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The question is not whether Saquon Barkley is the best running back in this draft class. The question is whether any running back, even one as good as Barkley, warrants a top-five draft selection in the NFL in 2018.

19 Dec 2007

Scramble for the Ball: Hold It Now, Down It

by Bill Barnwell

Last October in Scramble, I was discussing a play at the end of that week's Philadelphia-Tampa Bay game, the one where Matt Bryant kicked a 62-yard field goal at the end of regulation to win it for the Buccaneers. I'm going to cut and paste the beginning of that article:

Let's start it off with a rule question. Brian Westbrook is alone on the Buccaneers' 2-yard line with about 30 seconds to go, and no Tampa player, from replay, appears to be within ten yards of him. Furthermore, he has a colleague hanging out with him. The score he would create when the ball crossed the plane would give the Eagles a likely insurmountable lead (ignore Matt Bryant for now). So here's my question. Why did he go into the end zone?

Couldn't he have just stood around on the 1-foot line and waited for someone to try and tackle him? Shouldn't his teammate have blocked to keep tacklers who'd likely given up already -- and, judging from the Buccaneers defense's tackling on that play, had given up before Westbrook had even gotten the ball -- away from him while Westbrook killed time? Can the referee blow the whistle if all the ballcarrier is doing is standing still? If so, couldn't he have just run in place around the 1-yard line? How much time could he have run off the clock? Five seconds? More? Would that have won them the game? Westbrook even slowed down as he got to the two, as if he was thinking about stopping, and then creaked across the goal line. Of course, he left just enough time for Matt Bryant, who busted out the ROBO-KICKER Halloween costume about a week and a half too early.

This led to much debate in our comment thread. Some people argued that the game was too fast for Westbrook to consider doing it. Others said that Westbrook should have just gone in for the sure touchdown and not risked the possibility of a fumble or injury. Some others said it was taunting, or too video-gamey of a play. On the other hand, some people said it was a defensible play, with others saying it would have been a negligible amount of time drawn off the clock. It was actually a really fascinating group of comments, both in favor of and against the idea.

So, then, you'll have to excuse me for at least being the slightest bit vindicated when Westbrook, in fact, downed a ball on the one against Dallas instead of scoring a touchdown, giving his team the ability to run out the clock without giving Dallas the ball. Later, it came out that Jon Runyan played a not-insignificant role in convincing Westbrook both in the huddle and during the play to fall down at the 1, but the situation proved incorrect, as a reader stated in last year's thread, that "It's instinct to run, and any running back who's cognitively analyzing the situation during the play would fail miserably, a la Ron Dayne."

Of course, there are some differences and some legitimate concerns. In the Buccaneers game, Philadelphia trailed 20-14, so an Eagles touchdown was necessary -- my suggestion was for Westbrook to spend as much time as possible stalling before scoring, not to down the ball, which is somewhat different. Namely, the former can be construed as taunting, even if it wasn't the intent. Westbrook kneeling eliminates that downside from the play. But Westbrook couldn't have knelt against Tampa Bay; one bad snap could have turned him into a huge goat.

The point of this whole discussion, of course, isn't for me to be right or wrong. Much more important and interesting is the idea that at least some players can make this sort of decision in the midst of a game, and that there likely are other aspects of game-play and clock management that can be exploited by smart teams. I'm not sure when this came into vogue, but the example that comes to mind is a basketball one: When a ball is inbounded in a tight game with little time remaining, you'll often see players let it bounce several times upcourt without touching it, in order to save valuable seconds for actually doing productive things with the ball.

This one I leave open to you: Where are the other places in games where teams and players can do things out of the box that would save or kill precious seconds?

Check out the Football Outsiders comics archive and Jason's wacky Gil Thorp blog.

Loser League

QB: Normally, I try to avoid players who were not yet starting when readers picked their teams for Loser League Part II. That being said, it would be absolutely unfair of me to not recognize the performance put on by Chris Redman Sunday. Four completions in 15 attempts for 34 yards with two interceptions and a fumble lost earned Redman -- yes -- a -5 for the week. That will do nicely. Unfortunately for Redman, who I actually do think has received a raw deal as a professional, Bobby Petrino won't be able to nab him the third quarterback gig at Arkansas. Another guy no one picked was Troy Smith, who came off the bench to register a 2. Guys who actually could be on rosters and did poorly? You could probably guess it was Derek Anderson and Trent Edwards, each of whom put up 6 points in awful weather.

RB: A pair of off-season acquisitions each earned 2s this week: Travis Henry and Thomas Jones have each disappointed in their own ways this year. As Ian put it when discussing our internal Loser League this week, "Julius Jones has an awesome 7-carry, 5-yards line. That almost deserves no penalty. Almost." That's a 15 for you, sir. The worst running back of the week, though, sees us return to Atlanta. Warrick Dunn ran for 32 yards and fumbled, which gets him a 1.

WR: Props to Jabar Gaffney, who, a week after I had his back in Audibles, followed up with a two-catch, 8-yard performance. That's a zero. Koren Robinson had a single, as did Steve Breaston. A load of players had two points, too many to list, but that actually brings us to...

Special Michael Clayton Feature

We at Scramble for the Ball would like to congratulate Michael Clayton of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. With his two-catch, 22-yard performance against the Falcons last week, Clayton now has 12 catches on the season. More importantly, that means that he nearly has as many catches in the last three seasons of his career (77) as he did in his first (80). We'll continue to monitor this developing story in Scramble until Clayton hits the big 8-0, hopefully getting some quotes from bitter fantasy owners and Buccaneers fans along the way.

K: Oh yes. It's a wonderful time of year when PATs get missed. We salute you, Josh Scobee. Sadly, you made two more extra points and kicked a field goal, so you ended up with a zero on the day. Jeff Wilkins had one the old-fashioned way, with a missed field goal canceling out two extra points.

Keep Choppin' Wood

Well, since we've already hypothesized that players should be able to make some sort of decision over their physical actions while playing, even at a high-speed, let's stay out on that limb and criticize one for doing so. Roy Williams gets KCW this week for his latest horse-collar penalty, one that led to him being suspended for this week's game against Carolina.

Now, you can say what you want about Williams' abilities being overstated or about the horse-collar rule being unnecessary and inappropriate. Regardless, it's a rule in the rulebook, and considering that it's taken on Williams' name, it's not as if he's unaware of it. This was his third horse-collar of the year, too, so it wasn't as if the NFL enacted the rule and then suspended him the next time he committed it. I'm tempted to let Wade Phillips get a turn with the axe following his absurd postgame quote, but I don't want to steal Ben Riley's thunder.

Best Bets

2-1 last week, 21-19-1

I must not jinx myself. I must not jinx myself.

INDIANAPOLIS (-7) over Houston

Yes, I know I'm supposed to avoid betting on Indianapolis. This line is just way too appetizing, though. It feels way too reactionary following Houston's great showing on the national stage last week. Their defensive line isn't anywhere near as likely to touch Peyton Manning as they were Jay Cutler.

Tampa Bay (-7) over SAN FRANCISCO

Betting against San Francisco is pretty much a given at this point.

Pittsburgh (-7.5) over ST. LOUIS

OK, so Pittsburgh hasn't looked that great the last few weeks. They've dropped to eighth in DVOA. That being said, they're being hurt a little by their DVOA from the Dolphins game, which wasn't representative of anything, and they've lost two games to two of the best teams in football the last two weeks. I'm not that concerned about them. They'll blow the Rams out.

Posted by: Bill Barnwell on 19 Dec 2007

53 comments, Last at 21 Dec 2007, 1:55pm by BucsD


by JasonC23 (not verified) :: Wed, 12/19/2007 - 3:47pm



by B (not verified) :: Wed, 12/19/2007 - 4:02pm

"Their defensive line isn’t anywhere near as likely to touch Peyton Manning as they were Jay Cutler" cause Peyton will spend most of this game on the sidelines. The Colts are locked into the #2 seed and have nothing to play for.

by Quinn (not verified) :: Wed, 12/19/2007 - 4:13pm

In the CFL, it is common for teams to concede a safety, opposed to punting the ball out of the endzone. If the team is going into the wind, the punter is instructed to run around in the endzone to kill as much "against the wind" time as possible before stepping out the back of the endzone.

by krugerindustrialsmoothing (not verified) :: Wed, 12/19/2007 - 4:14pm

Best Gil Thorp yet, and I haven't even read the captions.

by fyo (not verified) :: Wed, 12/19/2007 - 4:16pm

#2: Dungy has stated that Manning will start - and stay in (click my name for link). Resting players doesn't seem to be in vogue this year, for some reason. Even the Bucs have said they won't do it.

by James, London (not verified) :: Wed, 12/19/2007 - 4:18pm

Love the comic. Awesome. And Bill, I suspect Bobman will be on here soon, cursing you for jinxing the Colts, but relieved that you waited until the game was irrelevant before doing so.

by Mike W (not verified) :: Wed, 12/19/2007 - 4:24pm

Poor Bea Arthur. She's the go-to she-male, without actually being one.

Panel 3 with Romo's rictus between Jessica's impressive bosom is classic. I can just hear him, "Bbbbbbbbbbrrrrrrrrrrr!"

by dryheat (not verified) :: Wed, 12/19/2007 - 4:24pm

I like Bullwinkle but I don't like Moose.

by Mike W (not verified) :: Wed, 12/19/2007 - 4:25pm

BTW, Bill 'the thrill'? Is that new, or have I been missing it?

by Gary From Chapel Hill (not verified) :: Wed, 12/19/2007 - 4:27pm

If you're going to take a safety as a called play (not on a botched punt a la Buffalo) in order to run clock before the free kick, I've always wondered if the "blockers" were instructed to hold.

As long as you are out of the end zone, you can hold like crazy in order to keep potential tacklers at bay and allow the ball carrier to run more time off the clock before stepping out the back of the end zone.

If they take the penalty, then you'll just do the same thing again, burning even more time.

Just something that I've thought about.

As long as we're talking about stuff like this:

- What are the clock rules regarding illegal procedure and offsides? I've seen calls made (while the clock is running), they move the ball five yards, then start the clock again. It seems like something that a team could use to their advantage late in the game.

by David (not verified) :: Wed, 12/19/2007 - 4:51pm

If you're in the lead and commit a penalty, the clock stops. If you're trailing, the clock runs.

by Gary From Chapel Hill (not verified) :: Wed, 12/19/2007 - 4:55pm

David (#11)... Are those clock rules in effect during only the last two-three-four minutes of the half/game? Or for the entire game?

by Karl Cuba (not verified) :: Wed, 12/19/2007 - 4:58pm

Regarding the unusual tie saving options, I'm pretty sure I can remember Belichick deciding to take a safety rather than punting when backed up in his own endzone, against Denver I think and the Pats managed to win.

Does anyone know if Kellen Clemens is going to play for the Jets this week? I'm currently second in the loser league and I really need a crappy week from him as my other Qb is Brian Griese, who probably won't play this week.

by B (not verified) :: Wed, 12/19/2007 - 5:14pm

I agree, that Gil Thorp is the breast ever. Uhhh....hooters.

by Rob (not verified) :: Wed, 12/19/2007 - 5:58pm

"Where are the other places in games where teams and players can do things out of the box that would save or kill precious seconds"

Say a team trails by 3 or less points, is on offense, and has no timeouts remaining. On the 50-yard line, they are not going to attempt a 67-yard FG, and with 8 seconds left, run another passing play. A sideline route is not open, but the middle of the field is. The receiver makes the catch near the 35-yard line between the hash marks and with 3 seconds left has no time to run out of bounds. Instead, he throws the ball out of bounds, 1 yard behind him at the 36 yard line.

In essence, I assume this is a fumble, and the clock stops. Am I correct, or does a fumble out of bounds cause time to run off the clock in late-game situations?

by David (not verified) :: Wed, 12/19/2007 - 6:04pm

12: Yeah, it's a last-minutes rule. Kinda weird, but the only way to prevent massive abuse of delay-of-game/false starts by an offense trying to kill or save the clock, respectively.

by Travis (not verified) :: Wed, 12/19/2007 - 6:20pm

In essence, I assume this is a fumble, and the clock stops. Am I correct, or does a fumble out of bounds cause time to run off the clock in late-game situations?

Intentional fumbles out of bounds in the final minute of either half lead to a 10-second runoff and a 5-yard penalty. (Rule 4-3-10)

A few time-saving maneuvers that should work:

1. Milking injuries suffered outside of the two-minute warning when trailing. Staying down on the field will stop the clock temporarily; limping off will not.

2. Having the receiver spike the ball in celebration after long completions when trailing late in the game; the 5-yard penalty would probably be worth the time saved.

This might not work - I'm not sure if there's a 10-second runoff, but the celebratory-spike rule is so poorly drafted (for some reason, post-play spikes offset in-play defensive penalties, which ends up rewarding the defense for committing a penalty) that it's possible.

by Bobman (not verified) :: Wed, 12/19/2007 - 6:25pm

#6 Thank you James, for saving me the trouble. Personally, I wouldn't bet on Indy. Same Colts as last week (injured guys rest) playing a superior team. They'll play better at home and against a div rival. But I won't rest easy until the game clock shows zeroes.

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Bea Arthur: The perfect woman. (in some situations)((okay, maybe just this ONE situation))

To answer Bill's question just above the comic, I had this exact thought when Carolina got their last score against the Pats in the SB (04?). "Jeez, don't score now, you are giving them too much time." But I think the timing left about 1:30 for the Pats, not an issue that a few seconds could fix.

#15 Rob, no idea of the answer, but I love your thinking. He better throw it high to avoid INTs....

by Rob (not verified) :: Wed, 12/19/2007 - 6:26pm

Thanks Travis... seemed too apparent to me to be possible, but I had no reference.

by Bobman (not verified) :: Wed, 12/19/2007 - 6:27pm

#17 Or milking an injury inside the 2 minute warning when your team is leading, but getting hustled down the field too fast to keep up with the no-huddle O.

Not that I'm bitter....

by Walt E (not verified) :: Wed, 12/19/2007 - 6:31pm

On starting the game clock after a penalty, you act as if the penalty had not happened, with (as always in the NFL) a few exceptions. The rule is Rule 4-3-2(f):

"If the game clock is stopped after a down in which there was a foul by either team, following enforcement or declanation of a penalty, the game clock will start as if the foul had not occured, execpt that the clock will start on the snap:
(1) If the foul occurs after the two-minute warning of the first half;
(2) If the foul occurs inside the last five minutes of the second half;
(3) if a specific rule prescribes otherwise."

by Stephen (not verified) :: Wed, 12/19/2007 - 6:34pm

#10: Holding might work to kill time on the first play, but it won't matter after that -- holding in the endzone is a safety, not a yardage penalty.

by Snowglare (not verified) :: Wed, 12/19/2007 - 6:35pm

I loved watching the Falcons, down 34, give Dunn the last two carries he needed to meet the LL minimum. I like to think that, in their hopeless situation where nothing could have gotten them close to winning, they decided to give us Dunn "fans" an early Christmas present. Maybe next week they'll give Harrington a couple series so I can avoid getting slaughtered by my QB's.

by Johonny (not verified) :: Wed, 12/19/2007 - 6:38pm

How come Tom Brady can bang hot chicks with no ill effects?

by Al H (not verified) :: Wed, 12/19/2007 - 6:45pm

Re: 24

You mean besides a child?:P

by Trust Doesn't Rust (not verified) :: Wed, 12/19/2007 - 6:51pm

you're talking about two different scenarios here. if a team needs a touchdown to win the game, you'd be stupid not to take the automatic points in favor of getting cute. if your team is subsequently stopped or turns the ball over, it's a far greater catastrophe than your defense potentially giving up a score to the other team with less than two minutes.

now, if it's like in the philadelphia-dallas game and the touchdown won't help you in the score column, but kneel-downs will run out the clock or bring the clock down to where there's less than ten seconds, then falling down is definitely the way to go.

by Todd S. (not verified) :: Wed, 12/19/2007 - 6:58pm

#24 Because he's clutch.

by Andrew (not verified) :: Wed, 12/19/2007 - 7:08pm

Johonny #24:

How come Tom Brady can bang hot chicks with no ill effects?

The ill-effects are all on his wallet from making little Tommies with them.

by James, London (not verified) :: Wed, 12/19/2007 - 7:11pm


Because Travis Henry is on the scout team?

by Rob S. (not verified) :: Wed, 12/19/2007 - 8:24pm

I have long advocated the following:

Team up 10 with 1st down on its on 1 starting the 4th quarter. 1st play, run (say no gain). What would prevent the offense from taking a series of delay of game/false start penalties in order to keep the clock running, all the way down to 5 minutes? In fact, if they timed it right, they could take the last penalty at 5:01, and get the clock down to close to 4:30 before snapping the ball. And there is no penalty! And you might draw the other team offside?

In a similar situation (but not a time issue), why don't teams defending 1st&Goal from the 1 jump offside (making contact) and point at the other side every single time? You don't lose anything (or almost nothing) and you might convince the refs as to a false start. The same case could be made for doing the hard count from 1st-10 from own 1 every time.

One more: Team A has a 2 point lead with 2:40 left and facing a 3rd and 1 on its own 25. Team B has no timeouts left, so if they convert on 3rd and 1, the game is essentially over (2 minute warning, kneel, kneel, kneel). But, if once Team A converts, a member of Team B commits a personal foul intentionally (remove helmet?), the clock would stop between downs (note the penalty rule inside 5 minutes). Thus, 1st down would be at 2:35, and Team A would be forced to make another 1st down to completely kill the clock.

by Travis (not verified) :: Wed, 12/19/2007 - 9:50pm

What would prevent the offense from taking a series of delay of game/false start penalties in order to keep the clock running, all the way down to 5 minutes? ...

In a similar situation (but not a time issue), why don’t teams defending 1st&Goal from the 1 jump offside (making contact) and point at the other side every single time?

It's a good idea, but:

1. Consecutive delay of game penalties (after a warning) constitute unsportsmanlike conduct (Rule 12-3-1(n)), which might result in ejections.

2. Consecutive penalties to prevent a score (after a warning) can be punished by awarding that score to the other team (Rule 12-3-2).

by Rob S. (not verified) :: Wed, 12/19/2007 - 9:57pm

Fair enough, but take it away from the extreme, and instead of 15 minutes left in the game, make it 6 minutes. Up by 10, isn't that a good way to burn 2 minutes or so (or at least until you are warned?). I bet Brady or Manning could do a good acting job of getting irritated that their o-line keeps jumping early. Heck, if you are on the road and on your own 1, the crowd noise might allow for the reasoning of jumping early.
Just saying... could be the difference between punting with 5 minutes left or 3 minutes left, and with a 2 score lead, those minutes are big.

by Travis (not verified) :: Wed, 12/19/2007 - 10:31pm

Re: 32

1. (minor nitpick) It's pretty much impossible for the clock to be running on 1st and 10 inside the offense's 10; the game clock would have stopped on the previous change of possession and wouldn't restart until the snap (except in the case of an automatic first down penalty against the defense). Any delay of game taken on 1st down there wouldn't affect the game clock.

2. On 2nd/3rd down, the defense could always call timeout, which would stop the game clock until the next snap.

by Vern (not verified) :: Wed, 12/19/2007 - 11:01pm

To me, the biggest thing the Westbrook play highlights is that unlike in baseball, in football, the statement "more points is always better" is NOT true.

Football has a clock, and its some combination of clock AND score together that lead to wins.

Intentional safeties and kneel down plays (whether Westbrook's, or the QBs after it) are just the most extreme versions of this. But really, in systems like DVOA there should some formula that takes into account the positive impact of BOTH the yards (and score) AND the time of any given play. Then, in the extreme cases, that formula would automatically value time so much that no yards (or no score) would score just as high, or even higher depending on what the play did for the clock.

by Pat (not verified) :: Wed, 12/19/2007 - 11:04pm

You don’t lose anything (or almost nothing) and you might convince the refs as to a false start.

You know, I don't really think that the refs rely on pointing for determining offsides/false start. It's hard to see on TV, but when you're on the field staring at the lines like they are, it's really, really easy to see.

by refchat (not verified) :: Wed, 12/19/2007 - 11:15pm

#10: not only does it seem logical that blockers on an intentional safety might be instructed to hold, but that has happened before. There was obvious holding all across the field and the punter stepped out at the last second.

#22: the play worked because they only ran it once. the widespread holding killed an extra 5-10 seconds and helped assure the victory. The NFL should create a rule to put time back on the clock when a team commits intentional widespread holding just to kill time.

On Westbrook's move -- that's why when Nebraska's Marcus Walker intercepted Boise State's quarterback with one minute left in the 4th quarter of a tie game, I knew as he was racing down the sideline that he should take a knee (or step out of bounds) at the 1 yard line rather than take it in for the score. Nebraska had a better chance of winning by milking the clock and kicking a FG with no time left rather than scoring immediately and leaving 60 seconds for Boise State to have a chance to do something like score to force OT and then win the game.

by Mikey Benny (not verified) :: Thu, 12/20/2007 - 1:35am

30: The referees have the ability to declare the offensive team as making "a mockery of the game", and has considerable leeway in making amends for those kinds of actions.

by BlueStarDude (not verified) :: Thu, 12/20/2007 - 2:15am

Aargh - If only Harrington would get put back in I could make a real push here at the end for the Loser League championship.

by justanothersteve (not verified) :: Thu, 12/20/2007 - 3:22am

#24 - I hope this isn't the start of the irrational Brady-Romo thread.

by Theo, Holland (not verified) :: Thu, 12/20/2007 - 7:17am

If a player 'gives up' by taking a knee, I learned that the official will blow the play dead.
I know it's NCAA rules, don't know for NFL.
uh... Hooters!

by White Rose Duelist (not verified) :: Thu, 12/20/2007 - 12:07pm

Click my name for Ask The Referee, a weekly column in the Chicago Tribune in which Jerry Markbreit answers reader-submitted questions about NFL rules. This week's column has answers to a lot of the questions in this thread (and generally, if a lot of people are talking about it, he answers it). It's about 7 trillion times more worth reading than M/TMQ et al. I think it was an auto-Extra Point once, and I would be happy if it was again.

by stan (not verified) :: Thu, 12/20/2007 - 12:40pm

I've never seen this play, but here's one to keep the clock running. Team with the lead punts on 4th down after running as much clock as possible. We've all seen the idiots in punt coverage grab the ball and stop the clock.

Not only should they at least let the ball sit until blown dead by the ref, but they could also keep the clock running by gently batting/rolling the ball back toward the line of scrimmage. The punt isn't dead simply because the ball is touched, it has to be downed. As long as the ball is moving in favor of the return team and hasn't been downed, the clock keeps moving.

However, since it has been touched by the punting team and not downed, the receiving team cannot lose possession for a fumble (it always has the option of taking the ball where touched). So a heads up return man can try to pick it up and run without worrying about a fumble.

Imagine a group of players in punt coverage circled around the ball and softly, slowly batting it back toward the line of scrimmage while the last 30 seconds of the game run out.

by Black Squirrel (not verified) :: Thu, 12/20/2007 - 1:50pm

White Rose Duelist, thank you for that link. In reading through some of the columns, I found the following:

"Whenever a live ball strikes or is deflected by something not a part of the field, the down is replayed. If a ball hits the floating camera, the down is replayed."

I'm not sure if this can be used to save or kill time, but if a QB doesn't like how a play is developing, he can try to throw the ball at the floating camera to get a do-over.

by Jody (not verified) :: Thu, 12/20/2007 - 3:18pm

re #17.1
Houston Oilers had a DL guy who would do that so frequently, I remember a rule change being called the Sean Jones rule.
Jones would fake an injury to save timeouts for the Oilers, miss the next play, and inevitably be on the field for the third play.
re: the various posts about giving up.
I remember a reciver form the Run and Shoot Oilers days (a bit nostalgic, today), either on the Oilers or their opponent (bengals?) who gave up. He caught the ball, was not ruled down, no whistle had been blown, but just stopped running after being (what he thought) tackled. THe refereee ruled that he was down after the receiver was standing around for several seconds and had "given up forward progress" or something like that. Anyway, it was a great way to kill the clock.

by SoonerHQ (not verified) :: Thu, 12/20/2007 - 6:11pm

#36: After nearly a full year of hearing about how Boise St's miracle upset win automatically justified the presence of the smaller conferences in the BCS formula, I'm glad to see that at least one football fan has already forgotten who their opponent was. :-)

(Yeah, I know it was just a brain cramp. Kinda hard to believe someone could remember the DB's name, but not who he played for. But as a Sooner fan, I'm tired of hearing about that game....)

by masocc (not verified) :: Thu, 12/20/2007 - 7:54pm

I second a Jerry Markbreit thread!

In his Dec. 12th column, he outlines the kicking possibilities for a kickoff and safety...

Notably, a DROP kick is allowed for either. Couldn't that make for a *wonderfully* sneaky onside kick opportunity?

by masocc (not verified) :: Thu, 12/20/2007 - 8:11pm

Additionally, Bill Belichick screwed one up!

"After the Patriots' last touchdown Monday night, the Ravens were called for several penalties resulting in the kickoff coming from the Baltimore 35. The Pats then kicked the kickoff through the end zone for a touchback. What would have happened if the kickoff had instead gone out of bounds? -- Mark Early, Arlington, Va.

If a free kick goes out-of-bounds between the goal lines without having been touched by a member of the receiving team, the receivers will put the ball in play thirty yards from the spot of the kickoff or the receivers may elect to take possession of the ball at the out-of-bound spot. If the kickoff came from the receiving team's thirty-five yard line and went out-of-bounds on the ten-yard line, the receivers would take possession at their ten-yard line. If the ball went out-of-bounds inside of the five-yard line, they would put the ball in play at the five-yard line, which is thirty yards in advance of the spot of the kickoff. "

by Sid (not verified) :: Thu, 12/20/2007 - 8:24pm

I don't like any of your picks this week.

by No Fway (not verified) :: Thu, 12/20/2007 - 11:11pm

This one isn't a time-saver but a yard-saver:After a quarterback sack, while the defensive player is striking his "Atlas" pose about 20 yards behind the quarterback, hurry the offense to the line of scrimmage and snap the ball. The offsides penalty earns back 5 yards lost to the sack. If you have a play called for this specific situation, you might even have a defense so off-balance as to make a big play out of it.You'd probably have to get some help from the officials to get the ball spotted quickly enough for this to work, but I'd love to see a team give it a try.

by Jared Schreckengast (not verified) :: Fri, 12/21/2007 - 3:19am

In hindsight (read Monday Morning QBing) if a TD is that inevitable the scoring player should run a curved instead of a straight path to the endzone. :)

by baltimark (not verified) :: Fri, 12/21/2007 - 12:38pm

The flip-side of that Westbrook play is that sometimes the defense HAS to let a team score in order to have a shot at winning.

I'm convinced that the Redskins did this against the Eagles earlier in the year after turning it over on downs with 2:24 left and no time outs (as I recall) and down by 1.

The play-by-play

Philadelphia Eagles at 02:24
1-10-WAS 10 (2:24) 36-B.Westbrook right guard for 10 yards, TOUCHDOWN.
2-D.Akers extra point is GOOD, Center-46-J.Dorenbos, Holder-6-S.Rocca.
PHI 33 WAS 25 Plays: 1 Possession: 0:06

The Skins got the ball back trailing by 8. It worked out for the Eagles, but that's the play I thought of when I saw Westbrook go down against the Cowboys. The Skins linebackers made token efforts on that play.

by BucsD (not verified) :: Fri, 12/21/2007 - 1:53pm

I've read this site for 2 years now without posting, but something has drawn me out of my silence.

Michael Clayton. After his amazing rookie season (remember that catch versus the Broncos where he lost his helmet, dodged Lynch and went for the TD?) I was glad that we would have a primary WR for years to come.

Now it is more painful to watch him than if he had just been a bust that first year. He plays hard, makes blocks, but has serious issues making consistent catches. This is why Ike Hilliard has all but supplanted him in the offense. Heck, David Boston had replaced him until he decided to go on a merry drug-filled drive through Tampa.

This year the drops have been a bit better, considering he isn't getting the ball as much because of his fumble issues this year.

The horrible tease with Cadillac and Clayton, who both appear to get it, yet have problems actually performing consistently is frustrating to watch.

I'm looking forward to a Pats / Colts game just for the talk here, you guys are a trip on a slow market day.

by BucsD (not verified) :: Fri, 12/21/2007 - 1:55pm

Correction: He didn't dodge Lynch, Lynch went to touch him to avoid a 15-yard penalty and Clayton had gotten his knees off the ground.