It's getting near the end of the season and we all know what that means. It's time for the bad teams to start losing to improve their draft position. Last year it was "Suck for Luck" and "Watch me pee for RG3" (honestly I'm terrible at puns and nicknames). Who does Todd McShay have at the top of his mock draft? Star Lotulelei? So this year must be...uhmmm..."Ukulele for Lotulelei". Does anyone beside fat Hawaiians remaking "Wizard of Oz" songs even play the ukulele any more?
On average around 50% of all NFL games end with a final margin of victory of 8 points or less. On Sunday there were only 4 games decided by 8 points or less and one of those was the Packers 21-13 win over the Bears that was only that close because Mike McCarthy had a brain fart (I believe that's the correct clinical term for it) and called for some trickery on a punt return leading 21-10 in the 4th.
All the other 12 games were decided by 12 points or more including 6 that were won by 21 points or more. This wasn't even the case of good teams beating up bad teams. Bad teams were beating up on bad teams including really bad teams beating up on god-awful teams (Raiders vs Chiefs). Bust out your ukulele Chiefs fans and sing with me:
Somewhere over the rainbow, way up high
There's a land that I've heard of once in a lullaby
Somewhere over the rainbow, skies are blue
And the dreams that you dare to dream, really do come true
Somewhere over the rainbow, bluebirds fly
Birds fly over the rainbow
Why then, oh why can't I?
If happy little bluebirds fly beyond the rainbow
Why, oh why can't I?
You fly over the rainbow, now, little Chiefs fans, fly, fly, fly.
Packers 21, Bears 13
After the Bears took a 7-0 lead in the second quarter the Packers took control of the game with 21 unanswered points. Then with less than 10 minutes to play in the 4th quarter the Packers fielded a punt inside their 20-yard line and an 11 point lead. That's when an evil demon who also happened to be a huge Bears fan snuck inside McCarthy's head and convinced him it was the perfect time to run a gimmick play. Randall Cobb fielded the ball inside the 20-yard line and then threw a lateral to Jeremy Ross who was playing in only his 3rd NFL game and had yet to have a rush or a reception. What could possibly go wrong with such a golden nugget of an idea? The NFL is a copy cat league after all and no doubt McCarthy saw how much success the 49ers had when they tried a lateral deep in their own side of the field. So with Ross touching the ball for the first time in his NFL career he then fumbled for the first time in his NFL career and the Bears cut the lead to 21-13. But even with that gift it wasn't enough and the Packers clinched the NFC North for the second straight year.
Remember when the Bears started 7-1 last year only to completely fall apart down the stretch after the loss of Jay Cutler? This convinced the Bears they needed a real backup QB instead of one that just pretended to be one at parties and social gatherings. Well Cutler did go down again but only missed one game and after starting the season 7-1 the Bears are once again crumbling down the stretch. Call me crazy but I'm going to go out on a limb and say the loss of Cutler wasn't the main reason for the collapse. Sorry Lovie, you seem like a nice guy but don't let the door hit you on the way out. Seriously, that door swings back quickly so be careful.
No doubt the Falcons must be loyal readers of my weekly recaps and were getting upset by my lack of respect for them. Either that or they've been reading just about any sports paper or blog and seen all the lack of respect for them. Matt "don't call me Vanilla Ice" Ryan completed 23 of 28 throws for 270 yards and 3 TDs while the Falcons intercepted a frustrated Eli Manning 2 times as the Giants posted a goose egg. Even the whole, we're doing this for a kid, didn't work this time like it did when they brought in the kid with cancer a few weeks ago. So did the lack of respect motivate the Falcons? "We love the haters, man," said Falcons cornerback Asante Samuel, who had the first of the two interceptions. "The haters keep us going. So keep your hate coming. We love it. It makes us play with a chip on our shoulder." OK, I hate you. Now win a game in the playoffs and I might have something nice to say. Although probably not since I'm still bitter about '98.
The Redskins once again had to rely on RG3's fellow rookie QG Kurt Cousins and once again the Redskins got the win. Cousins threw for 329 yards and 2 TDs while Browns fans everywhere looked on asking themselves, "You mean we could have drafted this guy like 100 spots later in the draft instead of moving back into the 1st to get our 30 year old minor league baseball player?" Yes, yes you could have. But if you did that you wouldn't be the Browns. Just as a vase can't be anything other than a vase, the Browns can't be anything other than what they are, Brown. I'm not even sure what that means but it sounds good.
The Browns did have a 14-10 lead going into the locker room at the half but it was all Redskins the rest of the way. "This isn't my first rodeo," Cousins said. "I did play a lot of football in the Big Ten. We started slow, but you've got to have character to dig deep. We didn't get spooked by a slow start." Sometimes you need to read between the lines of a quote. If you look close you'll also note he said, "Besides, we were playing the Browns. I mean, come on man."
Sam Bradford threw for almost 3 times as many yards as Christian Ponder (377 to 131) and infinitely more TDs (3 to 0), although he also had an interception returned for a TD. The Rams even got a solid game from Steven Jackson (73 yards on just 13 carries), but all that means nothing when Adrian Peterson is mashing through defenders as if they were not there. Peterson averaged 8.8 yards per carry running for 212 yards and 1 TD. He now has 1,812 yards for the season and has a chance of breaking Erick Dickerson's single season rushing record of 2,105. I will also say that at least Dickerson was honest by saying he didn't want his record broken so if I were Peterson I'd be on the lookout for fat man carrying lead pipes.
After a TD early in the 2nd quarter tied the game at 7-7 the Vikings ran off 26 unanswered points to take a 33-7 lead into the 4th quarter and cruise in for the win, and Peterson was the main reason why. "He continues to amaze you with some of his runs," coach Leslie Frazier said. "It looks like there was nothing there and the next thing you know he's out the door." Not only does Peterson have a chance of breaking Dickerson's record, he's almost equaled Ponder in yards (2,527 to 1,812) and TDs (14 to 11) and has actually averaged more yards per carry than Ponder has per throw (5.9 to 6.3). It makes me think of the lyrics from the song by The Flight of the Concords when they sing about the issues, "Think about it, think about it, think, think about it". Now stop touching that monkey.
Chad Henne got a chance to get some revenge on his old team but instead just reminded them why they let him go in the first place as he couldn't get the Jags in the end zone and his offense was 0-3 on 4th down. Meanwhile Ryan Tannehil finished with a season high passer rating of 123.1, completing 22 of 28 throws for 221 yards and 2 TDs while also rushing for 52 yards. Throw in 104 yards rushing for Reggie Bush and you can see why the Dolphins won so easily. Well, that and the fact they were playing the Jaguars.
Things have gotten so bad for the Jags they even had a TD taken away with the score tied thanks to an illegal substitution penalty. "He reported to the offense a hundred times this year, and 400 times in practice," Mularkey said. "Today, for some reason, I was told he didn't report. He said he reported, but the official has to confirm it." Then in true Jag like fashion they turned the ball over on downs after a failed 4th-and-one. Will the Jaguars just make the trade for Tim Tebow already so everyone can see that even he can't save this sad sack of a team.
Well the Bucs did come close to being yet another team to go over 400 yards of total offense against the Saints with 386, but apparently it doesn't matter how many yards you get when the drive ends with a turnover (they had 5) or on a failed 4th-down conversion (1-3). Funny how that works. Josh Freeman turned the ball over all 5 times including 4 interceptions, Drew Brees threw 4 TDs, and there was even a Dan Orlovsky sighting who gained fame for tackling himself in the end zone for a safety on that wonderfully horrible 0-16 Lions team.
Freeman, who had one of the worst games of his career , said afterwards of his interceptions "It's my job to make sure everybody is educated as to what the play is. I've got to do a better job. Some of those turnovers were really odd. Chalk it up to miscommunication." Well, I'll chalk it up to something, like throwing to the guy in the wrong colored jersey. Honestly officer, I didn't mean to hit the guy, he just moved into my fist.
Remember when Joe Flacco and the Ravens weren't very good and struggled on the road but dominated at home? Ah, memories. Anyone who starts in with the song from CATS is permanently banned from this sight. With the Ravens trailing 10-0 and time running out before the half Flacco found Chris Harris who ran it 98-yards for a TD. Unfortunately, Harris plays defense for the Broncos and instead of trailing by just one score the Ravens were suddenly down by 3 scores.
Payton Manning (I think I'm contractually obligated to mention him) didn't have a huge game throwing for just 204 yards and a TD, but he didn't need to do much since the Broncos were running wild threw the Ravens defense with 163 total yards, led by 118 yards and a TD by Knowshon Moreno. Do you think he ever got made fun of as a kid? Do you know Shon? Yes, I know Shon. OK, yes I'm juvenile sometimes. But it's not all bad news for the Ravens. They may have lost their last 2 home games and their last 3 games overall, but they did still clinch a playoff spot. So you just have to be an optimist. The Ravens aren't half bad, their just half good.
As surprising as it may have seemed at the beginning of the season, if the Colts won this game they would have been just one game behind the Texans with two still to play. But as they say, if "ifs" and "buts" were candy and nuts I'd have...a lot of cavities? Arian Foster ran for 165 yards, Matt Schaub threw for 261 and a TD, the Texans defense held the Colts to only 272 yards of total offense, and even the special teams came through when a blocked punt was returned 8-yards for a TD by Bryan Braman. I'm sorry, what kind of man is he? I have to say, I'm with Braman. Juvenile, yes I know.
After getting an atomic wedgie from the Patriots last week the Texans bounced back to win a big game and clinch the AFC South for the second straight week. "A lot of people were wondering how we were going to respond," Said Andre Johnson who finished with 11 receptions for 151 yards. "I think a lot of people doubted us after what happened last week. We (felt) like we had to show people what we were really about." Well you showed me, kind of. I didn't actually see it but you showed some reporters who wrote about it so in a roundabout, indirect way, you kind of showed me. Thumbs up, I think.
In the annual "Hey all you silly Canucks, come see what real football looks like instead of that pass happy defense free version you guys play" Bowl, the Bills showed they really do belong by not playing defense. Please, for the love of everything related to football, and even things only indirectly related thanks to being one of the many official sponsors of the NFL of whatever product they're pedaling, will the Bills just put Buffalo out of their misery already and move to Toronto. It's obviously what Roger Goodell wants, and having the Bills travel once a year to play in Toronto only to get thumped isn't likely to generate more interest than what's already there.
Ryan Fitzpatrick turned the ball over on each of the Bills first 3 possessions which the Seahawks turned into a 17-0 lead and the Bills never recovered. So for the second straight game the Seahawks won with their stout defense (except against C.J. Spiller who had 103 yards rushing and a TD on just 17 carries), a bruising running game that racked up 270 total yards, and a passing attack that did just enough to keep defenders honest. I have to say, I thought it was bad enough when they were taking our discarded players but did they really have to copy our style of play as well? I can't wait for next week. The only thing missing will be Tommy yelling from the sidelines, "Get him a body bag!"
Lions 10, Cardinals 38
Wow! Just how bad have the wheels fallen off for the Lions? I mean, they had been losing a lot but at least they were competitive and had a chance to win most of the time. But to take a beat-down at the hands of the Cardinals would be a bit like losing to a girl in arm wrestling, and yes I realize there are probably a lot of girls out there who could beat me in arm wrestling and then I'd know just how the Lions are feeling.
So how did the Cards win? First Ryan Lindley threw for 104 yards and an interception...well that wasn't why. Larry Fitzgerald only had 4 receptions for 22 yards and I had to drink another half bottle of Scotch thanks to the number of times balls thrown his way were off target. Bennie Wells did have TD runs of 1,5, and 31 yards so that helped but how did they even get that close to the end zone in the first place? It must have been the 4 turnovers, 2 of which were returned for TDs, including one that was returned 102-yards by Greg Toler, in addition to the Lions going 0-2 on 4th-down. "That's about as bad as I can play," Stafford said. Yet the Cardinals were still looking on thinking, "Man, I wish he played for us."
Cam Newton threw for 231 yards and 2 TDs, the Panthers gained 155 yards on the ground, and Philip Rivers turned the ball over twice including one time when he fumbled even though no one touched him. Apparently there had been a really strong gust of wind that knocked the ball out. The Panthers scored 21 points in the 1st quarter and held a 31-0 lead before the Chargers finally got onto the scoreboard in the 4th. Meanwhile Norv Turner stood stoically on the sidelines staring off into the middle distance as he fantasized about a life that didn't so closely resemble hell.
Chiefs 0, Raiders 15
The Chiefs didn't get their first 1st-down until the 3rd quarter and the Raiders won even though they couldn't score a TD. What more do you really need to know than that? The Chiefs did get a little bit of offense when Jamaal Charles had a 42-yard run but it was called back thanks to a penalty. "That was kind of how the day went," Quinn said. "We'd have a big play like that and a penalty. A guy wide open and a dropped ball or I wouldn't be able to have time to throw it. We just weren't able to sustain any sort of consistency the entire day." You'd think he'd have gotten used to it by now.
This may have been a game where I wanted both teams to lose but it was at least exciting. The Cowboys had the early 10-0 lead, the Steelers tied it 10-10, Cowboys go back on top 17-10, Steelers tie it and then go on top 24-17, and then the Cowboys tied it right back up at 24-24 to send it into OT. But just like the horrible movie "Contact" all the buildup just led to a dud of an ending. She meets her dad! I wasted 3 hours of my life to see Jodie Foster talk to her dad! Aaahh! The Steelers won the OT coin toss, Ben Roethlisberger throws an interception that is returned to the 1-yard line even though it looked like Brandon Carr easily could have fallen forward into the end zone, Mike Tomlin calls a timeout to "ice" the kicker even though it's essentially a PAT, and Dan Baily predictably kicks the PAT, I mean, FG. Her dad! Are you freaking kidding me!
One of the reasons kids, and to some extant adults, make fun of others is because it makes them feel better about their own insecurities. I'm not a professional athlete so I make fun of them because it makes me feel better about my own failure to make it as a pro. So here's the chance for the fans of every team that's not going to make the playoffs to point and laugh at the Jets. Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha!!!! Of course the 49ers are going to make the playoffs but it's still fun to point and laugh at the Jets.
Mark Sanchez completed just 13 of his 28 passes for 131 yards and threw 4 interceptions. He also got the ball at the Titans 25-yard line after a bad punt with just under a minute to play. Here was Sanchez's chance to be a hero and make everyone forget that he actually played horrendously for the first 59 minutes of the game. So what does he do with his big shot at redemption? Fumble, game over. Now let's all point and laugh at Sanchez. Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha!!!!
49ers 41, Patriots 34
A lot of stories have focused on how many early mistakes the Patriots made and how they were still able to overcome a 31-point deficit. What they forget, however, is that the 49ers made a lot of early mistakes as well, missed FG, a fumble just before the goal line, an interception in the end zone, a botched snap at the 25-yard line on 4th-and-inches that was no different than a turnover. Personally, as upset as I was after they blew the lead, and I have several fresh new holes in my walls that need to be patched up as proof, the way they overcame it and got the quick score and two defensive stops was almost more impressive than the early lead. In a way I think it was good since it will keep them from being too overconfident. And it was still the first time the Patriots have lost at home in December since back when the economy didn't blow.
On a different note, if anyone has a kid who gets too emotionally wrapped up in games and has a tendency to occasionally break something, don't give them a foam brick to throw. Throwing a brick at the TV as hard as you can and watching it doink harmlessly off is not a good form of anger management. Yes I've had anger issues in the past, don't judge me.