by Ryan Meehan
This weekend football was strangely buried beneath a lot of the other weird things that were going on in sports. Between the Xavier/Cincinnati fight in college basketball and Milwaukee Brewers slugger Ryan Braun testing positive for PEDs, for a second I thought that there almost wasn’t enough room in the news cycle for pro football at all.
But then Sunday came, and we were greeted by our share of impressive showings. This week had it all…blowouts, comebacks, and everything in between. And on top of that, two head coaches lost their jobs as a result of their teams’ poor performance this year. Both Tony Sporano of the Miami Dolphins and Todd Haley of the Kansas City Chiefs were relieved of their duties Monday.
If you have a desire for the dramatic, this weekend had two games that would appear as if they were won due to heroic efforts by their respective quarterbacks. But if you look a little closer, you’ll find that this was not the case.
Steelers 14, Browns 3
Koz was texting me during this game and he appeared to be upset. And I can certainly understand that, as the Steelers do get away with a lot of cheap shots. Pittsburgh is going to be able to win games like this but as far as I’m concerned, they’re screwed no matter what in the playoffs. If think about it, they would have to technically play New England or Baltimore at some point if they wanted to get back to the Super Bowl, and I don’t think they are going to get past either of those teams. They might have a shot at the Patriots, but Baltimore isn’t putting up with any of the Steelers’ bullshit this year. Tuesday the NFL will decide whether they are going to having some money coming in from James Harrison since he felt it so necessary to clock Colt McCoy for no reason in this game.
Broncos 13, Bears 10
This game was over. Like 1986 World Series over. All Marion Barber had to do was get down and the clock would have ran off another forty seconds and the Broncos would have had no chance at tying the game. But instead, he ran out of bounds like a jackass and the next thing you know, everything was set up for Tim Tebow to look like the hero. Which is exactly what he did, setting up Matt Prater for a 59 yard field goal to tie the game and send it into overtime. But then for a second, things began to swing back in the Bears’ direction as they won the coin toss and elected to receive the ball. It looked like they were going to win the game and Barber would be exonerated after all. But then just a few plays later, Barber fumbled, and there was Prater again out to kick a 52 yard field goal that essentially ended any hope the Bears might have had at making the postseason. I know Tim Tebow has been impressive, but let’s be honest…the Bears beat themselves. They let all of this happen on their watch. Give credit where credit is due, but tell the whole story.
Eagles 26, Dolphins 10
I bet the Eagles wished that they could figure out the nonsense that was crippling them at the beginning of this season. If they had, it’s quite possible that they wouldn’t be in as bad shape as they are now with the rest of that division so close to .500. This one (as stated earlier) cost the Dolphins their coach, but let’s be honest…he was probably toast at the end of the season anyway. I didn’t see any of this one, but from what I understand Michael Vick looked awfully rusty.
Patriots 34, Redskins 27
This got interesting as Tom Brady got into it with one of his coaches on the sideline. Which has to be awkward, because even if you are that coach and you’re 100% right, if they have to choose one of the two to stay, you’ll have a suitcase in your hand at some point during the next twenty-four hours. The Patriots looked a little shaky at times in this game, but the one solid thing was Rob Gronkowski who caught his 14th and 15th touchdown passes of the year, breaking the single season record of touchdowns by a tight end. And, he physically dragged three different defenders on one play, one of the toughest plays I’ve ever seen.
Lions 34, Vikings 28
The Detroit Lions got away with one here, and if they’re really only six points better than the Vikings I don’t want to see them in the postseason anyway. There was a non-call in this game where the Lions got away with a facemask on the last play of the game, which would have given Joe Webb another untimed down and gave the Vikings another untimed down to beat a team that deserved to lose. The only good thing that can come out of this is the fact that now the Lions have ABSOLUTELY NO ARGUMENT that the league is “out to get them” or that their players are flagged more than players on other squads. They got away with one, it kept them in the playoff hunt, and they have no reason whatsoever to question the officiating or the commissioner’s office.
Saints 22, Titans 17
I didn’t see the usual explosiveness from the Saints offense that we’ve seen so many times in the past couple of years. Marques Colston had two touchdown catches in the fourth quarter to secure the victory for New Orleans. The game ended on a very odd play. Jake Locker had a chance at burying the Saints in the last seconds of the game, but he was sacked and didn’t even toss the ball. Since I’ve never been an NFL quarterback I can’t say exactly what I would have done in that situation, but Jake Locker could have done anything else and it would have been better than just eating that sack. Let me explain: He was tackled from the front, so it’s not like he didn’t see it coming. Even if he would have tossed the ball underhanded into the end zone, there would have been at least SOME chance that someone could have caught it (Mich St. – Wisconsin from earlier this year) and there might have been a new Music City Miracle. He could have even fumbled, and the ball would still have been in play. I guess what I’m trying to say is, anything that he could have done other than what he did would have been a better decision.
Texans 20, Bengals 19
For the first time in franchise history, the Houston Texans are going to the playoffs. They’re going to be beat up to all hell when they get there, and will likely lose in the first game they play, but it is cool after all of these years to see another team emerge from that division victorious. Now the Bengals probably won’t be going, but they’ll get there in the next few years if the Steelers or the Ravens (who are both aging) slip up and hit a rough patch. It can happen, and if Andy Dalton can become a better red zone QB then it’s a lot closer to being a reality than one might think.
Jets 37, Chiefs 10
Now this is the Kansas City team I remember so well. The team that doesn’t threaten barely above average teams like the Jets. The team who until this morning had a head coach that is no longer employed by the franchise three weeks after I just learned the guy’s name. The same Chiefs who are now alone in last place at the bottom of the shittiest division in all of football…OK enough about people who don’t matter. The Jets are 8-5 and whether we here at FOH like it or not, with the Bengals losing Sunday this means the Jets are now the six seed. Ugh. Sanchez is still suspect, as against a weak Chiefs secondary he only managed to go 13 for 21 for 181 yards.
Falcons 31, Panthers 23
Atlanta pisses me off because they have the juice, they just don’t have enough of it when it counts. Sure, they had enough here to beat the Panthers, but this is the type of game that reminds me why I wasn’t all that shocked when they lost at home to the Packers divisional round last year. Sure, they came back from 16 points down, but why were they 16 points down to begin with? Elite teams don’t find themselves down late like that, and that’s just another glaring example of why the Falcons aren’t an elite team. I am aware they looked better and I still don’t care for them.
Jaguars 41, Buccaneers 14
Am I reading that right? How on earth did the Jaguars score 41 points in sixty minutes? Oh, right…the Bucs don’t have a defense. I was right about this game being a total throw away but not about the outcome. Do I at least get partial credit for that? The Buccaneers are 4-9 but easily one of the five worst teams in the NFL. They can’t do anything right anymore.
Ravens 24, Colts 10
The Colts are so far beyond a joke it’s not even funny. That locker room has to be awfully quiet. In previous years this would actually be a showdown, but I have to admit when I found out that Terrell Suggs had only three sacks I was wondering why it wasn’t eight. Baltimore does it again on the ground, plays smart defensively and easily beats the Colts. In years’ past, you always hear the joke this time of the year about “Could the number one college team beat the worst pro team?” And to that, I would say, although I would usually say never, yes in this instance they could. The Colts are bad. They ARE worse than that winless Lions team a few years back, and LSU OR Alabama would kill them at the moment.
Packers 46, Raiders 16
Oakland never had a chance in this game, not one. Green Bay was lighting them up all evening long, and should have taken all of their starters out as they had all the momentum in the world and there was no way the Raiders could come back. But they didn’t, and this week they finally paid the ultimate price for it, as wide receiver Greg Jennings went down with a knee injury that is likely to keep him out three weeks.
Cardinals 21, 49ers 19
This game says either one of two things: Either the Arizona Cardinals have been tricking us all year into thinking that they suck, which they’ve done a fantastic job. Or, that they really are good and have proved it in consecutive weeks against two good teams, they just had poor showings in September and October. If you were to ask me, I’d say it’s much more likely that it’s the first one. On another note, this game was an epic failure for the 49ers, who already knew at this point in the day the Saints had beat the Titans, so this game was a must win for them and they couldn’t pull it off. I still think the 49ers are good and have a very high quality defense, but they definitely lost a little bit of respect from the rest of the potential playoff teams by losing this one.
Chargers 37, Bills 10
Great. Now we have to act like the Chargers are still in it again. I refuse to do it, but they’re technically “still alive”. I’m going to find it to be very interesting if the Bills end up losing double digit games this season, as watching them and the Lions lose is one of my new favorite football related activity. In retrospect, I sort of wish the Bills would have won this game, but only because there would be a better chance I wouldn’t run into the Chargers on TV the rest of the year.
Giants 37, Cowboys 34
Dallas blew this one. I was actually watching this game with my father and I gave up and went home when the Cowboys went up twelve points with less than seven minutes to go. I just figured it was over, and since it’s the Giants, I usually end up being right about that. But Eli turned up the heat late in the game and got the job done. Well, sort of. Dallas all of a sudden just playing defense and then had another late game field goal mishap courtesy of one Jason Pierre-Paul, who’s becoming a freak of a player for the Giants. Seriously, how many teams do you know of that would rely on their DE to get up and jump front and center to get a finger on that kick? That kid’s the real deal, don’t care if it seems homer or not.
Seahawks 30, Rams 13
Eh…MNF kind of got stuck again. They have the Steelers/49ers next week, which hopefully can pull them out of the doldrums. I like Lynch, but I think the Skittles thing is weird and I think that guy from Seattle that got flagged for taunting should have to write his name on the blackboard a few times. You do remember that they’re almost 2-11, right? Isn’t that punishment enough?
Fun Fact of the Week: Four teams in the AFC are 10-3. So any slipup in the next three weeks could cost any of those teams home games.
Up next: Hopefully our guest for week fifteen is going to be Chris Humphreys from Sportschump.net, a great website that covers pretty much all things sports. Check it out, it’s well worth the read.
Once again thanks for visiting First Order Historians and enjoying more of the internet’s finest in user generated content.