The Most Boneheaded Plays, Calls and Quotes of NFL Week 13
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Only four weeks remain in the 2012 NFL regular season, which means we really need to cherish every lingering moment—including the ones that leave us befuddled. Week 13 provided a handful of thrilling matchups, but also some of the most boneheaded moments of the year.
Many of this week’s knucklehead moments come from those who are too frequently the butt of the joke.
But hey, much of the conversation at this junction in the season concerns “contenders” and “pretenders.” At least the usual suspects are not “pretending” to be anybody else.
Here’s a look at some of the least forgivable errors of Week 13.
Cardinals Just a Little Bit Worse Than Jets
There isn’t one single moment to highlight here, but any discussion of the week’s worst must include the single most unimpressive game of the entire 2012 NFL season (dethroning the Week 1 matchup between the Eagles and Browns).
The biggest boneheads involved in this affair are the people who actually watched the entire 60 minutes—assuming such people exist.
Week 13 saw many of the league’s worst give inspired efforts (Buffalo, Carolina, Philadelphia, Kansas City, Cleveland, Oakland); however, this game was an abomination. I’m not sure there’s a single team worse right now than Arizona or New York.
One particularly puzzling aspect: Was Mark Sanchez really any worse in this game than he has been in the past month? Is it a coincidence that he happened to be benched in the first game in which Tim Tebow was out?
Antonio Smith Gets Robbed
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Remember when disgruntled Lions fans suggested that the refs did something wrong on Thanksgiving by not blowing Justin Forsett down on the controversial touchdown run?
Well, this is now the second straight week in which an “inadvertent whistle”—whatever that means—prevented a challenge.
After J.J. Watt knocked the ball away from Chris Johnson, which is not a surprising event for either player, Smith scooped the ball and even gave us a little spin move before heading straight for the end zone, only to have his likely touchdown negated.
He was never tackled upon recovering the ball, but because there was a whistle, the play could not be reviewed.
Bizarre End to First Half
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Sticking with the Tennessee-Houston game, the ending to the first half featured boneheaded decision-making by both teams.
Down 21-3 with less than 10 seconds remaining, Mike Munchak decided it would be a good decision to have a final pass play against one of the league’s best defenses—81 yards away from the Houston end zone.
Not surprisingly, the ball was intercepted by Glover Quin at Tennessee's 41-yard line.
However, upon picking off the pass, Quin scrambled across the field, desperately trying to circumnavigate his way through 20 people.
He got to the 19, but by the time his I-wish-I-played-offense moment ended, time had expired. Houston lost a field goal try.
Left to Ponder
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The Minnesota Vikings fell to the Packers despite 210 rushing yards from the NFL’s best running back. It’s a surprising contradiction, although maybe we should know better than to believe Adrian Peterson’s remarkable production correlates with winning.
Peterson has totaled 947 yards over the past six games—a pace that would produce 2,525 yards over 16—but the Vikings are just 2-4 over that span.
Playing without Percy Harvin hurts, but, as has been the case for most of Peterson’s career, Minnesota quarterback play has brought about devastating results.
Christian Ponder has posted a sub-20 QBR in five of his past six outings.
His most unforgivable error was the across-the-body red-zone chuck into the hands of Morgan Burnett.
With Peterson ripping off huge chunks of yardage, Ponder must know better than to make anything resembling a risky decision that could jeopardize his team.
Trouble for Colin Kaepernick
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It will be at least six more weeks before we can begin to accurately assess whether Jim Harbaugh made the right decision to replace Alex Smith with Colin Kaepernick. With that said, I have seen nothing thus far to make me believe Kaepernick is not ultimately the superior option.
But, as is the case for any inexperienced quarterback (except, of course, Greg McElroy, who we all know is perfect), a few boneheaded decisions should be expected.
Kaepernick made some great plays on Sunday. He also made some really bad ones.
First, we had the inexcusable safety. A ball snapped at the 17-yard line should never, ever result in a safety. Period.
Then there was the read option. The coaching staff deserves at least half of the blame on this one. Why call a play that has any potential for disaster when priority No. 1 is burning the clock and keeping the opposing offense off the field? San Francisco was up by eight with under 3:30 remaining.
The last and most Kaepernick-attributed error took place during San Francisco’s final fourth-quarter drive. Facing a 3rd-and-21 at the St. Louis 25, needing just a field goal to break the tie, Kaepernick rolled right and gained 10 yards, but went out of bounds. The Rams saved their final timeout for what would turn out to be the game-tying drive.
Kaepernick is doing a lot right at the moment, but eliminating even just one of these errors may have been enough to get the 49ers to nine wins.
Norv Turner Has a Job Because…
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I hate calling for coaches to be fired; let’s get that out of the way first. It’s the go-to topic that sports writers and fans can utilize when they have nothing left to discuss. There are probably less than 100 people per NFL head coach who are actually in a position to analyze performance—and they’re almost all part of a coach’s respective organization.
But we predict and lambaste because it's fun and because it would be nice to think that all of a team’s problems can be traced back to a single individual.
Then, like everything else in life, there is the exception to the rule.
I have absolutely no clue how Norv Turner has managed to remain a part of the San Diego organization for this long. His play-calling at the end of the game against Cincinnati was the kind you’d expect to see from a 12-year-old playing Madden.
With the game on the line, the Chargers had the ball with a 1st-and-10 from Cincinnati’s 17-yard line. San Diego had two timeouts with more than a minute on the clock, essentially eliminating the variable of time from the equation.
First down? Pass to the end zone.
Second down? Pass to the end zone.
Third down? Pass to the end zone.
Fourth down? You guessed it—pass to the end zone.
There were no slants, hitches, curls or screens. San Diego could have even run it on first or second down and they almost certainly could have picked up five-plus yards, considering that Cincinnati needed to defend the deep ball (which further highlights just how much Turner’s play-calling worked into the hands of the Bengals).
I was truly baffled. When you consider the track record of the Turner-led Bolts, that really says a lot.