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Mike Tanier's Monday Morning Hangover: 49ers, Lions, Chiefs Prove Playoff-Worthy

Mike Tanier@@miketanierNFL National Lead WriterNovember 10, 2014

Leon Halip/Getty Images

The San Francisco 49ers will remember this Sunday when they are in the playoffs.

They will remember Ahmad Brooks' strip and Chris Borland's recovery, Michael Crabtree slipping unnoticed past the New Orleans Saints secondary, the 21-10 lead they took but nearly squandered, their rediscovery of Frank Gore and the tough win that reminded the NFC that the 49ers always have designs on the conference championship game.

The Kansas City Chiefs will remember this Sunday when they reach the playoffs as a wild card.

They will remember Jamaal Charles on 4th-and-1, Alex Smith's read-option keeper, and how they manufactured yet another victory out of tight defense and a handful of medium-sized plays, like a baseball team that wins with pitching and bloop singles.

Nov 9, 2014; New Orleans, LA, USA; New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees (9) is tackled by San Francisco 49ers outside linebacker Ahmad Brooks (55) during the fourth quarter at Mercedes-Benz Superdome. The 49ers won 27-24 in overtime.  Mandatory Credi
USA TODAY Sports

The Detroit Lions will remember this Sunday when they host a playoff game.

They will remember getting Calvin Johnson back but needing much more: rugged runs from Joique Bell, swarming defense, fake punts and the kind of last-minute drive they rarely got from Matthew Stafford in the past.

The Miami Dolphins will remember this Sunday when they are interviewing head coaching candidates in January.

They will remember holding a 16-13 lead over the Lions late in the fourth quarter, despite the loss of left tackle Branden Albert. They will remember another fateful, half-hearted three-and-out when they were supposed to be killing the clock and another opponent's last-minute touchdown drive aided and abetted by Joe Philbin's syncopated timeouts.

The Buffalo Bills will remember this Sunday when their new owner begins his January housecleaning.

They will remember brief lapses that ruined an excellent performance by their defensive front, fumbles through the back of the end zone, muffed punts, ill-timed penalties and missed opportunities galore.

The Saints will remember this Sunday when they win the NFC South at 8-8 and back into the playoffs to face some nasty wild-card team like the 49ers.

ORCHARD PARK, NY - NOVEMBER 09:   Jamaal Charles #25 of the Kansas City Chiefs breaks a tackle by Preston Brown #52 of the Buffalo Bills and scores a touchdown during the second half at Ralph Wilson Stadium on November 9, 2014 in Orchard Park, New York.
Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images

They will remember another crippling fourth-quarter defensive blunder, another squandered comeback, the Hail Mary that could have been and lots of situational errors that should never have been.

Week 10 was a playoff proving ground for many teams on the NFL's second tier. The 49ers' 27-24 overtime victory against the Saints, the Chiefs' 17-13 win over the Bills, and the Lions' 20-16 triumph over the Dolphins all had significant playoff tiebreaker and/or "prove you are for real" potential.

They were tough, out-of-division challenges for all six teams, the kind that determine who finishes 10-6 instead of 9-7 or gives one team the head-to-head victory that makes the difference between playoffs and January downtime.

Sunday's games also taught us a lot about several teams on the cusp of contention. Let's face it, opponents like the Jacksonville Jaguars, Oakland Raiders and Tampa Bay Buccaneers are causing severe record inflation around the league, and divisional games can give a warped sense of a team's true quality. Out-of-division, out-of-conference matchups can bring a middleweight contender's strengths and weaknesses into sharper focus.

With that in mind, let's focus what we learned from Sunday's journey onto the proving grounds.


San Francisco 49ers

NEW ORLEANS, LA - NOVEMBER 09:  Drew Brees #9 of the New Orleans Saints is pressured by Justin Smith #94 of the San Francisco 49ers during the second quarter of a game at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on November 9, 2014 in New Orleans, Louisiana.  (Photo b
Chris Graythen/Getty Images

What They Proved

The 49ers can survive a hot-and-freezing game from Anquan Boldin, who caught six passes for 95 yards and a touchdown but also dropped three potential first-down passes on third downs.

The team remembered that Frank Gore is on the payroll. Vernon Davis is still missing from game plans, but the 49ers struck a much better balance between power tactics and their new emphasis on multi-receiver sets than they have in past weeks. Vance McDonald, Bruce Miller and the I-formation thump were never abandoned the way they have been too often this year.

Rookie Chris Borland had 17 total tackles and two stuffs for a loss in addition to his game-icing fumble recovery, pushing him into Rookie of the Year consideration. Borland had 18 total tackles last week, and he's showing that the 49ers can count on their depth in the second half of the year.


What They Still Must Prove

The 49ers punted four straight times early in the second half, giving the Saints multiple comeback opportunities. Colin Kaepernick completed just 14-of-32 passes (though drops were an issue, as mentioned above) and took four sacks.

Too many 49ers drives are killed by Kaepernick dropping back, waiting, not liking what he sees, waiting a little more, then deciding too late to make a run for it.

Mark Ingram ran the ball very well, as did the Rams running backs last week. Borland is doing a great relief job, but the 49ers need Patrick Willis back soon, especially since the Seattle Seahawks just remembered that they are a power-running team.


Kansas City Chiefs

Nov 9, 2014; New Orleans, LA, USA; San Francisco 49ers running back Frank Gore (21) carries the ball to score a touchdown against the New Orleans Saints in the first quarter at Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports
USA TODAY Sports

What They Proved

The Chiefs may not produce many big plays, but they allow even fewer. The longest Bills play from scrimmage Sunday was a 27-yard run; only two Kyle Orton passes netted 20-plus yards.

The Chiefs have allowed just 22 passing plays of 20-plus yards this season, 29th in the NFL—only the Bills and Lions are stingier. The Chiefs have allowed five rushes of 20-plus yards, roughly the league average, but they are one of 12 teams to allow no rushes of more than 40 yards.

By limiting big plays (something they did against Philip Rivers and Tom Brady, not just Kyle Orton and Michael Vick), the Chiefs keep their pokey-turtle Smith-Charles offense viable. They can keep games close against defense-oriented opponents, which will be critical in upcoming non-division games against the Seattle Seahawks, Arizona Cardinals and Pittsburgh Steelers.


What They Still Must Prove

Wide receivers not named "Dwayne Bowe" caught just two passes Sunday. Smith took a beating in the pocket, and pass protection remains a persistent problem. It took a lot of Bills mistakes to keep the Chiefs in the game.

Sunday's win may be instrumental to vaulting the Chiefs into the playoffs, but they will probably be the least threatening team in the AFC postseason pool. Well, except for the Cincinnati Bengals if they somehow make it.


Detroit Lions

ORCHARD PARK, NY - NOVEMBER 09:   Alex Smith #11 of the Kansas City Chiefs runs from the pocket against the Buffalo Bills during the first half at Ralph Wilson Stadium on November 9, 2014 in Orchard Park, New York.  (Photo by Brett Carlsen/Getty Images)
Brett Carlsen/Getty Images

What They Proved

Every time the Lions exhibit resilience and resourcefulness, it's a cause for mild surprise and elation, like a toddler announcing he has to use the potty with more than four seconds of lead time. That's what happens when you spend years establishing a track record; taking the Lions seriously is more of a process than a state of mind.

We knew the Lions defense could swarm and that Calvin Johnson's return would provide a boost. But the gutsy game-winning drive, which mixed passes to Johnson and Golden Tate with contributions from Jeremy Ross and Joique Bell and a knockout punch from Theo Riddick, was something new.

Coming into this game, Matthew Stafford had led just 12 fourth-quarter comebacks in his six-year career. He has had a few memorable ones (like his over-the-top surprise against the Dallas Cowboys last year), but both he and the Lions have a well-deserved reputation for doing something goofy down the stretch.

Sunday suggested that the Lions have finally, finally put that part of their personality behind them.


What They Still Must Prove

That they finally, finally, finally put that part of their personality behind them.

I have written so many "the Lions are smarter this year than last year" articles in the last five years that they are starting to read like a miniseries. Optimism would be much easier if the Lions still didn't horribly botch one routine kick per week.


Miami Dolphins

DETROIT, MI - NOVEMBER 09: Matthew Stafford #9 of the Detroit Lions passes during the fourth quarter of the game against the Miami Dolphins at Ford Field on November 09 , 2014 in Detroit, Michigan. The Lions defeated the Dolphins 20-16. (Photo by Leon Hal
Leon Halip/Getty Images

What They Proved

The Dolphins' front seven is rugged, and Brent Grimes (a leaping interception in the end zone and plenty of tight defense against Megatron) can be a difference-maker against teams that want to feature one superstar wide receiver.

That said...


What They Still Must Prove

Branden Albert is done for the year with a knee injury, and the Dolphins must show that they can still contend now that the star left tackle is out. 

To their credit, the Dolphins did not revert to their 2013 offensive strategy of trying to march down the field on roughing-the-passer penalties with Albert gone. Ryan Tannehill was able to move the ball somewhat in the second half. The Lions applied pressure all afternoon, but there was no crisis after rookie Ja'Wuan James slid to left tackle.

Just as every late-game Lions comeback is a revelation, each Dolphins late-game slip is a reminder.

Philbin loves to stop the clock for a moment to reflect on the meaning of life when opponents are driving late in games. He called two timeouts when the Lions had the ball late in the game, just as he stopped the clock to "Kodak" (look over the offensive formation and plan a counterstrategy) the Green Bay Packers defense last month. So far, none of the timeouts have resulted in a play that has actually stopped a late drive.

If Philbin provides Brady with Kodak moments when the Dolphins travel to Foxborough in Week 15, he may become the first coach in NFL history to get fired during a timeout.


Buffalo Bills

DETROIT, MI - NOVEMBER 09: Branden Albert #71 of the Miami Dolphins is treated by the medical staff during the second quarter of the game against the Detroit Lions at Ford Field on November 09 , 2014 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images
Leon Halip/Getty Images

What They Proved

The Bills' front seven is exceptional. Alex Smith sometimes looked like he was being attacked by sharks in the pocket.

That said...


What They Still Must Prove

With Sammy Watkins and Fred Jackson limited and speedsters like C.J. Spiller and Marquise Goodwin unavailable, the Bills have a plodding offense. Doug Marrone may be running out of Kyle Orton disguises: Orton spent much of Sunday bouncing footballs at the feet of his receivers when the Chiefs sniffed out the many screens the Bills have become reliant upon.

Rookie tackle Seantrel Henderson committed a false start on 4th-and-1, and Scott Chandler negated a 3rd-and-8 catch by pushing off late in the game. Combine the penalties with Bryce Brown's touchdown-becomes-touchback fumble, Leodis McKelvin's fumbled punt and other miscues, and you have a team that wants to win with defense-and-ball-control tactics but cannot do the little things that must be done to control the game.


New Orleans Saints

ORCHARD PARK, NY - NOVEMBER 09:   Sammy Watkins #14 of the Buffalo Bills makes a catch in front of  Ron Parker #38 of the Kansas City Chiefs  during the second half at Ralph Wilson Stadium on November 9, 2014 in Orchard Park, New York.  (Photo by Brett Ca
Brett Carlsen/Getty Images

What They Proved

Mark Ingram gives the Saints a real power running attack. Jimmy Graham can still score from the low post.

Like most of the teams on this "proving ground" list, the Saints can bring a ton of pressure with their front seven. For about 132 of the 142 plays from scrimmage Sunday, the Saints looked like they always have.

That said...


What They Still Must Prove

The Saints look like the Jaguars for about 10 plays per game, from defensive lapses (let's all ignore Michael Crabtree) to dropped Marques Colston touchdown bombs to Drew Brees passes to Graham when he is wearing a linebacker like a sweater vest and has two other defenders closing in.

Sean Payton has also started making some dubious clock-and-situation decisions, which we will cover later in Hangover. New Orleans erased several doubts with wins over the Green Bay Packers and Carolina Panthers, but those doubts are back.

NEW ORLEANS, LA - NOVEMBER 09:  Mark Ingram #22 of the New Orleans Saints is pursued by Antoine Bethea #41 of the San Francisco 49ers during the third quarter of a game at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on November 9, 2014 in New Orleans, Louisiana.  (Photo
Chris Graythen/Getty Images

The Saints can blow out a quality opponent when they cluster a series of good drives (and defensive stops) together early in the game. When things get tight in the fourth quarter, they are as confused as the Dolphins.

Luckily for the Saints, they play in a division so terrible that a .500 record will get them in the playoffs. The NFC South is not much of a proving ground at all, and if they can fix their problems before they sneak into the postseason, the Saints have spent years proving that they can cause trouble.


Scuttlebuttin'

From hard news to idle gossip, there was a lot to talk about this weekend. Here's a recap of how some major news stories and whispers down the lane affected Sunday's action.


Bears Hate Each Other

After Sunday night's performance, everyone else hates them too. I haven't seen a more half-hearted effort since the last time I stopped for fast-food tacos at 3:30 a.m.

During Eddie Lacy's 56-yard second-quarter touchdown catch-and-run, I could have sworn I saw a Bears defender updating his LinkedIn account on the field.

NEW ORLEANS, LA - NOVEMBER 09:  Head coach Sean Payton of the New Orleans Saints leaves the field following a game against the San Francisco 49ers at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on November 9, 2014 in New Orleans, Louisiana.  (Photo by Chris Graythen/Gett
Chris Graythen/Getty Images

Marc Trestman added to the dysfunction by making the Bears go for it several times on 4th-and-long in the first half. There's playing to win, and then there's pretending that everything is just fine and a lopsided loss won't send the whole roster scrambling to make early January vacation plans during timeouts.

Trestman returned to the sideline after halftime so he could watch Jarrett Boykin block a Bears punt so easily that he almost jumped over the kick, among other affronts to football dignity. He probably should have hopped in the team bus and set off across America, driving and driving until he came face-to-face with himself.

But then again, there will be time for that in January, if not much sooner. Sunday's performance was the kind of game that gets a coach fired long before the season ends.


Carson Palmer Signs Contract, Gets Injured

B/R from NBC broadcast

While it's hard to stifle the "poor, poor Cardinals" reaction after Palmer suffered a serious knee injury (likely a torn ACL) just 36 passes after the Cardinals gave him a guaranteed $20 million contract extension, the money does not matter much. The Cardinals are only on the hook for Palmer through 2015, so it is not like they just absorbed a Tony Romo Everlasting Gobstopper contract.

The Palmer Cardinals would have had trouble against the Lions, Chiefs, Seahawks (twice) and 49ers at San Francisco down the stretch. But they could be relied on to beat the Atlanta Falcons and St. Louis Rams, making them at least 10-6 and in solid playoff shape.

The Drew Stanton Cardinals will have trouble against the Lions, Chiefs, Seahawks (twice) and 49ers at San Francisco down the stretch, but they can be relied on to beat the Falcons and Rams, making them at least 10-6 and in solid playoff shape.

It will help if the defense forces two interceptions per game for Stanton like it did in Sunday's 31-14 win over the Rams, allowing the backup quarterback to win games by throwing exactly one great pass.


Cowboys Miss Team Curfew

Rick Scuteri/Associated Press

The Dallas Cowboys had translation issues with some British turns of phrase: They were told to be in their rooms at "half-ten," so they all stayed out until 5 a.m.

Jerry Jones and Jason Garrett disagreed on the subject of whether the Cowboys even have a curfew. We're running out of elements of team management Garrett can claim to have total authority over, folks. Soon, he will throw a challenge flag and Jones will intercept it.


Antrel Rolle Has Something to Say 

Rolle called his Giants teammates out after Monday night's loss to the Colts. He added more commentary after the Seahawks rushed for 350 yards in a 38-17 Giants loss that should have been closer.

"I think it's a little bit worse than embarrassing," he said after the game. "I've been playing this game 10 years, and I never had a team run for 350 yards, no matter how good or bad a team we've had."

LONDON, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 09:  Jaxson de Ville the mascot of the Jacksonville Jaguars abseils into the stadium during the NFL week 10 match between the Jackson Jaguars and the Dallas Cowboys at Wembley Stadium on November 9, 2014 in London, England.( Nic
Getty Images/Getty Images

The Giants treated every Seahawks option like they were watching a spaceship landing, but Rolle (who had three total tackles, plus a fumble recovery) explained the simplicity of stopping the option after the game.

"If you have the dive, take the dive," Rolle said. "If you have the quarterback, take the quarterback." Um...that's the defensive end's responsibility against the option, Antrel. Safeties are expected to do a little more.

With a deep understanding of the option package like that, Rolle and the Giants will have no trouble at all against the 49ers next week.


Geno Smith Predetermination

SEATTLE, WA - NOVEMBER 09: Quarterback Russell Wilson #3 of the Seattle Seahawks avoids the tackle of cornerback Jayron Hosley #28 of the New York Giants during the fourth quarter of the game at CenturyLink Field on November 9, 2014 in Seattle, Washington
Steve Dykes/Getty Images

According to NFL.com's Kevin Patra, Jets coaches "predetermined" Geno Smith's throws, ordering him to throw to certain receivers instead of letting him go through a progression like a big-boy quarterback.

Michael Vick led the Jets to a 20-13 victory Sunday, though he completed just 10-of-18 passes (one bomb and a bunch of screens, essentially), got sacked four times and spent the second half failing to move the ball while the Steelers threatened a comeback.

NONE OF THIS MATTERS. EVERYONE INVOLVED IN ALL OF THESE DECISIONS WILL BE FIRED. EVERYONE. STOP WASTING MENTAL ENERGY ON THE JETS OFFENSE. IT WILL DRIVE YOU CRAZY. LET'S MOVE ON TO SOME TEAMS/PLAYERS/COACHES THAT MIGHT ACTUALLY ACCOMPLISH SOMETHING.


Participation Trophies

Not everybody earns one, but everybody gets one!


Fantasy Leech Trophy

(Awarded to the fullback, tight end, fourth receiver or moonlighting linebacker who scored so your fantasy first-round pick could not.)

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - NOVEMBER 09: Quarterback Geno Smith #7 and quarterback Michael Vick #1 of the New York Jets look on from the bench against the Pittsburgh Steelers during a game at MetLife Stadium on November 9, 2014 in East Rutherford, New Jersey.
Elsa/Getty Images

Joseph Randle spoiled the Cowboys' 31-17 London jolly-stomping of the Jaguars for DeMarco Murray's fantasy owners by siphoning off a 40-yard touchdown in the third quarter.

At least Randle did not nick a pair of knickers from Marks & Spencer while in London, mostly because no one in America has any idea what that means.


Meaningless Fantasy Touchdown Trophy

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

LONDON, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 09:  Joseph Randle #21 of the Dallas Cowboys bursts upfield during the NFL week 10 match between the Jackson Jaguars and the Dallas Cowboys at Wembley Stadium on November 9, 2014 in London, England.  (Photo by Alan Crowhurst/Get
Alan Crowhurst/Getty Images

Denard "Shoelace" Robinson continued his rise to fantasy football excellence (he ain't half bad at real football, either) with 15 carries for 60 yards and two touchdowns. The second one was pure fantasy filler: a one-yard sweep to cut the Cowboys lead to 31-17 after the two-minute warning.

Meanwhile, Toby Gerhart carried four times for two yards. Example of offseason fantasy chatter run amok No. 5,342.


Salvador Dali Melting Clock Trophy

(Awarded for the strangest clock management of the week.)

LONDON, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 09:  Denard Robinson (L) #16 of the Jacksonville Jaguars celebrates after scoring the opening touchdown during the NFL week 10 match between the Jackson Jaguars and the Dallas Cowboys at Wembley Stadium on November 9, 2014 in Lo
Alan Crowhurst/Getty Images

Sean Payton did some nutty stuff in the final minutes of the Saints loss to the 49ers. After Jimmy Graham caught a 15-yard pass to give the Saints the ball at the 49ers 40-yard line, Payton waited several seconds before calling the team's final timeout with 20 seconds left to play.

Drew Brees nearly had New Orleans lined up when Payton called the timeout, which eliminated the possibility of a spike, 20- to 25-yard pass, timeout and realistic field-goal attempt. The Saints were forced to run their Hail Mary (Our Lady of Perpetual Push-offs edition) instead, which of course nearly worked but didn't.

Facing 4th-and-1 in overtime, Payton called timeout, sent the punt unit on the field, then accepted an intentional delay-of-game penalty to give Thomas Morstead more room. Punting in opponent's territory on the first possession of overtime is a questionable decision: You are giving up both the football and the chance to win outright with a touchdown, handing your opponent a "next score wins" scenario.

But the 49ers have a nasty defense and had Morstead pinned San Francisco at the goal line (the Saints could not quite down the ball), the 49ers offense may have made one of their sloppy mistakes. Fair enough. But if you are going to take a penalty anyway, why not send Brees onto the field to hard-count the 49ers out of position, especially when the Saints got a first down on a neutral-zone infraction just a few plays earlier?

Payton used to be one of the masters of this sort of situational game engineering. This season, the Saints have been strangely indecisive at some of the worst moments.


Kenny Rogers Trophy

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

Jonathan Bachman/Associated Press

Payton's overtime punt aside, this was a great week to go for it on fourth down. His Saints got into the act with two fourth-down conversions, including a 24-yard Brees-to-Colston catch-and-run to set up their go-ahead touchdown.

The Packers threw a 4th-and-goal touchdown early in their julienning of the Bears as a way of determining how much resistance their self-loathing opponent planned to offer (none).

But the play of the day on fourth down was the toss sweep from the I-formation. The Ravens scored their first touchdown of a very drab, very Ravens-Titans sort of Ravens-Titans game on a pitch to Justin Forsett on 4th-and-1 from the 9-yard line. (The Ravens won 21-7; viewers were resuscitated later.)

The Chiefs finally scored their first touchdown against the Bills early in the fourth quarter when Charles took a 4th-and-1 toss 39 yards. Both plays featured a little play-fake to a fullback diving into the middle of the line, which is the most awesome part of any toss sweep.


True Grit Trophy

(Awarded for toughness above and beyond the call of duty.)

Bill Haber/Associated Press

Joique Bell was the unsung hero of the Lions' victory, pounding out 44 rushing yards and 37 receiving yards against a very stout Dolphins defense.

Bell found a weak link when Cortland Finnegan tried to tackle him at the end of this second-quarter play. Few NFL players are as fun to watch getting run over as Cortland Finnegan.


Snap Fail Trophy

(Awarded to the center who dooms a play before it starts.)

Maurkice Pouncey fired a 3rd-and-5 shotgun snap straight past Ben Roethlisberger midway through the fourth quarter, when the Jets had a nosebleed from soaring to the height of 20 offensive points and the Steelers still had a chance to come back.

The snap set up 4th-and-21, and the Jets were able to burn time, Steelers timeouts and the two-minute warning after Pittsburgh punted.

The snap was as much a passed ball by Roethlisberger as a wild pitch by Pouncey, but these guys have been working together for years. After earning Hosannas that got downright biblical over the last three weeks, they should have been able to avoid unforced errors in critical situations.


Mysterious Touch Trophy

(Awarded to the defender, lineman or specialist who got an unlikely carry or catch of the week.)

Gene Puskar/Associated Press

Lions punter Sam Martin was 2-of-2 for 27 yards (118.8 efficiency rating!) on two fake punts. One, a 24-yard pass to fullback/personal protector Jed Collins, netted a first down. The other, a three-yard out to reserve safety/gunner Isa Abdul-Quddus, did not.

It only goes to show that the Lions can do something right on special teams when facing a special teams as bad as theirs. However: a) the Dolphins have the only special teams in the league roughly as bad as the Lions, and b) the Lions really should not press their luck.

Derek Carr also threw a one-yard pass to tackle Khalif Barnes in the Oakland Raiders' 41-17 loss to the Denver Broncos. Since it was about as effective as any Raiders offensive play from Sunday, there is no sense making a big joke of it.


Last Call

A final look at some of the stranger moments from Sunday's games.


Seahawks Interpersonal Turbulence Even Affects Real Hawks

Paul Sancya/Associated Press

Taima, the real-live Augur hawk mascot of the Seahawks, went AWOL from her handlers during the pregame ceremony, landing on a fan's head as if the fellow had made the regrettable decision to switch to Wounded Field Mouse Dandruff Shampoo before the game.

Taima later chilled out, and instead of going all Tippi Hedren, the fan enjoyed a little bonding time with an apex predator. Meanwhile, on the other side of the continent, Percy Harvin held his gloved hand in the air and whistled with all his might, but to no avail.


Fumbling and Pointing

Brian Tom @BrianTom

So the Seahawks flew away from its handler and landed on the lady next to me!! See!! http://t.co/osf4fgVpK4

Wet conditions made for a slippery football in the Seattle Seahawks' 38-17 win over the New York Giants. Oddly, the wet football bothered the Seahawks (who live and work in that spongy city) more than the Giants (who have been known to turn the football over a little too frequently).

The Seahawks fumbled three times, twice on one drive where they kept pouncing on their own mistakes. With multiple fumbles come multiple fumble "points," of course.

After one Marshawn Lynch fumble (who carried the ball 21 times for 140 yards and four touchdowns), Giants defender Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie set the all-time record for ridiculous fumble-pointing.

DRC was at least 10 yards from the scrum of players fighting for the ball, and he was both looking and walking in the opposite direction from the still-squirming pile of dudes. Yet he used his telepathy to point "Giants ball" incorrectly.

If you hope to make an official rule prematurely on a fumble by pointing emphatically, DRC, at least pretend that you are in position to actually see what is going on.


A Clockwork Siragusa

Elaine Thompson/Associated Press

Tony Siragusa decided to dress appropriately for his work as a London sideline reporter. Unfortunately, he gets his ideas of London fashion from 1960s English gangster flicks.

Goose's long black peacoat and bowler cap made him look like Phil Collins in Buster. The Veterans Day poppy on his lapel should have been a nice touch, but it just made him look more like a refugee from a Terry Gilliam cartoon.

Next time he is in London, Goose should go all-in with a monocle, pocket watch with long chain, umbrella and china teacup with saucer. And when he goes to San Francisco, he should be sure to wear flowers in his hair.


Doug Marrone Does Not Have Impersonators, Because No One Knows What Doug Marrone Looks Like

Steve O! @sjo2009

RT @ForTheWin: Sideline reporter Tony Siragusa wore a ridiculous outfit in London - http://t.co/aimTnz9c6b http://t.co/4Gx1NWTAbw

An Andy Reid impersonator in the Ralph Wilson Stadium crowd caught the attention of the television broadcasters. The dude was a dead-ringer for Big Red, from the moustache to the headset and laminated play card.

Kids, impersonating Andy Reid may look like fun, but it's the NFL coach lookalike equivalent of the cinnamon challenge: Acquiring the girth needed to successfully pass as Reid can be hazardous to your health. And don't even think about going near Philadelphia.


Nick Mangold Defeats Fake Polamalu

Troy Polamalu is famous for timing the snap count and surging over or through the line of scrimmage to dramatically stuff a play in the backfield.

He is so famous for it that he is no longer very good at it. Polamalu has committed eight variations of "offsides" in the last two seasons, an incredibly high total for a safety, but each time he leaps or lunges his way toward five free opponents' yards, announcers praise him for being so aggressive.

Andrew DeWitt @AndrewRDeWitt

Fake Andy Reid http://t.co/dmggCi60uF

Polamalu is injured, so Mike Mitchell picked up the slack by leaping over the Jets offensive line late in the matchup, when New York was simply trying to kneel on the ball to end the game.

Like latter-day Polamalu, Mitchell was too late to do anything useful. Unlike vintage Polamalu, Mitchell did not get into the backfield cleanly and was instead flipped onto his back by Jets center Nick Mangold.

And unlike latter-day Polamalu, Mitchell did not get flagged, because Michael Vick was on the field, which is the NFL equivalent of The Purge.


Mike Tanier covers the NFL for Bleacher Report.

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