NFL heavyweights went down hard in week two. The Chargers, Cowboys, Packers, and Titans all fell at home while the Patriots and Steelers faltered on the road. All were favored to win. Hail to the underdogs.
Down 28-20 with 2:44 remaining in the game and three timeouts intact, the Carolina Panthers opted to go for the first down as opposed to kicking the field goal from the Atlanta Falcons 17 yard line. The Panthers failed to convert and ended up losing by the same score. Why go for the first down instead of kicking the field goal? Not sure. I know I wouldn’t have, but here is what John Fox and his coaching staff may have been thinking. An eight point deficit would require a touchdown AND a two point conversion to tie the game. Kicking a field goal would still require an additional touchdown to avoid the loss. If the 4th down attempt were to fail, they could still get a three and out and use their timeouts to get the ball back with around two minutes remaining. Essentially, they needed a touchdown in either scenario, so they went for the touchdown at the earliest opportunity. It wasn’t an entirely boneheaded decision, but I would have kicked the field goal. Why? Let me explain. 1. It is 4th and 10, not 4th and 5, or 4th and short. Ten yards is not an easy conversion. 2. I have three timeouts. Assuming my defense can hold, I can get the ball back before the two minute warning. 3. Even if I convert and score (which would eat more of the game clock), I would still need the two-point conversion to tie. 4. Kicking the field goal would allow me to go for the game WINNING score with two minutes to go (if my defense were to hold). Therefore, do I want to gamble on 4th and 10 for an OPPORTUNITY to tie, or do I want to kick the field goal and have a very reasonable shot at winning the game? As Herm Edwards says, “We play to win the games.” I would have trusted my defense to get me a stop and kicked the field goal.
Coming off a devastating loss in week one, the Cincinnati Bengals looked to rebound on the road at Lambeau Field in week two. However, after failing to recover the Green Bay Packers onside kick, the Bengals looked primed for another heartbreaking defeat. Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers was able to move his offense down to the Bengals ten yard line. His attempt to spike the ball (this stops the clock) was too late as he could not get his offensive unit 25 yards downfield quick enough. I don’t have the NFL Rulebook in front of me so this might be illegal, but I think there is a solution to this issue. In most cases, the receivers and backs are running routes downfield so they are already close to the new line of scrimmage, and the quarterback is generally athletic enough to get there quickly. The 300+ pound offensive lineman on the other hand, are the ones who are unable to make it downfield fast enough. When your team enters the hurry-up offense with no timeouts, why not have a second offensive line waiting 20-30 yards downfield on the sideline? If you complete a pass 25 yards downfield, your offensive line runs straight to the sideline and the alternate unit runs right to the new line of scrimmage. There they wait for the quarterback, receivers, and backs to lineup and kill the ball. Having a similar plan could have given the Packers one shot at the end zone to tie and maybe win the game.
The San Diego Charges were down five with less than a minute to go at the Baltimore Ravens 23 yard line. On the subsequent play, WR Legedu Naanee received the pass from quarterback Philip Rivers and danced around in an attempt to make a play as opposed to taking the first down. Instead of 1st and 10 with 41 seconds to go and 2 timeouts remaining, the Chargers faced a 3rd and 2 with only one timeout left. Naanee made the first mistake, but the Chargers coaching staff made the next two. When you have two downs to get two yards you never, ever, ever pass on third down unless you plan to pass on fourth down as well. On 4th and 1 or 4th and inches you have more flexibility, but gaining two yards is difficult when the outcome of the game is in the balance. Running on both third and fourth down is often effective but passing on third to run on fourth is disastrous. The decision to run on fourth down cost the Chargers a chance at winning what could prove a critical game come playoff seeding time. They should have run on third down and then made a decision on fourth down based on the third down play. A failed passing play on third down allows the defense to force your hand and running the ball plays to their advantage.
That was impressive…
- Drew Brees playing toss with his receivers as the Eagles defense claimed front row seats
- DeAngelo Williams’ juke and stiff arm on his second quarter touchdown run (DB has got to hit low there to make the stop)
- Andre Johnson’s day in general but his first quarter bobble two-step touchdown was almost as exciting as Gus Johnson’s call of the play
- New York Jets defense stifled another high powered offense. No TDs allowed yet.
- Jason Avant’s propensity for bailing quarterbacks out on third down (3 third down receptions today)
- Darrelle Revis harassing Randy Moss and giving Tom Brady headaches
- Roscoe Parrish’s hustle to chase down a Buccaneers defender from behind and save a touchdown after a red zone fumble by Fred Jackson
- Great play by Ray Lewis to shoot the gap and blow-up the Charges running play on 4th and 2.
- The coolness of Jay Cutler as he drove the Bears down the field for the game winning field goal. No turnovers against that Steeler defense either.
- Eli Manning was a stud on Sunday night and he was calm and collective as he drove his team to a game winning field goal
- Correll Buckhalter’s 45 yard TD run
- The afternoon performances of RBs Chris Johnson and Frank Gore
- Cincinnati Bengals going into Lambeau and beating the Packers
Not so much…
- Tom Brady’s inability to win a game when his defense allowed only 16 points. You can tell he doesn’t trust that knee (look at how he didn’t step into that 1st quarter ball that was intercepted)
- Jacksonville Municipal Stadium (home of the Jaguars) was empty. I mean Kansas City Royals in September EMPTY
- Officiating – How do they miss the hold on Eagles DE Chris Clemons at the end of the first half when 68,000 other sets of eyes saw it? Then in the night game, the official standing less than 15 feet away couldn’t see that the ball clearly bounced off Jason Witten’s foot and not the turf. The ball never got closer than 10 inches to the ground. Inexcusable.
- Houston Texans RB, Steve Slaton’s rough start: 2 Games, 26 Carries, 51 YDS, 0TD, 1.96 AVG
- Drew Brees doing the Ray Lewis-esque pre-game psych thing. I can’t buy it.
- Steve Smith needs to crash on that 4th and 10 pass as hard as the cornerback who intercepted the pass
- Nice tackle, Terence Newman. Next time, try opening your eyes, using your arms, and not tackling teammate Keith Brooking
- That Tony Romo/Roy Williams connection is really something special
Take that man to Chic-Fil-A
QB Matt Schaub: 357 YDS, 4 TD
RB Chris Johnson: 16 Carries, 197 YDS, 2 TD, 9 Rec, 87 YDS, TD
WR Andrew Johnson: 10 Rec, 149 YDS, 2 TD
WR Marques Colston: 8 Rec, 98 YDS, 2 TD
TE Brent Celek 8 Rec, 104 YDS
D Jets: Held Patriots under 300 Total YDS, 9 Points Allowed (All FGs)
Probably should have stayed in bed
QB Tony Romo: 127 YDS, 1 TD, 3 INT
RB Julius Jones: 8 Carries, 11 YDS
WR Randy Moss: 4 Rec, 24 YDS
WR Roy Williams: 1 Rec, 18 YDS
TE Kevin Boss: 1 Rec, 13 YDS
D Eagles: 421 YDS/41 Pts Allowed, Embarrassed at Home
Washington Redskins head coach Jim Zorn cannot feel too secure in his job right now. Nine points against the St. Louis Rams? Nine?
Does WR Johnny Knox of the Chicago Bears look like Stephen Curry or is it just me?
Darren Sproles is the Allen Iverson of the NFL; pound for pound, the most talented, electrifying player in the league.
I’m not a NASCAR fan, but if I were to choose a driver it would be Tony Stewart because he also loves the Whopper
Nice to see all that animosity in the Texans/Titans AFC South battle.
What a rough week it’s been for former Eagles WR Hank Baskett. First, the NFL makes a commercial that focuses entirely on his inability to hold onto a TD pass. Then, he gets cut by the Philadelphia Eagles because the WR that is worse than him essentially can’t be cut.
Quote of the Week: Troy Aikman on Eagles wildcat offense, “I think Andy had way too much time on his hands this summer.”
Asante Samuel is only an effective cornerback if the Eagles defensive line is getting consistent pressure on the opposing quarterback. Today they did not do that and Samuel was Marques Colston’s whipping boy all day long. He still can’t tackle that well either (see Reggie Bush shrugging him off three yards behind the line of scrimmage and then gaining a first down).
I am ashamed that I gave up on my “Hard Knock” Bengals after I said I would stick with them. At least I was able to see Chad Ochocinco’s “Lambeau Leap”
Visor coaches went 1-2 today
49ers and Broncos are on top of the NFC West and AFC West respectively. My predications are in some serious trouble.
Tennessee Titans (0-2) at New York Jets (2-0) next week. Who could have predicted those records?
Football is a game of inches. At the end of the first half, Chargers QB Philip Rivers hit WR Vincent Jackson who ended up an inch or two short of crossing the goal line. Next play: delay of game. Charges go from inches out to kicking a field goal. That’s a four point swing. Fast forward to the end of the game. They’re down five instead of one and need a touchdown to win instead of a field goal. Chargers get in field goal range but can’t score a touchdown and lose. Just another Sunday in the NFL.
*I apologize for any mistakes or grammatical errors in the post. Please let me know if you see any and I will fix them asap. I’ll then send you Andy Reid’s standard response after every defeat, “There were too many mistakes, and that’s my responsibility…I have to make sure this thing is right.”