Tuesday, December 24, 2013

We're Not Dead Yet!

  • Ugh. That was not an enjoyable game. The Packers certainly had their chances, but couldn't stop committing penalties. The biggest killers were B.J. Raji's unsportsmanlike conduct for retaliating against a Steeler after the whistle; Nick Perry's incomprehensible encroachment on Pittsburgh's late-game field goal attempt that gave the Steelers new downs, which forced the Packers, for time reasons, to allow Pittsburgh to score; and T.J. Lang's false start on the penultimate play of the game.
  • Though Don Barclay was called for the false start, it was actually Lang who moved, but center Evan Dietrich-Smith took the blame, saying he snapped the ball late. The penalty came with a 10-second runoff, but the officiating mess that followed really ticked the Packers off. The penalty occurred with 23 seconds left in the game, but the clock didn't stop until 20 seconds. With the runoff, that left the Packers with 10 seconds; plenty of time to get off two plays. Dietrich-Smith, who was ready to snap the ball, was told to take his hand off the ball and wait until the umpire pointed at him, since the officials needed to check that the clock was correct. The umpire, however, did not point at Dietrich-Smith until the clock was down to three seconds! So instead of having 13 seconds to get in the endzone, Green Bay had three seconds.
  • All this would have been moot if Matt Flynn had just looked the other way on the final play and seen a wide open Jordy!
  • The confusion of the last ten seconds wasn't the only screwy thing that happened with the officials. Though I was happy that the Packers were the beneficiaries, I found it shocking that the whole blocked-field-goal-followed-by-an-illegal-batting call led to a Packers first down. Here's what happened: Mason Crosby's short field goal was blocked (his plant leg slipped a bit, he said), the ball was loose when a Steeler, Ryan Clark, scooped it up, then tried to shovel it back to a teammate. The teammate couldn't handle it, so he knocked it out of bounds to keep the Packers from recovering. The knocking it out of bounds is what is illegal, and since the penalty came before the officials had declared a team had recovered the ball, the penalty was enforced from the start of the play, which means the Packers got a first down out of it. As glad as I was about the outcome, I found it totally unfair that the refs said that Clark (number 25) never had possession, and possession on a loose ball is not a reviewable challenge (How come? No reason. Just something the NFL arbitrarily decided.). If they had said Clark had the ball, he would have been down by contact around the 11-yard line.

  • This was just a weird game all around. I can't for the life of me understand what the heck Pittsburgh coach Mike Tomlin was thinking at the end of the game. The game was tied 31-31, and the Steelers were attempting about a 27-yard field goal when Perry jumped. This game the Steelers a first down at the Green Bay five-yard line with 1:35 remaining. ALL Pittsburgh has to do here is take three kneeldowns, then kick a chip shot to end the game. For reasons unbeknownst to man, Tomlin had his team run the ball for a four-yard gain, then run in an uncontested touchdown 1:25. So instead of the Packers getting the ball back down three with about one second left, the Packers got the ball back, down seven, with 1:25 left. Crazy.
"Oooooohhhh. Now I get it."
  • Mike McCarthy must have been confused by Tomlin's choice, as well. Green Bay ended up letting Pittsburgh score on 2nd-and-1 so they could get the ball back, but it probably would have made a lot more sense if the Packers had let the score on the previous play. They would have had the additional time, as well as their final timeout.
  • Matt Flynn had another less-than-stellar game, including this pick-six. I know he got clipped by a teammate, but what the devil was he thinking with this "pass"?
  • Micah Hyde had an electrifying 70-yard return on the ensuing kickoff. It was just enough to raise the hopes of Packers fans everywhere, only to have them mercilessly dashed moments later.

  • And, of course, it's time to go through the weekly casualty list: Clay Matthews, Brad Jones, Mike Neal, Micah Hyde, and EDDIE LACY! Initial reports suggest that Matthews rebroke his injured right thumb and will likely be out for the rest of the season. Lacy has already spent the last two weeks not practicing and in a walking boot, but now he's reinjured his ankle. It's looking unlikely that Rodgers will be playing next week, and the Chicago Bears' run defense is putrid - WE NEED EDDIE!!!
Packers' Eddie Lacy Spins Through the Air into the End Zone on 14-Yard TD
  • This is after the Packers lost Johnny Jolly and Brandon Bostick for the season, too. I know every team has significant injuries at this point in the season, but Green Bay can't catch a break. As this article points out, it's not just the sheer numbers they've been losing, but it's pretty much the best player at every position.

  • The Packers were about a half inch away from losing their current quarterback, too. Matt Flynn here barely missed decapitation by Pittsburgh's Lawrence Timmons. Be careful, Matty!!
Somebody up there loves Matt Flynn
  • Somehow, Detroit managed to eliminate themselves from playoff contention. With the Bears and the Packers missing their starting quarterbacks and with a cream puff remaining schedule, it seemed a foregone conclusion that the Lions would run away with the division, but they managed to lose five of their last six games. That kind of meltdown usually means the bell is tolling for the head coach. I'll miss the fourth-quarter chokes. I'll miss the constant, sloppy penalties. I'll miss the dirty hits. But I'll miss the Jim Schwartz's sideline tantrums most of all.
  • I'll miss his he-won-but-he-still-looks-so-angry happy tantrums.
  • I'll miss his I'll-cut-your-heart-out-with-a-butter-knife glares every time a ref's call went against him.
  • He left us all with another gift this weekend, though. After Lions fans booed him for taking a knee at the end of regulation, headed to overtime (which wasn't really fair of the fans, but whatever), Schwartz was caught on camera seeming to shout not nice words at the fans. At first, Schwartz denied that he said anything to fans, but came around to offer a very reluctant non-apology.

  • Aaron Rodgers, who has always been very ... image-conscious, let's call it, reportedly insisted on McCarthy calling the decision not to play Rodgers an "organizational" decision so people wouldn't question his toughness. Aww, Aaron, I'd never question your toughness!

  • The Carolina Panthers clinched a playoff spot on Sunday with a last-minute win over the New Orleans Saints. Linebacker Luke Kuechly had 24 tackles and an interception!! He's only 22.
Ah! They're all so much younger and so much
more successful than I am!
  • Peyton Manning set yet another record; this time for most touchdowns in a season with 51. So good for him and all that. I know Manning is fantastic -- one of the best ever -- but I also get a little sick of the way the media and fans fawn all over him as if he's so far ahead of everyone else. Let's look at some statistics. Here's Manning's stats for this year, which some are calling a best single season by a quarterback in NFL history:
    • 67.4% completion rate, 8.26 yards per attempt, 51 touchdowns, and 10 interceptions
  • Now, that's fantastic, no doubt. But here are Aaron Rodgers' numbers from 2011-2013:
    • 67.7% completion rate, 8.55 yards per attempt, 99 touchdowns, and 18 interceptions
  • It's a lot harder to maintain those number over the course of three seasons rather than a single season. It sounds crazy to say, but I think Aaron Rodgers is underrated! I'm not trying to say that Peyton Manning isn't awesome or even that Rodgers is a better quarterback than Manning. All I'm saying is people should stop pretending that Peyton Manning is so, so, so, so far above eeeeeveryone else.
Plus, Aaron's way more debonair.
  • Jacksonville Jaguars center Brad Meester has announced he will retire at the end of this season after 14 years with the team. Sunday was his last game at home and the team drew up a nice little play that got him his first career reception, and the crowd went nuts. He even got the first down!
The Best GIFs Of NFL Week 16: Blues Brothers
  • Joe Flacco apparently has no shame. Not content to quietly enjoy sleeping on a mattress of hundred dollar bills from the ludicrous $120 million contract he signed this offseason, Flacco brazenly sought after more money he hasn't earned when he was seen buying a lottery ticket.

  • This Redskins player wanted to ensure there was no confusion about whom committed the penalty.
  • Some teams just can't catch a break (see the Packers injuries), and then some teams just get really, really luck. When you say something good "fell into his lap," it's usually an expression, but not for Cincinnati's George Iloka on this interception.
The Best GIFs Of NFL Week 16: Blues Brothers
  • Tom Brady is either a) so unpopular with his teammates that no one will give him a high-five, or b) just messing with everyone after a video of his teammate leaving him hanging made the internet rounds a few weeks ago.
  • Matthew Stafford's girlfriend was upset with the Lions fans booing their home team and took to Twitter to air her grievance. One fan, however, was not going to let her get away without taking a shot of his own.
  • It all comes down to the final game of the season against the Chicago Bears for Green Bay, with both teams playing for their postseason lives. Luckily, Chicago has already named Jay Cutler as the starter for next week, so the Packers have a chance. 
You've never let me down yet, Jay.

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