Games I watched-Indianapolis@Min, Pastriots@Jets, the end of SD@Den, but I dozed off and apparently missed something really exciting and controversial, some of the second half of Pit@Cle
Some notes on Indy@Min
-I am always skeptical of skill position players, particularly running backs. This game was my first real look at Adrian Peterson, and WOW. The guy is absolutely sick. Aaron Schatz(www.footballoutsiders.com) calls him Purple Jesus. He makes everyone else on the field look slow and bad at tackling. If I had this guy on my offense, I would kick even less. Nice segue, huh?
-This game is the perfect example, the "one game every twenty" that your team would win instead of lose by being aggressive on fourth down. Min dominated the first half. They got consistent pressure on Peyton Manning, completely disrupting the Colts' offense. On offense, Min was moving the ball very well, mostly by running, with some pass plays mostly as a change of pace. In the middle of the second quarter, I asked myself-how could Min be so thoroughly dominant and only up 6-0?! The answer is that head coach Brad Childress kept kicking on 4th and short, throwing away drives in which his offense was playing very well. As someone who likes Indy, I was relieved every time I saw the Min offense trot off the field. And that is how you waste a dominant performance and leave points on the field that it turns out you really needed. I refer to them only as Min, because their in-game strategy minimizes their chance to win. A little math humor for ya.
-Tony Ugoh, the starting left tackle for the Colts, looked pretty bad, then went down with an injury in the first half. His replacement, #53 Steve Justice, is a small for an offensive lineman white guy who does not even wear an offensive lineman's number(50s is linebackers, 60s and 70s are OL). He was put in at left guard, and the left guard, 74(Henderson?), moved to tackle. The Colts' line struggled the whole game, though much less in the second half, probably due to some adjustment I didn't see, like adding blocking help to the left side.
-The Vikings' defensive front is really strong. Brad Childress clearly knew this when he challenged the ruling of touchdown, knowing the best case was that the Colts would have first and goal inside the 1. Usually, I say don't bother. But it took the Colts 3 plays to gain 2 feet, and it was so close that the Vikings challenged whether Addai had scored on third down, and it seems like his forward progress got the ball to the front of the goal line for a split second, touchdown, but statement made. So after the second touchdown, making it 15-13, the Colts are going for 2, and I thought, no way in hell are they going to run the ball. Peyton lines up in shotgun and I repeat this thought. He takes a half step fake dropback, hand to Addai, dive past the right side of the line, good. Sweet play.
Pastriots@J E T S JETS JETS JETS
-The line had moved to NE -1 by game time, in case you doubted that I was right.
-The Jets' big first quarter play, a 54 yard pass to Coles, should have been blown dead for delay of game. The play clock was clearly at 0, and it wasn't close. The defense might have been justifiably unprepared for the play.
-The Jets looked pretty decent. They're not that bad.
-Cassel is pretty good. He looked confident, and he throws a nice ball. The deep ball to Moss was noticeably absent from the game plan, but Jets CB Darrelle Revis could have had something to do with that. They traded up to 14th in last year's draft to pick him, and he seems to be very good.
-4th and 23 inside the 10, 4 minutes left, down 19-10, Jets have 2 time outs. Guess what Mangina does. This situation sucks, duh duh duh. Let's look at the options-
Punt-to win, you need to get the ball back and score...twice! You need to do this without your time-outs, which you will have to burn on defense now to preserve the clock. This just isn't happening. Punt=surrender.
Go for it-you miss, you lose. Same as a punt. If you convert, you have a chance to score. Then you onside-kick, recover, score again, win. So going for it offers you a chance to win, however slim. And you go down fighting, pride intact. But most likely, you miss and the other team scores again, running up your margin of defeat. You have to be okay with that. It's supposed to be about winning.
So Mangina punts, NE gets a couple of first downs, runs out the clock.
-Belichick did a few of those punts that I hate in the first half. I guess he's not perfect. Then he went for it on 4th and 3 with 2 minutes left just so he could get a first down and run out the clock. Weird thing to do with the outcome decided. It's as if he wanted to remind the world that even without a dominant team, he's still a douche.
Pittsburgh @ Cleveland
-Down 10-3 with 208 seconds left, 4th and 7 at Pit 20, Cleveland coach Romeo Crennel kicks the field goal, then goes for an onside kick. Pit recovers the onside kick, Cleveland is flagged on the play for an illegal formation-you have to have at least 4 guys lined up on each side for the kickoff. It's a newish rule that is mostly relevant to the onside kick, and it's inexcusable that Crennel didn't know it(I knew it!). So if Cleveland had recovered, they would have had to rekick from the 25 and recover again. Pit had a freeroll. So Romeo's plan to win involved kicking a field goal, then recovering two expected onside kicks in a row(P~14% squared), then driving down the field again and scoring a touchdown, something his team had failed to do all game. An intelligent person's plan to win would be to convert fourth down, score, tie the game. -Romeo kicked a field goal on 4th and 3 with <10 href="mailto:SD@Den">SD@Den
I didn't see this, so I don't have anything specific to say except that Mike Shanahan scored what would generally be considered the tying touchdown, 37-38 before PAT, and decided to go for 2 and decide the game right there! I love it! For once, somebody is thinking(or has a tee time to get to)! Overtime is a coin flip, especially in a game as dominated by the offenses as this one. Scoring on a play from the 2 on a day when your team has scored 37 points is not. I'm glad it worked, and I hope there's a lot of positive press so that other coaches will be encouraged to make ballsy decisions. I'm sure they'll just talk about how reckless it was. No need to complicate everything, right?