Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

Sunday Playoffs Discussion Thread

This thread is for in-game discussion of Saturday's two playoff games: Pittsburgh-Indianapolis and Carolina-Chicago.

You can find discussion of the Saturday second round games here.


by Catholic Samurai (not verified) :: Mon, 01/16/2006 - 12:15pm

Is it me or are people now saying that this "is the end of the Pats dynasty"? People are acting like they were 6-10 this year and Brady, Branch, Bruschi and Big Willie all quit football to become theater actors.

Considering the circumstances, I'm proud of what they did this year. They went through all those injuries, the loss of Tedy for half the season, the "Duane Starks Experiment", etc. Besides, they are going to get stronger at O-Line just by getting Koppen and Light back and they have plenty of guys with experience now, the front line is just getting better and better, and the secondary will get better with some guys coming back (not counting Harrison in this, because I doubt he will be back) and signing a guy or two (Since it seems like Law wants to come back home and he wasn't that bad this year).

As for Manning's comments, I think this just shows what I have thought all along: He won't take any responsability when it comes to losing the big game. He will slyly blame others before he says "I made mistakes" or "We lost the game".

Also, I can't help but to root for the Steelers now. I just want to see the Bus win a ring.

by Tice London (not verified) :: Mon, 01/16/2006 - 12:16pm

Re : 599
I don't think anyone disagrees that the O line was poor but you win as a team and you lose as a team. The prancing pony should also accept that he was less than perfect (as if that's ever going to happen). If he has criticisms, they should stay within the team. He did pretty much the same thing last year with the "Manning Face" Just show some class, admit you got beaten by the better team on the day and move on.

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Mon, 01/16/2006 - 12:20pm

Freak, I can't speak for your tivo machine, but mine had a frozen frame with a knee on the ground while the cornerback had contact with the receiver. We'll have to agree to disagree.

Your holding remarks make sense to me, in that I was surprised at how much success the offensive lines had in pass protection, and other than the controversial interception call, I didn't closely watch the game as much I do when I'm viewing a game alone. In particular, I was really surprised how little success in rushing the passer the Bears' tackles had, which repeatedly gave Delhomme room to maneuver in the pocket on third and long, until a receiver came open.

In fact, the Panthers' success on third and long was the difference in the game (well, and the Bears' cornerbacks' penchant for falling on their faces), and given how the lines matched up in their regular season contest, it was very notable.

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Mon, 01/16/2006 - 12:36pm

Freak, I suppose I could do a search of all comments made by HOF quarterbacks in the wake of getting pounded and see if any made critical remarks about their offensive lines. I suspect that some have done so, human nature being what it is, but, then again, the media spotlight is so much more intense now than in years past that many things which previously went by the wayside are now given the 24 hour media attention treatment, ad nauseum. I just think that people make way too much of this stuff.

Now, if Manning is still talking about it several months from now, I'd agree that it is really dumb, but the attention that these remarks are getting now seems really disproportionate.

On a football strategy note, does it seem to you that a lot of cornerbacks this year were caught on long passes on the first couple plays of the game, when they egregiously peeked into the backfield? I mean, I saw it at least three time this year in just the games I watched, which amounts to only about three a week. It seems to be a really sloppy trend, where corners think that on the first series they can ignore the fundamentals of their position.

by Tim L (not verified) :: Mon, 01/16/2006 - 12:36pm

I've been a fan of Manning for several years now, but his comments about protection give me pause. Championship quarterbacks don't say those things in public. It's one of the reasons I depised Dan Marino, and why I thought he never won a Super Bowl: He was always belittling his players in public. Nothing was ever his fault. Contrast that to a 1996 anecdote about Troy Aikman. Dallas had just won an overtime game in San Francisco, which looked lost after Dallas drove into the red zone and Aikman threw an interception. Asked about the pick afterwards, he said he misread the defense and threw a bad pass. When reporters talked to other players, they mentioned Aikman actually threw a perfect timing pass; the problem was the intended "receiver," Deion Sanders, ran a sloppy route and let the defender get underneath him for the interception. Deion, of course, was silent; he never made any mistakes. To me, that speaks volumes about the character of a Super Bowl quarterback. I don't think it's an accident that people like Bradshaw, Brady, Aikman, and Montana all have at least three rings on their fingers. And that me-first QBs like Marino don't have any. I'd never seen that side of Peyton Manning before yesterday. I sincerely hope it's an aberration, because if not, it doesn't bode well for his chances of winning a ring.

by Tim L (not verified) :: Mon, 01/16/2006 - 12:38pm

Hmm, the automatic formatting failed me. There were several line breaks in the above mass of text. Strange it didn't appear this time.

by Todd S. (not verified) :: Mon, 01/16/2006 - 12:40pm

In Indy, we're starting to hear "The Colts shouldn't have rested their starters at the end of the season." I've already been in an argument this morning, but apparently I'm the only one in my office who agrees with the Colts decision to rest the starters. I think that's just a copout, but I'm hearing things like, "The Colts are a timing offense and the time off got them out of sync. The '98 Broncos were not a timing offense; that is the difference." Anyone care to weigh in on this?

Congratulations to the Steelers. Very well-played game.

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Mon, 01/16/2006 - 12:46pm

Samurai, as much I wanted Dungy to get to the Super Bowl, I did not want to see Bettis get the loss hung around his neck, so I wasn't disheartened when The Idiot Kicker shanked it, and given the weirdness of the game, I really expected him to.

I think Manning's worst mental mistake yesterday was not getting the play off prior to the two minute warning. I wonder if anybody asked about that during the press conference. That would require, however, reporters who paid non-superficial attention to the game.

by NFC Central Freak (not verified) :: Mon, 01/16/2006 - 12:48pm


Anyone can put on the pretty face with rest and reflection. It's when we are tired, angry, and a whisper removed from the moment that you can gauge the true nature of an individual.

By the way, I failed to mention in my observations that the Bears special teams was terrible yesterday. The punter gacked the entire first half and the kickoff coverage was abysmal.

The Bears surrendered field position from the opening bell and never got it back......

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Mon, 01/16/2006 - 12:53pm

I must say, Tim, this is why I think people make too much of these things. Marino (you truly "despised" him?) never won a Super Bowl because he never had teamates like Montana, Aikman, or Elway did. Period.

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Mon, 01/16/2006 - 12:59pm

Freak, If you wish to maintain that Manning is unique, as to an ostensibly great quarterback making a negative remark regarding his pass protection, in the wake of taking a pounding, well, you're entitiled to your opinion, and I'm not going to take the time to do a search to prove the contrary.

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Mon, 01/16/2006 - 1:08pm

Yeah, freak, I've been surprised that the Bears didn't get better punting this year (in the limited times I've watched them, it always seemed a weak point), in that they've obviously been built to play a field position game.

by Alan Milnes (not verified) :: Mon, 01/16/2006 - 1:11pm

NFC Central Freak - sorry I got the tackler wrong but watching at home we saw a perfect freeze frame of the receiver's knee on the ground and a defender engaged with him.

by NFC Central Freak (not verified) :: Mon, 01/16/2006 - 1:20pm


Regarding post 611 I cannot think of a single QB who is popularly known as "Great" who clearly criticized his teammates without pointing the finger at himself. It's the latter element that I think is important.

But I have bigger issues. My team got totally outplayed in the biggest game of the year with the best part of the team undressed in public.


by Tim L (not verified) :: Mon, 01/16/2006 - 1:21pm

Will, I'll make a deal with you: You find an instance of any of the three-rings QBs ever making a comment along the lines of those made by Manning, and I'll happily revise my opinion. I wish you the best of luck, since none of them ever said anything of the sort in public.

by steelersin06 (not verified) :: Mon, 01/16/2006 - 1:40pm

Does anyone know where I can find the wording of the rule the ref applied to the Polamalu interception that was overturned?
A lot of the posters up above our talking about it as being "the rule" but I could not find anything that would apply in the NFL rulebook on NFL.com.

I know the ref said, "knee still down when the ball came out", therefore incomplete, but I cannot find anything that says that in the NFL.com rulebook. The only thing I can find that would apply is this:

"A forward pass is complete when a receiver clearly possesses the pass and touches the ground with both feet inbounds while in possession of the ball. If a receiver would have landed inbounds with both feet but is carried or pushed out of bounds while maintaining possession of the ball, pass is complete at the out-of-bounds spot."


"Possession: When a player controls the ball throughout the act of clearly touching both feet, or any other part of his body other than his hand(s), to the ground inbounds."

Based upon these two rules, I don't understand any interpretation of Troy's play that is not an interception. Does anyone know if there are any other rules out there, or did the ref just misinterpret the rule?

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Mon, 01/16/2006 - 2:36pm

Tim, if you wish to believe that Marino wouldn't have won a Super Bowl with Aikman's teamates, to take just one example, because he was too publicly critical of his teamates, you go right ahead. I think reviewing the concepts of correlation and causation may be useful.

Freak, I really was astounded at how bad Tillman was yesterday. I mean, I know he hasn't been good this year, but this was a guy who looked a couple years ago as if he was going to be an absolute star. He just flat-out sucked yesterday, and the tie-up with Smith may have been worse than his falling on his face on the second play.

by Sid (not verified) :: Mon, 01/16/2006 - 4:41pm

Francesa has now spent most of his show trashing Indianapolis (including Dungy, Manning, etc.). It was only yesterday when he was saying they would easily beat Pittsburgh, that they weren't going to lose, etc.

by GW (not verified) :: Mon, 01/16/2006 - 5:50pm

Re: 616

> Based upon these two rules, I don’t understand any interpretation of Troy’s play that is not an interception. Does anyone know if there are any other rules out there, or did the ref just misinterpret the rule?

Your research is correct-- there is no official rule that states anything to the effect of "a player attempting to advance a completed pass or interception must maintain possession of the ball until upright, as defined by extraction of both knees/elbows/arms from the ground, or the play shall be ruled incomplete." There is however this generic catch-all, which I don't think can be justifiably applied to this situation, especially on a replay reversal:

Note to Rule 8.1.6: If there is any question by the covering official(s) if a pass is complete, intercepted, or incomplete, it is to be ruled incomplete.

Per the NFL official rules, we have every right to conclude that this call was mistaken. Now, the NFL might point to some "approved ruling" (which would basically attempt to define the oft-used term "football move", which is also not covered in the rulebook), but I strongly suspect that Pete Morelli just made an incorrect interpretation. The NFL's initial response today was that the decision was a "judgment call"-- at least initially they made no attempt to clarify the rule interpretation. I'll wait for what Mike Pereira (Supervisor of Officials) has to say on the NFL Network on Wednesday (or sooner), but as a Steelers fan, I can live with this "explanation", but only because we won. Never mind the year taken off my life from the stress.


by steelersin06 (not verified) :: Mon, 01/16/2006 - 6:43pm

Re: 619

Thanks for the info, I suspected something like that. It will be interesting to see what (if anything) Pereira has to say.

by Rocco (not verified) :: Mon, 01/16/2006 - 7:33pm

Well, the NFL admitted they were wrong (see link).

by Mikey (not verified) :: Mon, 01/16/2006 - 8:32pm

Just watched the last seven minutes of Steelers-Colts again, and I'm more blown away by Troy Pola than ever.

On the Colts series that precedes the Bettis fumble, BOTH of Porter's sacks come on blitzes where Pola rushes up the middle and gets double-teamed while Porter goes untouched around the end.

In both cases it looks like both the right guard and the running back (or is it Clark?) react to Troy and just forget about Porter. He's becoming one of those guys that just freaks out an offensive line.

by Mikey (not verified) :: Mon, 01/16/2006 - 8:40pm

601 -

Yeah, all the "end of the Pats dynasty" stuff is absurd. Anybody who doesn't rank them among the top five contenders to win it all next year is a fool, IMO.

If they do win it all next year they'll have won 4 of 6, same as the 70s Steelers, perhaps the greatest team ever.

The Pats come back next year with, in this fan's opinion, the league's best QB and best D-lineman both coming off career best seasons. Their schedule, I think, is not as tough as this year's. They'll have a huge shot.

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Mon, 01/16/2006 - 9:45pm

If the Pats can have one above-average year as far as injury luck, it would be interesting to see the outcome.

by Walt Pohl (not verified) :: Tue, 01/17/2006 - 1:06am

Patriots fans have already reached the final stage of Football Grief: Wait 'til next year.

by Colts Fan (not verified) :: Tue, 01/17/2006 - 3:12am

Wait til next year is the final stage until "next year" is this year and you still don't get it done. Then you just cry...

by Starshatterer (not verified) :: Tue, 01/17/2006 - 12:10pm

Walt Pohl (#625 )--

Does having your franchise QB take a year-long beating, without serious injury, not count as the Patriots having had some luck this past season?

The Patriots have had many injuries, true, but most of the time at positions of depth (CB, OL, and LB this year).

There's no amount of depth that can replace a certain caliber of player (Rodney Harrison, Richard Seymour, and Tedy Bruschi this past year), but it's not as if the Patriots were scrambling to sign their fifth quarterback during the season.

by Sid (not verified) :: Tue, 01/17/2006 - 3:01pm

RE: 522

After all, you can’t call a penalty when no one’s thrown a flag.

Yes you can. I don't see why not.

RE: 533

Did you see the first time that was called earlier this season?

RE: 536

Exactly. And it wasn't just Freeney. It was the Colts entire defensive line. Dungy and the rest of the Colts coaching staff have created a front-running defense that can't really make plays when behind. I was watching them madly rush upfield in the 4th quarter, and I was in shock. It's an obvious rushing down. Maybe you could make an adjustment?

Later on, I saw similar stuff from the Bears. No adjustment to the opponent. No recognition that you're facing the most dangerous WR in the NFL. Let's just do what we always do, even if it ends up with Steve Smith repeatedly isolated against Charles Tillman or backup CBs.
After that game, I seriously question the intelligence of Lovie Smith, Ron Rivera, and the rest of that coaching staff. Any NFL fan could tell you that Steve Smith makes the Panthers offense go. But they couldn't figure out that they needed to cover him. And even after halftime, no adjustments!
An amazing display of stupidity and stubbornness. I don't know how the Bears even got a bye in the first place.

My only guess is that maybe they thought that since he burned them the first game and they won anyway, they didn't need to worry about him. Mind-boggling.

RE: 549

From your post, it's pretty clear that you are not familiar with the NFL rules regarding possession.

RE: 551

Grossman started off badly, but he actually was fine after that. This loss is on the defense and the coaching staff.

by Sid (not verified) :: Tue, 01/17/2006 - 3:23pm

I should mention that Brad Maynard is terrible.

It seems Jerome Bettis caused a heart attack. A guy in a Pittsburgh bar (Terry O'Neil) had a heart attack when Bettis fumbled.

RE: 569

Better to say "No comment", then to throw your teammates and coaches under the bus. "If you don't have anything good to say, don't say anything at all" really applies here.

by michael (not verified) :: Wed, 01/18/2006 - 2:04am


No, you can't call a penalty just to cover your ass. If no one called the false start, and if the Indy D-line didn't make contact, then when the linesman blew his whistle the ball was dead.

If the officials conferenced and no one had a penalty call, then replay the down was all they could do.

by Sid (not verified) :: Thu, 01/19/2006 - 2:51am

RE: 630

If someone saw a penalty, they could've called it. They didn't have to throw a flag to be able to call a penalty.
And you can't tell me none of them saw a penalty.

by Kuato (not verified) :: Thu, 01/19/2006 - 4:45am

"Dungy and the rest of the Colts coaching staff have created a front-running defense that can’t really make plays when behind."

You mean the defense that held the Steelers to 7 points after the first quarter and caused a key fumble at the 1 yard line in the last minutes that almost won the game for the Colts if not for an incredible saving tackle by Big Ben? Are you talking about those front runners?

by michael (not verified) :: Fri, 01/20/2006 - 11:15am

I can tell you that none of them saw a penalty. You don't have to believe it, but it could be true.

As an official, you don't blow the whistle, then throw the flag. You just don't. It's part of the training. BTW, did you see Faneca's false start before the slo-mo replay showed his miniscule twitch? Sometimes what seems "obvious" to the couch tater is actually the exact opposite.

by Sid (not verified) :: Fri, 01/20/2006 - 12:53pm


And what plays did they make besides a player getting his helmet on the ball?
Maybe you mean the team that was madly rushing up the field on obvious run plays in the 4th quarter? A team like that won't consistently stop the opponent when behind.
The defense wasn't bad against Pittsburgh (well, it was, for the 1st quarter), but even what they did was beyond expectations.

by Sid (not verified) :: Fri, 01/20/2006 - 12:55pm

I had been championing the Indy defense all season, that they had changed and were no longer the same old Colts.
Without a doubt, the defense was better this season. But when I saw the 4th quarter, I groaned and said to myself "Here we go again."