What have we learned - Week 13
As for the game itself: neither the Eagles nor the Seahawks are any good (despite Seattle's 8-4 record) because Philadelphia handed the game away, with the first two Seattle touchdown drives totalling 18 and 8 yards after bone-headed throws by A. J. Feeley were picked off. Neither Reid nor Holmgren was willing to commit to the run on a day with freezing rain pelting down, and if Reid had, the Eagles would have won. Early in the second half Brian Westbrook scored the last Eagle touchdown on a nice 29-yard run, and then Reid threw again. With a minute left and no timeouts, Westbrook somehow returned a punt 64 yards to the Seattle 14. Just like last week, Feeley threw a pick, but it wasn't as stupid as the one he threw last week, even though he should have seen Lofa Tatupu. I like Feeley, but he's a back-up, and prone to mistakes. As usual, I don't understand why Reid doesn't adjust his game plan to fit the conditions of the game. Last week, Feeley was on, and Reid rode him. This week, it was obvious he wasn't on, but Reid kept calling pass plays. I want to apply for the job of Eagles coach and tell Jeffrey Lurie that I will not get my quarterback killed, nor will I ever punt. Do you think I'll get the job?
Turnovers: Eagles 4, Seahawks 2. Final score: Seattle 28, Philadelphia 24. Turnovers = loss? Absolutely. 1-0.
Brett "R. C." Favre was terrible early in the game on Thursday, and then he got hurt. This gives me hope, not only that R. C. will revert to form, but that Randy Moss and Terrell Owens will as well. This is why Andy Reid can't change - he's that guy, like it or not. I will be grumpy if R. C. doesn't start throwing idiotic interceptions and Terrell Owens doesn't throw his quarterback under the bus. Ron Jaworski pointed out that Moss took some plays off against the Eagles, so maybe "Straight Cash, Homey" Moss is reverting to form. That would be nice.
Turnovers: Packers 2, Cowboys 1. Final score: Dallas 37, Green Bay 27. Turnovers = loss? It appears so. 2-0.
Vince Young looked like a real quarterback! Yay! I still don't like that hitch in his motion, but if Jeff Fisher is happy with it, oh well.
Turnovers: Texans 2, Titans 1. Final score: Tennessee 28, Houston 20. Turnovers = loss? Sure. 3-0.
The Jaguars are claiming they got hosed by the officials early on in their game with the Colts. David Garrard fumbled, some Colt picked it up, and then a Jaguar stole it back. I don't like siding with the Colts, but replay shows that the Indy guy was down with several Jaguars touching him. Sorry, Jacksonville. How about your receiver makes the catch late in the game near the Indy goal line instead of batting it to a defender like you were playing volleyball? Maybe then you wouldn't be complaining.
Turnovers: Jaguars 2, Colts 1. Final score: Indianapolis 28, Jacksonville 25. Turnovers = loss? Yes. 4-0.
Man, that LaDanian Tomlinson can really run the rock. I think he has a future in this league. Someone should have told Norv Turner about him earlier this season.
Turnovers: Chiefs 4, Chargers 1. Final score: San Diego 24, Kansas City 10. Turnovers = loss? That, and a good dose of Tomlinson. 5-0.
Because of the snottiness of the 1972 Dolphins, I'm totally rooting for this year's vintage to go winless. After this past weekend, where they were favored at home but ended up losing by 27, I think they might pack it in. Go, Dolphins! Suck up the joint!
Turnovers: Dolphins 5, Jets 2. Final score: New Jersey 40, Miami 13. Turnovers = loss? Yes, but it's the Dolphins, so they're going to lose anyway. 6-0.
Everyone says the league has become pass-happy and you can't win the "traditional" way, that is running the ball and stopping the run. That's why I hope Minnesota wins the Super Bowl. They have a quarterback who isn't very good but doesn't screw up, and two running backs who run right at you and dare you to stop them. I'm still worried that Adrian Peterson is going to fall apart, as is his wont, but I would love to watch he and Chester Taylor smash right through the Cheaters' aged linebackers in SB 2-and-40. Probably won't happen, but a guy can dream, right?
Turnovers: Lions 1, Vikings 1. Final score: Minnesota 42, Detroit 10. Turnovers = loss? It's a wash, but the Lions should consider that it could have been worse, if they turned the ball over more.
Everyone is talking about Joe Gibbs calling consecutive timeouts at the end of the game to give the Bills a much easier field goal, and they're right: maybe it's time for Gibbs to hang it up. Yes, I know they were distracted by Sean Taylor and all, but that has nothing to do with it. It's a standard rule any coach should know. Someone mentioned that Rex Grossman tried to do it last year in the playoffs against Seattle and his tight end told him it was a penalty. If your tight end knows the rules, the coach ought to. What I'm mystified about is the long pass that got the Bills in position. There's 20 seconds left and Buffalo has no timeouts, yet somehow the receiver got 30 yards downfield and caught the ball. Where else would Edwards throw the ball except downfield? I understand that they were guarding the sidelines, but that's inexcusable.
Turnovers: Washington 2, Bills 1. Final score: Buffalo 17, Washington 16. Turnovers = loss? That, and the idiotic stuff at the very end. 7-0.
Boy, the 49ers suck. What does that say about Arizona, who is 0-2 against them this year?
Turnovers: 49ers 6, Panthers 2. Final score: Carolina 31, San Francisco 14. Turnovers = loss? You bet. 8-0.
Turnovers are the great equalizer again, as Oakland got some short scoring drives to beat a Denver team that seems intent on shooting itself in the foot every season. They have talent, but as long as they keep looking for the next Elway (Plummer and Cutler seem cut from the discount Elway mold), they're going to keep stinking up the joint.
Turnovers: Broncos 4, Raiders 1. Final score: Oakland 34, Denver 20. Turnovers = loss? Indubitably. 9-0.
Some Cleveland fans are arguing that they got rooked by the officials because Kellen Winslow was clearly knocked out on the last play of the game, which in the NFL means the catch should have counted and the Browns would get a game-winning touchdown. Well, maybe. That's a tough call, because I'm not terribly sure if Winslow would have come down in bounds anyway - he was going pretty hard out, and barely got one toe in even after being hit. But maybe it should be reviewable. Of course, Cardinals fans could argue that Braylon Edwards was clearly touched on his long touchdown to end the third quarter as he went down to the ground. He jumped up and kept running, but replays showed, pretty obviously, that the defender brushed him. Now, it had nothing to do with him going down (he was laid out making a catch and would have gone down no matter what), but the rules are clear about it. So Cleveland got a gift touchdown and had a touchdown taken away. It all evens out! Arizona was a lock to win this game because no one expected them to. I think they'll probably beat Seattle next week in Seattle, but then the expectations will be too much and they'll go in the tank. Cleveland, meanwhile, should still make the playoffs - as long as they don't turn the ball over!
Turnovers: Browns 4, Cardinals 1. Final score: Arizona 27, Cleveland 21. Turnovers = loss? Yes indeed. 10-0.
I didn't watch the New Jersey-Chicago game, but how on Earth did the Giants win that one? Sheesh. I did see Devin Hester drop a pass that should have gone for a touchdown when he was wide open by about ten yards. That's why you punt to him: yes, he returns some for touchdowns, but he also drops a lot. It's a risk/reward thing!
Turnovers: Giants 4, Bears 0. Final score: New Jersey 21, Chicago 16. Turnovers = loss? Stupid Bears. How can you be +4 in turnovers and lose? 10-1.
Why, Sean Payton, why? If you haven't seen the unbelievably stupid play that cost the Saints the game, it's quite the puzzler. Leading by three with not a lot of time left (under four minutes, I think), Reggie Bush took a handoff and then tried to pitch it to a wide receiver who was coming around the other end. His pitch was bad, the ball hit the turf, the Buccaneers recovered, and scored the game-winning touchdown. Why run that play? I love trick plays ... but not when all you need to do is grind out the clock. It's the same mentality that led to Feeley throwing deep into the end zone last week when all the Eagles needed was to grind the clock. Trick plays are great, but there's a time and place for them. At least Payton acknowledged he screwed up. But that's a job-costing call right there.
Turnovers: Buccaneers 1, Saints 1. Final score: Tampa 27, New Orleans 23. Turnovers = loss? Not a concern, but the Saints' one led directly to defeat.
Another game I missed was the Sunday night one, but again, how did the Steelers win? They turned the ball over 4 times yet won by two touchdowns. Cincinnati and New Orleans, I notice, are also reverting to form. They're ready to rejoin Arizona as the league's bottom-feeders. It's a shame, really, but someone has to suck. I wish it was Dallas and Indianapolis and New England, but I can't get everything I want, right?
Turnovers: Steelers 4, Bengals 1. Final score: Pittsburgh 24, Cincinnati 10. Turnovers = loss. No. How did Pittsburgh win? 10-2.
I hate to side with the overrated Brian Billick and the murderer-protecting Ray Lewis, but the Ravens got jobbed last night. The timeout on the fourth down play was annoying, sure, but don't you love how on the next play, a penalty against the Cheaters helped them? They were stuffed on fourth down again, but a false start penalty backed them up, and since it's a dead ball foul, Baltimore couldn't decline it. I would much rather go 4th-and-1 against the Cheaters than 4th-and-6, because they'll probably run it on the former down and throw it on the latter, and I'd rather have them run. They called a pass play on 4th-and-6, and Golden Boy was able to scramble for a first down. Then, the officials called what looked like a phantom holding call on another fourth down, this time an incomplete pass. Then, of course, Jabar Gaffney appeared to be bobbling the ball as he went out of bounds on the game-winning touchdown. It seemed pretty obvious, but they didn't overturn the call. I get that good teams get the calls, but it's also obvious that the officials call the game differently, not necessarily based on who's playing, but based on their own inclinations. I bet that the defensive holding call gets called about half the time. Hey, either it's holding or it's not. Randy Moss shoves off all the time and hardly ever gets called for pass interference. I almost fell out of my chair when he got called for it in the Eagles game. It's frustrating, because I know the officials are human beings and probably aren't looking to give the Cheaters any edge, but I wonder how that game plays out if there's a different official on the field who doesn't believe in calling ticky-tack penalties. Again, it's not that the officials are favoring the Cheaters, it's just that they "interpret" the rules differently. New England, however, looks very beatable. I trust everyone in America will be rooting for the Steelers next week.
Turnovers: Ravens 2, Cheaters 1. Final score: New England 27, Baltimore 24. Turnovers = loss? Well, that and the horrible officiating. 11-2.
So that's 134-18 for teams that turn the ball over less than their opponents. Shocking, I know.
College football sorted itself out as well as can be expected. I don't have a problem with Ohio State and LSU in the Championship Game, although I think LSU will destroy them. The Buckeyes have a chance because nobody gives them a chance and I think Les Miles will still be distracted by the Michigan job (he hasn't signed his extension with LSU yet). The rest of the BCS bowls are pretty dull, except maybe the Sugar Bowl, which features Hawaii trying to do what Boise State did last year. I have been listening to the palaver (to paraphrase David Stern) about the BCS and how we can't have a playoff, and it pretty much stinks. Dan Wetzel of Yahoo! Sports has come up with a viable playoff plan, and it would be nice to see something like it in my lifetime. I mean, the Rose Bowl is run by a bunch of jerks, who took a three-loss Illinois team just to maintain some "tradition." Meanwhile, everyone in the Basin is pissed that the Fiesta Bowl didn't take Arizona State, but once the Rose took the Illini, the Fiesta Bowl's hands were tied, and that's the point. It's an antiquated system, and unless we just admit that there's no point to crowning a National Champion (this is college sports, after all, which isn't supposed to be about who wins), then someone needs to step up and tell the bowls their days of dominance are over. I love how people who argue against a playoff claim it would destroy the bowls. Why, exactly? Penn State is playing Texas A&M in the Alamo Bowl. That game wouldn't be affected by a playoff at all. They could still hold it and let one of the teams finish with a nice win. Any team would be eligible for a bowl except the teams in the playoff. It's really stupid. Meanwhile, the Pac-10 continues to be idiotic in their television package. They have bowl tie-ins with only one New Year's Day bowl -the Rose. That means crappy mid-level SEC teams like Tennessee get to play on New Year's Day while Arizona State, the second-place Pac-10 team, is shunted to December 27 for the Holiday Bowl. If you want to know why there's an East Coast bias in college football, it's partly because the Pac-10 has done an awful job getting their teams - except for USC - into visible bowls. Sure, the Holiday Bowl is the only game on that night, but it's still a night game when a lot of people have to work the next day. If it were on 1 January it would be more visible.
Oh well. I want a playoff or a return to the old system. Pac-10 v. Big Ten in the Rose, the Big 12 v. ACC in the Orange Bowl, the SEC v. Big East in the Sugar Bowl. At least then we wouldn't have to pretend that we're actually crowning a National Champion when LSU thumps OSU. I hope they do, actually, because then the winner of the Virginia Tech-Kansas game would have a case, the winner of the Oklahoma-West Virginia game would have a case, the winner of the Georgia-Hawaii game would have a case, USC would have a case if it wins, and even Arizona State could make a case. It will be chaos! Excellent ...