If I can't see the red flag, did I really throw it? - Leon Halip
Looking back at the games played this past weekend.
Last week I said Tony Romo reminded me a little of Charlie Brown. Now that I've had some time to think about it I think a more appropriate comparison would be Alex Smith and Charlie Brown. Real nice guys who try to do the right thing but Lucy always pulls the ball away at the last second. Smith gets drafted #1 overall in what was considered a weak draft at the time and gets to play for one of the most dysfunctional teams in football with a new defensive minded head coach, Lucy pulls the ball away. Just as he seems to be getting things figured out under Norv Turner, Turner gets offered the head coaching job for the Chargers and Smith will get a deferent offensive coordinator, Lucy pulls the ball away. Smith continues to have a new offensive coordinator every year and a new defensive minded head coach who needs to look at film just to answer reporter's questions, Lucy pulls the ball away.
Finally Smith gets a coach who believes in him and creates an offense that plays to his strengths. Smith plays well and even leads two comebacks against the Saints in the playoffs but in the NFC Championship game Kyle Williams fumbles twice on special teams costing the 49ers the win and Smith a chance to lead the 49ers to a Super Bowl victory, Lucy pulls the ball away. In his second season under Harbaugh Smith is playing even better and has the highest completion percentage in the NFL and 3rd highest passer rating but has to leave a game after leading a TD drive because of a concussion. His backup comes in and has one of the most incredible games ever in his starting debut on Monday night football making sure the whole world could see. He then has a solid game in his second start in a hostile road environment and shows how much more dynamic the 49ers can be with him in the game, so despite playing very well Smith looks to have lost his starting job, Lucy pulls the ball away.
Smith has done everything that's been asked of him. He's been a good teammate and always tried to do the right thing. He's resigned with the 49ers even when most quarterbacks would have gone elsewhere. He's been 20-5-1 as a starter over the last two seasons and played well enough to get the 49ers to the Super Bowl last year but now it seems the team is ready to move on without him. It's easy to feel bad for him and say he doesn't deserve what's happened to him, but as William Muny said just before he blew little Bill's head off in perhaps the best Western of all time Unforgiven , "Deserves got nothing to do with it."
It actually seemed this week the theme was teams losing that didn't deserve to lose. It started early with the first game played on Thanksgiving, or as PETA likes to call it, the turkey holocaust. The Lions, losers of 9 straight games on share smallpox with strangers day, looked like the better team and even had a 24-14 lead over the Texans halfway through the 3rd quarter. That's when Justin Forsett of the Texans caught a pass, had his knee and elbow hit the ground, and then ran all the way into the end zone for an 81-yard TD. Since replays clearly showed he was down Lions coach Jim Schwartz threw the challenge flag. The problem is all scores are reviewed anyways, something new this season, and throwing the challenge flag resulted in a penalty and now the play couldn't be overturned.
Can someone please explain that to me? The point of reviewing all scores is to make sure they get it right, but if a coach throws the challenge flag they no longer care if they get it right? If you want to penalize them just take away a timeout and call it good. It would be like having an election that was really close and when the candidate that barely lost asks for a recount they tell him whenever there's a result that ends closer than .5% there's an automatic recount but now that he's asked for a recount they're no longer going to do it. What?! You may really have won but so what, we're going to stick with the wrong result.
Then there were the Chargers. They had a 13-3 lead with less than 5 minutes to play and a 13-10 lead with time running out and the Ravens needing to convert on 4th-and-29 just to keep the drive alive and have any shot at forcing overtime. So what did they do? "Hey Diddle Diddle, Ray Rice up the middle," Rice said in describing the play.
Rice takes a short check down pass and runs down the field while Chargers defender are looking for the Stanford band and standing all bunched together rather than being more spread out to block his cutback lanes. The final result was a 28.5-yard pass play that apparently is good enough to convert on 4th-and-29. "I left it in the hands of the officials and I'm not going to say they owed us one, but I'm glad we came out on top," Rice said. The Ravens then tied the game before winning it in overtime.
A great argument could be made that neither the Lions nor the Chargers deserved to lose their games just like Smith didn't deserve to lose his starting job, but as Snoop tells Mike just before he blows her head off in season 5 of the Wire, "Deserve got nothin to do with it." Now hurry Mike, Omar's going to be killed soon so you can take over as robber of drug dealers and Omar can go on to play Chalky White in Boardwalk Empire.
Carson Palmer got a chance to play again in Paul Brown Stadium and it must have felt like old times as the team he was playing for stunk it up, although it must have been a little weird hearing the fans cheer because of how his team was playing. Andy Dalton took advantage of the NFL's worst defense throwing for 210 yards and 3 TDs as they jumped out to a 24-0 first half lead and easily held on for the win. For the Bengals the win not only improved their playoff chances as they improved to 6-5, but it also means the 2nd round draft pick they'll get from the Raiders in the upcoming draft will be just a little bit higher. "I'm just really tired of losing," safety Mike Mitchell said. "It's going from anger to sadness to ... I don't know." It's called resignation. Is it too early to put the trade for Palmer in the top 5 of worst trades ever? A 1st and a 2nd round draft pick for an aging QB on the wrong side of 30 instead of using those high picks to help out, I don't know, that joke of a defense. What do you think the 49ers could get from the Raiders for Smith?
Well the Browns finally won a game and all it took was playing at home against a team that's down to their 3rd string QB and they turned the ball over 8 times. It was like watching the tortoise beat the hare except instead of constantly being distracted the hare had broken every bone in its body. The two teams combined for only 480 yards of total offense and 19 penalties, as well as 9 turnovers. "I have to put it on my shoulders," Charlie Batch who threw 3 interceptions said. "We had a chance to win, actually two, and I turned it over. Can't do that. I made some bad throws. We had all the fumbles, and yet we still had a chance to win, that's the crazy part." Is it any wonder Ben Roethlisberger has vowed to be back for their next game? He may be so pumped full of pain meds he won't even know what day of the week it is but even that would be better than watching them with Batch again.
All the focus has been on the play of Andrew Luck this season but it was another rookie who made the difference in this game. T.Y. Hilton returned a punt 75-yards to open the scoring for the Colts in the 1st quarter and caught an 8-yard pass from Luck late in the 3rd to increase their lead to 20-7. Oh, and in case you hadn't notice C.J. Spiller is pretty dang good running the ball 14 times for 107 yards in a losing effort for the Bills. His season average of 6.7 yards per carry is around the number of yards Chris Johnson was averaging per game earlier this season. It was a huge win for the Colts not just because they improved to 7-4 but because their coach Chuck Pagano was in attendance and they even had two cheerleaders shave their heads as a sign of support. "I couldn't be prouder of the football team, because Chuck was here and the goal was to make him smile when he left," interim coach Bruce Arians said. "I'm sure he's up there smiling." In case you're wondering, Pagano's not dead. He just went for a blimp ride after the game.
The Chiefs defense actually played a solid game against Peyton Manning but when your offense is led by quarterbacks that make even Mark Sanchez look good, it's tough to win. The Chiefs made two trips to the red zone in the first quarter but only came away with 6 points. Later in the 3rd they had 4th-and-short but once again kicked the FG. By the time the game was over the Chiefs ended the month of November having scored a grand total of 2 TDs. That's 2...for the entire month! I'm not even a Chiefs fan and that makes me want to put a paper bag on my head.
The Seahawks came into Miami with a 1-4 record on the road, they're now 1-5. Two times they had leads in the 4th quarter and both times the Dolphins came back to tie it. Maybe it was the sprinklers that strategically came on late in the 3rd quarter that provided the edge to the Dolphins. Dude, this is the NFL! A 9-billion dollar industry and there was actually a game where sprinklers came on while they were playing! The Dolphins also caught a break when Ryan Tannehill, who threw for 254 yards and a TD, was intercepted in the end zone but the play was negated because of a roughing the passer penalty on Earl Thomas who jumped to block a pass and landed on Tannehill. "I can't stop in midair like magic," Thomas said. "The NFL, they need some goggles." Not sure how goggles will help other than to protect them against sprinklers turning on at random times, but glasses could be useful.
Are there any potential playoff teams out there who are afraid to play the Falcons? Sure they're now 10-1 but who have they beaten that's any good? The Bucs are a solid team but they're proof of why settling for too many FGs can come back to cost you the game. They beat the Broncos but that was the game Manning threw 3 interceptions in the first half and they barely hung on for the win. More than simply not having a lot of quality wins, the wins they do have aren't that impressive as they just sneak by and are 7-1 in games decided by 7 points or less. Michael Turner is not the RB he was two years ago, managing just 17 yards on 13 carries in this game. Matt Ryan can be impressive, he threw for 353 yards and a TD, but he's still waiting for his first playoff win. Even Tony Romo has managed to win 1 playoff game. "Ten-and-1 is great, but I'll tell you what I've said since the beginning of the season: We're just jockeying for position," Tony Gonzalez said. "We just want to put ourselves in the best position, playing the best football. Right around this time is when you want to start gelling as a team and take it on into the playoffs because that's the most important thing." Hmm...I'm not sure even the Seahawks are afraid of them.
Who knew the Jaguars actually have an offense. All it took was getting rid of Blain Gabbert. Chad Henne threw for 261 yards and 2 touchdowns and for the second straight game there was a Justin Blackmon sighting. Through week 10 Blackmon had 26 receptions for 250 yards and 1 TD. In his last two games with Henne at QB Blackmon has 12 receptions for 298 yards and 2 TDs. The Jags took a 7-3 lead at the end of the first quarter and never trailed the rest of the game. Not that they weren't aided by the Titans inability to score TDs. What I want to know is how does Jags coach Mike Mularkey not see Henne was the better QB during practice? Why did it take an injury to Gabbert to get him replaced? Does he just say to himself, "You know that Henne seems to be more accurate and throw with more confidence and authority than Gabbert does but I think I'll still stick with the second coming of Matt Leinart."
The parade of crappy Cardinals quarterbacks since Kurt Warner left just keeps marching on. The newest one to add to the list is Ryan Lindley. Lindley threw for 312 yards but he was also intercepted 4 times including two pick-6s by Janoris Jenkins. It's gotten so bad that Ken Whisenhunt was about to give Lindley the hook before he remembered John Skelton was his other option and thought, "Oh that's right, never mind." Lindley threw the ball 52 times compared to just 17 throws by Sam Bradford for 205 yards and 2 touchdowns. Maybe that's because the Cards have Bennie Wells who was averaging only 2.8 yards per carry, although he did score twice, while the Rams have Steven Jackson who looked like a man among boys running for 139 yards and an average of 5.8 yards per carry. "Those two where I was going to Larry, the two picks, were just real mental mistakes," Lindley said. "It was things that, it's unexplainable right now, but I made a bad play." That sounds like a pretty good explanation to me.
Holy crap! The Packers just got curb stomped by the Giants. Or maybe they got dump trucked on. Steamrolled? A man with halitosis breathed heavily on them? However you want to describe it, it was bad. A 15-year old boy got to watch practice and a game thanks to the Make-A-Wish Foundation and he told them to play like world champions. "They have one wish," Manning said after throwing for three scores to set a team record with 200 TD passes for his career. "It is sad when you think about it -- they have one wish, what you want to do, and he wanted to come to Giants practice ... and to a game." It is a little bit sad. I mean, make a wish to sleep with Kate Beckinsale. Now there's a real wish.
So this is what Cam Newton looks like when he's not moping with a towel over his head. Newton threw for 306 yards and 2 TDs, ran for 2 more, and basically willed the Panthers to a win over the Eagles who are opening a new wing at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital to take care of all their injured players this season. The Eagles rookie RB Bryce Brown looked unstoppable at times gaining 178 yards and 2 TDs on just 19 carries, but he also lost two of the Eagles three fumbles which gave the Panthers the help they needed for the win. "Bryce did what we thought he could do," Eagles coach Andy Reid said. "He's a talented kid. It's a shame he had the two fumbles. He was on a roll. Those things cost you. He'll learn from it. He's got a great future." Too bad for you Andy you won't be around to see it. But the good news is I hear the Chiefs will be looking for a new head coach pretty soon. Wait, that's not really good news now that I'm thinking about it.
I can't figure out if the Bears offense was so much better because Jay Cutler was back or if it's because they weren't playing the 49ers, probably a little of both, but mostly because they weren't playing the 49ers. The Bears jumped out to a 25-3 halftime lead and cruised the rest of the way for the win. With the Packers loss the Bears are once again alone in first place but the win came at a high price. They lost several players to injuries including RB Matt Forte, CB Charles Tillman, and both starting guards Lance Louis and Chris Spencer. And to think Chilo Rachal left the team just 5 days earlier for personal reason (meaning he was throwing a temper tantrum because he was being benched), decided to return on Thursday only to be told he's done for the season. Looks like his benching wouldn't have lasted that long if he'd just stayed. The injury also means Gabe Carimi is back in the starting lineup despite playing so poorly his name has become a swear word in Chicago. If you stub your toe, Carimi! Hit your head, Carimi! And if someone cuts you off on the freeway, Carimi you!
What red blooded American, as if blood could be any other color, didn't watch this game? RG3 killed, Romo was Romo, and now they're both two games behind the Giants with the Redskins suddenly looking like the only team able to challenge the Giants in the NFC North
See above. The only real news is that Fireman Ed has stepped down as the team's super mascot. Honestly, how does a person even get that job? Is it a job? I feel like the peasant making a mud pile in Monte Python and the Holy Grail.
Arthur: I'm your king!
Peasant: Well I didn't vote for you.
Random question: Would you rather get a Suh groin kick or a John Hopoate prostate exam?