Tag Archives: Week
|Date & Time||Favorite||Spread||Underdog||Total||Money Odds|
|11/29 8:25 ET||At Atlanta||-3.5||New Orleans||56||-$ 185 +$ 165|
|12/2 1:00 ET||At Chicago||-4||Seattle||37.5||-$ 215 +$ 180|
|12/2 1:00 ET||At Green Bay||-9||Minnesota||47||-$ 450 +$ 350|
|12/2 1:00 ET||San Francisco||-7||At St. Louis||40||-$ 330 +$ 270|
|12/2 1:00 ET||At NY Jets||-4.5||Arizona||36.5||-$ 225 +$ 180|
|12/2 1:00 ET||Carolina||-3||At Kansas City||38.5||-$ 140 +$ 110|
|12/2 1:00 ET||At Detroit||-4.5||Indianapolis||51||-$ 225 +$ 185|
|12/2 1:00 ET||At Buffalo||-6||Jacksonville||45||-$ 275 +$ 235|
|12/2 1:00 ET||New England||-7||At Miami||51||-$ 330 +$ 270|
|12/2 1:00 ET||Houston||-4.5||At Tennessee||47||-$ 230 +$ 190|
|12/2 4:05 ET||At Denver||-6.5||Tampa Bay||50.5||-$ 300 +$ 250|
|12/2 4:25 ET||At Baltimore||Off||Pittsburgh||Off||-$ +$|
|12/2 4:25 ET||Cleveland||-1||At Oakland||45.5||-$ 120 +$ 100|
|12/2 4:25 ET||Cincinnati||-1||At San Diego||46.5||-$ 120 +$ 100|
|12/2 8:30 ET||At Dallas||-7.5||Philadelphia||Off||-$ 380 +$ 310|
|12/3 8:40 ET||NY Giants||-2.5||At Washington||51||-$ 145 +$ 125|
If there were ever any doubts that Nintendo’s (NTDOY) Wii U would have a strong holiday season, consider them gone. Nintendo revealed to CNET that its new game console that launched on November 18th has sold 400,000 units in the U.S. during its first week of availability. The Wii U is the first console to kickstart the next generation of gaming consoles and is Nintendo’s first high-definition ready system. Although the console is only about as powerful as a PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360, its controller is unlike any other – sporting a 6.2-inch touchscreen that’s capable of streaming games and video directly from a HDTV.
Nintendo president of America Reggie Fils-Aime told CNET that the Wii U’s 400,000 first-week sales has smashed the Wii’s 300,000 launch-week record from 2006. Nintendo also managed to sell 250,000 3DS handhelds and 275,000 DS handhelds during last week, no doubt thanks to the steep holiday savings from Black Friday. All in all, Nintendo managed to sell through 1.2 million game systems in the last week. That’s not bad for a company that is losing money on each Wii U console, but makes up for it with every one game it sells.
BGR has been toying with the Wii U over the last few days and found it to be a fun and capable little console, despite the fact that one of its most-anticipated features – Nintendo TVii – won’t arrive until December.
Bush and Bush score simultaneous touchdowns
This worked out better for Miami’s Reggie Bush (whose Dolphins beat the Seahawks) than it did for Oakland’s Michael Bush (whose Raiders were stomped by the Cincinnati Bengals), but it’s pretty cool. At exactly 54 seconds past 2:03 Eastern Time on Sunday, both Bushes hit the end zone.
Ray Rice’s amazing fourth-and-29 conversion
This might be the play of the year, especially if it helps take the Baltimore Ravens to an extra home playoff game or two. On fourth-and-29, and on a drive Baltimore needed to sustain to force a tie with the San Diego Chargers late in the game, Rice took a one-yard swing pass (seriously — who calls that?) and bulled for 29 more yards on his own to get the cherished first down. “Hey diddle diddle — Ray Rice up the middle,” the man said after the game. A Marx Brothers reference? That’s an MVP move, sir.
Golden Tate sells out for a big catch
The Seahawks lost a game they really couldn’t afford to yesterday, but it wasn’t Golden Tate’s fault — the third-year receiver made a serious play with this stretched-out reception against the Dolphins.
Leon Washington gets a historic return touchdown
Seattle’s loss wasn’t Leon Washington’s fault, either. With 7:54 left in the game, Washington took a kick back 98 yards for a touchdown, tying him with Cleveland’s Josh Cribbs for the most kick return scores in an NFL career with eight.
T.Y. Hilton speeds past everybody on a punt return touchdown
Speaking of special teams, this just in: This T.Y. Hilton kid? He’s pretty fast. The Colts’ rookie receiver made everyone else look as if they were in slow motion on this 75-yard punt return. Hilton also caught a touchdown pass in the game, proving to be the difference-maker in Indy’s 20-13 win over the Buffalo Bills.
Janoris Jenkins goes wild with two pick-sixes
Admittedly, it’s not hard to pick off whoever’s playing quarterback for the Arizona Cardinals these days. On Sunday, it was Ryan Lindley’s turn in the barrel, and the sixth-round rookie threw four total interceptions, including two pick-sixes to fellow rookie Janoris Jenkins of the St. Louis Rams.
Chris Givens makes another great play
Lost in the “Sam Bradford has no targets” narrative (a generally accurate narrative, to be sure) is the fact that Givens has become one of the big-play threats in the NFL. The rookie from Wake Forest already has five plays of 50 or more yards this season, and none of them were as impressive as this 37-yard touchdown against the Cardinals. Givens, who caught 5 passes for 115 yards on Sunday, is a playmaker to watch.
Bengals receivers make big plays
Andy Dalton got a lot of help from his friends in the Cincinnati Bengals’ 34-10 rout of the Oakland Raiders. First, there was this catch by Mohamed Sanu, who brought in two scores on the day…
…and there was this — yet another example of why A.J. Green is A.J. Green.
Robert Griffin III, QB, Washington Redskins: Yeah, we’re going a few days back here, but could we really start out MVP list this time with anyone but the man who has thrown for eight touchdowns and just one pick in the last calendar week? In wins over the Philadelphia Eagles and Dallas Cowboys in a four-day stretch, the rookie completed 34 passes in 43 attempts for 511 yards, and that amazing 8/1 TD/INT line. In each of those two games, his four touchdown passes went to different receivers, and opponents are at a loss as to how to deal with him.
“I was in awe of RGIII and the plays he was making,” Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said after Washington’s Thanksgiving Day win over Jones’ team. “We don’t have to play [him] but one more time [this season]. I’d hate to [have] to line up against him five or six times.”
The people who are actually lining up against RG3 feel the same way. This kid is going to be a pain in their butts for a good, long time.
Ray Rice, RB, Baltimore Ravens: Rice ran 22 times for 97 yards in Baltimore’s 16-13 Sunday won over the San Diego Chargers, but that’s not why he’s an MVP this week. Rice is an MVP this week because he made an incredible play when his team most needed him. Desperate to sustain a drive to get a game-tying field goal late in regulation, the Ravens called a play that would have been a disaster under most circumstances — a little dink pass to Rice from Joe Flacco on fourth-and-29. Rice did it all from there, eluding right different Chargers defenders and picking up the first down with a 30-yard play. That’s the very definition of an MVP play.
Janoris Jenkins, CB, St. Louis Rams: Jenkins recently got in hot water for missing a curfew, causing Rams head coach Jeff Fisher to sit him out two weeks ago and miss an important game against the 49ers two weeks ago. That seemed to bring up all the suspicions about Jenkins’ off-field reputation, and why he was selected in the second round of the 2012 NFL Draft despite football talent that would have seen him drafted much higher without those issues. However, against the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday, Jenkins showed the good side of that talent by returning two Ryan Lindley pass for touchdowns in a 31-17 Rams victory. It was the first time that any Rams player had two pick-sixes in a regular-season game. No rookie on any team had two interception returns for touchdowns in a single game since Bobby Franklin for the 196p Cleveland Browns.
Eli Manning, QB, New York Giants: In the five games before Sunday night’s dominating 38-10 win over the Green Bay Packers, Manning had thrown for a grand total of two touchdowns, and the G-Men had a record of 3-2, Clearly, the Giants go as Manning goes, and that’s why it must have been a relief for all involved to see their quarterback back on point with a 249-yard, 3-touchdown performance that seemed to put all the speculation about a tired arm to rest. The Giants seem to be ready to take their usual late-season victory tour around the NFL.
Julio Jones, WR, Atlanta Falcons: Jones was the difference in Atlanta’s 24-23 comeback win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He caught six passes for 147 yards, and his 80-yard touchdown haul from Matt Ryan halfway through the third quarter kept the Falcons humming, despite the best efforts of Bucs running back Doug Martin (who scored two touchdowns) and Falcons kicker Matt Bryant (who missed two of three field goals). As the Falcons turn to a more pass-happy offense, Jones has become one of their most important players.
Inhabitat’s Week in Green: robot tetrapods, a self-sufficient treehouse and a one-man electric helicopter
In preparation for the coming December holidays, Inhabitat just launched its annual green holiday gift guide, offering tips for everything ranging from green gadgets to DIY gifts. Got a hideous Christmas sweater that you wish you could un-knit? No problem: London-based product and furniture designer Imogen Hedges developed an amazing pedal-powered “un-knitting” machine that unravels sweaters so the yarn can be recycled. That’s just one of the many great green inventions featured on Inhabitat this week.
Filed under: Science
The Falcons have made a habit of winning ugly in 2012, but the bottom line is they are winning, and right now are the best team in the NFC with a 9-1 record as they head to Tampa Bay Sunday.
Atlanta had a close contest not go their way two weeks ago in New Orleans, falling 31-27, and trailed for much of the day in Week 11 against Arizona.
But, the team overcame Matt Ryan’s five interceptions to beat the Cardinals 23-19, becoming the first team to win with its quarterback throwing five picks without a touchdown since Green Bay with Bart Starr in 1967.
“We’re very, very fortunate,” coach Mike Smith acknowledged. “You’ve just got to keep fighting. It’s amazing. The NFL is so close.”
That’s certainly a reality the Bucs (6-4) could relate to during a three-game September skid in which they lost twice in the final minute, but suddenly Tampa Bay is very much a part of the postseason picture.
Following three straight double-digit victories, the Bucs rallied from 11 down with six minutes left to force overtime Sunday at Carolina before winning 27-21.
Josh Freeman is playing as well as any QB in the NFC right now, and the past few weeks he’s been red hot. Take last Sunday in Carolina as an example. He started slow, but got hot late, and led the team to the big OT win with a TD pass to TE Dallas Clark.
The QB has multiple touchdown passes in six straight games while posting a 106.1 passer rating and an NFL-best 8.58 yards per attempt since Oct. 1.
“No one’s coming on the sideline pointing fingers. No one’s hitting the red button,” receiver Vincent Jackson told the Bucs’ official website. “We just continue to get back together, regroup, get with our coaches, look at the pictures, make adjustments and get ready for the next drive. As long as we continue to do that and believe in what we’ve been working so hard at, we’ll get the result we want.”
Freeman and Jackson aren’t the only reasons for the Bucs’ recent offensive success. Perhaps the biggest is running back Doug Martin, who has run for 592 yards and five touchdowns over the past four weeks and against Carolina joined Adrian Peterson as the NFL’s only rookies since 2000 to gain 1,000 yards in their team’s first 10 games.
It’s not hard to picture Martin running well again Sunday. The Falcons are allowing 5.0 yards per carry on the ground – 30th in the league – but are expected to get linebacker Sean Weatherspoon back after a three-week absence.
Atlanta does have some other significant injury concerns, most notably receiver Julio Jones (ankle) and cornerback Asante Samuel (shoulder).
Even if Jones can’t go, don’t look for the Falcons to throw the ball any less often. Tampa Bay’s defense is the NFL’s best against the run (81.8 yards per game) and worst against the pass (312.6).
“They’ve played with a lead in a lot of different games, so teams have been forced to throw the ball against them,” Ryan said. “I think that’s part of why their statistics are the way they are.”
Ryan’s numbers were MVP-worthy prior to his disaster against the Cardinals, but he’s really been on top of his game away from the Georgia Dome. He’s thrown 19 touchdowns and just three picks in his last seven regular-season road games, completing 67.7 percent of his passes.
Visits to Tampa haven’t been nearly as easy. Ryan has five touchdowns and seven INTs in four visits to central Florida, posting a 63.2 passer rating while going 2-2.
Freeman, meanwhile, has six TDs, 10 picks and a 62.5 QB rating while going 1-4 in his last five games against Atlanta.
I like the Bucs here, and for a number of reasons. The Falcons simply can’t put their feet in the fire for another week and get out with no damage. In other words, just like two weeks ago they are due to lose a close game.
Freeman is playing lights out, and I think the Bucs D will do enough to get the job done, and while the game isn’t sold out, those Bucs fans that are there, will enjoy the big win.
Tampa Bay 29 Atlanta 21
New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski became the first tight end in NFL history to have three consecutive seasons with 10 or more receiving touchdowns during Sunday’s 59-24 win over the Indianapolis Colts. Gronkowski also exited the game with what Ian Rapoport of NFL.com reports is a broken bone in his forearm that will keep him out for four-to-six weeks.
In addition to Gronkowski, first-round defensive end Chandler Jones suffered an ankle injury in the first quarter and did not return. Jones had played in 90.63 percent of the Patriots’ defensive snaps entering Sunday’s game and has a team-high six sacks on the season, but his status for Thursday night’s game against the New York Jets is in question. Colts No. 2 wide receiver Donnie Avery suffered a concussion and veteran defensive end Cory Redding was carted to the locker room with a hip injury.
Philadelphia Eagles running back LeSean McCoy suffered a concussion in the final two minutes of Sunday’s 31-6 loss to the Washington Redskins. McCoy had 15 carries for 45 yards and six receptions for 67 yards against the Redskins, but his touchdown drought reached a third consecutive game. One can’t help but wonder why the Eagles had their top running back in the game in the final two minutes of a blowout loss. An update on McCoy’s status is expected on Monday.
The Dallas Cowboys lost left tackle Tyron Smith to a high left ankle sprain in the first half of their 23-20 overtime win over the Cleveland Browns on Sunday. Jermey Parnell replaced Smith, who is unlikely to play against the Redskins on Thanksgiving.
“It’s high ankle, which bothers the daylight out of you,” Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said via Jon Machota of the Dallas Morning News. “But he was in good enough shape with it to go in, but we know how those things are. But man is he a focused young man and if anybody could fight through this level — and don’t ask me what level I’m talking about — but the trainers were a little more than usual optimistic that it might not be as bad as it can be.”
Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Blaine Gabbert injured his right elbow on the opening series and was ably replaced by veteran Chad Henne, who completed 16 of 33 pass attempts for 354 yards with four touchdowns in the 43-37 overtime loss to the Houston Texans. Gabbert was initially listed as “probable” to return, but was downgraded to “questionable” then “doubtful” as Henne put points on the scoreboard.
Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones was questionable to play on Sunday, but played and caught three passes for 33 yards before limping off in the fourth quarter of the 23-19 win over the Arizona Cardinals due to the same ankle that hobbled him during the week. Falcons cornerback Asante Samuel injured his right shoulder in the first quarter, but though he would return, he was unable to finish the game. For the Cardinals, cornerback Patrick Peterson was slowed by a hamstring injury in the loss.
Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Dwayne Bowe injured his neck and left tackle Branden Albert suffered a back injury in a 28-6 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals. Losing Albert hurt a Chiefs offensive line that was playing without right guard Jon Asamoah and center Ryan Lilja on Sunday. Bengals cornerback Terence Newman suffered a concussion on Sunday.
Detroit Lions left tackle Jeff Backus started his 186th consecutive game, but missed the second half of the 21-20 loss to the Green Bay Packers with a hamstring injury that could jeopardize his streak as the Lions have a short week with the Texans coming to town on Thanksgiving. 2012 first-round pick Riley Reiff would start at left tackle if Backus is unable to play.
Denver Broncos running back Willis McGahee injured his right knee in the second quarter of a 30-23 win over the San Diego Chargers and would not return. McGahee had seven carries for 55 yards before his injury, leaving the ground game responsibilities to rookie Ronnie Hillman and Lance Ball, who combined for 18 carries and 78 yards. McGahee is scheduled to undergo an MRI on Monday, Mike Klis of The Denver Post reports. In the same game, Chargers cornerback Quentin Jammer injured his calf and would not return.
In the Sunday night game between the Baltimore Ravens and Pittsburgh Steelers, Ravens tight end Dennis Pitta and Steelers running back Isaac Redman left after suffering concussions in the first half. Steelers quarterback Byron Leftwich appeared to injure his right (throwing) shoulder when he fell into the end zone at the end of his 31-yard touchdown run on the opening possession of the game. Leftwich would remain in the game, but would frequently grimace in pain and favor his right shoulder. In the fourth quarter, Leftwich took a clean shot to the ribs from blitzing Ravens safety James Ihedigbo but would again remain in the game.
Last season it was maybe the game of the year when the Saints and 49ers dueled it out in the Divisional round of the playoffs.
Sunday, the two teams hope they can re-create that kind of excitement when the two teams meet in a huge NFC showdown in the SuperDome in New Orleans.
Right now there’s a huge question mark for the Niners, as there’s still no word on if it will be Alex Smith or Colin Kaepernick starting at QB for San Fran.
Smith made some huge throws in the 36-32 win over the Saints in the playoff game last season, including a 14-yard touchdown pass to Vernon Davis with nine seconds left.
The Niners QB is likely to sit with a concussion he suffered Nov. 11 against St. Louis. Kaepernick impressed in his first career start, going 16 of 23 for 243 yards with two touchdowns and no turnovers against a Bears defense that had forced 30 in its first nine games.
“I wanted to come out and show what I’m capable of and show that I can be a starter,” said Kaepernick, a second-year player who starred collegiately at Nevada. “That’s what I’ve been trying to prove since I’ve been in the league.”
While it’s unclear if Smith will be available, 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh said the team could change quarterbacks from week to week, and even during the course of a game.
“That’s up to the coaches,” said Davis, who caught six passes from Kaepernick on Monday for 83 yards and a touchdown. “That’s their decision. I’ll let them decide and they always call the shots.”
The Saints (5-5) are in the midst of a turnaround that seemed improbable after an 0-4 start. They have won three straight and five of six after a 38-17 victory at Oakland last Sunday, climbing within one game of the last NFC wild-card spot.
A tough remaining schedule still blocks New Orleans’ road to a fourth straight playoff berth. San Francisco is the first of three consecutive division leaders the Saints will face, as games with Atlanta and the New York Giants await.
“We’ve got miles to go,” said assistant head coach Joe Vitt, who is 3-1 since returning from a six-game suspension. “We’re nowhere near where anyone on this team wants to be. That’s why every practice and every meeting and every chance you have to get better is critical. This is a marathon.”
New Orleans’ passing game has been consistent all season, with Drew Brees‘ 28 TD passes leading the league and his 306.6 yards per game ranking second. Now, he’s getting help from the running game. The Saints have run for 140-plus yards in three straight games even without Darren Sproles (broken hand). They ran for 100 once in the first seven games.
Sproles by the way has been on the practice field the past three days, and should be good to go for the matchup Sunday. In his absence, the three-headed attack of Pierre Thomas, Mark Ingram and Chris Ivory combined for 419 rushing yards in the last three games.
“With the early struggles we had in the run game, we just kept at it,” center Brian de la Puente said. “We stressed the little things. We knew we were close the whole time. We are at a point right now where we’re very confident in our run game.”
I like where the Saints are going right now, as they have that run game going, and Brees is playing as well as any QB in the league right now. The Niners questions at QB have me worried, and I don’t see Kaepernick having as much success as he did Monday night.
It will be sold out and loud in the SuperDome Sunday, and I think Brees and the Saints ride their current hot streak to another huge win.
New Orleans 24 San Francisco 13
Matt Schaub, QB, Houston Texans: In his last three games before Sunday’s matchup with the Jacksonville Jaguars — games against the Baltimore Ravens, Buffalo Bills and Chicago Bears — Schaub had thrown for a total of five touchdowns. His one-score, two-pick game against Chicago’s transcendent defense may have been cause for concern … until you saw what he did against Jacksonville’s leaky defense. Chicago’s Charles Tillman turned receiver Andre Johnson into an afterthought, but nobody was able to do that this Sunday.
Schaub completed 43 of 55 passes for 527 yards — tied with Warren Moon for the second-most passing yards in a single game — for five touchdowns and two picks in Houston’s thrilling 43-37 overtime win. Johnson also had a major comeback with 14 catches for 273 yards and the game-winning touchdowns, but Schaub is our Week 11 MVP. The numbers tell the story.
Randall Cobb, Green Bay Packers: The Packers have been affected by injuries on offense and defense, but one thing’s for sure: In a receiver corps that has seen the Big Three of Greg Jennings, Jordy Nelson and Donald Driver in and out through the season, Randall Cobb has become a major player. Not only is he a great return man and a threat in the backfield, but Cobb has become the kind of receiver who can come up with the key play in a game, as he did in Green Bay’s 24-20 win over the Detroit Lions. With 1:55 left in the game, Cobb brought in the deciding 22-yard touchdown from Aaron Rodgers.
“Randall’s a big-time player for us,” Rodgers said after the game. “I mean, he’s going to be a guy for us for a long time and is going to be a big part of our offense. We wanted to get him in space and get the ball to him as much as we can. We give him the ball in the backfield, we try and throw screens to him, try and get him in space. That play we made a little check. They came on down and kind of double-teamed and played in and out. Didn’t really throw the best ball there, but it gave him a chance. He made an incredible catch.”
And when Aaron Rodgers trusts you, that’s a very good thing.
Jacoby Jones, WR, Baltimore Ravens: When you’re in a groove, this football thing seems surprisingly easy. For the second straight week, Jones hit a big return for touchdown. It was a 105-yard kick return against the Raiders in a 55-20 win last Sunday, and a 63-yard punt return that proved to be the difference in Baltimore’s 13-10 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers. For a team that has been explosive but inconsistent on offense, and highly questionable on defense at the best of times, Jones’ blast-offs have provided a much-needed spark.
“Well, all week in practice, we knew we had two kick returns already for touchdowns and the whole special teams unit, we kept complaining that we hadn’t had a punt return yet,” Jones told NBC’s Michele Tafoya after the Sunday night win. “So that’s one thing we emphasized and worked on all week and everybody did a great job on blocking.”
Yep — when you’re good, it’s just that easy. We don’t have a punt return touchdown? Let’s go get one! Now, the 8-2 Ravens are in the AFC’s catbird seat, and Jones is the man to thank following the Steelers game.
Von Miller, OLB, Denver Broncos: Miller’s starting to remind us of another pass-rusher who wore the number 58 — the late, great Derrick Thomas. Few since Thomas can boast Miller’s speed around the edge, and nobody’s using their talents better than Miller right now. The second-year star grabbed the NFL’s sack lead at 13.0 over Houston’s J.J. Watt with a three-takedown performance that also included two forced fumbles. Miller has seven sacks in his last three games, and he’s been unblockable at times — especially against San Diego’s horrid offensive line in Sunday’s 30-23 Denver win. We talk all the time about Peyton Manning, but the other reason the Broncos look so good right now is a resurgent defense led by Miller. This is the team in the AFC nobody wants to face right now.
John Abraham, DE, Atlanta Falcons: The veteran picked up two sacks in Atlanta’s surprisingly tough win over the Arizona Cardinals, but that’s not why he’s on our MVP list. When Abraham broke through the iffy protection provided by reserve rookie Nate Potter and forced reserve rookie quarterback Ryan Lindley (yeah, the Cards are in a lot of trouble right now) to fumble with 8:37 left in the first half, it was Abraham who seemed to be the only one on the field who understood that Lindley had fumbled, as opposed to throwing an incomplete pass. Fellow defensive lineman Jonathan Babineaux picked up the ball on Abraham’s alert, and scooted in for a 15-yard touchdown. This also made Abraham a bit savvier than Mike Smith, Atlanta’s head coach, who was unusually confused when confronted with the review process for fumbles later in the game.
The Arizona Cardinals’ quarterbacks: It’s quite something if the quarterback on the other side of the field throws three picks in the first quarter, and five in the entire game, and he’s just the third-worst quarterback on the field. So it was for the Arizona Cardinals, who were gifted with five picks from Atlanta’s Matt Ryan, and still lost the game, 23-19. This happened in part because Cards head coach Ken Whisenhunt had to bench John Skelton in the first quarter — Skelton completed 2 of 7 passes for 6 yards before he was unceremoniously yanked in favor of sixth-round rookie Ryan Lindley.
Our buddy Greg Cosell once told me that if you took Lindley’s 20 best plays from his San Diego State tape, you’d have one heck of a highlight reel, but none of those plays were in evidence against the Falcons. Lindley completed 9 of 20 passes for 64 yards, was sacked three times, and lost a fumble that the Falcons returned for a touchdown. In the entire game, the Cards amassed THREE first downs through the air. It wasn’t Lindley’s fault entirely — you can start with the fact that both of his offensive tackles were also low-drafted rookies — but it’s tough to think of another franchise that has whiffed on the quarterback position more mightily over the last few seasons.
Matt Ryan, QB, Atlanta Falcons: Just a note about the “Quarterback Wins” metric: As we mentioned, Ryan threw five picks and no touchdowns, and his team won anyway. This victory will be added to Ryan’s burgeoning “win” total, which explains why it’s the single dumbest metric in all of sports.
Ed Hochuli and his crew: We’re sorry (and somewhat frightened) to criticize Big Ed, but the ref with the NFL’s biggest guns did not have the best day on Sunday, when they presided over the Dallas Cowboys’ 23-20 overtime win over the Cleveland Browns. With 1:23 left in regulation, Cowboys punter Brian Moorman booted the ball 49 yards to the Cleveland 47-yard line, where Browns receiver Josh Cribbs began a 21-yard return. At the end of the return, Cowboys tight end John Phillips was busted for a horse-collar tackle on Cribbs, when he took Cribbs down by the hair — which is a legal method of tackling. Given an extra 15 yards, Browns quarterback Brandon Weeden threw a 17-yard touchdown pass to tight end Ben Watson.
Then, with 8:41 left in overtime, Tony Romo threw a pass to Dez Bryant which certainly looked to be a catch and fumble — Bryant took the ball in cleanly, maintained possession, and took three full steps before the ball was punched out by Browns cornerback Sheldon Brown. But no, the refs said — the play was whistled dead, there was no review available because of that rogue whistle. On the next play, Romo threw a slant to Miles Austin which seemed questionable at best — Austin did not appear to maintain possession of the ball and make a football move before he was taken down — but the catch was confirmed on review. The Cowboys were able to continue what became their game-winning drive, which ended when Dan Bailey kicked a 38-yard field goal three plays after the Austin catch.
Ed has the big name, but he’s got to take the fall for a very inconsistent game.
The San Diego Chargers’ offensive line: This was weird. If you watched the Chargers’ 30-23 loss to the Denver Broncos, you saw Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers throwing his offensive line under the bus over and over — on one of the four times he was sacked, Rivers started pointing and yelling at right tackle Jeromey Clary while he was still going to the ground. Rivers has an annoying habit of making his displeasure public under the best of circumstances, but he had a very valid point in this case. Over and over, Rivers tried to re-call protections at the line, especially in instances when Broncos outside linebacker Von Miller wasn’t blocked one-on-one, and his linemen didn’t seem to get the point. There are all sorts of reasons for San Diego’s recent offensive troubles, but when your quarterback and line aren’t on the same page, nothing else matters. You have no chance.
Mason Crosby, K, Green Bay Packers: The Packers beat the Lions, 24-20, on Sunday, but it would have been a relative blowout had Crosby done his job. He missed two out of three field goal chances — actually, three out of four if you count the attempt that was iced by Lions head coach Jim Schwartz — and continued a down season that has seen him make only 11 of 18 attempts. Crosby has made just three of seven attempts in the last three games, and the Packers have won all three of those contests. That might be the only reason Packers head coach Mike McCarthy isn’t yet ready to make a change.
“Mason’s got to put the ball through the uprights, and that’s something that we have to do a better job of,” the coach said to start his postgame press conference. “I thought Mason had a very good week of work. Didn’t hit it today the way he needs to hit it. We will continue with Mason. We will not blink as far as our commitment to him. So with that, I will take your questions.”
We have just one question. Coach, if your team loses a close playoff game, will you look back at this decision with anything but regret?