Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

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» Futures: Maurice Hurst

A heart condition discovered at the combine has put the Michigan lineman's career in limbo, but Hurst had the best film of any defensive tackle in this year's draft class.

06 Feb 2013

Scramble for the Ball: Blinded by Light

by Tom Gower and Mike Kurtz

Tom: So, Mike, how about that officiating on Sunday?

Mike: Your talking about the brink of disaster did not help things.

Tom: I freely admit I may be biased, as every Jerome Boger game feels like a near-disaster to me. I thought Rob's comment, that the officiating was about the 15th-biggest issue in the game, was right. Though reflecting on the game it was probably closer to 10th than 15th. Still, not in the top five. In other news, Anquan Boldin just made another contested catch on a play where Donte Whitner didn't provide help.

Mike: Hah!

Tom: Back to things our readers actually care about: Curse you, Bovada. Curse you, Alicia Keys!

Bovada, which published the odds we used in our Super Bowl prop bets, decided that Alicia's repetition of a line in the Star-Spangled Banner constituted adding a word, giving both of us a loss on our bet at -300 that she would not add any words.

Mike: To be fair, it was an addition.

Tom: It was. I was just thinking of it as adding a part of the song that is not in there, not adding a repeat notation at one point.

Mike: True, that was out of left field

Tom: Not getting the $400 for that bet help send me to a losing result on props. I bet a total of $16,175 and won only (only!) $16,040. My big loss, as was yours, was that there would not be a safety. For the second year in a row there was, and this year it cost both of us $1,000.

Mike: My shame at betraying the safety is great.

Tom: Yes, and it helped cost you. You beat me last year, winning several thousand fake dollars (our hypothetical wagering discussed in Scramble represents no actual money). This year, though, you wagered $14,300 and won a mere $10,545. That's all your fake winnings last year and more.

Mike: The fake gambling gods are fickle.

Tom: There wasn't any one bet that put me ahead of you, as your big losses like the safety, adding a word, and Colin Kaepernick throwing an interception before a touchdown were also my big losses. Instead, it was just a collection of the smaller bets. You also had the biggest individual win, selecting the third quarter as the highest-scoring quarter. Excellent foresight there.

One bet I should mention that we both lost was Ray Lewis going well under his 11 tackles over/under. Our All-Keep Chopping Wood Team inside linebacker was credited with seven total tackles, four solo. The Ravens had 40 tackles and were credited with 14 assists after having 30 tackles and 42 assists the week before in New England.

Mike: He really did not have a good game. Then again, he's not very good anymore. At least he gets to leave on top.

Tom: I think we saw, especially in the first half, why the Ravens had a better defensive DVOA in the regular season in the games Lewis missed than they did in the games he played.

As we noted in last week’s column, of course, defensive front seven is the hardest position to select All-KCW nominees at. We end up relying on various heuristics, choosing players we think aren’t very good on defenses and in particular units that seem to struggle. Since we have these nifty advanced stats for individual defensive players, they’re an interesting and sometimes (though not always) insightful tool to use to help us identify players who particularly struggled at their assignments or who struggled to make a positive impact on the game by making particularly positive plays.

Was Lewis the only choice we could have made at middle linebacker? No, certainly not. Was he the worst middle linebacker to play in the NFL in 2012? No, almost certainly not. That didn’t stop us from picking a player for whom the answer to those questions was also "no" at other positions; we selected Mark Sanchez, and I'm pretty sure he was the best quarterback on the Jets last year. (He also finished last in DYAR and had the butt-fumble. We had reasons for picking him.)

In other words, I apologize for how my comments in Audibles came across, which was contrary to the spirit I intended. That the Ravens finished with a fine record with Lewis in the lineup despite his apparent lack of positive contributions is, in my opinion, more of a testament to the quality of the other players in the lineup on defense and offense, luck, and the randomness that is the NFL playoffs of late.

In any event, congratulations to Ray Lewis and the rest of the Ravens on winning the Super Bowl, and I'm sure we'll rightly see him in five years when it comes time for him to be selected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

And thus endeth Mike and Tom's Excellent Fake Gambling Adventure of 2013.

Mike: It was, indeed, most excellent.

FO Staff Playoff Fantasy Update

We have a back-to-back staff league champion, as Danny Tuccitto prevails for the second consecutive season thanks to what was mostly a very balanced roster. He benefited from the Seahawks' fine offensive performances (in fantasy terms, at the minimum) and the services of Dennis Pitta, top-scoring tight end. Aaron came close, and would have won had he selected Anquan Boldin instead of Torrey Smith, but was undone in part by injuries to Rob Gronkowski and Steven Hauschka.

FO Playoff Fantasy Final Results
Mike Rivers Tom Danny Aaron Sean
QB Aaron Rodgers Tom Brady Peyton Manning Russell Wilson Colin Kaepernick Matt Ryan
  38 45 20 58 95 47
RB Ray Rice BenJarvus Green-Ellis Arian Foster Marshawn Lynch Adrian Peterson Frank Gore
  42 0 50 28 9 59
RB Alfred Morris Vick Ballard Michael Turner DuJuan Harris Knowshon Moreno Stevan Ridley
  8 9 12 27 11 20
WR A.J. Green Eric Decker Andre Johnson Demaryius Thomas Michael Crabtree Roddy White
  8 8 17 9 42 23
WR Reggie Wayne Sidney Rice Randall Cobb Wes Welker Brandon Lloyd Jordy Nelson
  11 8 4 30 16 9
WR Pierre Garcon Golden Tate Julio Jones James Jones Torrey Smith Brandon Stokley
  5 19 35 19 33 8
TE Jermaine Gresham Aaron Hernandez Jacob Tamme Dennis Pitta Rob Gronkowski Tony Gonzalez
  0 16 4 32 0 24
K Justin Tucker Josh Brown Mason Crosby Stephen Gostkowski Steven Hauschka Matt Prater
  29 8 12 18 10 5
D Ravens 49ers Packers Broncos Patriots Seahawks
  29 9 11 11 -3 4
Total 170 122 165 232 213 199

Best of the Rest

A hearty congratulations to mjb for winning Best of the Rest with a fantastic total of 285 points. Not only was that well ahead of Danny’s Staff League-leading total, but it was also the best score in the history of FO playoff fantasy, ahead of Danny's 274 last year. The winning team consisted of Joe Flacco, Bernard Pierce, Jacquizz Rodgers, Anquan Boldin, Greg Jennings, Jacoby Jones, Vernon Davis, Matt Bryant, and Falcons defense.

The ideal Best of the Rest team would have had on it Flacco, Pierce, Shane Vereen, Boldin, Jennings, Jones, Davis, David Akers or Shayne Graham, and Redskins defense, which combined for 318 points. This is the first time in the four years we have been doing Scramble that every player on the ideal Best of the Rest team was actually chosen by a Best of the Rest team. Congratulations to puffbronfman, who was the only participant to select Vereen and finished in third place with 219 points, and to Zac who finished in second with 231 points. Full Best of the Rest results can be accessed here.

For the curious, here were the top scorers at each position, with players eligible for Best of the Rest in italics

Joe Flacco-99 points
Colin Kaepernick-95 points
Russell Wilson-58 points
Matt Ryan-47 points
Tom Brady-45 points

Running Back:
Frank Gore-59 points
Arian Foster-50 points
Ray Rice-42 points
Shane Vereen-33 points
Marshawn Lynch-28 points
DuJuan Harris-27 points
Stevan Ridley-20 points
Bernard Pierce-17 points
John Kuhn-13 points
Michael Turner-12 points

Wide Receiver
Anquan Boldin-61 points
Michael Crabtree-42 points
Julio Jones-35 points
Torrey Smith-33 points
Jacoby Jones/Wes Welker-30 points
Roddy White-23 points
James Jones/Golden Tate-19 points
Greg Jennings/Andre Johnson-17 points

Tight End
Dennis Pitta-32 points
Vernon Davis-30 points
Tony Gonzalez-24 points
Owen Daniels-17 points
Aaron Hernandez-16 points

Justin Tucker-29 points
David Akers/Shayne Graham-24 points
Matt Bryant-19 points
Stephen Gostkowski-18 points

Ravens-29 points
Broncos/Packers-11 points
49ers-9 points
Redskins-5 points

FO Playoff Challenge!

Our winner is Piss Ant, run by Dave. Dave managed to hold off the competition thanks to big weeks from, who else, Joe Flacco and Frank Gore. Check the final scores here.


Tom: Now, we normally make fun of commercials, but this is our annual column where we talk about commercials we like. Before we say nice things, Mike, did you want to talk about Phil Simms or any other aspects of CBS's broadcast of the Super Bowl?

Mike: The less said about Phil Simms, the better.

Tom: Well put. What were your thoughts on this year's crop of commercials?

Mike: Somewhat underwhelming, really. Few commercials really stood out from the pack, and the official Scramble King of Commercials, Old Spice, was conspicuously absent this year. This actually fits in with the rest of this year's commercials, which were decidedly not high concept. I'm a sucker for high concept. Your mileage may vary.

Tom: Not only was Old Spice missing, but so was Scramble's King of Pitchmen, Peyton Manning.


Mike: The only one that I can think of that was high concept, actually, was Samsung. They usually have terrible commercials, but did a great job bringing together two actors, a good cameo, and the fear of irrelevance.

Tom: Samsung? Was that the ad with the people who must have been famous that I didn't recognize?

Mike: I know you live under a rock, Tom, but that is a bit extreme. You should at least recognize LeBron James.

Tom: Well, okay, I do recognize LeBron James. It didn't hurt that they said "LeBron" right before showing him. I didn't recognize any of the other people in the commercial, though the non-Seth actor is a guy I recognized, though I'm not sure where I had seen him before. I have no idea if the Samsung employees were people who are in any way famous, or just Seth and the guy I vaguely recognized were.

Mike: I'm fairly certain the Samsung people are just other actors. I'm not sure there's anyone associated with Samsung that is actually famous, and if they were, they'd be Korean.

Tom: Fair enough.


Tom: Oh, I should point out the one ad truly related to the Super Bowl that I really liked, namely Jell-O's Pudding Surprise.

Mike: That was a delightful ad, if a bit mean-spirited.

Tom: I'd seen a headline somewhere that Jell-O was going to do something for the Super Bowl loser in some way, but didn't pay attention to it, as I tried to go into the game unspoiled of what was to happen.

Mike: Hilariously mean-spirited.

Tom: Yeah, I have no idea how I would have reacted to an ad like that if it had aired right after Kevin Dyson was tackled at the one-yard-line to end the game. This year, though, I loved it.


Mike: I'm actually surprised GE's Smart Machines wasn't a Super Bowl ad. They sort of wasted it for the season, since it has a lot of quasi-cameos and nostalgia. I think it would have been a great Super Bowl spot, but as it was, it didn't have the same effect.

Tom: Yeah, that did feel more like a Super Bowl ad, though my feelings on it may be covered by my ability to endlessly quote Short Circuit.

"Great, so instead of $11 million dollars on the loose, we'll have $22." "Plus, we are needing gas money."

"Hey, laser lips, your momma was a snowblower."

Mike: I'm cutting this off. For all of our sakes.

Tom: I am standing here beside myself!


Tom: One ad I'm curious about your take on is Budweiser's Clydesdales ad, Brotherhood. Bud has so many commercials during the Super Bowl most years that they have different campaigns, most of them typically unexciting to me, but they normally have one good one.

Mike: It usually involves the Clydesdales.

Tom: Not always. Don't forget Product Placement.

Mike: True.

Tom: What was your take on this year's ad?

Mike: I thought it was all right. It was a little less pomp and a little more heart, which was nice, but in the end it's a commercial for beer featuring horses, which is always a bit odd.

Tom: I kind of liked it, but South Park set such a high bar with their use of "Landslide" that Bud suffered in comparison. As a friend of mine also pointed out, Bud is kind of the villain here. They take their horse away from our protagonist, and he doesn't see him in the parade because of the blinders Bud put on.

Mike: I'm pretty sure that if the protagonist doesn't want to see horses he trains go away, he should stop being a horse trainer. And instead be a horse keeper.

Tom: True.

Mike: Any other commercials you particularly liked?

Tom: Ah, yes.

NFL Network

Tom: We can't go without discussing maybe the biggest commercial of the game.

Mike: Oh, right. I dislike Deion Sanders severely, as we have discussed in past columns. That commercial, however, was absolutely brilliant. And honestly was probably my favorite of the night.

Tom: I also have to point out Mr. Sandcastle has his own P-F-R page already as well.

Mike: I'm really surprised that the NFL didn't dig up a Ron Mexico joke for this one, honestly. Although I'm not complaining.

Tom: They're not going to make a joke using a name you can't, or at least couldn't, have put on a jersey.

Mike: I'm not saying they name the character Ron Mexico. But it isn't that hard to go for a quick and easy Bob Ecuador. Lord knows, this staff has never felt shy about going back to that well!

Tom: Are you requesting another Cleveland Browns joke, Mike, to finish out the season?

Mike: Perish the thought.


Keep Chopping Wood: When Chris Culliver struggled in coverage, Donte Whitner was never available to help him out. Some of that credit must go to Jim Caldwell's play-calling, as we saw Broncos safety Mike Adams, for one, similarly popping up in unhelpful spots on the field. In any event, both Culliver and Whitner had too many breakdowns.

Mike Martz Award: Though he won it, Jim Harbaugh's spot challenge (a notoriously difficult type of challenge to win) could have cost the 49ers a crucial timeout in the second half. His decision to kick a field goal down eight on fourth-and-2 in the red zone was also non-ideal. He deserves a great deal of credit for his work this season, including intelligent aggressiveness, but Sunday was not his finest moment.

Colbert Award: John Harbaugh, fake field goal. It did not work. It probably should have. One of your Scramble writers went on record in Audibles saying he would not have made the call. It was still a bold move.

Posted by: Mike Kurtz and Tom Gower on 06 Feb 2013

49 comments, Last at 10 Feb 2013, 5:14pm by wadingshorebird


by Mike Kurtz :: Wed, 02/06/2013 - 5:08pm

Bonus game time! Some of you have noticed a theme to many of Scramble's titles this year. Here's your chance to win absolutely nothing by pairing the title with the game in which it appeared (or the track the title was based on)! Sure, you could look at wikipedia for the answers, but that wouldn't be very sporting, now, would it? Here are the titles:

Blinded by Light
Chosen by the Planet
Cry in Sorrow
Shrine of Inept
Nascent Requiem
Beyond the Deep Blue Sea
Let the Battles Begin
Little Rascal
Lunatic Pandora
The Unforgiven
The Hanging Edge
Ahead on Our Way
March of the Dreadnoughts
Into the Darkness
The New Origin

And after you've guessed, go and listen to the songs. And the soundtracks! They're all really good!

And most of all, thanks for being a great readership for another year of Scramble for the Ball.

by Travis :: Wed, 02/06/2013 - 5:27pm

Obviously, "The Unforgiven" is from Guitar Hero: Metallica.

by herm :: Wed, 02/06/2013 - 6:23pm

Blinded by the Light-?????
Chosen by the Planet-FFVII
Cry in Sorrow-An SNES FF
Shrine of Inept-??????
Nascent Requiem-?????
Beyond the Deep Blue Sea-FFV
Let the Battles Begin-This is probably one of the battle themes translated in a somewhat different way than I'm used to.
Little Rascal-FFXII
Lunatic Pandora-FFVIII
The Unforgiven-FFVI
The Hanging Edge-?????
Ahead on Our Way-FFVII
March of the Dreadnoughts-?????
Into the Darkness-FFIV
The New Origin-??????

Assuming most of the ones I missed are from NES FFs and XIII/XIII-2.

by Andrew Potter :: Wed, 02/06/2013 - 9:31pm

Nascent Requiem, The Hanging Edge, and March of the Dreadnoughts are from FFXIII.

by BigDerf :: Wed, 02/06/2013 - 11:01pm

My respect for the Scramble writers went wayyyy up when I saw this, and my self-respect plummetted for not noticing it myself.

by DavidL :: Thu, 02/07/2013 - 12:49am

I was hoping you'd use Battle on the Big Bridge somewhere, but I can't imagine how it would tie into football.

Also, Let the Battles Begin is FF7, I think? Ahead on Our Way is a recurring title; 5 used it too.

by RickD :: Wed, 02/06/2013 - 5:31pm

Tom, watch The 40-year Old Virgin.

And if you get the DVD, watch the extras including a lot of banter between Seth and Paul.

The Samsung tie-in is that they both work (along with Steve Carell) in an electronics shop.

by Andrew Potter :: Wed, 02/06/2013 - 5:32pm

Or don't watch it, as it's one of the worst movies ever made. Whichever.

Only movie I've ever walked out of the cinema in the middle of.

by bubqr :: Thu, 02/07/2013 - 7:40pm

Not nearly as bad as Pocahontas/The New World by Terrence Malik, which has to be the most overrated movie of all time.

by sundown (not verified) :: Thu, 02/07/2013 - 12:03pm

See, I knew who they were and still missed all of that. That setup walks a fine line between being really clever and way too ambitious for a commercial whose end goal isn't to remind you of old movies and the B-list actors who played in them.

Super Bowl advertising is pretty absurd. Insanely expensive and so many of the commercials are constructed not to sell the product but to be spectacles onto themselves. Many are never shown again except for that one time because everybody knows they're not really effective sales tools.

I saw an article a year or so back where a researcher tracked market share and sales figures for companies who heavily advertised during the SB versus competitors who didn't and there was no advantage to SB advertising at all. It's an ego thing for executives to prove their company is such a big deal they can advertise then.

by Fictional Character (not verified) :: Thu, 02/07/2013 - 12:56pm

"Old" movies? From seven years ago? Really? That's "old?" Is "The Usual Suspects" (Bryan Singer, USA 1996) from the Paleolithic Age?

by Kyle D. (not verified) :: Thu, 02/07/2013 - 2:34pm

Seven years is a long time by Hollywood standards. Somebody is probably already considering remaking it!

by Dean :: Wed, 02/06/2013 - 5:49pm

The Clydesdale ad would have been much better if they'd used a different song. Yes, it was appropriate for the ad, but the band still sucks. Fleetwood Mac should please stop thinkin' about tomorrow.

by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Wed, 02/06/2013 - 7:57pm

I love that the ad on that P-F-R page is for jail record searches.

by zerlesen (not verified) :: Wed, 02/06/2013 - 9:39pm

Bringing together *two* actors? Alas, no love for Bob Odenkirk...

by Sgood (not verified) :: Thu, 02/07/2013 - 12:30pm


by DGL :: Thu, 02/07/2013 - 10:19am

Everyone who thought the highest-scoring fantasy QB, WR, and TE in the playoffs would be Joe Flacco, Anquan Boldin, and Dennis Pitta, stand up.

Siddown, Caldwell.

by mjb :: Fri, 02/08/2013 - 12:20am

*cough* *cough*

Yeah, there was one other guy.

By the way, if Pitta was available I would have taken him over Vernon Davis.

by Harris :: Thu, 02/07/2013 - 10:50am

At least there was no praise for that insipid "God Made a Farmer" ad. Or, to steal a line from a friend, "God Made a Welfare Recipient."

by sundown (not verified) :: Thu, 02/07/2013 - 11:47am

I actually loved that commercial. And unless you're growing your own food, you should thank all those welfare recipients.

by Sgood (not verified) :: Thu, 02/07/2013 - 12:32pm

This comment helped me understand why you dislike the Seth Rogen, Paul Rudd, Bob Odenkirk Samsung commercial. Thank you!

by sundown (not verified) :: Thu, 02/07/2013 - 1:33pm

Because people who like farmers also recognize poorly written commercials? Hmm, I'd never made that connection myself, but thanks for pointing it out.

by DavidL :: Thu, 02/07/2013 - 12:44pm

I have no problem with the text of the speech, but the part where that somehow translates into BUY OUR TRUCKS is the insipid bit. It's "This Is Our Country" with a better soundtrack but the same underlying sentiment.

by sundown (not verified) :: Thu, 02/07/2013 - 1:50pm

I totally agree it was insipid and manipulative...but it was also a pretty darn effective commercial. It was attention-grabbing enough I actually stopped what I was doing to watch it and figure out who the advertiser was. It had the whole "Americana" thing going, it was a tip of the hat to a long-time core market, and also tied into the feelings that lead suburbanites to decide they "need" a big pickup truck which is another core market segment.

by bravehoptoad :: Thu, 02/07/2013 - 2:16pm

Most of the recipients these days are conglomerates rather than family farmers.

by Harris :: Thu, 02/07/2013 - 6:30pm

I'm sure ADM, ConAgra and Cargill would appreciate my gratitude, but they'll just have to console themselves with farm subsidies and price supports.

by wadingshorebird (not verified) :: Sun, 02/10/2013 - 5:14pm


Or in other words: my sentiments exactly. There aren't (m)any small family farmers left. The commercial was well-shot and attention grabbing but ultimately based on a premise that has long since stopped being true in America... all in order to sell ridiculously inefficient trucks to people who don't need them.

by Steve in WI :: Thu, 02/07/2013 - 2:11pm

I'm amazed by how many people loved that commercial. It was sort of memorable, sure, which I'm sure is what they were going for. But it said absolutely nothing about why anyone should buy a Ram instead of an F150, or a Silverado, or another truck. The rugged farmers the ad praised wouldn't buy a truck because of some schmaltzy ad; they'd buy it because it had the specifications they needed at the price it made sense to pay. (And the suburban truck owner demographic is given nothing to convince them to buy it, either, unless the blatant emotional appeal is enough).

I'm probably skirting the rule against political commentary here, but I do think it's also worth pointing out that the independent small farmer that the ad praises is a shrinking breed and that most of our food is grown by large, faceless corporations...this isn't the place to debate what that means or if it's good or bad, but I do think it's worth pointing out.

by Kevin from Philly :: Thu, 02/07/2013 - 8:08pm

And God needed someone to do unntural things to sheep, pigs and goats...so, he made a farm hand.

by sundown (not verified) :: Thu, 02/07/2013 - 11:46am

"Samsung? Was that the ad with the people who must have been famous that I didn't recognize?"

It's always a fine line with celebrity commercials because once you're past the absolute A-list, half (or more) of the people watching won't know their names. And if you make people think too hard, they miss the actual point of the commercial while trying to place who the pitchmen are. I'm sure is why so many commercials sort of "force" the people's names into the script.

But I really didn't think that Samsung ad was all that funny. The irony to me was their line in the commercial about not needing anybody other than LeBron was actually spot-on--they could have had a better commercial with just LeBron! (And I don't say that as a LeBron fan, but just because I didn't think what they had was all that great.)

by Dean :: Thu, 02/07/2013 - 1:04pm

Along those same lines, I still don't know if Budweiser's new product had commercials full of "celebrities" I'd never heard of before (very likely) or all these people wearing black clothese were supposed to be generic trendy douchebags (also very likely)?

Either way, I wasn't likely to drink the product in the first place, but the ad made me even less interested.

by sundown (not verified) :: Thu, 02/07/2013 - 1:31pm

I didn't recognize any of them if they were celebrities. I thought they were just the "generically cool people." That was a perfect example of the product being an afterthought in the commercial. They barely mentioned anything about the beer, you're expected to run out and buy it based on the bottle and their choices of models in the commercial.

I did learn that apparently I need to wear black when drinking it so I color-coordinate with the bottle.

by Kyle D. (not verified) :: Thu, 02/07/2013 - 3:51pm

That Bud commercial perfectly summed up the product.

Here's how the product development process went: "Our research shows 63.7% of Bud and Bud Light drinkers sometimes buy a darker beer. Maybe we can make them buy a darker beer from us if we put it in a cool bottle and shelve it right next to the Bud and Bud Light. Now, let's just make sure we don't offend anybody with the commercial. Multi-ethnic parties with attractive people are pretty inoffensive."

by sundown (not verified) :: Thu, 02/07/2013 - 12:24pm

I guess the losing coach pretty much has to win the Mike Martz award, but I'm not sold on any of the supposed mistakes listed about Jim Harbaugh. He WON the spot challenge (and it was a pretty obvious one as spot challenges go, which is clearly why they did challenge) so saying it COULD have cost them a timeout is irrelevant. And given how the game turned out, taking the field goal down 8 really wasn't a factor.

And I'm not buying that the Ravens' fake FG "probably should have" worked. I think it was a near miracle the kicker came as close as he did and that he doesn't even make it that far the vast majority of the time. I believe they needed 9 yards? Expecting a kicker to run for that distance is crazy. And adding 3 points to the lead then would have come in handy for them at the end of the game. "Take sure points early, especially when you're already ahead" is sound advice.

by Tom Gower :: Thu, 02/07/2013 - 12:45pm

Chase Stuart of Football Perspective had a long post I mostly agree with on Jim's sub-optimal coaching. Plus, I don't recall John doing anything dumb.

As I mentioned in Audibles and noted in the award write-up, I would have kicked the field goal. Still, the fake was a bold, unexpected, and non-crazy call, which in our view made it a worthy Colbert winner.

by bravehoptoad :: Thu, 02/07/2013 - 2:21pm

4th and 2 on the San Francisco 20 towards the end of the game. Kicking the field goal left them up 5; making the TD would have left them up 9. In this case, deciding for the FG cost the Ravens something like 7% winning probability (Brian Burke analysis).

by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Thu, 02/07/2013 - 2:29pm

And going for it and missing leaves them up 2. Considering SF made it to the 5 yard line, and had been moving the ball well for much of the game...

by bravehoptoad :: Fri, 02/08/2013 - 7:46pm

Sounds like that strengthens the argument for going for the 9-point lead.

by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Thu, 02/07/2013 - 2:35pm

"How Not to Understand Two Point Conversions"

This whole section would have been fine if it weren't one elaborate strawman. The odds of converting, goal-to-go, from the 2, in a one-play context, are not 50% or greater.

You might as well perform an analysis by assuming you will always successfully convert, because once you're living in fantasy world -- dream big, my friend.

by Chase (not verified) :: Fri, 02/08/2013 - 1:27am

Not sure why you think that. I linked to the post where I looked at the data and concluded that for an average offense (which underrates SF), the 2-point conversion rate based on historical data is 50%.

by Steve in WI :: Thu, 02/07/2013 - 2:18pm

I guess I look at all 3 situations as risk vs. reward. The spot challenge was pretty low-reward given that even though they won, the Ravens still had 3rd and 1, which as expected they converted. If Harbaugh was pretty much certain the call would be overturned, then it was very low risk as well and worth making, but I don't look at that as a play that really changed the outcome of the game.

I think the 4th and 2 decision down 8 could have gone either way - going for it there would have been high-risk, high-reward. If they scored the TD and went for 2 (as I assume they would have), then their final drive would have either been down 2 or a tie game, with a chance to kick a short field goal to take the lead rather than having to go for the TD on 4th down. (Of course, Baltimore would have gotten the ball back with time to try a winning/tying field goal if they could get into range). Of course, if they'd failed to convert, then that final drive would have needed a TD and a 2 point conversion just to tie. I think that was a decision that wasn't really wrong either way.

The fake field goal seemed to be low-risk, high-reward. If it fails, as it did, then SF gets the ball pinned deep in their own territory and if they go 3 and out, as they did, Baltimore gets it back in decent field position. If it works and you get a TD out of the drive, then you've really got your foot on SF's throat. At that point, Baltimore's offense was cruising and SF wasn't doing much; I can see the decision to be aggressive there. That said, I do agree that trying to rush for 9 yards on a fake is a little insane.

by Perfundle :: Thu, 02/07/2013 - 2:53pm

"And given how the game turned out, taking the field goal down 8 really wasn't a factor."

Umm... what? If they went for it,succeeded, and eventually gotten a touchdown, they would've been down either 2 points or 0 points before the start of the 4th quarter, instead of 10 minutes left in the 4th. How can that not have influenced the game?

Whether he should gone for it or not is a different matter, and I can see your reasoning for the other points, but I think those two timeouts he took (or allowed his QB to take) were far worse. When you're down in the second half, taking timeouts when you're on offense is really, really bad.

by Jerry :: Thu, 02/07/2013 - 11:38pm

I haven't read anything about this since the game, but isn't it possible that from film study, the Ravens thought that play would go for nine yards against the Niners FG block team?

by Insancipitory :: Thu, 02/07/2013 - 11:57pm

I think it was an automatic call that if the 9ers lined up such that they weren't going to have an unblocked defender, they were going to run it. It was a great play to string that run out for the turnover on downs. I don't think anyone knew the kicker had wheels like that. Maybe it didn't work, but it didn't work because the 9ers made a nice play on it. They get paid too. I see that play as a credit to the 9ers not a deficit in the Ravens.

by o-dawg :: Thu, 02/07/2013 - 2:19pm

In Canada, we missed all those commericals (except Samsung). But, for the second year in a row, we got our own hockey-themed Budweiser commercial. Look up Real-Time Goal Light.
Yes, every male is Canada is now asking, "Do I just need one, or one for every room in the house?"

by Dean :: Thu, 02/07/2013 - 2:36pm

Sadly, I'm only an American. All I thought was "where can I get one?" I was not wise enough to think of purchasing multiples. Tip of the toque to my northern friends!

by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Thu, 02/07/2013 - 4:21pm

So Budweiser is offering to install them for free in the greater Toronto area?

Is that because, in that market, if it doesn't work, you'd never know?

by TreeRol (not verified) :: Thu, 02/07/2013 - 4:38pm

What was the adjudication on the Beyonce hair bet? Bovada didn't seem to show it on their site, and didn't respond to a tweet asking them.

(I may or may not have $5 riding on this.)

by Tom Gower :: Thu, 02/07/2013 - 6:21pm

The email's from Bovada PR guy called it curly/crimped. The only bet we couldn't adjudicate was tweets per second.