NFLOL – Week 10 of NFL Football
Matt Millen, the worst executive in NFL history, was the perfect announcer for this shit sandwich game. For a close contest, it was remarkably lacking in drama, or competence. Here’s a sequence from the end of the game: Clinging to a four-point lead with four minutes to go, the 49ers had to convert a 3rd-and-3. QB Alex Smith was flushed from the pocket, and forced a wobbly shovel pass to Michael Robinson, who fell down. Luckily, no Chicago defender was nearby, so he was able to roll forward for the first down. Then Robinson went out of bounds, stopping the clock unnecessarily. The 49ers inched the ball forward to the Chicago 34, and then punted deep into the end zone, for a touchback and a gain of 14 yards of field position. The Bears’ subsequent drive featured five penalties and an interception in the end zone. After the game, Time Warner decided not to add the NFL Network to its cable packages, ever.
Alex Smith won his first game since September of 2007, when Hillary Clinton was the presidential front-runner. “The Brave One” had just knocked off “3:10 to Yuma” as box-office champ. America’s top song was “Crank That (Soulja Boy),” Lehman Brothers was still a year away from bankruptcy, and one day earlier, Michael Crabtree racked up 244 yards and three touchdowns in just his third collegiate game. Smith is due for another victory in late December of 2011, which will be his last before the Mayan apocalypse brings about the end of the NFL and the rest of life as we know it.
Carolina 28, Atlanta 19
After Jay Cutler’s five-INT game on Thursday night, Jake Delhomme sent a bouquet of flowers to the Bears locker room. Cutler has now displaced Delhomme as the league’s interception leader, and everyone has pretty much forgotten about Delhomme’s $20 million contract extension as a result.
Carolina went to a no-huddle offense this week, based on the theory that Delhomme isn’t all that clear on what play’s been called even after a meeting.
Atlanta couldn’t make a key field goal and they couldn’t stop the run, but they did boost their playoff chances by breaking then ankle of Carolina’s best lineman. Next week the Falcons go on the road to play the Giants, where they will return to their winning ways or hit Eli Manning in the knee with a metal baton. Whatever it takes.
Kansas City 16, Oakland 10
These two bitter AFC West rivals clash twice each year. The winner of the season series takes home an artifact that has sacred meaning for both the Chiefs and Raiders: a game-worn Marcus Allen jockstrap. With Kansas City’s victory on Sunday, the teams have split the season series for a third straight year, and the jockstrap will remain in its display case at Elvis Grbac’s house. When reached for comment, Marcus Allen said, “I want nothing to do with this tradition. God, at least wash it!”
Kansas City has won their last three games in Oakland, but only two of their last 32 played anywhere else. The Chiefs are the NFL’s version of ghost-riding the whip: they’re respected and cool in Alameda County, and considered a dangerous hazard everywhere else in America. This is why E-40’s last albums haven’t sold better: the hip-hop community is confused by his references to the dominant Kansas City offense, and his claim that his Johnson is “more unstoppable than Larry/You know, the running back/Not the basketball player/Who was also pretty good/But never really unstoppable as pro/Mostly due to injuries.”
Tennessee 41, Buffalo 17
This game was actually close; Tennessee had two interception returns for touchdowns in the last three minutes of the game. Buffalo also lost the ball on downs during that stretch, and had the ball when time expired, which is a testament to Dick Jauron’s excellent clock management even in defeat. Jauron’s decision to bring in backup Ryan Fitzpatrick was less than excellent: Fitzpatrick completed only two of his first six passes, and his seventh pass was a pick-six. It looks like he’ll be the starter next week, so fantasy football players, go ahead and pick up Jacksonville’s defense right now.
As the game was winding down, Tennessee owner Bud Adams flipped off Buffalo fans, with both hands. I’ve come up with a few reasons why:
- Adams is upset with Buffalo fans who claim that the Music City Miracle was a forward pass.
- Bills owner Ralph Wilson slept with his girlfriend back in 1947.
- Adams watched every episode of “To on To,” and can never get those hours of his life back.
- Because he couldn’t flip them off with three hands.
Miami 25, Tampa Bay 23
I hate to say I-told-you-so, but the Buccaneers ditched their beautiful creamsicle uniforms and flamboyantly pirate mascot, and immediately went back to their losing ways. They could have used Bucco Bruce’s unorthodox machismo on the road against Miami. Bucco Bruce knows South Beach quite well, he and Ricky Williams have partied together, and he’s definitely employed a “wildcat” style that some people find offensive.
Tampa Bay kicker Connor Barth had one of the best special-teams performances of the year, drilling field goals from 50, 51, and 54 yards and keeping Ted Ginn from breaking off any long returns, even when Barth had to kick off from his own 15 with a minute left. After the game, one Buccaneer complained that the team only had one win because a placekicker was their best player. Barth responded, “I-i-i-i-i heard that!” and continuing making inedible burgers out of roadkill.
Minnesota 27, Detroit 10
Before the game began, Lions backup QB Daunte Culpepper used his old ID in attempt to sneak into the Vikings locker room at the Metrodome. After being detained by security, Culpepper insisted it wasn’t sabotage; he was just hoping he could put on his old Minnesota jersey over his pads and no one would notice. “I don’t want to go back to Detroit,” he wept.
Sidney Rice owes Brett Favre a piece of the singing bonus for his next, sure-to-be-lucrative contract. Or, Tarvaris Jackson owes him some money for delaying this payday for so long. He outshone the 130-yard day from Adrian Peterson, who also fumbled twice. Unfortunately for him,
New Orleans 28, St. Louis 23
Reggie Bush rushed 83 yards for two touchdowns as the Saints just barely held off the Rams in St. Louis. Meanwhile, at the Staples Center, Lamar Odom scored only five points in the Lakers loss to the Rockets. It appears that, much like the Curse of the Wendigo, the Curse of the Kardashian has been shifted to another victim. Meanwhile, somewhere in Arizona, Matt Leinart wonders how much money he’d have to pay Luke Walton to get him to go out with Nicky Hilton.
New Orleans looked vulnerable, but ultimately, they remained undefeated. Marc Bulger looted the depleted New Orleans secondary for 300 yards – wait, as a white QB, he merely “found holes” in the coverage. Next will feature a lot of Saints fans asking Who Dat playing in the defensive secondary, as they face a Bucco Bruce-less Tampa Bay. New Orleans versus pirates – prepare for some War-of-1812-style explosiveness.
Washington 27, Denver 17
Is Jim Zorn allowed to call fake punts? If not, who does it? Is there going to be a clamor to replace Jason Campbell with Hunter Smith? It would be a dangerous offense; defenses would have to protect against the quick-kick on every play. Blitzing would have to be judicious – time the rush wrong, give Smith the chance to get his kicking leg out, and it’s a roughing-the-kicker penalty.
Hunter Smith would have done better than Broncos backup Chris Simms, who entered in relief and played like his spleen was about to explode – 3 for 13, with an INT. Steve Young would blame his upbringing. It sounds wrong to say that any team really missed Kyle Orton, and MS Word is flagging the sentence even as I type it, but…Denver really missed Kyle Orton.
Jacksonville 24, New York Jets 22
The game ended on a video-game-inspired play as Maurice Jones-Drew took a knee on the one-yard line against the Jets, in order to run out the clock before the game-clinching field goal. The Jets were attempting to let him score, so it looked like both teams had been paid off by gamblers, or that they’d mutually agreed that the end zone was “hot lava,” and anyone who set foot in the end zone would be burned. Why the Jets didn’t simply tackle Jones-Drew forward, into the end zone, is a mystery. Perhaps it’s because the Jets are not very good at tackling Maurice Jones-Drew in any circumstance.
Bizarrely, Mark Sanchez read from a prepared statement after the game before taking questions. When did he prepare the statement? While Jacksonville was running the clock out? Does Mark Sanchez keep a little tape recorder in his uniform pants to record humorous observations during games? Did his agent foresee that he’d throw another two interceptions and whip up some light remarks in advance? Maybe this game WAS fixed.
Cincinnati 18, Pittsburgh 12
Cincinnati beat Pittsburgh for the second time, and promptly showed their overconfidence by signing disgraced running back Larry Johnson. Perhaps this is a reflex action for Cincinnati: a player with legal troubles is dropped by his team, the Bengals snap them up. When Lawrence Taylor was arrested for leaving the scene of an accident last week, the Bengals almost brought him in for a workout. Cincinnati is headed to Oakland next week, so maybe they just want to acquire as many former Chiefs as possible.
Both teams have glaring special teams weaknesses: Cincinnati can’t kick extra points (or can’t snap the ball long), Pittsburgh can’t cover kickoffs. A perfect storm happened in the first quarter and both weaknesses collided, when the Bengals ran back a kick for a touchdown, and then whiffed on the extra point. It’s like if Billy Joel was the designated driver for Clint Eastwood’s character in “Gran Torino,” and all of the emergency roadside assistance workers were Hmongs.
San Diego 31, Philadelphia 23
It was a typical Philadelphia game: they were terrible in the red zone, they blew their timeouts early, and University of Arizona has a player named Delashaun. Given Philly’s success with Desean Jackson and LeSean McCoy, Dean should be rocketing up the Eagles draft board. LaDainian Tomlinson had his best game of the year, rushing for 96 yards on 24 carries. In a related story, it makes me sad that in Tomlinson’s best game of the season, he still didn’t rush for 100 yards. It’s sad to see the greats in decline, like when Jack Nicholson dated Lara Flynn Boyle, or when an aging Indiana Jones defeats the Nazis by using his knowledge of estate planning and the rules of pinochle instead of a bullwhip. Tomlinson said he was motivated to play well after learning his wife was pregnant, after she left a box in his locker with a pregnancy test inside. I hope he just meant the stick, but I think we have to consider the possibility that LaDainian Tomlinson performs at his best only when someone leaves a container of urine for him before the game.
Green Bay 17, Dallas 7
The Packers pecked away at the Dallas defense with short passes and picked off Tony Romo at the goal line to pick up a big win. Dallas essentially refused to hand of for most of the game because YOU DO NOT RUN ON JOHNNY JOLLY. Romo and Roy Williams each fumbled, Dallas committed eight penalties, and the Wade Phillips Disappointment Cam nearly overheated from overuse.
Aaron Rodgers was sacked four times, which is like a normal quarterback receiving a soothing massage. He’s becoming so traumatized that he’s begun telling teammates he fell down some stairs after particularly rough sacks, and prepared a delicious sandwich for DeMarcus Ware on the sidelines during the 3rd quarter. The Aaron Rodgers biopic, “What’s Pass Protection Got To Do With It?” is slated for a Fall 2010 release.
Arizona 31, Seattle 20
Despite a transcendent performance from former Golden Bear Justin Forsett, Seattle blew this game when they couldn’t punch it in from the one-yard line early in the fourth quarter. Just like games against Indianapolis, you can’t settle for field goals against the Cardinals. As my abusive stepfather once said to me, No heavy petting; you go all the way or you go home, son. Matt Hasselbeck threw two interceptions in the final four minutes and it turns out that the Seahawks’ mom likes her stepkids better,
Indianapolis 35, New England 34
Bill Belichick was excoriated in the press for his decision to go for it on fourth down from his own 30, late in the fourth quarter. I’m not surprised. While anyone who has watched Peyton Manning this year knows he will score touchdowns from any point on the field if there’s any time remaining at all, punting was the safe, by-the-book decision. However, the reason Belichick is getting hammered is easy: he’s a huge asshole. He fakes his injury reports, scowls all the time, runs up the score, and gives one-word answers at his press conference. While that shouldn’t necessarily bother fans, it’s always going to bother reporters. And if you work with an asshole who constantly makes your life tougher, and you take revenge with zero repercussions, you’re pretty much going to do that every time.
All the usual suspects were great. Brady and Manning played very well, Randy Moss and Reggie Wayne caught lots of passes, Robert Mathis and Jerod Mayo had sacks. The one reliable guy who failed was New England running back Kevin Faulk, who bobbled the potential game-clinching fourth-down pass. Faulk is an ordinary back with one amazing skill: catching short passes for first downs. He’s basically the Marshall Faulk of short-yardage first-down catches, just like Frank Stallone is the Sylvester Stallone of arm-wrestling move soundtracks. When Faulk got stopped short of the first-down spot, it was the sign of a Bad Nite, and it meant that the game was Far From Over.
Baltimore 16, Cleveland 0
Tough weekend for the cable networks, who got Chicago-SF and this game, which implied that if “The Wire” were set in Cleveland, it’d be even more depressing. Baltimore seemed like they were trying to run out the clock even when it was scoreless in the first half, while Cleveland took a page out of Carolina’s book and switched to the no-huddle offense. Honestly, Brady Quinn probably needs an extra-long huddle. And an extra-long hug.
Now hopelessly out of the playoffs, the Browns have begun going after the players and teams who still have hope. Quinn delivered a chop block to the knee of Terrell Suggs on an interception return, and Coach Eric Mangini attempted to eat running back Willis McGahee when he went out of bounds on the Browns sideline. Mangini also attempted to injure his own players, calling a hook-and-lateral on the final play of the game (down 16 points) that sent Josh Cribbs to the hospital. Cleveland may need to fire him just so Mangini doesn’t accidentally run over LeBron James in his car.