Obituaries: None this week
8 – Marion Barber isn’t smart
It wasn’t just the current Cowboys that were in full-on choke job mode last night. A former one was busy taking a hatchet his team’s playoff hopes as well in the early games. I’m sure you’ve all seen the highlights by now, but in case you haven’t, the Bears had a 3 point lead, the ball, and the Broncos had no timeouts. On 2nd down with 2 minutes left, the Bears ran left and Marion Barber allowed himself to be pushed out of bounds, stopping the clock. The Bears ran just 5 seconds off the clock. When the Broncos got the ball back, they had 0:56 left to try to go down and score. If Barber does nothing more than just fall down for a 3 yard loss, the Broncos would have had something closer to about 0:16 seconds left to try to drive down and kick a FG. In other words, they would have lost.
I partly blame the Bears’ coaching staff here as well. Some football players are stupid. I mean… Let’s just get real about that. You can tell them stuff like “Whatever you do, don’t fumble, and don’t go out of bounds” until you’re blue in the face. But once the ball is snapped and you get them running, they completely lose their minds and do insanely idiotic things. I’ve done it too. Back in the day, I was playing American Legion baseball, and I don’t remember the exact scenario, but we had a man on 1st in a big spot. I smacked a single to right, and we had 1st and 3rd. My run at first base was meaningless, and the first base coach even reminded me as such. So what happens? The pitcher does that dumb fake to 3rd throw to 1st play that never works. I didn’t even move. Tagged out. Awful.
So why exactly are you running a sweep, Bears? RUN IT UP THE MIDDLE. Don’t even give your own dumb players the opportunity to screw up.
7 – Terrible defense
Last week it was the brain sharts of Tony Romo and Jason Garrett that soiled the Cowboys’ chances of winning the NFC East. This week, it was just atrocious defense. Frankly, Tony Romo had himself a game, statistically speaking:
21 of 31, 321 yards, 10.4 yards per pass, 4 TD, 0 INT, 141.3 passer rating. Although the one pass everyone will remember will be the overthrow of a WIDE OPEN Miles Austin that would have sealed it. It was kind of a microcosm of Romo’s career: Big numbers, but didn’t make the big play that counted.
But I don’t want to get bogged down by Romo here, because again, that loss last night isn’t on Romo. It’s on Rob Ryan and a defense that allowed a staggering 510 yards of total offense to a team that was playing with David Diehl at LT, Mitch Petrus at LG, and Kevin Boothe at C. It was on the comical busted coverage on Mario Manningham’s long TD. It was on Terence Newman’s drop of a gift-wrapped pick 6 by Eli early in the game. It was on a total team effort of the D to make Brandon Jacobs think he’s good again.
When do we start to wonder about DeMarcus Ware, by the way? Ware got a little bit of pressure at times, but didn’t dominate the way that he SHOULD have dominated. David Diehl has been perhaps the worst OG in football this season, and with LT Will Beatty out, the Giants were forced to kick Diehl out to LT. Mitch Petrus then filled in at LG, and Kevin Boothe was replacing the injured David Baas at C. The stage was set for what should have been one of the most lopsided matchups in the NFL this season,with Diehl trying to block Ware. It wasn’t. For one, Rob Ryan tried to be cute and move Ware around instead of just exploiting the obvious, but it wasn’t like Ware didn’t have his share of one-on-one opportunities against Diehl. Back in the day, this was a game that guys like Lawrence Taylor or Reggie White would have gone out and just won on their own. I don’t see that in DeMarcus Ware. He’s a great player, but not an “all time great,” if that makes any sense.
6 – AGAIN with the ELIte stuff?
I want to praise Eli. I really do. He’s had such an awesome season:
303 of 489, 4105 yards, 25 TD, 12 INT, 8.4 YPA, 95.5 QB rating.
And he’s done it with a bad OL, no running game, and a terrible defense (although the terrible defense has actually inflated his numbers quite a bit).
But even more so, because of the way he and his teammates have won some of their games, most notably coming from behind against the Pats (albeit the 32nd ranked pass D), staying competitive against the Packers (31st ranked pass D), and last night against the Cowboys (24th ranked pass D). There’s little question the guy is clutch… extremely clutch.
But the overreaction and hyperbole of one game (after 4 consecutive losses) is a little out of control. I’m reminded of Eddie Murphy’s bit with the Ice Cream Man:
The ice cream man (particularly the “watch how fast I make these little m*****f****** run” part) = Media hyperbole.
The ice cream itself = Eli.
The kids = Giants fans.
The kid with no ice cream = Redskins fans.
5 – Frauds, but they’ll be in the tourney. I think. Maybe.
21-0 lead in the first quarter. Then 28-7 at one point in the second. 31-14 to start the second half. They got 2 gift defensive TDs. And they almost lost. To the Vikings. With Joe Webb at QB. And no Adrian Peterson.
4 – Impressive win
Hey, give the Falcons their credit here. They were down 23-7 at the half against a spry Panthers team, and they came out and won the the 2nd half 24-0. Completely dominated.
3 – Hiccup
Niners, you should probably know this by now, but Larry Fitzgerald is really good at football. And when John Skelton is in, Fitzy is all he looks at. May want to give him a little more attention next time. Just FYI.
On a side note, don’t look now, but the Cards are 6-7. It wouldn’t be crazy for them to sneak in.
2 – Great… at home.
The Titans are a decent team, but not on the level of the Saints, but it was a game that I thought the Saints could lose in Tennessee. And they almost did. New Orleans has to pray for another Niners loss (for that ever-important first-round bye), and for some other team to knock off the Packers in one of the early rounds of the playoffs, because they’re a completely different team away from the Superdome.
On the road, the Saints are 4-3 and score 25.1 points per game. That’s very good, of course, but not exactly all that scary. That’s the team that shockingly lost to the Seahawks in the first round last year.
At home the Saints are 6-0 and score 39.8 points per game. Very scary. That’s the team they had home field throughout the playoffs in ’09 that won the Super Bowl.
1 – Still the best