FMQB: Ramblin Along
I’m not going to make any more player predictions the rest of this year. In back to back weeks, I’ve made bold predictions about Adrian Peterson (who was put on IR the next week) and Antonio Brown (who will miss the next 2 games).
There are obviously two games to talk about as the back to back endings were two of the best this year. Both included rules that fans absolutely hate and the NFL should look at this offseason. Both included teams that went for it all when they were guaranteed a FG to take it into overtime.
The Race for 1st:
The Steelers were up and not dominating but steadily beating the Patriots in every aspect of the game. The Patriots score to seemingly tie it at 17, but the extra point is no good! Pittsburgh scores to go up 8, and it stays 24-16 deep into the 4th. The Patriots are forced to kick a FG with 3:56 left in the game to bring it to within 5. Steelers go 3 and out, and then New England marches 77 yards in 1:10 in an amazing drive which basically only featured Gronkowski. They make a 2pt conversion to go up 3. Taking a step back, I along with Steeler nation was utterly surprised that all of a sudden the Patriots were ahead. Watching the 2nd half, it truly felt like Pittsburgh was in control and going to win until the final 4 minutes, so we were all pretty much shocked. They scored 11 points in exactly 3 minutes.
Steelers get the ball with 52 seconds left and on an amazing play, Ben dumped a ball to JuJu on a little slant route. It looked like it would be about a 12 yard gain until he speeds past the defender and starts weaving in and out to extend it to a 69 yard gain! Now all of a sudden it’s 1st and goal from the 10 with 28 seconds left, and the crowd is going nuts as their roller coaster of emotions has just shot back up! First play after is a TD to tight end Jesse James. They reviewed the play, and for the first half of it even the announcers were saying he was in and not touched down when his knee is down. All of a sudden Tony Romo says “No, they’re looking to see if he possessed the ball!” (Side note, Tony Romo is excellent in the booth). Sure enough, as he falls to the ground, the ball gets jarred loose and implements the catch rule we all know and love. No catch.
Next play Ben hits a receiver who gets tackled in bounds. The clock is ticking and it’s 3rd down. He fakes a spike (fakes out his own team because only one WR moved), and send Eli Rogers on the worst route possible; a slant to the inside and into 4 linebackers. INT, game over. First off, the fake spike is the right play with 12 seconds left. But run a fade, or at least have more than 1 option and have your other receivers run a route. But you can’t make that throw if it’s tight. Throw it away and go to OT.
Back to the catch rule. It’s seriously getting ridiculous and fans and players hate it. Leave that the rule on the other 99 yards of the field, but make it a rule that if you possess the ball and break the plane of the endzone, it’s a TD.
The Piece of Paper:
With the game tied in the 4th quarter, the Cowboys faced a 4th and 1 in their own territory with 5 minutes left. Dak Prescott kept it himself, and the spot was close. OH was it close! They brought out the chains, and both teams are yelling, Jason Garrett is upset because the stick was leaning, Jack Del Rio was cheering because it looked short. Then amazingly, Gene Steratore slips a folded up notecard in between the ball and the stick. The paper is being touched on both sides, so he stands up trying not to grin and signals 1st down. What the heck just happened? Apparently that’s within the rulebook (although they nixed the use of a notecard moving forward), and it was just to “support what he saw visibly.” Here’s my question: If you can slip anything between the ball and the marker, that means there’s space between the ball and the marker, which means it’s not a first down. I think if he takes the card and is bumping the ball and struggling to get it in, then it’s obvious it’s a 1st down and a good use of the card, but that’s not what happened. So I think that thinking is flawed.
The Cowboys kick a FG to go up 3. Raiders get the ball back with barely any time. But with a 55 yard pass interference penalty they were suddenly in the redzone. Carr scrambled right and had a shot at making the pylon. He dives towards the endzone but fumbles the ball through the endzone. Touchback, game over. Heartbreaking because the Raiders had 30 seconds left with what would have been a 1st down. You can’t fault a guy for going for it, but if he gets out of bounds the Raiders easily have 4 plays from the 1 to get it in.
This rule needs to change, and it’s the second time we’ve seen it this year (both costing the team the game in the 4th qtr). The best idea I’ve seen is having what’s called a “reverse touchback” in these cases. So Derek Carr fumbles the ball through the endzone. Instead of it being Dallas’ ball, march the Raiders back to the 25 yard line and give them the ball there at whatever down it should be. It’s a huge penalty for the Raiders to march back 24 yards, but it also doesn’t cost them the game and gives them a shot at OT. That’s my vote for the rule.
For the Record:
- As a starter Jimmy Garrapolo is undefeated in his career; 3-0 with the 49ers, and 2-0 with the Patriots
- Case Keenum’s coldest day at Quarterback was 37 degrees. Kickoff temp for the game at Lambeau is -1 degree.
- The Texans, who were playoff favorites a mere 5 weeks ago, are now in line to get the 4th or 5th overall draft pick.
- The longest win streaks in the NFL are held by the Jaguars, Cowboys and 49ers.
- How bad are the Browns kicking themselves now after botching the Garrapolo trade.
Stat of the Week:
If the Rams or Eagles average 31 points a game to end the season, they’ll become the 20th and 21st teams to score 500 points.
Stat of the Week #2:
Antonio Brown has more receiving yards than 4 teams have from all their WR’s combined. Todd Gurley has more rushing TD’s than 13 other teams in the NFL.
- The Lions, Bills and Cowboys are very quietly at 8-6. I saw the stat showing how the Cowboys could make the playoffs and literally had to do a double take saying “whoah, the Cowboys are still in the hunt?”
- I did not expect the drubbing the Rams put on the Seahawks in Seattle. As a Rams fan, I’ve seen a whopping 2 games this year (tough to be an out of market fan). Even I turned to the Patriots game at halftime.
- The Browns have one last chance to earn a win this week against the Bears. They end the season at Pittsburgh.
- Jacksonville might be legit.
- Aaron Rodgers came back too soon. His interceptions were painfully underthrown.
If the Playoffs Started Today:
For just the 2nd time in the last 28 years, a whopping 8 teams that didn’t make the playoffs last year would make it this year. That’s half the field! And I think also the reason why people are struggling to jump on the Jaguars, Rams, and other teams that are surprises. The typical saying is “5 in 5 out,” meaning about 5 of the 12 teams will be different.
Be Nervous in Philly:
The Eagles allowed 504 yards to the Giants of all teams. That has absolutely nothing to do with Carson Wentz, and they’ll be hard pressed to go deep in the playoffs if Eli Manning can do that on them.
Quote of the Week:
“This decision is going to decide the whole season” Tony Romo, watching the replay at the end of the Steelers game
Quote of the Week #2:
“Wheel route, wheel route” Clay Matthews
“You’ve been watching film? Then watch this!” Cam Newton, about 5 seconds before throwing a TD to the person Matthews was calling out
Feel Good Story of the Week:
Watching Teddy Bridgewater come back on the field was great, but seeing all of his teammates jumping up and down, waving their arms to get the crowd into it, and seeing Case Keenum (his competing QB) being the one to lead that charge was truly special.
Dual meaning to my title today. First, because the Rams are Ramblin along. But second, I also ramble a bit in the first two stories, something I vowed I wouldn’t do this year.
Meme of the Week:
Super Extra Bonus Meme!
Side note: I’ve mentioned this before, but if you want to see hilariously funny 2 minute clips from a comedian making Wisconsin accents tolerable, head on over to http://manitowocminute.com/ real quick once and click one, two, tree of his videos. He makes my Monday every week, and may help a few inside jokes I throw in here. Holy cats!