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Post Game Handshakes, Week 3: Christian Ponder and Kyle Rudolph Help Beat the 49ers, Refs Fail Game Administration, and Schwartz' Decision

This week’s Post Game Handshakes were delayed by 30 minutes while we had to check the instant replay and overturn a couple of the features. My philosophy is just to write it and let it play out, and then see how we can edit it in the end. I apologize for the delay, but at least we got it right in the end. Let’s get to the action and inaction from week three.

Vikings Stun the 49ers as home dogs rule: A sign of things to come? Probably not, but the Vikings are at least a competent team that can beat good teams when things go right. In this one, they started with a long drive featuring third down conversions and a 4th and 1 touchdown on a rollout pass to Kyle Rudolph on the goal line. San Francisco didn’t get gashed (Peterson and Gerhart combined for 33 rushes, playing with the lead, for only 104 yards). They fumbled twice and lost them. Ponder had a key scramble up the middle. Just a case of the underdog converting third downs, making key plays, and proving that if you don’t show up with your best on the road, you can lose.

The Vikings were 1-1 coming in. Five 0-2 teams also came into the day as underdogs, and four (Oakland, Kansas City, Jacksonville, and Tennessee) left the week with their first win.

Concern over Darren McFadden, Jamaal Charles, and Larry Fitzgerald? Never Mind: McFadden got shut down last week. He’s coming off injury. Jamaal Charles is coming off the knee injury, and has not put up big numbers. Larry Fitzgerald had one catch last week. Cause for concern? All three had big plays on Sunday as their teams won.

These Refs, Man: It’s not so much the pass interference and other stuff. Heck, there was plenty of controversy there before. It’s the inept game administration. The refs granted Jim Harbaugh two challenges he would not have had, because he called for his final timeout before deciding to challenge the fumble that occurred on the play, then challenged. He should have been out of timeouts and thus out of challenges, but got two more as a result. You would not know it looking at the official game book.

The game times are getting out of hand. One of the sixteen games in week three finished in less than 3 hours and 5 minutes. We’ll usually have one or two games that go long due to circumstances, but not the entire slate. The average game time in week three was 3 hours, 24 minutes. Yes, there were three overtime games. Two of them didn’t get there until 4:30 eastern time, and didn’t finish until 5 pm.

It’s the constant delays, conferences, hesitations. In Kansas City-New Orleans, there were five overturns. The one in overtime was brutal. The runner was down way before the ball came out, but it still took several minutes to sort that out. The play below was eventually ruled a fumble and a touchdown return after he lost the ball stretching for the marker a second later.

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Cardinals and Texans roll: With Houston and Arizona’s defenses getting much love, it was the passing games that came out and staked the teams to big leads early. Before he got jacked and lost part of an ear, Schaub was on fire. Kevin Kolb made his old team pay for getting all those draft picks for him. The offense got a big lead, then the Cardinals D sealed the deal with this huge swing before the half.

The Falcons Have Already Clinched the AFC West: Atlanta has now rolled through Kansas City, Denver and San Diego, with two of those games coming on the road. I took Matt Ryan over Philip Rivers before the season, and it played out on Sunday. The Falcons have forced turnovers, they have been efficient on offense. Those turnovers may not continue at the same rate, and they will have their letdown game. They also would run away with the AFC West, and may do the same with the NFC South if the Panthers, Bucs and Saints don’t get it together.

This Weekend Featured Lots of Carry Throw Ball and Sometimes Foot Kick ball: Der Kaiser, is this you?

Jim Schwartz Decision (Wait, Not His Decision–Blame the Players): Much more will be made of the Lions going for it on 4th and 1 from the Tennessee 7 than others (see the fourth and one log below for all decisions near midfield and closer in close games). The decision itself is completely defensible. Brian Burke has the numbers, so I’ll let you chew on those. They fit my intuitive thought on the breakdown.

So, instead, I’ll just point out a few things. First, people whined about the unfairness of overtime, so we know that it’s not 50/50 if you kickoff. If Detroit took the short field goal, they would basically be choosing to lose a coin toss–except there is now even less time remaining. Plenty for the Titans to score with six minutes, but potentially a much more limited time even if Detroit eventually  stops them. So you should realize, unless you are Marty Mornhinweg, that Detroit was an underdog if they kick.

If they go, they still have to score a touchdown from inside the 6 with first and goal. I just posted about fourth and one play calls yesterday, but the conversion rate was just under 60% last year, higher the years before, and has been over 80% on runs designated as quarterback runs the last two years.

Jim Schwartz said what? “Miscommunication. We were trying to draw them offsides. We had no intention of going for it there.” Congratulations, Detroit, you ran the play and lost, and Marty Mornhinweg is your coach. He wanted to kick off in sudden death, when 7 yards from a win and one yard from a first down.

Torrey Smith, Gutsy Performance: Grief doesn’t end in one day, and it certainly doesn’t always hit you right away either. That Smith was still able to go out less than 24 hours after his brother died and played such a focused game is incredible. Our thoughts and prayers are with Smith and his family.

You know who could take life lessons from Torrey Smith? Cam Newton. Oh wait, I don’t mean that, because saying that would be stupid.

Saints Lose Again: The Saints are 0-3. The three teams that beat them? A combined 0-6 in their other games. Two losses at home, and the most recent a 24-6 lead that was lost. The defense stinks. Drew Brees got beat up late in this game and couldn’t get anything going. After the Saints took that 24-6 lead, Brees was 2 for 8 passing for 40 yards, threw an interception, and took two sacks, one for a safety.

Other than that, everything is just fine in New Orleans.

Fourth and One Log, Close Games, Week Three

Last week, the Colts became the first to make a conservative decision in a close game and have the result play out in their favor as well as the result. I’ll count last week as 4 in favor of going, 1 in favor of kicking, and 3 that were washes (decision failed but worked out, or did not matter (i.e., punting, then giving up touchdown as a result, but later winning, like St. Louis). Add that to the 5-0 in favor of going in week 1, and the aggressives are already winning handily. I’ve got them at 4 t0 1 this week, with 5 non-factors. Guess which one is the worst decision of all-time though?

1. Buffalo had 4th and 1 in the final three minutes already up by 10, they punted. Understandable given the time and score. We’ll call this a non-factor.

2. Tampa Bay went for it from the 3 on the first possession, converted and scored a touchdown to make it 7-0. Eventually lost 16-10, but wouldn’t have been as close without decision.

3. Indianapolis, 4th and 1, JAC 13 early in the fourth quarter. They took a delay of game, then kicked with the clutch Adam Vinatieri. He missed. This is your reminder the next time someone says “take the points” that often means going for it to maximize. Indy lost by 5, also known as the difference between getting a touchdown on this possession or missing that field goal.

4. Indianapolis had 4th and 1 from the JAC 19 with 1:01 left, down 2. Convention is to kick. They did, and this time Vinatieri made it to give them the one point lead. Jacksonville scored on next play to win.

5. In overtime, at 4th and 1 from NO 44, Chiefs went and Jamaal Charles converted, setting up the game winning field goal 8 plays later.

6. In overtime, at 4th and 1 from CIN 7, down 3 on first possession, DET went for it and Shaun Hill got stuffed. (see above).

7. At start of fourth quarter, Redskins had 4th and 1 at CIN 44 in tie game. They punted, it was a touchback, and Cincinnati took ball and scored go ahead touchdown. Cincinnati won by 7.

8, 9 and 10. Pittsburgh had three different ones. In first quarter, they went in Oakland territory, converted, and scored a touchdown. At end of first half, they kicked with 2 seconds left, understandably, on final play in field goal range. On their final drive, they went in their own territory (Tomlin would have been killed if they missed) converted, but still punted later and Oakland drove for win.

Other NFL Content from this Weekend:

Previously: Bill Belichick Grabs Replacement Ref
Previously: BullS**t Chant on NBC from Baltimore Crowd
Previously: Dennis Pitta Hurdle
Previously: Video of Streaker at Ravens-Pats
Previously: Detroit Lions Onside Kick and Hail Mary
Previously: GIF of Sanchez to Tebow Pass off Helmet
Previously: Ogletree Slips on Refs Hat
Previously: Jared Odrick Pee Wee Herman Dance

[photos via US Presswire]

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