Football Outsiders
Innovative Statistics, Intelligent Analysis

Week 15 Open Game Discussion

Week 15 kicks off with Broncos-Colts in the Life Was Better When We Had Peyton Manning Bowl, and then Saturday football returns with Bears-Lions and Chargers-Chiefs. Big Sunday games include Packers-Panthers, Rams-Seahawks, and of course the game of the year in Patriots-Steelers. Sunday night has Cowboys-Raiders, and it wraps up Monday night with Falcons-Buccaneers. Use this thread to discuss it all.


184 comments, Last at 19 Dec 2017, 11:23am

1 Re: Week 15 Open Game Discussion

What a horrible interception (again) from Siemian. Not even a ‘gunslinger’ type throw into tight coverage, there was no window to complete that pass, thrown like that. If he’d thrown it over the top it would have been risky but at least there would have been some intelligible process to the throw, but that was embarrassingly poor.

As a Broncos fan I figured after last year at worst he would be a long term serviceable backup, if he cannot stop these facepalm worthy throws he isn’t even that.

2 Re: Week 15 Open Game Discussion

I love that the TNF game got just one comment.

On the whole, I have found TNF way more palatable (quality of play wise) this year than in other recent ones, but still that was a stinker of a game. Also, the Colts color-rush unis were hideous.

I'm interested if the Colts ever considered that game for Manning's ceremony into the Ring of Honor? It would have been fitting, also a way to symbolically take ownership of Manning back (if that ever was in question). Kind of like how after he had his retirement press conference, he had a second, final, one in Indy.

7 Re: Week 15 Open Game Discussion

The Sunday Night game isn't horrible, but besides the obvious Pats-Steelers match, I have more interest in Rams at Seahawks, Packers at Panthers, or Chargers-Chiefs.

8 Re: Week 15 Open Game Discussion

Yeah, the NFC West showdown may not be as important as Pats-Steelers, but it's the one I'm the most looking forward to. A win basically (if not mathematically) wraps up the division for the Rams; a loss makes missing the playoffs entirely a realistic (if not favored) possibility. Plus, hey, Russell Wilson running around that Rams defense is always a thing to see.

28 Re: Week 15 Open Game Discussion

Warner has been okay on the radio, if nothing special. I didn't see any of his game today.

Brady Popoinga is FANTASTIC on radio broadcasts, by the way. I'd encourage anyone to pick up an AM broadcast if he's calling the game. He's sort of like a Romo of audio ;)

12 Re: Week 15 Open Game Discussion

Time for another season of FO slack gameday chat! For people who are already in, just go to For anyone that wants to join a star-studded cast of their favorite FO posters for gameday chat, just email me at and you will receive an invite

13 Re: Week 15 Open Game Discussion

Aaron Rodgers is back, and so are dumb timeouts as the play clock winds down. Third and nine from the Carolina thirteen, and he calls timeout. On the next play, he hits Davante Adams on a post route about five yards into the end zone.

15 Re: Week 15 Open Game Discussion

So on those first two long drives for Carolina, the Panthers apparently ran 26 plays without once having a WR touch the ball.

16 Re: Week 15 Open Game Discussion

How can people not be ranting about the Lions 'jerseys'. They are the ugliest things I have ever seen on a football field and I say that as Lions fan of 50 yrs who has seen lots of ugly things on a football field.

157 Re: Week 15 Open Game Discussion

As a Lions fan of 60 years standing, I agree with ChrisS and Mr. Piano...however, they are not even the worst NFL jerseys of the week; that award goes to the Colts' color rush abomination...and the all time worst color rush game is still the red-green color blind Bills-Jets game of unlamented memory...

20 Re: Week 15 Open Game Discussion

I’m not paying attention to that game, but the stats say 31-0 Jags, and Bortles has 3TD passes, 247 yards, and no turnovers. Not sure what more you want him to do. (For the record, I think his competent season this year is an outlier).

26 Re: Week 15 Open Game Discussion

I guess I can understand why Fox chose Green Bay vs Carolina as their national game with Rogers playing again, but still, really Fox? Does anyone actually believe this is a better game than the Rams at Seattle later?

Fox is assuming that more viewers care about a big name quarterback more than they care about watching what promises to be a more exciting and likely more well-played game, and even if they're right it's still bullshit because if that's what people care about, it's Fox's own fault because that's all football consumers have ever been given! And I DON'T think they're right anyway, considering the universal praise Romo's been getting, both from hardcore fans like us and from anybody with a twitter account.

38 Re: Week 15 Open Game Discussion

I don't think there's much Fox could do given the way the schedule fell. They don't have the doubleheader this week, Seattle can't host a game in the early slot, and CBS already has a huge matchup in the late slot. Now I think Seattle/LA would have made for a great Sunday nighter, but with the Cowboys involved...

42 Re: Week 15 Open Game Discussion

The NFL's broadcasting regime is complicated, so this might not be a 100% complete explanation, but basically they are trying to set up an exclusive window for one network in the late afternoon slot to get a large national viewing audience. Therefore the lead late doubleheader game is usually one of the best, most appealing games of the week.

Purely as a fan, I think it would be great for the NFL to experiment with making major changes to how their system works, and they'll probably be forced to pretty soon given how rapidly TV viewer habits are changing. (They may not have even fully understood what their fans really wanted in the first place, as you alluded to.) But giving most of the country their home team in the early slot and NE/PIT in the late slot does probably maximize ratings just within the framework of the current system.

27 Re: Week 15 Open Game Discussion

The Jets have actually been at least kinda hanging around with the Saints. If they still had McCown rather than Petty I think they might be winning.

36 Re: Week 15 Open Game Discussion

Wow, two successful onside kicks in the early games. Cutler throws and arm punt INT. Let’s see what Rodgers can do.

40 Re: Week 15 Open Game Discussion

Jets came very close to getting one as well. Down by 5 after a failed two-point conversion, the ball was loose down the sideline after a Panther player failed to catch it, but with only Jets players nearby the ball rolled out of bounds.

43 Re: Week 15 Open Game Discussion

Even worse, a Panther player failed to field an onside kick and it resulted in a Green Bay Packers recovery down in Carolina at the same time. How bad is your special teams when they are fumbling two kicks at the same time in different cities?

60 Re: Week 15 Open Game Discussion

The problem is that the rule discourages exciting athletic plays. Making a catch and reaching to the end zone is fun to watch but increases the chance of the ball moving slightly when it hits the ground. There's no reason why the rules for a catch when going to the ground should be that much more strict than any other situation.

45 Re: Week 15 Open Game Discussion

I am not a big fan of Pittsburgh, but that no TD call is I think that last time i intentionally watch a NFL game, no one even on the patriots had any questions that was a TD. And that is like the 8th time this year that I have had to sit through that and I only watch about half a game a week. It happens almost once a game now.

61 Re: Week 15 Open Game Discussion

It's a dumb rule, but they called it consistently with the Megatron no-TD.

Here's the logic to call it a TD:
a) receiver has control the ball
b) ball crosses the plane of the end zone

That should be it!! Why should I care if he's "going to the ground" after he scores a TD?
The NFL really needs to fix this rule.

This is really confusing me. I should be cheering for the Pats but the rule is so stupid it bothers me.

(Of course, the Steelers didn't have to follow that up with an interception...)

46 Re: Week 15 Open Game Discussion

Brady makes some terrible throws to Gronk and the Patriots get the lead. Steelers improbably get a 68 yard play on a dump pass. Make a play that everyone in the world thinks is a touchdown except the NFL. Then on a tipped pass the Patriots get an interception to win the game. Ridiculous

164 Re: Week 15 Open Game Discussion

Agreed. Tony Dungy had it exactly right on NBC later when he said something like "at every level OTHER THAN THE NFL, that's a touchdown".

The rule is stupid. The NFL is still trying to cover for the Megatron bullcrap all these years later. Hell, 15 yeas ago IN THE NFL that's a touchdown. It was a great game to watch until that point.

I'm not even going to go into the brainlock of the fake spike play. Throw it into the stands and go to OT, Ben, sheesh.

138 Re: Week 15 Open Game Discussion

Clearly? Really? I don't know about that. And even if it did, the ball can touch the ground and still be controlled. His right hand stayed on the ball the whole time, and even as his left hand kind of twisted off of it, he kept control of it with his arm. Watch when he got up--there was no attempt to re-establish a grip on the ball. It was securely in his hand.

In previous Steeler games alone, we've seen that "control of the ball" can include pinning it to your helmet with one hand or with both hands behind your leg as you do a somersualt in midair. I think James maintained as much control in this case as either of those.

49 Re: Week 15 Open Game Discussion

Goddamnit Jesse James, hold onto the freaking ball. Everyone knows by this point you can't let go at all if you catch it while not on your feet.

67 Re: Week 15 Open Game Discussion

Everyone is completely wrong on this.

The ball hitting the ground was NEVER a catch until Burt Emanuel.

They changed the rule to make it easier to make a catch but there is 1 caveat.

You must maintain full and absolute control through the catch when the ball hits the ground.

The ball moved when it hit the ground so clear and obvious NO CATCH.

This was the correct call with 100% certainty.

165 Re: Week 15 Open Game Discussion

Except that, in this case, the TD would have been secured when the ball broke the plane prior to the Megatron rule. The ground would have had nothing to do with it, since he had control when the ball broke the plane. In 1980, that's a TD. In 1990, that's a TD. In 2000, that's a TD. In 2017? Who knows?

88 Re: Week 15 Open Game Discussion

There is also an element of was there enough in the replay to say he definitely did not have his hand under the ball. I think the ball did move as his left hand lifted off it. He then reestablished position. It should have been a catch.

94 Re: Week 15 Open Game Discussion

Since the standard to overtun is irrefutable evidence I would agree that I think it should have been a chance since it's not clear whether his right hand was under the ball and was ruled a TD on the field.

However, I also think irrefutable evidence is a stupid rule and I would like to see both of these changed.

143 Re: Week 15 Open Game Discussion

Unfortunately, I don't know if "irrefutable evidence" is even still part of the rule. The league changes the standard every damned year, it's impossible to keep track. Reading through the message boards debating this play, I'm seeing little bits from previous versions of the NFL's failed attempts over the years to clarify this mess. No one has a clue, and it gets more embarrassing for the league every week.

53 Re: Week 15 Open Game Discussion

2 penalties for 4 yards against the Patriots in Pittsburgh. 6 for 63 against the Steelers, including a completely bogus DPI to gift the Patriots a FG. And a non-catch catch in the end zone that overturns a game winning Steeler touchdown. In Pittsburgh.
The one sided refereering for the Patriots in big games is the main reason that the NFL is losing viewership. Why should we bother watching NFL games when every year it is the same nonsense? Most people outside of New England don't want to see the Patriots 'win' year after year based on the most extraordinary 'luck'.

82 Re: Week 15 Open Game Discussion

Oh I forgot the other reason. The incredibly classless Patriot fans who gloat in everyone's faces after their team 'wins' by another reffing 'miracle' as if their team actually won something and didn't have it handed to them. Again.

75 Re: Week 15 Open Game Discussion

Maybe the calls were uneven because Pittsburgh intentionally pushed the envelope on physical play and dared the refs to throw flags? For example, on the Pats last FG drive on 3 and 10, the defender had his hands in the receiver's chest the entire time the ball was in the air, never turned around, and finally as the receiver reached out for a catchable ball, the DB shoved him to the ground, still not turning his head. That's the easiest call in the world to make and it gets made every time, except for this Sunday in Pittsburgh.
Pittsburgh's strategy on D was extremely successful and worth the handful of flags. How they lost this game, I still don't understand.

76 Re: Week 15 Open Game Discussion

A Patriot receiver was hit in the facemask while trying to make a catch in the end zone by a DB who made no effort to look back for the ball... no call.

Not sure why they don't call that if the league wanted the Patriots to win.

You know, Goodell and the league loves the Patriots.

They keep taking away draft picks over memos and science denial, but hey lets cry favoritism!

70 Re: Week 15 Open Game Discussion

After Deflategate, the idea that the NFL is biased in favor of the Patriots is disproven forever, and anyone who argues otherwise is full of it. The fact that a rule was enforced properly is not a sign of a vast conspiracy.

81 Re: Week 15 Open Game Discussion

Yes, it's not an argument that can be taken seriously. And the ruling today was entirely consistent with how that rule has been enforced in the past: just ask Calvin Johnson and Dez Bryant.

It's a terrible rule! I agree! Fix the rule!

(Also, don't try to win the game with a slant inside at the goal line.)

101 Re: Week 15 Open Game Discussion

Every independent expert who looked at the raw data concluded there was no evidence of anything other than cold weather and wet footballs.

Pats were robbed of draft picks b/c NFL decided their gut feelings should trump real science.

103 Re: Week 15 Open Game Discussion

I wasn't aware of any independent experts that concluded that there was no evidence. The Patriots trotted out all kinds of bought 'experts', but not one report I saw made a credible argument that Brady didn't deflate the footballs. Doesn't matter now.

104 Re: Week 15 Open Game Discussion

I wasn't aware of any independent experts that concluded that there was no evidence. The Patriots trotted out all kinds of bought 'experts', but not one report I saw made a credible argument that Brady didn't deflate the footballs. Doesn't matter now.

111 Re: Week 15 Open Game Discussion

I read it. It wasn't credible. It was written by a huge Patriot homer. After reading it, I thought he should have been expelled by the university. It's one thing to write garbage like that as an independent person, which he did. But when he signed it as an MIT professor, and invoked his credentials, despite the university not having anything to do with it, he ventured into fraud.
It was garbage written so that Patriot homers could pretend that Brady hadn't cheated.

116 Re: Week 15 Open Game Discussion

That's your opinion. I would rather trust the MIT Department of Chemistry, the most prestigious one in North America, than some guy on a chatboard. Unless there's some other equally valid authority that you can cite to back up your contention that his report is invalid, your opinion on whether or not an MIT professor is a liar on a question of science doesn't hold much weight in my book.

149 Re: Week 15 Open Game Discussion

We are on a stats based website and there are clowns arguing that Deflategate was real.

The NFL spent the following year measuring every football in every condition. They looked at the data that clearly exonerated Brady and buried it so no one would ever see it. The original measurements of the footballs in question that day were not written down!

The NFL was caught lying multiple times in court. The Wells report was written by people who also wrote reports stating that asbestos and second hand smoke are not harmful.

The only people who don't know that this was a farce are the ones who don't want to know.

The Earth is not flat and it revolves around the sun in case this is unclear to you.

71 Re: Week 15 Open Game Discussion

I thought it was the wrong call. I did see the bobble and understand the rule, but I thought he had his hands under the ball and reestablished possession without the ball hitting the ground. At least I didn't see anything in the replay to say that the ruling should be overturned. Two strikes.

Hopefully these teams will meet again soon and the Steelers can close it properly.

78 Re: Week 15 Open Game Discussion

The most Brady era Patriots-type of ending to that game. Can we just hand them the Lombardo now and save everyone the trouble?

84 Re: Week 15 Open Game Discussion

While we are talking missed penalties, how about that incredibly classless Gronkowski taunting after the 2-point conversion? A black player gets 15 every time.
Or is it no longer a penalty to tackle a receiver in the end zone before the interception? That's a DPI every time if its Gronkowski on the receiving end.

96 Re: Week 15 Open Game Discussion

What are you talking about? Gronkowski gets OPI called against him more than any other player in football. Also, trying to make a questionable officiating call into a race issue is proof that you have no reasonable evidence to support your claims.

100 Re: Week 15 Open Game Discussion

It is a race issue. If a black player acted like Gronkowski he would be labeled a thug and have so many OPI's called against him that he would be out of football. Instead, he is allowed to push off just about every play, attack defenseless players on the ground, taunt players without getting penalized, and while he gets the occasional OPI called against him, he gets DPI calls whenever the Patriots need one to steal another game. Like today.

102 Re: Week 15 Open Game Discussion

Gronkowski DOES get more OPIs called against him than ANY black player. And the fact that you're arguing that he gets away with everything literally in his first game back from a suspension for one of the incidents you cited is proof that you're either trolling or not thinking clearly.

107 Re: Week 15 Open Game Discussion

He's had the 2nd most OPIs against him this season. Deandre Hopkins leads the league, and Gronk is tied with Michael Crabtree. He had none called against him last year, tied for the league with Mike Evans in 2015 and none accepted in 2014 (one declined). He gets called for OPI because he pushes off all the time.

108 Re: Week 15 Open Game Discussion

He also missed a large portion of the 2016 season and was fined for unnecessary roughness several times in 2014. In the past three years, he's finished 2nd (so far), none because he was injured, and 1st in OPI called. He gets called for OPI all the time because there is no such thing as incidental contact with him- he's so big that any incidental contact always looks like his fault.

109 Re: Week 15 Open Game Discussion

I see.
Let me spell my argument out for you, since you seem to be struggling with logic.
1) Gronkowski commits (Y) far and away more OPI than any player that ever played the game;
2) Gronkwoski is called for very few of these OPI's (X);
3) Even thought the ratio of OPI calls (X) to OPI offenses (Y) for Gronkowski is much lower than most players;
4) Because he commits so many, he gets more OPI's called than other players;
5) Which is to say, the ratio of OPI calls (X) to OPI offenses (Y) committed by Gronkwoski, is lower than the ratio of OPI calls (A) to OPI offenses (B) committed than any other player;
6) Therefore, my argument, and the argument of most football fans outside of New England, is that:
(X)/(Y) < (A)/(B)
7) So, Y > (X)(B)/(A)

Let's say the next worse player commits 20 OPI's a year, and gets called for 10 of them.
A = 10 B =20
Now let's make a conservative estimate for Gronkowski. He commits 100 OPI (Y), and gets called for, let's see, oh yeah. THREE 3! (X) this year.

So, the math is 100 > (3)(20)/(10)

100 > 60/10

100 > 6

Does that clear it up for you?

112 Re: Week 15 Open Game Discussion

Your entire argument is based on the faulty premise that the NFL is biased in favor of the Patriots/Gronkowski. But if the NFL was biased, why wouldn't they just, I don't know, not call more penalties on him than any other player? What's the difference between calling 10 % and 5% of the penalties he allegedly commits? Your argument, as I see it, is that the NFL calls him more than any other player but less than he deserves because they're biased in favor of him. If I wanted to help a player cheat, I would definitely call far more penalties on him than any other player too. Occam's Razor is in effect here, and you don't seem to understand that. The fact that you think the NFL is biased in favor of him is disproven by the very fact that they punish him more than any other player. Your hypothetical that he commits hundreds of uncalled penalties (the central prong of your argument) is pretty ridiculous, and if there was any evidence of it, wouldn't some respectable journalists or commentators have pointed it out by now? Your argument requires conspiracy-theory levels of twisted logic to follow.

114 Re: Week 15 Open Game Discussion


Offensive Pass Interference penalties called against Gronkowski this year.


The number 3. 1,2 3!

Wait. How many OPI calls against Gronkowski this year?


117 Re: Week 15 Open Game Discussion

Which is still more than other players. In the past two years when Gronkowski has played, he's finished in the top two in OPI and offensive holding calls. Either the NFL is totally incompetent at helping a franchise cheat, or they aren't helping a franchise cheat. I'm a Redskins fan, not a Patriots fan. I just find it ridiculous when people act like the NFL and the Patriots are colluding to rig the sport when that is very clearly not the case.

120 Re: Week 15 Open Game Discussion

Deandre Hopkins has been flagged for OPI more over the last 3 years, 13 to 8.

85 Re: Week 15 Open Game Discussion

What's amazing to me is that Roethlisberger didn't just throw that ball through the endzone. The receiver was completely covered up, and with only one wr running a route, and bounce had a high chance of INT. Terrible decision.

95 Re: Week 15 Open Game Discussion

Interesting. I just went back and read the rule. It's not enforced the way it is written:
"Player Going to the Ground. A player is considered to be going to the ground if he does not remain upright long enough to demonstrate that he is clearly a runner. If a player goes to the ground in the act of catching a pass (with or without contact by an opponent), HE MUST MAINTAIN CONTROL OF THE BALL UNTIL AFTER HIS INITIAL CONTACT WITH THE GROUND, whether in the field of play or the end zone. If he loses control of the ball, and the ball touches the ground before he regains control, the pass is incomplete. If he regains control prior to the ball touching the ground, the pass is complete."
His initial contact with the ground is his knee hitting the ground, at which point he has control of the ball.

113 Re: Week 15 Open Game Discussion

Here's a link to Al Riveron explaining why the NE-PIT touchdown thing was the correct call:

133 Re: Week 15 Open Game Discussion

I never saw the ball clearly hit the ground, so I have no idea what the basis was for overturning the call.

There definitely was dpi on the interception, but that was a bang-bang call that is very, very, easy to miss in real time. Nothing like hallucinating the ball coming into contact with the ground, while watching it in super slow motion, because it just seems like it must have. Such contact wasn't shown on my television, however.

155 Re: Week 15 Open Game Discussion

Yeah, from the replays it looked very likely that the ball was on the ground. It wasn't definite from those angles though.

There are however photos plastered on ESPN that show your thought that it was highly likely to be on the ground to be correct.

161 Re: Week 15 Open Game Discussion

I believe there was a camera angle from the other side which for some reason they only showed once on the game broadcast where the ball was in contact with the ground. He never seemed to regrip it with his right hand though so that to me suggests he had control through the whole process.

170 Re: Week 15 Open Game Discussion

Agreed. As he hits the ground his left hand comes off of the ball and hits his face mask so cannot be unbder the football. His right hand is on the side of the (3 fingers visible) ball so only 2 fingers and part of a palm could be between the football and the ground. All of his weight is bearing down on the ball. So given a deform-able football and physics the ball must be touching the ground. I feel like I am examining the Zapruder film (but for higher stakes (smiley face emoji)).

132 Re: Week 15 Open Game Discussion

I don't know what mushrooms Al has in his Sunday omelettes, but the ball touching the ground is not clearly visible on that video. It's highly suggestible, by the movement of the ball, but, no in that shot we do not clearly see the ball hit the ground.

158 Re: Week 15 Open Game Discussion

So what? The broadcast doesn't show every camera shot available, and the producers often fail to show the shots that give the best view. The replay officials get to look at all of the shots. There were shots that very clearly show the ball on the ground.

This is such a straightforward play, I kind of feel sorry for everyone try to make a "Federal case" over it, because of their desperate fan emotions. When you catch the ball in the air, and lose control of the ball when you hit the ground, and the ball also hits the ground, it's an incomplete pass. That is..obvious, and pretty commonplace in football. The ONLY thing that made the play surprising was the initial broadcast angle the ball wasn't even visible, and the ref called touchdown, so no one had any initial suspicion it wasn't a catch. But, when you get a clear look at it, it's a slam dunk incomplete, easy for any ref to call correctly, and they did.

Making the story about the call is..lazy and stupid. The story is the same one with Derek Carr fumbling the ball into and out of the end zone for a touchback to lose the game: take care of the ball, or lose football games. Hmm, maybe that's why ball security "#1 on my hit parade" for Bill Belichick. He may be on to something...

163 Re: Week 15 Open Game Discussion

Lighten up, Francis. The only thing I wrote is that what was shown to the broadcast audience didn't show the ball on the ground. If the referee was provided a shot that did, fine. It would be nice to provide that shot to the broadcast audience, however.

160 Re: Week 15 Open Game Discussion

"Mike Pereira said the call shouldn't have been overturned."

"Forget the lunge. He's going to the ground and the ball hits the ground...Look, here is the rule. If you’re going to the ground you have to hold onto the ball when the ball hits the ground…Going to the ground trumps lunging/reaching to try and get extra yards or score a TD. You do that at your own risk. It’s incomplete…just ask Dez...People are saying a runner breaking the plane causes the ball to become dead…which is true. BUT the receiver does not become a runner until he completes the process of the catch. TOTALLY DIFFERENT"
- Mike Pereira

125 Re: Week 15 Open Game Discussion

The call was complete BS. The application of the rule is when his knee hit and whether or not his extending into the end zone was a football move in the context of the rule. Was he diving for the ball and then it came out when he made contact with the ground? Or did he make the catch, knee on the ground, and untouched, then purposely extend into the end zone.

It's even worse when contrasted with the no-call on the following interception.
Has it been reviewed and called just as wrong in other cases?
Is there any doubt that if it was Gronkowski on the catch, it would have stood?
Unfortunately, no.
The penalty disparity, the bad calls, once again, clearly the Patriots were the beneficiary of something going on behind the scenes.
The only question is how stupid does the NFL think their fans are? It's been going on way too long, and people are losing interest in the league. Clearly the NFL can't do anything about it.
That much money. An owner tied to organized crime in Las Vegas. Maybe there really is nothing to be done. One would think the other owners would have enough at some point.