Coach From the Couch: A Look Back at the NFL, Week 13
In a contest the Baltimore Ravens led almost all evening, the Patriots got opportunity after opportunity to tie up the score, and eventually all those opportunities paid off.
Trailing 24-20, and probably down to their final scoring chance, the Patriots drove downfield. Facing a fourth and one on the thirteen yard line, Tom Brady took a quarterback sneak to the left and was stopped for a loss!
Game over, right? Wrong.
The Ravens sideline called timeout right before the snap, thus negating their own great defensive stop. Do-over number one for the Pats.
They lined up again fourth and one and were stopped AGAIN! Game over? Wait, there was a flag—the Patriots were off sides. In a strange situation, the Ravens couldn't turn down the penalty because the whistle was blown on offensive off sides BEFORE the snap, thus eliminating unnecessary injuries to players. The five yards was marked off instead of the Ravens just refusing the penalty and taking over the ball. Do-over number two.
The Pats faced a fourth and six and finally converted. After all this fiasco, of course they scored, taking the lead 27-24. The Ravens lost it, accessed 35 yards of penalties on the kickoff, and New England could have sent a two-year-old out to kick the ball out of the end zone. They kicked off with their regular kicker, as no two-year-old is on the payroll, yet somehow the Ravens drove down the field, and with six seconds left threw up a Hail Mary.
And it worked! Well, sort of—the catch was made. Unfortunately the strong winds made the pass come down on the two-yard line where the receiver was tackled. Time ran out and New England escaped with the victory.
SHEESH! How many times can you have close calls, bad calls, or no calls to snatch victory from defeat? I'm gonna start praying to whoever the Patriots call God.
The Pats remain undefeated at 12-0 while the Ravens drop to 4-8 on a game they really had in the bag.
Second Best Game of the Week
The Cleveland Browns did it yet again. They were involved in one of the best games of the week, that is.
Cleveland traveled to Arizona with a leg up in the second of the two AFC wildcard draws. Meanwhile, the Arizona Cardinals were one game out of the NFC wildcard spot at 5-6. Both needed a victory, but Arizona needed it more.
The Browns went down 14-0 early, came back to draw within a touchdown, and with no time on the clock, threw a pass to Kellen Winslow Jr. who caught it, got one foot in bounds and appeared to be shoved out.
Touchdown, right? Wrong. It was ruled incomplete and went to review. Then it was discovered officials could not review whether or not someone was pushed out of bounce, they can only review whether both feet came down in bounds or not. It was obvious the feeties didn’t, but the part of the play that needed to be reviewed couldn't be, and the pass was incomplete.
The review rules are so screwy you cannot review the play you are reviewing to reverse the call even if you wanted to—KRIKIES!!
The Browns fall to 7-5, while the Cards move to 6-6. Both still have strong playoff aspirations.
More Best Games of the Week!
Maybe this week should just be called the best week of the year so far. Where to go next?
Jacksonville played Indianapolis for a chance to tie in their division. The Cowboys and Packers met at 10-1 with one or the other probably securing home field advantage based on the games outcome. Tampa Bay and New Orleans squared off in a division battle that could almost lock it up for the Bucs, or draw New Orleans back in the division hunt. The Giants and Chicago squared off in must wins for both. Detroit and Minnesota had a division contest of epic proportions. Tennessee was in almost must win mode. The list goes on and on...
Let’s start with the Packers and Cowboys!! Green Bay traveled to Dallas. Brett Favre was knocked out early, separating his left shoulder. Cowboys cakewalk? NO!
While Dallas was up the entire contest, the Packers stormed back only to come up a little short in the end. Dallas won 37-27 and clinched a playoff spot, as they are 11-1. The Pack dropped to 10-2. Tony Romo had four touchdown passes and set the club record for touchdown passes in a single season. Brett Favre said he’ll be back next week and all football fans believe him. Packers fans ate their fake cheese heads in disgust over the game and stressed about Favre, and more than likely, will not see the NFC conference championship at Lambeau field if these two squads square off sometime in their respective playoff futures. The Cowboy hat wearers will most likely be more prevalent.
Jacksonville have been looking up in the standings at the Indianapolis Colts so many years they probably have a stiff neck from peering upward. Yet this week they had a chance to get all square in the division!
Not so fast young whipper snappers—Indianapolis yet again showed the Jags why they were always looking up as they topped them 28-25.
The Jags put up a spirited fight. Gerrard threw for 257 yards and Fred Taylor ran for 104, but they still lost! Between Clark and Wayne, they caught fifteen of Mannings’ passes for 218 yards and three TDs. While the score appeared close, the Jags added seven with 2:47 remaining to pull that close. They missed a golden opportunity to catch a Marvin Harrisonless Colts team, and dropped to 8-4.
Meanwhile, the Colts opened up a two-game lead on the Jags at 10-2. At 8-4, the Jags lead the AFC wildcard hunt by two games over everyone else, and would lead the AFC Western division if they could get a get-out-from-behind-the-Colts card in the NFL Monopoly game.
Next up, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers had a chance to open up a substantial lead in the NFC South by beating the division chasing New Orleans Saints. The Saints hoped to pick up a game and haven’t looked too bad after a horrible 2007 start. McCown threw for 313 yards and Brees threw for 179. Graham ran for 106. Tampa Bay won handily, yes? NO!
While they did pull off the victory, it took a Reggie Bush fumble and a Tampa Bay drive and score with 17 seconds remaining for the Bucs to come out on top of this thriller of. Tampa Bay demonstrated why they are a force to be reckoned with this year and moved to 8-4.
The New Orleans Saints showed that they are the best 5-7 team in the league, giving them the big whoop award. Even at 5-7 though, they have a shot at a wild card in the skittish NFC.
Now we go to Chicago and the New York Giants. Man, my head is getting ready to explode with all the fantastic games this week! The Bears are right in the thick of the wild card picture with some excellent play the last few weeks. The Giants look like they are pulling the old New York implosion of last year, dropping in the standings over their last few weeks.
Chicago led 16-7 at the end of the third and appeared poised for victory, but the Giants rallied for two touchdowns in the fourth quarter, the final score coming with 1:33 left on the clock, and they escaped with a 21-16 victory over the Bears. The implosion watch is called off for a week as they move to 8-4. The Bears dropped to 5-7, but are still in the hunt for a wild card in the NFC, and yes, you can say that about EIGHT teams in the NFC.
Half of the NFC teams sit at either 6-6 or 5-7. WHAT A WILD CARD FINISH IT IS SHAPING UP TO BE!!! The wild card appears to be appropriately named.
Man Over Beast?
If the Vikings and Lions were played out on the food chain, the edge would have to go to the Vikes, as man ranks above beast. Unless the man is sleeping and the beast is sneaky.
On the football field though, who sported the edge? The Lions were 6-2 three weeks ago and the Vikings were 3-6. Both teams exit week 12 at 6-6 as the Vikings beat up the Lions, 42-10, just as the food chain predicted.
Adrian Peterson returned from injury to run for 116 yards. He leads the league in rushing yards with a smidge under 1,200 and this after taking off a couple games for injury! Can you say rookie sensation?
Both teams remain in the wild card hunt in the NFC and I am getting tired of saying that so its time to STOP IT.
Is Tennessee Back on Track?
In a battle that could have had both teams coming out 6-6, the Titans made sure that didn’t happen as they stopped the season-bleeding by winning 28-20. They moved to 7-5 while Houston dropped to 5-7.
With the 7-5 mark, they are in third place behind Indy and Jacksonville in the AFC south. Is that a stacked division or what? That division may take both wild cards, which would give them three of the six AFC playoff spots. Both teams REALLY needed a victory to keep in the playoff hunt. In that case, bet your money on Vince Young. He certainly has a reputation of coming through in must wins.
The San Diego SUPERCHARGERS!
San Diego staked its claim to being the front-runner in an awful AFC west, stomping Kansas City 24-10. Cromartie got his seventh interception of the year. LaDainian Tomlinson rushed for 177 yards with two TDs and passed Walter Peyton on the All time TD list. The Chargers moved to 7-5. More importantly, they are 6-2 in their last eight games, taking a two game division lead with four yet to play.
The Chiefs dropped to 4-8, with the smallest attendance in six years at Arrowhead Stadium. Fans wore arrows through their head, demonstrating something to the effect of, “Stick a fork in them, they are done.”
Denver is Bound to Keep Pace, Right?
Apparently not! Bad Denver showed up this week and helped Oakland attain something it hasn’t seen yet this year: a winning streak.
Jay Cutler of Denver got Oakland off to a 17-point lead by tossing two picks. JaMarcus Russell made a cameo appearance for the Raiders, who won 34-20. They moved to 4-8 and are riding a two game winning streak. Denver fell two behind San Diego at 5-7. With four to go, they are probably done.
Roll on Big O!
Zero keeps it popularity this week, staying in the standings for both New England and Miami. Miami remains an 0-fer, losing 40-13 to the New York Jets. Don Shula is happy he’s retired and doing cameos on Monday night football. Four more chances to remove the 0 from 0-12. Jets go to 3-9. Miami was trounced in what appeared to be their best bet left at 0 removal.
P.S. One of their remaining games is New England, Week 15. Wouldn’t that be something if they were 0-14 and the Pats were 14-0 and both zeros were erased at the same time? If I were you, I would not be applying for a second mortgage on the farm so you could bet it on this happening.
So, which bird is tougher, and Eagle or a Seahawk?
In the bird community, if you were allowed to pick your parents, most birds would probably go with the Eagles. If, however the bird hoped for a career in professional football, it would pick the Seahawks. So would most straight up betters, and both would be right.
The Eagles played a great game for the second week in a row after giving up a pick for a touchdown immediately into the game. If they could have the first minute of the last two weeks back, they’d have two victories. Since they can’t, they log two defeats. Seahawks won 28-24. Neither team had any stats of note except for the four picks thrown by A.J. Feeley of the Eagles. Before the game, people were touting Feeley as the rest-of-the-season replacement for an injured Donovan McNabb. Uhhhh…NO!!!
Pittsburgh beat Cincinnati 24-10. They improved to 9-3 while Cinci fell to 4-8. St. Louis won 28-16 over Atlanta as both sit at 3-9 for the season. Finally, Carolina beat San Francisco 31-14. Carolina is now 5-7; San Fran is 3-9.
On the bad side of the week
An emotional Washington team played Buffalo after the death of safety Sean Taylor. The game opened with the Redskins honoring Taylor by only putting ten defensive players on the field during the first defensive play, an indication that Taylor was still with them, even it if was just in their hearts. It was a classy tribute to their fallen friend and a sobering experience for anyone who watched it.
They lost on a 36-yard field goal with four seconds left on the clock. The final score was 17-16 Buffalo. The Bills improved to 6-6; the Redskins fell to 5-7.
While the week was loaded with great games, it’s a shame we had to be reminded by the death of a player, that football still really is just a game, and life is far more precious.
The Coach from the Couch signing off.
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