Mike Tanier's Monday Morning Hangover: Harvin, Big Ben and Brilliant Disguises

Mike Tanier@@miketanierNFL National Lead WriterOctober 27, 2014

USA Today

Let's kick things off with some quick hitters this week. It's a little game called Pretty, Ugly or Pretty Ugly?

Steelers Uniforms: We have seen the sideways-striped bumblebee uniforms before, with the beige nudie pants and the iron-on decal uniform numbers. But many Steelers wore Where's Waldo-style knit caps on a chilly Pittsburgh afternoon, making them look like walking traffic cones or fugitives from a butternut squash chain gang. 

Pretty, Ugly or Pretty Ugly? Ugly. 

Ben Roethlisberger's 522 Yards and Six Touchdowns on 40-of-49 Passing: It was one of the greatest passing performances of all time, which means those darn throwback uniforms will be immortalized forever, and I will have to pay extra attention to the scouting film. 

Pretty, Ugly or Pretty Ugly? Pretty gorgeous, because results are always pretty.

Drew Brees' Three Touchdown Passes: Tom Brady and Peyton Manning were getting too much attention. Brees worked himself back into the conversation...just in time for Brady-Manning Week. 

Pretty, Ugly or Pretty Ugly? Pretty.

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Rogelio Solis/Associated Press

Packers' Red-Zone Strategy: "Hey, this was a great drive. Let's try a whole bunch of random junk now that we are close to the goal line. Maybe we can commit some penalties, too." 

Pretty, Ugly or Pretty Ugly? Pretty Ugly. 

Jeremy Maclin's Leap over the Gatorade Table: Maclin went Gatorade bowling and only left the 10 pin standing. Moments after his energy-drink shower, the television crew spotted sideline workers wiping down the table. Nobody bothered to clean up Maclin. Maybe all of the drying electrolytes helped him hold on to the touchdown he caught a few minutes later. 

Pretty, Ugly or Pretty Ugly? Pretty Sticky.

John Brown's Game-Winning Touchdown: The Eagles appeared to be in quarters coverage: Nate Allen was responsible for one-quarter of the field, Cary Williams was responsible for one-quarter and Brown ran behind them into the other half. 

Pretty, Ugly or Pretty Ugly? Pretty shocking that the Cardinals are in first place at the end of October, isn't it?


Buccaneers Cheerleaders Distract Vikings: Too late. The Buccaneers-Vikings game was so boring that the Vikings were already asleep. 

Pretty, Ugly or Pretty Ugly? Silly.

Arian Foster's 173 Total Yards and Three Touchdowns: If a Texans player excels and he is not J.J. Watt, does it make a sound? 

Pretty, Ugly or Pretty Ugly? Pretty.

Lions Kicking Situation: Matt Prater will be fine as long as all field-goal attempts come with mulligans. 

Pretty, Ugly or Pretty Ugly? Pretty ugly.

Two Teams, One Receiver, Uncounted Regrets

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - OCTOBER 26:  Percy Harvin #16 of the New York Jets watches play from the bench during the second quarter against the Buffalo Bills at MetLife Stadium on October 26, 2014 in East Rutherford, New Jersey.  (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Image
Al Bello/Getty Images

The Seahawks are not better off without Percy Harvin. The Jets are not worse off with Percy Harvin. It's just an optical illusion caused by the fact that the Seahawks, despite recent setbacks, are a good team and a great organization, while the Jets are the Jets.

You know how optical illusions work. Surround a circle by smaller circles, and it looks big. Surround the same circle with larger circles, and it looks small. Surround Harvin with Russell WilsonMarshawn Lynch and a great defense, and he looks like a small-but-vital part in a powerful machine. Surround him with Geno Smith, Michael Vick and a defense that was great four years ago, and Harvin looks like a huge, important cog in a Rube Goldberg contraption.

Harvin now has a focal-point role in an offense; if that is what he wanted (no one is really sure what Harvin wants, possibly not even Harvin), then he got his wish, ironic deal-with-devil style. The Jets threw nine passes to Harvin. He caught three. They handed off to him four times, sometimes on reverses, sometimes just lining him up in the backfield and pitching to him. Harvin gained 28 rushing yards, usually by shaking free of a defender who met him deep in the backfield to avert a big loss.

Opponents know Harvin is getting the ball, so they peek and gamble to take away screens and reverses. That was also a problem in Seattle, but at their best the Seahawks could take or leave their Harvin package. They left it, and now the Jets must keep on taking.

Geno Smith's first pass to Harvin was a comical overthrow of a short crossing route. His second was an interception into the belly of Stephon Gilmore. Smith gave way to Michael Vick after two more picks. Vick overthrew Harvinunderthrew him and threw six-yard passes on 3rd-and-18. Mostly, Vick got sacked and fumbled. It was ugly.

When Vick, Harvin and Chris Johnson are on the field at the same time, it's like a buzzsaw of failure and disappointment that can spin at 500 revolutions per second. The Jets are now fast and talented enough to commit three or four critical mistakes per play. Vick has the athleticism to fumble, pick the ball up before anyone can react and then do something else that's ill-advised and regrettable before the whistle. All the Jets need now is to trade for DeSean Jackson; they will tear themselves apart breaking the sound barrier.

Seth Wenig/Associated Press

And yet the Jets outscored the Seahawks, who still weren't quite sure what to do with themselves offensively in a too-tight 13-9 win against the Panthers. Marshawn Lynch ran hard for 14 carries. Russell Wilson targeted Lynch, Luke Willson, and Cooper Helfet 12 times; the results were three catches, the Willson touchdown that finally won the game, one disastrous tip-drill Lynch interception at the goal line, 36 yards and lots of wasted effort.

A wide-open Helfet tried to dive for one underthrown-but-catchable pass in the red zone, thrust his butt in the air while diving like a wounded deer trying to clear a low fence, and flopped awkwardly to the ground. The Seahawks need playmakers the way the Jets need everything else. They also need to use Lynch, the one sure thing they have, as a rusher instead of a goal-line empty-backfield receiving target.

The scuttlebutt in Seattle is that the Seahawks and Lynch are fed up with each other, that Lynch was angry about the Harvin trade and so on. Since Lynch talks to no one, everyone else in the Seahawks organization is a tight-lipped party-line-follower and nobody ever got straight answers about what really happened among Wilson, Lynch, Harvin, Golden Tate or the other Knights of Camelot before or after the Harvin trade, it is hard to tell what to make of the Lynch issue, except that the Seahawks cannot afford to do anything about it. Without Lynch AND Harvin, the Seahawks are a .500 team, and Wilson is a grittier and less mistake-prone Cam Newton. The Seahawks cannot restore team chemistry for 2014 without emptying all the beakers.

Mike McCarn/Associated Press

As for the Jets, Smith will get an MRI exam on his shoulder, and Rex Ryan said he has no idea what his quarterback situation is. A Vick-Harvin tandem could generate 17 points per game: 10 for the Jets and seven for opponents. Integrating Harvin into game plans would be easier if there was consistent evidence that the Jets even used game plans.

Harvin made the Jets slightly better, but they still lost. His absence made the Seahawks slightly weaker, but they still won. When it comes to offensive confusion and behind-the-scenes headaches, both teams have more in common than the Seahawks would like.

No one involved in the Harvin trade can be thrilled with how things are turning out, but Harvin should be the one doing the most second-guessing. Be careful what you wish for, because the Jets might be the ones who give it to you.


Participation Trophies

Not everybody earns one, but everybody gets one!

Minimalist Stat Line Trophy 

(Awarded to the player who did the least damage with the most touches.)

Maurice Jones-Drew carried six times for eight yards in the Raiders' 23-13 loss to the Browns. MJD also has a nine-carry, 11-yard stat line on his resume this year, plus two carries for one yard and three carries for six yards. Twenty-four more carries like those and the Raiders may have to change head coaches again.

Meaningless Fantasy Touchdown Trophy 

(For the most unnecessary, yet fantasy-relevant, touchdown of the week.)

Martellus Bennett wins the trophy from Alshon Jeffrey this week. Both scored silly-time touchdowns for the Bears in the blowout loss to the Patriots, but Bennett a) provided a legit highlight-reel catch for a team that needed something to smile about, and b) is on my fantasy team.

Elise Amendola/Associated Press

Fantasy Leech Trophy 

(Awarded to the fullback, tight end, fourth receiver or moonlighting linebacker who scored so your first-round pick couldn't.)

Juwan Thompson locked up this award on Thursday night when the undrafted rookie scored a one-yard touchdown on a fullback give for the Broncos. Look, Juwan, you broke a Manning Rule. Fullbacks are not allowed to score touchdowns in a Peyton Manning offense; really, they are not supposed to even exist. If a "fullback" runs for a touchdown, it had better be a converted defensive tackle like Dan Klecko, or a third-string guard doing a Refrigerator Perry impersonation. So we will have no more of this "fullback give" nonsense, at least until Brock Osweiler finally blocks a field goal.

Kenny Rogers Trophy 

(Awarded to the coach who does not know when to hold 'em, or when to fold 'em.)

Mike McCarthy and Sean Payton traded fourth-down failures in the late game. Both short-yardage "gambles" were wise percentage plays despite the fact that neither resulted in a conversion. Both play calls were similar: off-tackle runs by bruising Alabama alumni. Neither play was well-blocked; sometimes I think that offensive linemen would be more effective on 4th-and-short if they took an elementary probability course in the offseason.

McCarthy's Packers win this week's award because Eddie Lacy and Bryan Bulaga made feeble "first down" gestures after their efforts were obviously blown up. Lacy even grabbed his helmet in shock when the referee pointed the other way, even though Lacy was standing about six yards behind the line of scrimmage while protesting. Coaxing a good spot from the refs is like selling real estate: It's all about location, location, location.

Mystery Touch of the Week 

(Awarded to the offensive lineman or moonlighting linebacker who suddenly gets his hands on the football.)

The Packers tried to fool the Saints by splitting Julius Peppers out as a wide receiver near the goal line, then throwing a slant to him. Crafty! Except that 34-year old career defensive ends are not known for their ability to hall in crisp passes against tight coverage. Peppers dropped a catchable pass, and the Packers settled for a field goal. Luckily, no one asked Jordy Nelson to blitz Drew Brees.

Burn This Play Trophy 

(Awarding bad ideas in play design.)

Someone named M. Schaub threw an interception for the Raiders this week. This M. Schaub is apparently the holder for field goals; the Raiders attempted a fake, but the snap was terrible, and this M. Schaub threw an ugly pass into the belly of a defender, almost as if he was someone in the habit of throwing easy interceptions.

Tony Dejak/Associated Press

No one is certain what the M. stands for—Mitch? Maury? Melchizedek?—where the Raiders found this woebegone soul, or why anyone thought the trick play would succeed. All that is certain is that M. Schaub will never throw another pass if the Raiders can possibly avoid it.

Shred This Gameplan Trophy 

(Awarded to the worst overall decision of the week.)

Zach Mettenberger is not ready to start for an NFL team, and the Titans have little infrastructure to help a rookie quarterback. Mettenberger threw for 299 yards in a blowout loss to the Texans, but that total was padded by two late drives. Mettenberger was 7-of-13 for 62 yards at halftime; four of his completions and 37 of his yards came in 3rd-and-forever situations that did not net first downs.

Ken Whisenhunt's protect-the-rookie strategy consisted of handing off to fellow rookie Bishop Sankey on first down, then taking to the air on 2nd-and-long; for variety, the Titans sometimes got flagged for holding. Mettenberger is reportedly the Titans quarterback for the rest of the season, barring injury. Experienced Whisenhunt watchers know to scan the quarterback waiver wire and brace for an appearance by a Caleb Hanie-type by Week 15.

NASHVILLE, TN - OCTOBER 26:  J.J. Watt #99 of the Houston Texans sacks Zach Mettenberger #7 of the Tennessee Titans at LP Field on October 26, 2014 in Nashville, Tennessee.  The Texans defeated the Titans 30-16.  (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)
Wesley Hitt/Getty Images

Everyone's Fault But Mine Trophy 

(Awarded to the player who knows the NFL meaning of the word "accountability.")

Kyle Long and Lamarr Houston and share the award for the Finger Pointers of the Midway. Both were central characters in last week's locker room meltdown (Long called out fans; Houston stood up for Brandon Marshall after the receiver's angry rant reportedly drew eye-rolls and other sass back). So you would expect both Long and Houston to do their best to exhibit strong leadership and smart play this week.

Nope. Long drew an unnecessary roughness penalty deep in Bears territory by grabbing a Patriots defender after the whistle and trying to either wishbone his legs or apply a figure-four leg lock. Houston, more notably, injured himself while celebrating a sack of backup quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo while trailing 48-23 in the fourth quarter. He is now done for the year with a torn ACL, per ESPN's Adam Schefter.

Teammates probably do not want to hear from Houston, Long or each other after Sunday. Everyone on the Bears roster but Matt Forte should take a vow of silence until the next win; Forte is allowed to sigh heavily.

Editorial Comment of the Week Trophy

Fill-in Fox studio analyst Joel Klatt handled the Game Breaks this week with the network stretched thin by the World Series and a London game. Klatt dutifully broke into the Patriots-Bears telecast to narrate a Texans highlight, then twisted the knife on poor Bears fans. "And now back to Patriots versus Southwest Missouri State," he said.

Ouch. Actually, there is no Southwest Missouri State Universitythere's Southeast, Southern, and Northwest, but "Southwest" Missouri State is just Missouri State—and if there was, the student-athletes would probably be smart enough to not injure themselves while celebrating during a blowout loss.

Dress for Success

Every Halloween brings a fresh set of costume ideas, from lovable new characters for kids to clever dress-up concepts for grown-ups. Still not sure what to wear to that trendy party you were invited to? Want to be able to actually identify the princesses and superheroes knocking on your door next Friday night so your vinyl siding does not get egged? Here are some of this year's most fashionable costumes, as well as the NFL teams who wore similar disguises this week.

daram/Associated Press

Anna and Elsa from Frozen

Disney's Bechdel Test on Ice proves that a studio can build a delightful family adventure around relationships between non-stereotypical female characters if given about 75 years to ramp up to the challenge. For little girls and parents, Anna and Elsa provide relatable, empowered role models; for Disney, they provide yet another chance to mint money by slightly tweaking their princess costume template.

NFL Costume: Any story of a loving family finding survival and hope in a frozen wasteland takes us directly to the Buffalo Bills, who beat the Jets 43-23 largely by stifling laughter and staying out of their own way. Sammy Watkins' premature point-and-celebrate touchdown was the Bills' only diva moment, and like Elsa, he enjoyed plenty of redemption at the end.

Like Frozen, Bills-Jets provided an entertaining mix of wonder, comedy and heart, plus an important lesson: never put any faith in the Jets. Like most children's entertainment, it was also too long, running three hours and 20 minutes and lingering after close, exciting games like Bengals-Ravens had already wrapped. Frozen was delightful, but all parents know that fidgety feeling that arrives around the sixth or seventh musical number. The same feeling occurred when Michael Vick fumbled the fourth time.

FRED GREAVES/Associated Press

Groot, Rocket, and Star-Lord from Guardians of the Galaxy

Everyone loved Guardians of the Galaxy…a little too much. My whole family enjoyed it too, but the rave THIRTY THUMBS UP! reviews sounded suspiciously like all of pop culture trying too hard to assert its geek cred at once. We totally get this winking adventure comedy based on C-list Marvel characters with a K-Tel soundtrack on levels the squares who prefer movies based on Nicholas Sparks novels could not possibly comprehend. Superhero movie audiences may simply have been over-eager to watch talking trees, wisecracking raccoons, and actual fun in a film industry where Superman now kills people and Batman is played by Matt Damon's dopey sidekick.

NFL Costume: The Guardians are lovable misfits who get the job done in unlikely ways. Their leader appears overmatched and underqualified but somehow finds a way. Cue the Bengals!

Star-Lord is a sneaky, resourceful hero, and Andy Dalton snuck for two touchdowns in the 27-24 Bengals victory. Mohamed Sanu is Rocket Raccoon: crafty and unpredictable, with five catches for 125 yards despite constant attention and a 26-yard end-around that everyone should have seen coming but didn't. Groot is an indestructible tree who simply grows back after suffering extreme damage: sounds like Gio Bernard. 

The Ravens engineered a comeback late in the fourth quarter (the Ravens think that road games actually start late in the fourth quarter). Like great comic book baddies, they suddenly surged to life with an "IT'S NOT DEAD YET" moment in the final seconds, but Steve Smith got flagged for offensive pass interference after knocking George Iloka to the turf to catch a Joe Flacco touchdown pass. Iloka overplayed his flop a bit, but Smith's push was real, and what's a superhero epic without a little cheesy acting?.

Like the Guardians, the Bengals proved that they can be fun and exciting in their own right. But the Broncos and Patriots are the Avengers and X-Men, folks, so don't get carried away with the accolades.

Captain America

Marvel trumps DC the way culture trumps scheme some of the time! My informal survey of costumes at a local youth baseball Halloween event revealed that Caps outnumbered Batmen by about a 10-to-1 ratio. Both heroes now fight international terrorist-types, but Cap gets to experience friendship and occasional optimism along the way. That seems to resonate with kids and parents for some reason.

FOXBORO, MA - NOVEMBER 03:  Ben Roethlisberger #7 of the Pittsburgh Steelers greets Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots following the game at Gillette Stadium on November 3, 2013 in Foxboro, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)
Jared Wickerham/Getty Images

NFL Costume: One thing that makes Cap cool is that he really relies on his friends. The grim loner hero archetype has grown stale over the years. Tom Brady did not throw five touchdowns against the Bears because he is a lone wolf; he did it because he is a leader who brings out the best in Rob Gronkowski, Brandon LaFell and whoever the running backs are these days. Ben Roethlisberger threw six touchdowns to Antonio Brown, Heath Miller and the usual Howling Commandos.

Of course, Cap knew when it was time to ditch his corny 1940s getup. Kids now wear the 21st century Captain America costume, with modern military overtones and muted colors. Someday, the Steelers will stop forcing us to look at their goofy Striped Guardian costumes.

So if Brady and Big Ben are dueling Captain Americas (Captains America?) what does that make the Colts and Bears? If you cannot imagine Jay Cutler saying "Hail Hydra," then you must be new to the Internet.

Julie Jacobson/Associated Press

Bent iPhone 6

Perhaps our technological expectations have gotten unrealistic. Give us a phone with a screen so huge we can appreciate James Cameron special effects on it. Make it so light it practically levitates. And that phone better be indestructible enough that I can cram it into my back pocket and sit on it for seven hours without consequence! Take a flat-screen television box, paint it with app logos and other cellphone screen litter, cut out some arm holes, wedge yourself or a loved one inside, and touch your toes. Voila! You are America's greatest horror: a minor crimp in our high-tech extravagance.

Ross D. Franklin/Associated Press

NFL Costume: The Eagles executed 88 offensive plays and gained 521 total yards, but scored just 20 points in their loss to the Cardinals. Sounds like a case of technology gone awry. The Eagles committed two turnovers deep in Cardinals territory, got stopped at the one-foot line to settle for a field goal and had two nine-play drives that ended in punts.

Not to blare the dreary "hurry-up offense has its drawbacks" siren after one tight loss on the road to a very good opponent, but the Cardinals made a worthy tortoise to the Eagles' hare, playing within themselves and biding their time before unleashing a few game-changing big plays. Sometimes it pays to keep things simple: carry a pad and paper with you, and you won't care if it gets bent.

Legos and Minecraft Characters

The bricks are in! After straining the limits of computer technology to give our children hyper-realistic video games and television shows, our tykes rebelled by playing with virtual blocks instead. Lego superhero costumes are almost as popular as regular superhero costumes this year, in part because Lego Batman is far cooler than gritty Batman (and Lego Wonder Woman has actually appeared in a major motion picture). Minecraft's trippy gameplay takes human culture full circle: Kids would rather dig in dirt and build castles than fight bad guys, and all our endeavors simply become attempts to find shelter on a cold night.

ASCOT, ENGLAND - AUGUST 09:  Young racegoers play in a Minecraft tournament during Ascot Dubai Duty Free Shergar Cup and Concert at Ascot Racecourse on August 9, 2014 in Ascot, England.  (Photo by Miles Willis/Getty Images for Ascot Racecourse)
Miles Willis/Getty Images

NFL Costume: Both Legos and Minecraft are about the joy of manufacturing something worthwhile out of tiny, ordinary, boring building blocks. That's what the Vikings did in their 19-13 overtime win against the Buccaneers. The two teams punted nine times and combined for just 203 yards of offense before halftime. Each team only converted one third down before halftime; the Bucs finished 1-of-12, the Vikings a respectable 6-of-15. Both teams manufactured just enough offense to work a 13-13 tie at the end of regulation; at times, it felt like watching a high school game from the Great Depression, or watching kids play Minecraft ("you have just…been hitting rectangles with a little pickax for the last three hours?"). The Buccaneers made the huge mistake of electing to receive the overtime kickoff, and an Anthony Barr fumble recovery won the game for the Vikings.

Tune in early next week when veteran Buccaneers playmakers like Vincent Jackson and Doug Martin (39 combined yards from scrimmage on Sunday) attract undue attention before the trade deadline. But hey, any Minecraft fan will tell you that it's all about obsessively assembling raw materials.


American fashion has finally caught up with the stuff the Talking Heads were doing at CBGBs circa 1977. Now, Halloween costumes are catching up with fashion as the ironically chic strive to dress just like students, housewives and everyone else who does not dress like anyone in particular. To make it work, you have to make your lack of a fashion statement an obvious fashion statement; for best results, rummage the wardrobe of an IT professional. Or sports blogger.

But wait, shouldn't a normcore adherent dress in costume (just like everyone else) on Halloween? Blue collared golf shirt and khakis, or Jack Sparrow? The ultra-hip should remove all doubt by staying home and pondering that question until Christmas.

NFL Costume: The Chiefs are the NFL's most nondescript good team, chugging quietly along at 4-3 without drawing undue attention to themselves. Everyone knows what the Chiefs are going to do—run and throw to Jamaal Charles, mix in some Knile Davis carries, sprinkle some short passes and sneaky Alex Smith keepers/scrambles where necessary—but the predictability lulls opponents into false security. The Chiefs churned out 143 rushing yards in a 34-7 win over the Rams; their two pass plays than gained more than 20 yards were short catch-and-run efforts by Charles and Antony Sherman.

It takes clever camouflage to blow out an opponent with only one "holy cow" highlight play: a 99-yard Davis kickoff return. The Chiefs are hiding in plain sight; be on the lookout for a team going out of its way to avoid attention.

Last Call: Tea and Crumpets with Ndamukong Suh

The Lions played a too-early game while folks across the nation were trying to attend church and focus on family activities. Good heavens; is it Thanksgiving already?

Just the opposite: Sunday was all about traveling to England, not risking life and limb to get away. The Lions faced the Falcons in "Wake Up at Wembley," the catchy name for the Kipper Express eye-opener that caught many of us by surprise, particularly those who forgot to insert Matt Ryan into our fantasy lineups. There is nothing quite like the shock of discovering that the Lions trail 21-0 before your coffee has finished brewing.

Many fans reportedly loved the early start; the rest were probably sleeping or doing something life-affirming instead of Tweeting their dissatisfaction. West Coast fans could not thrilled about the 6:30 local kickoff: It may not be a big deal for Lions-Falcons, but no one had better get funny ideas about 49ers-Seahawks or Brady-Manning. Those of us who enjoyed a 16-hour workday because of the early kickoff probably should not complain, because we get to watch football for a living. It got me out of raking the leaves, anyway.

This week's Last Call is really a First Call of sights and sounds from the London game, with a special emphasis on the telecast (which you may not have seen), not the results (22-21 Lions comeback win, thanks to Matt Prater's ability to go 1-of-2 from the free-throw line late in a close game):

Wake Up to Wembley: Morning football from England now has a name and logo, like "Breakfast at Wimbledon," making it easy to brand and promote. That means it's here to stay, folks, whether as an annual event or part of a future plan to move a franchise to London. (Reports that the NFL will play five games in England next year appear to be unsubstantiated.) Wake Up to Wembley at least does not tip the league's hand as it tries to make morning football a more regular event. Viewers may not be ready for "Kegs, Eggs and Jags" or "Breakfast Ruined by the Buccaneers."

Jersey Confusion: The cacophony of NFL jerseys at a Wembley game is probably a lot like the chaos at European friendly at an American Stadium. Sure, Manchester City may be playing Real Madrid, but that's no reason I cannot wear my Manchester United, Seattle Sounders or high school JV jersey, right?

The following jerseys were spotted in crowd shots from Wembley: Brett Favre, Clay Matthews (with cheese head), Donovan McNabb, Larry Fitzgerald, Philip Rivers, Joe Montana, Tom Brady and a Steven Jackson Rams jersey in throwback colors. The last one was my personal favorite. Imagine Europe's longest-suffering Steven Jackson fan finally getting a real reason to wear the jersey he purchased in 2006! He'll be back in two weeks wearing his Toby Gerhart Vikings jersey.

Charissa Thompson @CharissaT

🇬🇧🏈 http://t.co/mg9w4qtNow

Charissa Explains…Dirt. The Wembley playing surface looked a little bit like FedEx Field after years of neglectful, penny-pinching maintenance. That is to say, it looked like FedEx Field. Charissa Thompson was dispatched after halftime to hold a clump of grass and use it as an object lesson about just how bad the divots were; sifting a little green wad of suspicious vegetation between her fingers, she looked like she was reporting on the world's lamest DEA raid. Meanwhile, a team of groundskeepers quickly filled 4,000 holes on the field. Although the holes were rather small, they had to fill them all.

Rock the Casbah: Fox used "Train in Vain" by The Clash and "Roll with It" by Oasis as background music for the obligatory montages of football highlights and London landmarks. Fox producers, like me, are unaware that any music has been produced, in England or anywhere else, in the last 19 years or so.

The Clash are awesome, of course, but "Train in Vain" is an odd soundtrack choice. It's a breakup song about not sticking together when times are tough. Maybe they thought the Seahawks were playing. When the score was 21-0 at halftime and the Lions were unable to mount a drive, Fox should have assembled a montage to the tune of "London's Burning (with Boredom Now)."

LONDON, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 26:  Laura Wright sings the British National Anthem during the NFL match between Detroit Lions and  Atlanta Falcons at Wembley Stadium on October 26, 2014 in London, England.  (Photo by Jordan Mansfield/Getty Images)
Jordan Mansfield/Getty Images

Laura Wright Rules Britannia: Laura Wright, aka The Sporting Soprano, sang "God Save the Queen" before the game. In addition to sounding beautiful, Wright looked mesmerizingly lovely in a sheer Goddess-atop-Mount-Olympus-style gown which, not to get all Brit tabloid on you, made it obvious that the kickoff temperature was a nippy 59 degrees.

Wright is also nicknamed "The Scrummy Soprano" because she not only sings at rugby matches, but plays fullback for the Rosslyn Park Ladies Rugby Team. In other words, Wright is Katy Perry, only lovelier and with more range, plus a dash of Mike Tolbert.

I'm a London football skeptic, but I am in favor of anything that provides the NFL with more Wright, even if my old-guy crush is making Hangover sound a little scrummy

Mike Tanier covers the NFL for Bleacher Report.


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