actually had an argument.

Under-inflating a football, when the game plan was based on running the ball? It doesn't make sense.

What is the master plan here? Under-inflate the balls and hope the officials never notice? When they're the ones spotting the ball every single play? It's ridiculous.

by mehllageman56 :: Mon, 01/19/2015 - 2:05pm

The last time I heard anything like this was about USC against Oregon, where some ball boy under inflated the balls so Barkley could try to keep up with the Ducks. This rumor seems so incongruous; it would make better sense if they accused the Pats of over-inflating the balls the Colts used.

by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Mon, 01/19/2015 - 2:14pm

Why not? The last time they were provably cheating they got to keep their Super Bowl win, right?

Do you think that's worth $500,000 to a coach? Because I do.

by jonnyblazin :: Mon, 01/19/2015 - 2:26pm

I never said I think Belichick was cheating, but it's a good lesson for the kids out there: don't cheat, because if you get caught everyone will always suspect you of cheating whenever something suspicious arises.

by PatsFan :: Mon, 01/19/2015 - 1:39pm

Well, a ball or two were removed from circulation at the game, so that aspect isn't a rumor.

I'll bet the "investigation" is actually the standard post hoc examination the league does whenever any ball is deemed unfit for play during a game (which per Blandino "happens from time to time"), and no one would have known about it if Indianopolis Star troll columnist Bob Kravitz didn't troll about it.

I'll enter the supposition that during ball prep time (remember, each team's offense has its own balls which are then controlled by NFL personnel once team personnel hands the balls over for pre-game inspection) NE inflated its footballs to the bottom end of the legal limit (12.5 PSI) and then PV=nRT and rain during the course of the game did the rest and rendered some balls underpressure and/or too heavy to be allowed to continue.

by mehllageman56 :: Mon, 01/19/2015 - 1:58pm

The whole deflated balls rumor is about as annoying as the Pats trying to get a draft pick for Woody Johnson 'tampering' with Revis. Everyone knows that if Johnson really wanted Revis he would have kept Rex, and everyone knows the Colts didn't have a chance in that game. So the deflated balls allowed Brady to throw for over 200 yards; did they keep the Colts receivers from catching the ball or getting open, or make the Colts defense forget how to tackle? As a Jets fan, I'm sick of hearing about Spygate.

by RickD :: Mon, 01/19/2015 - 2:04pm

I don't know if the Pats were trying to get a draft pick so much as they were telling Woody Johnson to stop openly coveting their player. Johnson was, in fact, guilty of tampering as defined by the rules. I agree with the league letting it slide as a "heat of the moment" thing, but it was also reasonable to ask him to shut up.

by mehllageman56 :: Mon, 01/19/2015 - 2:08pm

Filing it made perfect sense, but I keep hearing from crazy Pats fans on the web (not here) that they'll get to swap first round picks or something stupid. I'll be happy with a fine on Johnson, but I'm hoping he gets banned for life. He already hired Casserly's buddy Mccagnan, so the damage is done, but the less Johnson talks, the better it is for the Jets as well as the rest of the league.

by PatsFan :: Mon, 01/19/2015 - 2:12pm

Well, the NFL has indeed sometimes forced teams caught tampering to swap and/or lose draft picks. So it's not some crazy idea. And Johnson has been warned for tampering before this.

So the idea of NYJ losing/swapping picks isn't nuts at all.

NYJ losing/swapping their first round pick is nuts, though.

by mehllageman56 :: Mon, 01/19/2015 - 2:48pm

I'd be ok with losing a 6th or 7th if it got Johnson to wise up. I'm more bummed that the Jets are considering hiring Gene Smith for some position in the front office.

by RickD :: Mon, 01/19/2015 - 2:02pm

I can believe a ball became under-inflated in the course of the game. What I don't believe is that this was part of any kind of sinister plot.

I don't understand why the league has each team supplies its own footballs for use only when they are on offense. That seems ridiculous. Is the league too cheap to provide footballs itself? They don't have enough money to cover the cost of a couple dozen footballs for each game? And if each team is supposed to provide a dozen balls, why not then just throw them in a bin together?

by PatsFan :: Mon, 01/19/2015 - 2:09pm

And if each team is supposed to provide a dozen balls, why not then just throw them in a bin together?

Because (and I'm not kidding), Brady and Manning spearheaded a bipartisan effort to get the rules changed so that each offense would provide its own footballs.

by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Mon, 01/19/2015 - 2:17pm

Wasn't there an early stoppage when the ref kept checking with Belichick, and then switched the ball out?

That would indicate that ball issues were cropping up during the first quarter.

I suspect each team providing their ball cuts down on home team shenanigans. HS works like this for similar reasons.

by EricL :: Mon, 01/19/2015 - 8:41pm

Not just HS. My boy's 3rd/4th grade youth tackle teams each provided their own balls for offense.

by johonny :: Mon, 01/19/2015 - 1:36pm

I had no plans to watch Ne/Ind but the Green bay Seattle was so interesting I got suckered in. I made it a half of uninspired football and then gave up. This was one of the more compelling AFCs in years. Lots of good teams that failed to even make the playoffs, but man it didn't translate into the post season. It is hard to imagine a less inspiring match up for the championship game. I thought the Patriots would be favored in Vegas for the Super Bowl so I'm surprised at the love Seattle has. I can't see picking against this Patriots team. It is surprising for two "super" teams they haven't met the past two seasons. There is a fair amount of unknown about this match up. The Superbowl is rather compelling.

by RickD :: Mon, 01/19/2015 - 2:06pm

Vegas is essentially saying this is a pick-em. Some lines are Seattle -1, and others are NE -1.

The FO playoff simulator has the Pats winning 50.5% of the time. Hard to imagine a closer matchup.

And, FWIW, when they played in Seattle in 2012, the Seahawks won 24-23.

by MJK :: Mon, 01/19/2015 - 11:20pm

The fault of the division/seeding system. Swap NE-IND with NE-BAL (in other worse, have NE as the 1 seed play who they would have liked to last week, and assume BAL also beats DEN), and the AFC playoffs make a lot more sense and give you a moch more exciting AFC CG.

by mehllageman56 :: Mon, 01/19/2015 - 1:53pm

My thoughts when the turnovers were piling up in the first half were, 1) wow, Mike McCarthy doesn't handle fourth and 1 situations well at all, and 2) if Seattle pulled this against the Patriots the game would be over now. I'm not liking the Seahawks' chances in the Bowl.

by Will Allen :: Mon, 01/19/2015 - 1:57pm

Right now, I'm thinking Patriots as well, but I wouldn't take it too far. Wilson isn't likely to get anywhere close to being as bad as he was yesterday. My biggest questions have to do with the health of Sherman and Thomas.

by mehllageman56 :: Mon, 01/19/2015 - 2:00pm

The weather should be a lot better, so Wilson will probably have a much better game, but he'll be facing a better secondary also. Revis is going to be really motivated for this game, in the Super Bowl going up against Sherman.

by mrh :: Mon, 01/19/2015 - 2:15pm

I seem to recall Wilson playing badly at home in rainy, windy weather last year too. Divisional round game vs. NO. I think the weather had some impact on both QBs (in both games) and their receivers. There was talk then that SEA was in trouble against the upcoming 49ers because of Wilson's bad play, as if the game conditions weren't a factor. I believe Wilson recovered nicely last year.

I didn't pay close attention to the IND-NE game which easily could have been 28-0 at halftime, but while Brady handled it better I believe both passing games (dropped balls on both sides) struggled with the weather in NE too. Not a surprise that a dome team going outdoors with a poor running game got beaten down.

by Perfundle :: Mon, 01/19/2015 - 4:14pm

I think he played badly due in large part to the gameplan being too Harvin-centric (not necessarily throwing to him a lot, but using him as a decoy as well), and them not being able to adjust for most of the second half. They rang up 16 points in the first half with Harvin playing.

by Will Allen :: Mon, 01/19/2015 - 2:34pm

It's the Super Bowl. I think we can reasonably view motivation as being a push.

by Bobman :: Wed, 01/21/2015 - 4:05am

Unless one player or team is more disrespected than the other, or if nobody believes in him/them. Then they automatically have more motivation.

by Perfundle :: Mon, 01/19/2015 - 3:45pm

Wilson has played against Revis before. I can't remember how he played him when he was in New York, but he just avoided him when he was in Tampa.

by Pen :: Mon, 01/19/2015 - 3:14pm

Per DVOA, GB has the #1 offense. NE the 6th. GB had Rodgers, NE has Brady.

Your opinion that NE would have racked up a lot of points must therefore be based upon your estimation of NE's coaches being more aggressive? They don't have the running game GB has. Not as likely to run it in on 4th and 1. Brady isn't better than Rodgers and if he is, it's not by any measurable degree.

Why so certain NE would have fared any better than GB did when the analytics seem to bear out that there isn't a team in the NFL that should automatically fare any better on offense than GB, the #1 offense?

by intel_chris :: Mon, 01/19/2015 - 3:54pm

I'm not necessarily of the opinion the NE would have racked up more points. However, I think a few minor nits needed to be picked in your reply.

1: GB had the #1 offense when Rogers was healthy. Rogers looked closer to Brady's level of running yesterday (or especially the week before) than when those stats were measured. GB's offense might still be better than NE's, but I think with a less than 100% Rogers (which is debatable as to whether they had) they are at best less ahead in offense.

2: I think the Patriots are more likely to go for it on 4th and 1. Not, necessarily run it in, Brady's propensity for sneaks aside, but not to settle for a field goal.

3: The Patriots rarely fall into conservative play. They have shown themselves to err on the side of running-up-the-score.

Now, those aren't the only factors, so you might still be right. However, I would disagree with you on those three points.

by mehllageman56 :: Mon, 01/19/2015 - 9:58pm

To respond to your post Pen, (I'm assuming you were responding to mine, but I can't tell), I'm certain New England would have capitalized on the Seahawks because they're coached by Belichick, and not McCarthy. They been capitalizing on other teams' miscues for a long time under the Hoodie, and I've had a front row seat since I'm a Jets fan. Now, will the Hawks make the same mistakes in the Super Bowl? Hopefully not.

by jonsilver :: Mon, 01/19/2015 - 2:09pm

I don't get why people think this is a good idea: the most likely outcome of a long-field-initial-possession is a punt, and then a 20-40 yard drive + field goal wins, just like what they were trying to avoid in the first place.

by PatsFan :: Mon, 01/19/2015 - 2:14pm

How is Studebaker doing? Last we heard during the game, he was going to the locker room after coughing up blood (always a scary thing).

by Purds :: Mon, 01/19/2015 - 2:25pm

I haven't heard. But, while I didn't look closely at replays of Wilson getting hit and then the flag, wasn't that simply the same type of hit that Studebaker took? A hard hit, sure, but a clean, open-field block on a return? If a QB doesn't want to get hit on a return, then don't chase it down.

by ChrisS :: Mon, 01/19/2015 - 6:47pm

I believe the blindside hit penalty only applies on int/fumble returns. A defenseless player is ... "A player who receives a “blindside” block when the blocker is moving toward his own endline and approaches the opponent from behind or from the side. "

by MilkmanDanimal :: Mon, 01/19/2015 - 2:19pm

So, nobody told Mike McCarthy the Prevent Offense was a bad idea?

by intel_chris :: Mon, 01/19/2015 - 2:35pm

(I meant to post this yesterday morning before any of the games had played, but I didn't want to be that much of a Cassandra.)

Still, I'm glad someone mentioned narratives in the comments. To my mind, I think that the setup for the SB is that "narratives" will win. I don't know whether SEA or NE will win, but

if SEA wins, the narrative (predicted by Mike Tanier last year before the SB if I recall correctly) of the "passing of the torch" from Brady/Manning to the next generation Wilson/??? is progressing as expected.

if NE wins, the narrative of Brady/Belichick as GOAT will be reinforced.

The following narratives have already played out due to W/L records, which may not be rational, but resonate strongly with the unobservant masses.... (Sorry, Will, I don't think you'll ever get them to see beyond that, no matter how misleading it is.)

I'm sorry that Oaktoon's narrative of Rogers as GOAT candidate is still deferred.

The narrative of Manning as a playoff choker has already been reinforced (even if here it is seen as a team loss).

The narrative of Luck being the Colts new Manning (and thus a playoff choker) is still a work-in-progress.

The narrative of Romo being a choker has also been [wrongly] reinforced.

The narrative of Flacco being his best in the playoffs is only slightly tarnished.

We can investigate advanced stats all we want (and then watch teams play well under their abilities), but in the end these are the themes I expect the sports announcers to pick up on. They will even trot out statistics that "support" these narratives, like number of consecutive home (or away) records in the playoffs.

by Perfundle :: Mon, 01/19/2015 - 3:48pm

I haven't been watching the media analysis, but people aren't actually still talking about Romo being a choker after the Packers game, are they? Not only did he absolutely not choke, the defining play of the game was so controversial and only barely connected to him that it should've swamped out any Romo talk.

by intel_chris :: Mon, 01/19/2015 - 4:03pm

Let me be clear, I don't think Romo choked, not in the GB game, and his reputation that way is exaggerated. However, I do think, next year, we will still hear that comment, particularly after the Cowboy's first loss with him at helm. It will be wrong, but we will still hear it. The fact that the Cowboy's lost, irrespective of the fact that it wasn't his fault will still be held against him. That's all I'm saying. Reputations like that die particularly hard.

by big10freak :: Mon, 01/19/2015 - 2:44pm

Are we certain that oaktoon is not the Midwest version of raiderjoe?

Meaning more literate but with an inferiority complex?

by mehllageman56 :: Mon, 01/19/2015 - 2:53pm

Haven't noticed oaktoon's posts before, but I have to argue that raiderjoe may not have any true literacy problems, just an inability to hit the right keys on his computer/device. His syntax makes sense, not the spelling.

by MilkmanDanimal :: Mon, 01/19/2015 - 3:01pm

Jokes about raiderjoe's . . . "creative" syntax aside, he's clearly incredibly knowledgeable about the history of the NFL and very much knows his stuff. The typos and unrelenting Raiders optimism are what people remember, but joe knows what he's talking about regarding football in general.

by young curmudgeon :: Mon, 01/19/2015 - 4:35pm

I maintain, as I frequently have on previous threads, that raiderjoe is NOT an alcohol-soaked oaf, but is instead a brilliant performance artist. Indeed, he is, as suggested above, one of the most knowledgeable posters about NFL history on this site. Might be the first guy I'd pick to watch a (non-Oakland) game with.

by big10freak :: Mon, 01/19/2015 - 5:54pm

For heaven's sake, I should have written legible versus literate. Will that make it better?

It was a minor attempt at humor


by big10freak :: Mon, 01/19/2015 - 2:56pm

PredictionMachine ran 50,000 sims with 3:17 left in GB/Seattle game for that situation

Seattle won 500 times

McCarthy, defying the odds of victory since 2006!

by Tomlin_Is_Infallible :: Mon, 01/19/2015 - 3:20pm

Sex Packer cologne:

1% of the time, it works every time

The standard is the standard!

by MilkmanDanimal :: Mon, 01/19/2015 - 3:40pm

I like it, I can now imagine Mike McCarthy in the dating scene. "She took me back to her place, took her clothes off, licked my ear, and walked into the bedroom, so I wrote my number on a piece of paper on the kitchen table, walked out, and yelled that maybe I'd call her next week."

by Bobman :: Wed, 01/21/2015 - 4:10am

Mmmm, Sex Packer... it works because it's made with real Packers.

by morganja :: Mon, 01/19/2015 - 4:24pm

On the four man line, ineligible receiver shenanigans:
Do these plays even seem like American Football? No one can tell who the receivers are, what is going on, and they succeed because someone is wide open.
Picture every team doing this on a regular basis. Is that worth watching? If the fans can't tell who is going out on each play, who is covering who, and the game is decided by chicanery instead of skill, we might as well be Canadian.
The NFL will make a rule on this. They have to. Or football just isn't going to be fun to watch.
Will Goodell and the NFL do it now, when it needs to be done? Or after the Superbowl and his mentor, Robert Kraft, has already exploited it for another trophy?