This week’s post-game handshakes go to a defense that accomplished a rare feat in the span of seven days, a wide receiver who defies aging, and another who defies the law of physics. We also have a few wags of the finger, most notably for Marvin Lewis.
Bearing Down on Defense: The older guys in Chicago are bringing it defensively. What a week! They followed up the five interception, two touchdown game against Romo with two more pick sixes against Jacksonville in the second half sparking a rout. It was Charles Tillman and Lance Briggs again with the double, this time with matching 36-yard returns.
How notable is this? No team has had three games in one season where they had multiple interception return touchdowns, going back to 1940. Chicago now joins ten other teams with two such games in the same year. They did it in one calendar week, and now have eleven more games remaining.
Tillman and Briggs also become only the second set of teammates to pair up for the feat in both games, joining Otis Smith and Ty Law of the 2001 Patriots.
Reggie Wayne not done yet: Continuing the age before beauty thing, it’s amazing what a good quarterback does for the wrinkles. Watching passes sail by from Curtis Painter, Wayne looked closer to done as he hit his 33rd birthday. We chuckled a bit when Andrew Luck said Reggie Wayne was the most famous person in his cell phone, but he knows how to respect authority. Yesterday, after playing for a decade with Peyton Manning, Wayne went out and had the game of his career. 212 yards, 13 catches, and the game winning touchdown. For the year, Wayne already has over 500 receiving yards in 4 games. Not bad for the soon to be 34 year old.
Better Chargers Vault: Ryan Mathews or Gary Anderson in 1986? Ryan Mathews held on to the football and went airborne to score in the third quarter last night. It brought back memories of this Gary Anderson leap back in the days of Dan Fouts.
Hey, Marvin Lewis, 4 > 3! Yesterday, Marvin Lewis opted for a field goal on 4th and 5 from the Miami 23 with three minutes remaining. He was down by four points. I broke down the mind numbingly awful decision yesterday, and it cut the Bengals chances of winning almost in half with that one call, and if you want to see the specifics, check it out.
Of course, Mike Nugent then missed it anyway.
I’ll just add that choosing to kick in this situation is playing for multiple things that must go right, rather than one. Seems like coaches actually overthink this one, or believe in things that don’t match the reality of getting stops, getting points, or how dire the situation is.
I’ll note that Romeo Crennel also kicked with 4:34 left down by 6 at the Baltimore 13 on a 4th and 9. Kansas City cut it to 9-6 but never got the ball back as Ray Rice grinded out the clock. Crennel’s decision was only acceptable in comparison to Lewis (less chance of success, more time remaining) but it was still sub-optimal. Oh, wait, they were down 6 so two field goals only ties, then you still need to win in OT? I don’t have the energy to point out how specifically awful that decision is.
Percy Harvin for MVP? Percy Harvin has been electric this season. Yesterday, he “whole team teamed” the Titans on the way to his second touchdown of the day. There is some buzz about Harvin for MVP, as he is an all-purpose machine and can play a role as a return man, running back, slot receiver and catching passes behind the line on screens and swing passes, as well as downfield. While it would be hard for a non-quarterback to be most valuable, Harvin will test that by playing several roles that add up to one thing for opponents: trouble.
49ers Roll, Bills Roll Over: San Francisco is the first team ever to have 300 yards passing and 300 yards rushing. Which means the Bills were the first team to surrender that (science). Alex Smith had a huge day passing, Michael Crabtree and Vernon Davis both had over 100 yards, and everyone living within a 5 mile radius of the Bay Area had a five yard gain on the ground.
The last time a team gave up 550 or more yards in consecutive games? You’ve got to go back to the 1950 New York Yanks. That team was quarterbacked by the immortal George Ratterman, who I’m telling you had no help. Ryan Fitzpatrick is no George Ratterman, though.
Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin discussion won’t be over for a long time: Opponents matter. Let’s say it again. Opponents matter. It’s bad enough that quarterback stats reflect a lot of other things including how good your teammates are, but in the short term, who you play makes a big deal.
So when Robert Griffin III lit up the Saints and Andrew Luck struggled against the Bears, there was instant proclamation that Griffin was better. As we look back, and see how other quarterbacks have performed against those two teams, it comes into focus. Luck played pretty well (compare what Rodgers and Romo did, and then how Bradford and Gabbert were destroyed), while everyone has enjoyed success against the Saints.
The same is true this week, where Griffin played his toughest opponent vs. the pass, and he was having his worst game before being knocked out in the second half. Hopefully, he’ll come back soon, and he will have better days as well.
Through five weeks, we can say that both are–already–above average passers. Most of the difference between the two in raw stats can be accounted so far by schedule. Luck’s opponents had allowed 5.4 adjusted net yards per attempt; Griffin’s 6.05. That will swing the rest of the year. Washington’s average opponent against the pass will stay about the same, but Luck’s schedule opens up, a full yard easier thinks to drawing several easier matchups, notably Tennessee twice. Don’t expect the comparisons to go away any time soon.
What Is This? When Jay Cutler and Mike Tice get together on the sidelines, magic happens. Not sure what this is, but pretty sure I now have to add the NSFW tag to this post. We believe this to be Rusty Jones, strength and conditioning coach. Perhaps this is the Rusty Trombone that Vikings beat writer Tom Pelissero was seeking.
Fourth Down Log
We’ll continue to log fourth and one decisions in close games (10 points or less). Honorable mention this week needs to go to Chicago going at midfield in a 3-3 game early in the third quarter. It eventually turned into a rout, but that conversion gave Chicago the lead for good.
1. Miami went at the Cincinnati 38, just before half, leading 7-6. They were stuffed, but held the Bengals on the following possession. Miami later also kicked a field goal from Cincinnati 28, already up 17-6 in the third quarter. Miami eventually won by 4.
2. Indianapolis went in the first quarter at the GB 44, and failed, in a scoreless game. Packers scored a touchdown next posssession. Colts eventually won by 3.
3. Baltimore punted at KC 46, up 3-0 in 2nd quarter. Punt netted 11 yards after return. Kansas City scored a field goal on next drive. Baltimore eventually won by FG.
4. Facing 4th and 1 from BAL 43 with 12 seconds left in half and no timeouts, Chiefs punted.
5. In fourth quarter down 6, Eagles twice went on 4th and 1, converting both as they eventually scored to take lead 14-13. Steelers got a field goal to win it 16-14.
6. Atlanta punted at own 43 in tie game end of first quarter for a touchback.
7. Washington punted from own 45 in third quarter in tie game, it was downed at the 2. Redskins got a field goal two possessions later to take lead, eventually lost by 7.
8. Up 6-0 with under 3 minutes left in first half, Seattle punted from CAR 43 up 6-0. Ball was downed at 9. Carolina scored a field goal right before end of half. Seattle eventually won by 4.
9. 4th and goal with just over 3 minutes left, down 6. Carolina went for touchdown, Newton pass was incomplete. Seattle eventually took an intentional safety, Carolina got ball back with just under a minute left, and Newton threw interception to end game. The decision to go was obviously the correct one (see Marvin Lewis)
10. Denver went early in the fourth quarter, Willis McGahee dropped the pass. Later, Denver went again, and Manning hit Demaryius Thomas with a big 28 yard pass. McGahee fumbled two plays later, effectively ending the game.
Other NFL Content this Weekend
Related: Philip Rivers Did Not Like Norv Turner’s Decision to Kick a 55 Yard Field Goal
Related: Percy Harvin Made a Few Awesome Moves to Score Against Tennessee [GIF]
Related: Eric Winston Was Pissed About Fans Cheering Matt Cassel’s Injury: “We Are Not Gladiators” [Audio]
Related: Demaryius Thomas with a 1-Handed Catch That Reggie Wayne Would Be Impressed With [GIF]
Related: Marvin Lewis Tried a Field Goal Down By 4 With 3 Minutes Left
Related: Julio Jones and A.J. Green Had Fantastic Touchdown Catches Within Seconds of Each Other [GIFs]
Related: RG3 Got Knocked Out of the Redskins Game Against Atlanta [GIFs]
Related: Andrew Luck Got Destroyed By Nick Perry of the Packers [GIF]
Related: Ryan Kerrigan Had an Awesome Pick-Six Against the Falcons
Related: Reggie Wayne: One-Handed Catch Against Charles Woodson Was Sensational
[photo via US Presswire]