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Week 14 Monday 10-pack

Marion Barber AP

As the regular season careens closer to conclusion, the wins get bigger and the losses trigger a steeper slide into despair.

On Sunday, no fewer than six playoff contenders suffering devastated losses, while four teams have rocketed to 10-3 records in the AFC.

And we’ll sum it all up as we always do with 10 story lines from the Sunday that was.

1.  The kicker who was iced by his own coach gets iced again.

It’s easy for a coach who bungled the closing moments of regulation in a game his team eventually lost to insist that the page is being turned and no one is looking back.  It’s harder to pull it off when the next game contains multiple flashbacks to the mistakes that were made in the last one.

In the final moments of the latest Cowboys collapse, we were reminded in two ways of coach Jason Garrett’s mismanagement of his remaining time outs during crunch time of last Sunday’s loss to the Cardinals.  For starters, Garrett waited way too long to call a time out when the Giants, down by five with barely a minute to go, moved the ball inside the Dallas one.  Even owner Jerry Jones was yelling for a time out from his suite above the stadium floor.

Eventually, the Cowboys called a time out, but not until too many precious seconds had forever evaporated.

Then, after the Giants scored the go-ahead touchdown and converted the two-pointer that put New York up by three and quarterback Tony Romo moved the Cowboys quickly into position for a game-tying field goal attempt, Giants coach Tom Coughlin called for a time out just before the snap, the hold, and the 47-yard kick that split the uprights.

Regardless of what anyone says about the mindset of a professional athlete, kicker Dan Bailey’s thoughts surely strayed back to Week 13, when it was his own head coach who called the time out that wiped out a potential game winner and forced Bailey to try again.  And just like last week, the second try missed — and the Cowboys lost.

The defeat hurt Jones so much that he didn’t show up in the locker room after the game, issuing instead a statement.  If the Cowboys can’t turn this thing around down the stretch, it’s tempting to wonder what kind of statements will be issued by Jones after the season ends.

2.  Facemask penalties should be subject to replay review.

What would have been a stunning, 21-point comeback by the Vikings was thwarted by the failure of the officials to notice Lions linebacker DeAndre Levy grabbing and pulling the facemask of Minnesota quarterback Joe Webb.  Just like an identical blown call on the game deciding sack, fumble, and touchdown in overtime of the epic 2009 wild-card game between the Cardinals and Packers, the referee undoubtedly was watching Webb’s arm, to ensure that the fumble was a fumble and not a result of the notorious tuck rule or some esoteric variation thereof.

But whether Webb had fumbled would have been subject to replay review.  Levy’s grabbing of Webb’s facemask wasn’t.

It wasn’t reviewable because it’s not among the specific list of plays that can be reviewed.  The official list reflects a menu that has grown from time to time, typically after an embarrassing outcome prompts the league to decide to add another situation for using replay the existing situations in which replay is allowed.

Some fear that an increased range of reviewable plays will make the games take too long to play.  The easy fix, as we’ve said in the past, is to eliminate the time-wasting dog-and-pony show resulting from the referee walking to the sideline, putting on the Dukakis tank helmet headset, peering under the black curtain for a minute or so, emerging from the contraption, talking on the Dukakis tank helmet headset, and then eventually telling us all the outcome.

Besides, isn’t it more important to get it right?  An obvious, game-deciding penalty was missed on Sunday, and the replay assistant could do nothing about it because the question of whether a player has grabbed another player’s facemask by rule can’t be reviewed.

That rule needs to be changed, and replay needs to be expanded to ensure that other obvious blunders can and will be corrected.

3.  T.J. Yates is getting playoff experience in the regular season.

When Texans quarterback Matt Schaub went down for the season, I was concerned about the ability of Matt Leinart to get the job done.  Not in the regular season, but in the postseason.

When Leinart went down, I was even more concerned about the ability of rookie T.J. Yates to get the job done.  Again, not in the regular season.  In the postseason.

The challenge has been and will continue to be to get Yates ready for the rigors of playoff football, where the speed and intensity and everything else are amplified. Sunday’s experience in Cincinnati will go a long way toward making that happen.

In a game that Bengals coach Marvin Lewis called the most important of his long tenure in Ohio’s Queen City, the Texans fell behind 16-3 at the half and 19-10 after three quarters.  But Yates led the Texans back, with a clutch touchdown pass late that, with Tennessee’s loss, gave the Texans the first playoff berth in franchise history.

Though Yates may still not be completely ready to face the Ravens or Steelers or Patriots in the playoffs, he’s a lot more ready today than he was before 1:00 p.m. ET on Sunday.

4.  Jennings injury could scare McCarthy into playing it safe.

As the Packers clinch a first-round playoff bye and move closer to nailing down home-field advantage throughout the NFC tournament, the question is getting louder and louder.

Will coach Mike McCarthy go for 16-0?  Or will he empty the bench and rest — and protect — his key players?

The stakes were raised on Sunday, when receiver Greg Jennings left the blowout win over the Raiders with a knee sprain.  Though the joint wasn’t blown out, the damage will be determined Monday, and Jennings could miss some time.

Without Jennings, the Packers will be fine, given the sheer number of weapons they have acquired and maintained.  But it will be fair to at least wonder who could be injured next — especially if the next injury happens to a less interchangeable part, like Aaron Rodgers.

In the end, the Packers likely will, and probably should, aim for history.  They won the Super Bowl earlier this year, and they can follow it with the unprecedented accomplishment of winning 19 and losing none.  Though Bears, Vikings, and Lions fans may strongly disagree, if any NFL team is going to pull off that feat, it makes sense for the Packers to do it.

5.  Tebowmania gets inside Marion Barber’s head.

Several years ago, a Dallas fan known as “Cowboy Chris” famously proclaimed that he had gotten inside the head of ESPN’s Ed Werder.

On Sunday, Tebowmania crawled into the cranium of Bears running back Marion Barber.

Though it’s impossible to know with certainty why Barber inexplicably ran out of bounds late in regulation or how he inexplicably fumbled in field-goal range during overtime, the most overlooked aspect of Tebowmania isn’t the contribution of Broncos not named Tim but the manner in which the impending sense that the Broncos will prevail creeps into the brains of their opponents.  When guys like Dolphins linebacker Karlos Danbsy say that he and other members of his team believed that God was working through Tebow, how can guys like Barber not sense, consciously or otherwise, that they’re simply killing time with the Washington Generals while the Great Football Fan in the Sky gets ready to throw a bucket of confetti on someone sitting in the front row?

Each week, as the Broncos finds their stride late, the would-be Anti-Tebows realize that they are supporting characters in a much bigger story.  In six days, Tom Brady and the Patriots will try their damnedest to deviate from the script.

6.  When exactly are two feet in bounds?

We had an interesting debate in the NBC viewing room regarding a catch made in the end zone by Saints tight end Jimmy Graham.

Of course, it wasn’t much of a debate because, of the dozen or so people in the room, only one agreed with me.

With the focus of the review being whether the front of Graham’s foot grazed a piece of white grass as it clamped onto the ground, I was arguing that the play should have ended once Graham’s heel truck the turf, clearly in bounds.

The rule book offers no specific help, since it says only that two feet or some body part other than a hand must land in bounds to complete a catch.  But on countless occasions we’ve seen a guy get only his toes in bounds as he falls out of play, never getting the entirety of both feet down.

So why discriminate against the heel?

I’ve asked the league of an explanation.  The answer likely will be, “Florio, you’re an idiot.”

Just like the other 10 people in the room said yesterday.

7.  The pylons should be extended.

The Titans-Saints game produced another moment that caught my ever-roving ways-we-can-make-the-game-better meter.  Last month, we suggested that the goal posts be extended, given the habit of modern kickers to put the ball well above them.  So with players now required to get the ball inside the pylon when diving toward the end zone and landing out of bounds, why not make the pylons higher, too?

Sure, it’ll look goofy.  But no goofier than the rectangular circus peanuts looked when they replaced the organ-piercing flags that previously marked the four corners of the end zone.

In contrast, the pylons can hurt no one, and it would cause no harm to double — or triple — the length of the devices.

If longer pylons were used, it would have been obvious whether Titans quarterback Jake Locker got the ball inside it when he dove past the pylon on Sunday.  Instead, it was far from obvious — prompting the ruling to be quickly upheld via replay review because there was no reliable way to know whether the ball passed inside the pylon, because the pylon is too short.

8.  The chase for the first seed in the AFC is wide open.

With three weeks to go, four teams in the AFC have a 10-3 record.  And none of them play each other over the balance of the year.

And so, in theory, four teams could finish with a 13-3 record.  Tiebreakers would then determine whether the Steelers or the Ravens win the AFC North.  (The Ravens would, via their sweep of the Steelers.)  Tiebreakers then would determine whether the Patriots, Ravens, or Texans claim the No. 1 and No. 2 seeds.

It gets confusing and complicated at that point, but the fact that the Ravens would potentially win a head-to-head tiebreaker over the Texans (since the Ravens beat them) and the Patriots (via record in common games) may not deliver the top seed to Baltimore in the event of a menage-a-tie.

It’s too early to delve into the specifics.  For now, be aware that the ultimate assignment of playoff seeds may have less to do with hitting a hole and more to do with splitting a hair.

9.  The chase for the two seed in the NFC could determine the Super Bowl winner.

The top of the playoff field has far less complexity in the NFC.  The Packers are destined to be No. 1, a year after winning the Super Bowl from the No. 6 position.  The real intrigue arises from whether the 49ers or the Saints will finish at No. 2.

Before Sunday, it appeared that San Fran coach Jim Harbaugh’s team was immune to his brother’s Ravens’ propensity to play down to the level of the competition.  After the Niners surprisingly fell in Arizona and the Saints won in Nashville, the two teams are 10-3, with three to go.

The 49ers currently hold the tiebreaker, and the location of the looming renewal of an old NFC West rivalry will be a huge factor in whether the 49ers or the Saints move to the NFC title game.  The Saints are extremely hard to beat in the Superdome, and they’re much more beatable when playing elsewhere — especially outside.

And here’s where it gets even more interesting.  With the threat of bad weather in late January at Lambeau Field, the Packers could be vulnerable.  They’d be more vulnerable to the 49ers than to the Saints, if the wind is blowing and the snow is flying and the tundra is frozen.

Though the Packers never will say it, they’re surely rooting for the Saints to finish with the second seed.

10.  A Monday night flex option.

Yes, the 10-pack focuses on Sunday’s action.  But another compelling day (and night) of games serves only to highlight the fact that the NFL and ESPN will be serving up to the American public a Monday night stinker.

It’s not ESPN’s fault.  And it’s not the league’s fault, either.  In April, it seemed reasonable to believe that the two teams who finished at the top of the NFC West in 2010 would be playing a relevant game in the middle of December.  Thanks to the 49ers, Rams-Seahawks provides intrigue only for folks who have a fantasy football interest in the game, and the hardest of the hard-core gamblers.

So what can the league do?  Flexing in the Sunday night sense simply isn’t an option, given the logistical challenges associated with team travel and lodging and, more importantly, the travel and lodging and babysitting and other issues associated with buying a ticket and showing up for the game.

But there’s a middle ground that the league and ESPN should explore.  For the final month or six weeks of the season, the official schedule should designate a pair of tentative Monday night games on an either/or basis.  Then, three weeks before the game is played, one of the two will be picked for the Monday night spot, and the other game will slide back to Sunday.

It could still create some inconveniences, but if the teams and the fans know in April that there’s a chance the game will move from Monday, folks will be well aware of the possibility.  With three weeks to prepare if a change is made, teams and fans should be able to make the appropriate arrangements.

There’s no guarantee that every Monday night game would be compelling, but after having to tolerate Chargers-Jaguars and Rams-Seahawks in an eight-day period, many would be willing to take their chances.

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86 Responses to “Week 14 Monday 10-pack”
  1. madtolive5 says: Dec 12, 2011 9:07 AM

    I hate how you see football like a lawyer.
    I really don’t think you’ll be happy until refs are off of the field and everything is under review.

    It was a blown call on the facemask, it happens.

  2. comeonnowguys says: Dec 12, 2011 9:09 AM

    No. no. no. no.

    If you make anything less than the whole foot count as in bounds, you are opening yourself up for a crap-storm that will make the Louis Murphy/Calvin Johnson situations seem like nothing.

  3. jimmymcnultysbottleofjameson says: Dec 12, 2011 9:12 AM

    I still don’t understand how a better conference record can trump a head to head victory when it comes down to the #1 seed. Houston may have clinched a spot but we’re all waiting for the real TJ Yates.

  4. southpaw2k says: Dec 12, 2011 9:16 AM

    11. 2008 Detroit Lions > 2011 Indianapolis Colts

    I’m beating a dead horse here – pun intended – but I’m just appalled at how pathetic the Colts are. Even though the Lions were blown out several times on their way to an 0-16 season in 2008, they could at least put points on the board occasionally. The Colts have not scored more than 24 points in a game this season, and I’m now wondering if there’s a way in Madden NFL to simulate a game between this year’s Colts squad and the 2008 Lions.

    ******

    With regards to reviewing face mask penalties, my understanding of replay is that when the refs review a play, regardless of a challenge or booth review, the ENTIRE play is reviewed. Meaning any penalty that might have been committed and missed by the refs is fair game to be discovered by the review. Is this not the case?

    And as much as I’m going to find something else on television to watch rather than waste my time with the Rams and Seachickens tonight, a Monday night flex option will never happen for all the travel issues you had discussed above.

  5. axespray says: Dec 12, 2011 9:16 AM

    “4. Jennings injury could scare McCarthy into playing it safe.”

    like saying That King would wuss out on building the pyramids cause a couple of workers could get injured, or that Alexander the Great would quit on that Taking over the known world thing cause a couple guys could get nicked up…. you gotta go for history! … Mike McCarthy wants it, the team wants it, the fans want it, The Football GODs want it… We gotta go for it. Fortune favors the Bold!

  6. tfaulk says: Dec 12, 2011 9:16 AM

    I don’t see extending the pylons working. If they’re longer, that increases the odds of the players hitting them and ripping them out which would make it unclear if they actually got the ball inside the pylon but knocked it down or if it was outside but the player’s body still knocked it down.

    It’s more helpful that they are shorter but you can visualize a hypothetical line extending upward from the corner.

    Your way: I can picture players knocking it over and saying, “See, I knocked over the pylon, I must have been in,” even though it’s just as likely that their body just knocked it over rather than actually getting the ball INSIDE the pylon.

  7. 7thlombardiontheway says: Dec 12, 2011 9:18 AM

    Lolz

  8. PanchoHerreraFanClub says: Dec 12, 2011 9:18 AM

    11. The Cowboys really aren’t very good team. They were below .500 last year and probably won’t be a winning team this year as 8-8 is the most likely scenario for ‘em ‘boys.

  9. mikea311 says: Dec 12, 2011 9:19 AM

    11. Eli is Elite.

  10. bigtimetexanfan says: Dec 12, 2011 9:20 AM

    Texans > Patriots

    Texans > Steelers

    Texans = Ravens

  11. zidanevalor says: Dec 12, 2011 9:20 AM

    Did you even watch the end of the Dallas-Giants game? Bailey didn’t miss the field goal; it was blocked by Pierre-Paul. That’s a giant (pun intended) difference that you neglected to mention.

  12. flipadelphia says: Dec 12, 2011 9:22 AM

    Lions are on the recieving end of bad calls and non calls every week! Every single week. I don’t think the Saints or the Vikes either had a offensive holding penalty all game. 3 offensive PI calls on Nate Burleson in one game for doing something that a reciever does every catch? It’s a joke.

    Finally we benefit from a call not being made (even though the ball had already been fumbled before the facemask) and a rule change needs to be made?

    C’mon SON! Give me a break PFT your hatred for the Lions is so obvious!

  13. Land Snark says: Dec 12, 2011 9:24 AM

    “In April, it seemed reasonable to believe that the two teams who finished at the top of the NFC West in 2010 would be playing a relevant game in the middle of December.”

    You should have stopped yourself once you stated ‘NFC West’ before putting ‘relevant’ at the end of that sentence.

    But the idea of a Monday night flex is a good one. I’m not sure if Fox and CBS would go for having to be poached by another network, but it would make viewing worthwhile.

  14. timtheenchanter1 says: Dec 12, 2011 9:25 AM

    #10 is a ho-o-o-o-rrible idea. It is already a major inconvenience to ticket holders with the flexing that happens within the sunday games. Moving to a completely different day is an incredible burden.

    Decisions affecting people’s schedules for attending games (or sell tickets if that’s not an option) are often set far more than 3 weeks in advance. It is already incredibly disruptive when a sunday game moves to or from the evening spot. Moving a game from monday to sunday would be awful.

    It seems ESPN has been getting the runt of the litter in games. They only have about 5 games that looked good coming into the season and this ain’t one of them. Anyone who thought jacksonville deserved two home MNF games was hitting the hippie lettuce. It looks more like they (and tampa) were given MNF games because that would give the team more incentive to ensure a sellout since there is no alternate game to put on in that market if a prime-time game is blacked out.

    If they really wanted good games on Monday night, they would do a lot better by making the matchup choices better to begin with rather than screwing with the ticket holders even more by flexing games around to different days.

  15. timpuzzle says: Dec 12, 2011 9:26 AM

    The Packers aren’t rooting for anyone, you are. The Packers prepare for the next team. There’s no time to think about who they might play a month from now. That’s how they came to win 19 in a row.

  16. suhnami says: Dec 12, 2011 9:27 AM

    How about the BLATANT horse collar on Stefan Logans what 50+ yard return that WASN’T CALLED but instead a close holding call on the Lions was negating the entire return….

    Or the BLATANT hold on Sammie Hill allowing Gerhardt to scamper in for a TD….

    Or the BLATANT pass interference on Young where the Minnesota defender clearly pulls down his right arm before the ball arrives on a deep ball??

    Or the ridiculous unnecessary roughness called against Tulloch on Ponder after the interception and Ponder is chasing the play like he’s going to possibly try to attempt to tackle the Detroit defender returning his pick???

    Another week, another long list of calls (or NO CALLS) favoring a detroit opponent….New Orleans offside on the blocked kick?? N.O. hold (literally pulling out the shoulder pad of the detroit defender) to allow Sproles TD run last week???

    Honestly after the face mask I was a bit stunned and really didn’t care…about time Detroit got some form of a make up call.

  17. steelnucs says: Dec 12, 2011 9:27 AM

    2. Facemask penalties should be subject to replay review.

    Based on the quality of officiating we’ve seen this year I’m starting to believe that ALL penalties should be subject to replay review.

    Seriously though, roughing the QB penalties and PI should be on that list also.

  18. waldoampere says: Dec 12, 2011 9:30 AM

    I don’t know why all penalties (especially pass interference) aren’t reviewable. It wouldn’t slow down the game since each team would still only have their two (or possibly three if they’re right) challenges.

    Extending the goal posts and pylons is actually a pretty good idea.

  19. pkrjones says: Dec 12, 2011 9:30 AM

    Monday Night “flex option”? Are you serious? With the Thursday night games later in the season changing two teams from Monday to Sunday and vice-versa would be a logistical nightmare for the teams, fans AND networks. Leave them alone and live with a non-factor game, just as we revel in a home-run matchup.

  20. zaggs says: Dec 12, 2011 9:30 AM

    “And just like last week, the second try missed — and the Cowboys lost.”

    The second try was blocked. I don’t think Bailey could have kicked it better. You just can’t allow someone as tall as JPP (including arm length into his height) penetration like that and expect a good result.

  21. 700levelvet says: Dec 12, 2011 9:30 AM

    After a great weekend of “playoff’s in the balance” football, last quarter of the season, where teams either thrive, or fall by the wayside……The NFL gives us Seattle vs. St. Louis, an absolute snoozefest……I wonder how many children will be conceived tonight….

  22. kidpresentable says: Dec 12, 2011 9:30 AM

    “Though the Packers never will say it, they’re surely rooting for the Saints to finish with the second seed.”

    Um, no. If the Packers play either, it wouldn’t be in until the NFC Championship. Who would they rather face: Drew Brees or Alex Smith? I’d much rather have the extra week of wear and tear on the Saints that would happen with them as the 3 seed than face them after a bye and a home game.

  23. fumblenuts says: Dec 12, 2011 9:30 AM

    “If the Cowboys can’t turn this thing around down the stretch, it’s tempting to wonder what kind of statements will be issued by Jones after the season ends.”

    I’ll tell you….good bye Garrett and hello Jeff Fisher.

  24. twitter:Chapman_Jamie says: Dec 12, 2011 9:31 AM

    I’m trying to figure out how Coughling “icing” Bailey had any psychological effect/affect (who knows) on him. The kick was blocked after JPP made a fantastic move to get in the way of the ball.

    And I agree with madtolive5, stop trying to convince us that a review is needed for every single play.

  25. rmc1995 says: Dec 12, 2011 9:32 AM

    If you replay one penalty you will have to replay them all. This week your Vikings lost so you cherry picked what penalty should be added to review. If the Vikings are victim to an offensive interference call in the last drive that wasn’t called (as the Lions were yesterday), you will add that to the list. The call that is missed the most that leads to big plays the most is offensive holding. The league looks past holding as part of their safety for QBs but more likely the thrill of high scores. In this case there was no unfair advantage to grabbing the mask. The ball was already out and the defender was in position to make a play after the Lions defense took away the vikings first option. Sometimes allowing the players to decide the game is the best call

  26. phonymcringring says: Dec 12, 2011 9:32 AM

    “Tebowmania gets inside Marion Barber’s head.”

    Either that or he learned it from watching Romo.

  27. squared80 says: Dec 12, 2011 9:33 AM

    I just don’t get how you can’t see that penalty. It was in the wide-open and everyone saw it in live action. What a screw-job. I want the Vikes to lose at this point to get a higher draft pick, but not like that. Rigged.

  28. zaggs says: Dec 12, 2011 9:33 AM

    NO, you should not be able to call for a review for facemask.
    Also if they could look so closely at Graham’s foot being in this week, why couldn’t they see Jake Ballard’s knee was in last week?

  29. xxwhodatxx says: Dec 12, 2011 9:34 AM

    That call against Graham was atrocious,I have no idea how that wasn’t a touchdown. If that would have cost the game I’m sure more ppl would be looking at it. You are right, the heel and toe came down how can that not be in. With all the terrible calls in that game this was definitly the biggest one missed.

  30. tfaulk says: Dec 12, 2011 9:34 AM

    I didn’t see the Jimmy Graham play, but I also suspect you are wrong: the toe tap counts because it is usually the only thing in or out of bounds and the motion is dragged out. If his heal went down but continuing the motion has his whole foot come down, part of it out — it seems to me like it’s the equivalent of the whole foot coming down at once, part in and part out.

    But, again, I haven’t seen it yet…

  31. edukator4 says: Dec 12, 2011 9:34 AM

    @comeonnowguys

    is a toe tap a whole foot? it still counts as in bounds.

  32. kokoskmr says: Dec 12, 2011 9:35 AM

    #8: “It’s too early to delve into the specifics. For now, be aware that the ultimate assignment of playoff seeds may have less to do with hitting a hole and more to do with splitting a hair.”

    If it comes down to a 4 way tie between the Texans, Pats, Steelers & Ravens, those 3 “bad” losses by the Ravens to the Titans, Jaguars & Seahawks will look “brilliant” in the strength of vistory tiebreaker!

  33. ud1hens says: Dec 12, 2011 9:37 AM

    It’s not that hard to figure out the AFC #1 seed if Baltimore, Pittsburgh, New England, and Houston all finish 13-3.

    #1 Baltimore
    #2 New England
    #3 Houston
    #4 AFC West (Denver)
    #5 Pittsburgh
    #6 Wild Card (Jets, Titans, Bengals, Raiders, Chargers)

  34. umrguy42 says: Dec 12, 2011 9:41 AM

    Yes, Rams-Seahawks will be a stinker (I say that as a Rams fan, alas).

    But, c’mon, they’ve had stinkers before – about 10 years ago, there was the week 6 Dallas-Washington game which I’m sure they thought would be a marquee game, where both teams got there with 0-5 records…

  35. Davo says: Dec 12, 2011 9:42 AM

    How did the Rams and Seahawks EVER get picked for a Monday night game? I mean, no offense to either teams fans, but c’mon. And it’s not like this is the first stinker ESPN has had on Monday night, either.

  36. fcmlefty1 says: Dec 12, 2011 9:50 AM

    “I still don’t understand how a better conference record can trump a head to head victory when it comes down to the #1 seed. Houston may have clinched a spot but we’re all waiting for the real TJ Yates.”

    Because you are not breaking a head-to-head tie, you are breaking a 3 way tie. How is what happened between Baltimore and Houston in any way relevent to New England in the three way tie situation?

    But, as always, these things tend to figure themselves out when one of the three teams drops an inexplicable game down the stretch.

  37. franklapidus316 says: Dec 12, 2011 9:52 AM

    World won’t end having a couple lousy MNF matchups back-to-back, Fantasy makes every game potentially interesting, especially given its Fantasy playoffs. Plus they want the potential best game of week on Sunday, plus they have a Thursday game to throw out there also, happy watching any game.

  38. lionsfan54 says: Dec 12, 2011 9:56 AM

    For the 100th time… the ball was fumbled BEFORE the facemask penalty. So, even if it was called, it would have been a post-possession 15 yarder on the Lions. The game would still be over because the Lions recovered it.

    If the Vikes had recovered the fumble, then yes, you’d have a beef. But please, move on now.

  39. saintsfan1111 says: Dec 12, 2011 9:56 AM

    > They’d be more vulnerable to the 49ers than to the Saints, if the wind is blowing and the snow is flying and the tundra is frozen.

    Seen the Saints ground game? It’s better than the 9ers and the packers.

  40. ud1hens says: Dec 12, 2011 9:58 AM

    bigtimetexanfan says: Dec 12, 2011 9:20 AM

    Texans = Ravens
    _________________________

    Except when it was 29-14 Baltimore…and that’s when you still had Matt Schaub

  41. dg0122 says: Dec 12, 2011 10:02 AM

    you cant legislate facemasks with IR. whats next- holding calls? facemask is one of those things that the refs occasionally miss

  42. dolphincritic says: Dec 12, 2011 10:04 AM

    I want the NFL to use a laser system to determin whe a field goalie good

  43. 3ghostninja says: Dec 12, 2011 10:05 AM

    Why stop at facemasks? What about holding or blocks in the back on big plays? Why not defensive holding? Pass interference? Offsides? I have an idea! Let’s play the game to the finish, then go back and watch every play again and adjust the score accordingly.

    No. That’s absurd.

    Penalties are not reviewable and should stay that way. They missed calls against the Vikings and Lions alike. While they didn’t all happen near the goal line, they still affected drives and prevented first downs. From there, who knows what would have happened? It goes both ways.

    If everything is subject to review, the game will become unwatchable.

  44. sslugnuts says: Dec 12, 2011 10:08 AM

    Who decided ANY game between the sea chickens and the hams is a good tv option on any channel, let alone MNF???

  45. ahs2 says: Dec 12, 2011 10:11 AM

    You’re seriously implying, that a higher intelligence caused the Barber woes?! I’d hope that if there were such a being, he’d get to work on important things like starvation, war and disease to start with as he seems to be slow to respond in those areas.

  46. nesuperfan says: Dec 12, 2011 10:12 AM

    First, absolutely no challenges and reviews on penalties. Where does it end, and they will probably still get the judgment calls wrong anyway…at least with half of the viewers.

    Second, to southpaw2k, who said: “With regards to reviewing face mask penalties, my understanding of replay is that when the refs review a play, regardless of a challenge or booth review, the ENTIRE play is reviewed. Meaning any penalty that might have been committed and missed by the refs is fair game to be discovered by the review. Is this not the case?”

    No that is not the case. Yes, the entire play is reviewed, but only for reviewable content, but penalties are not reviewable.

    Lastly, the idea to flex games from Sunday to Monday is horrible. The way to do it would be to have two or three Monday night games, and they could then broadcast the best one, the way they do every Sunday during the day.

  47. ahs2 says: Dec 12, 2011 10:13 AM

    Facemask review or not, that facemask had no bearing on the outcome of the game. Every attentive fan can pick out missed penalties after just about every game. The announcers, Billick and Branahan (sp?), pointed out a missed facemask on Pettigrew that was not called….we can’t pick and choose now, can we?

  48. ahs2 says: Dec 12, 2011 10:16 AM

    …or my favorite, the referee inexplicably turning an obvious 4th and inches into a first down…AND he was actually smirking as he signaled first down! What was that? the commentators also pointed that out, so I’m not delusional.

    Point is if you want perfect football, remove the human from the equation, until then we all get to eat it once in awhile

  49. The Prophet says: Dec 12, 2011 10:18 AM

    I’ve always hated that argument that the reason to skip review of plays is because it takes too much time. I will gladly sacrifice 2 minutes of my life if it means my team could win a game, be it regular season, playoff, or the Super Bowl. I think its a worthy tradeoff…

  50. joetoronto says: Dec 12, 2011 10:21 AM

    “There’s no guarantee that every Monday night game would be compelling, but after having to tolerate Chargers-Jaguars and Rams-Seahawks in an eight-day period, many would be willing to take their chances.”

    Whoever chose the night games should be fined and suspended.

  51. rmc1995 says: Dec 12, 2011 10:22 AM

    Remember when TNT or TBS used to have Sunday night games. The games were mostly B games. The idea was to showcase the average teams on a Prime Time level. MNF ratings were going south and when NBC got in the game they paid big money to have the marque game. MNF moved to cable and Sunday night moved to network. I doubt if NBC would want to have a competing flex game on MNF that could screw with ad money.

  52. iainnyj says: Dec 12, 2011 10:23 AM

    I agree that the heel should be of the same value as the toe in establishing in-bounds plays.

  53. norseyapper says: Dec 12, 2011 10:25 AM

    lionsfan54 says: For the 100th time… the ball was fumbled BEFORE the facemask penalty. So, even if it was called, it would have been a post-possession 15 yarder on the Lions. The game would still be over because the Lions recovered it.

    No, you’re completely wrong. The only time that would apply is if the penalty occurred after the play was over. Because the play was very much alive it should have been called and the Vikings given the ball at the 1/2 yard line, at which point I very much doubt that they would have scored anyway because, well you know, they suck.
    But still, before you go on a rant you should know the rules.

  54. dg0122 says: Dec 12, 2011 10:27 AM

    @lionsfan54- when the facemask happened the ball had just been fumbled and was loose- no one had established possession so it would have been the Lions ball still if the penalty was called.
    but …the refs missed the call…it be that way sometimes!

  55. pravin68 says: Dec 12, 2011 10:27 AM

    The big point is not “icing” the kicker. The big point is that this is not near certain FG distance as Garrett claimed it to be in the AZ game. This kicker has gone 2 for 4 from the 45=50 yard distance when you include the whistled dead attempts. That does not scream “reliable FG” distance for me which is to be differentiated from “probable FG” distance(which it is).

  56. tcdeg says: Dec 12, 2011 10:27 AM

    As a Texans fan I will admit I want no part of the Pats, Steelers, or Ravens in their stadiums (as evidenced by the beat down we received in Baltimore). They are very tough places to play, especially in the post season. But I will take Houston at home against these three teams any day, even Baltimore. The Ravens game was the last time Houston lost, and they seem to be hell bent on proving the don’t need marquee stars to win games.

    Does anyone know if any team has had this many injuries to this many star players in a season and still excelled?

  57. nyyankeedave says: Dec 12, 2011 10:29 AM

    Offensive line and red zone offense problems will most likely spell the end of the 49ers’ playoff hopes before the playoffs even start – and it’s a shame too, they’re gonna waste a darn good defense in the process -similar to how the SF Giants wasted a World Series caliber pitching staff this past season because they’re offense SUCKED -same with the Niners.

  58. pravin68 says: Dec 12, 2011 10:30 AM

    As far as replays i agree. Expand the replays, but make the replay “team” an extra official of the crew which would speed up plays. Now, if a coach wants a play to be examined closely, then he should be able to throw a replay flag for the head ref to examine this for more than a few seconds. But stuff like 15 yard penalties can be reviewed on an instantaneous basis and there would be no real delay. Onfield huddles by refs take longer.

  59. Kya_Tropic_Fan says: Dec 12, 2011 10:34 AM

    I have always thought that the rules for catches on the sidelines were BS. If a player running in the direction of the sidelines, dives, catches the ball, and drags his toes in bounds, it is a catch. I have no issue with that.

    But, if a player standing in the back of the end zone jumps up, makes a catch, comes down on his toes, in bounds, then puts his heels down and they end up on the back line, it is now out of bounds and incomplete. Why is that not a catch? Where as, if the player came down on his toes, and a team mate grabbed him and picked him up (not allowing the heels to touch the back line) it would be a catch. I have always been of the opinion that if a player has possession, establishes his toes in bounds, isnt bobbling the ball, and his heel comes down out of bounds it should still be a catch (otherwise you have to argue that dragging your toes is not a catch, since the heels came down out of bounds, just saying)

  60. cags777 says: Dec 12, 2011 10:39 AM

    flipadelphia, you’re saying the Vikings are never on the receiving end of bad calls? ARE YOU KIDDING ME? Yes, the CAPS lock had to be on because you are so wrong on this it isn’t even funny. There were a lot of bad calls yesterday and it wasn’t just in this game. London Fletcher should not have been flagged for a roughing the passer penalty. The Packers were holding Raiders players a lot and not getting called yesterday. So please, stop giving a pity party specifically to the Lions organization. Refs and the NFL gave them a gift yesterday and still made them relevant for the playoff hunt.

  61. Kya_Tropic_Fan says: Dec 12, 2011 10:42 AM

    I am not saying I favor the ability to review penalties or anything like that, but I never understood the argument that it “makes the game longer”. I do agree that it would make the game longer, however, I dont understand the NFL making that argument. A game is typically in the area of 3 hours long. That gives 2 hours of football, and one hour of commercials (just guessing). If replay review made it 2 hours of football, and 90 mins of commercials (in other words, 30 more minutes), how much money would that generate in advertising each weekend? How much each month? How much each season? Now consider the price of air time for the Super Bowl. If anything, the NFL should be wanting longer games…

  62. Carl Gerbschmidt says: Dec 12, 2011 10:53 AM

    A Monday night flex option.
    _____________________

    I am ok with no flex option on Monday Night. I enjoy watching team that I would not get chance to see. Even if they are horrible.

  63. pigskinswag says: Dec 12, 2011 11:17 AM

    “What would have been a stunning, 21-point comeback by the Vikings was thwarted by the failure of the officials to notice Lions linebacker DeAndre Levy grabbing and pulling the facemask of Minnesota quarterback Joe Webb.”

    Scott Norwood didn’t have a miss this bad.

  64. pencepost says: Dec 12, 2011 11:29 AM

    Regarding #7: Extending the pylons would be a problem for passes to those corners of the endzone. If they are much taller than the knees, there’s a pretty good chance they would occasionally interfere with the trajectory of the football or a receiver’s hand/arm positioning.

    A better idea would be a computer-generated projection upward that is visible on the replay review. Unlike the inaccurate first-down markers that align with first-down markers that move throughout the game, I would think a computer graphic projection of a pylon’s position could be done with very good accuracy since it is a fixed location. This could possibly be done all across the goal line, not just the corners.

  65. bcar1023 says: Dec 12, 2011 11:31 AM

    SMDH. The missed facemask on Webb get’s brought up but nothing about the missed facemask on Pettigrew or the phantom 1st down that was clearly not at or beyond the chain? Bad calls happen. Deal with it.

  66. southpaw2k says: Dec 12, 2011 11:31 AM

    tcdeg says:
    Dec 12, 2011 10:27 AM
    As a Texans fan I will admit I want no part of the Pats, Steelers, or Ravens in their stadiums (as evidenced by the beat down we received in Baltimore). They are very tough places to play, especially in the post season. But I will take Houston at home against these three teams any day, even Baltimore. The Ravens game was the last time Houston lost, and they seem to be hell bent on proving the don’t need marquee stars to win games.

    Does anyone know if any team has had this many injuries to this many star players in a season and still excelled?

    ————————————————

    You might need to go all the way back to last season for an example of that. The Packers lost Ryan Grant and Jermichael Finley early in the season, and Charles Woodson was hurt in the Super Bowl and couldn’t return, so it was on the shoulders of Aaron Rodgers from that point on.

    If you’re talking about a team losing its first two quarterbacks and making a title run, I can’t think of any recent examples, but the Patriots obviously lost Drew Bledsoe in Week 3 when Tom Brady stepped in and carried the team from there. I don’t remember any other notable injuries or players lost during the course of the season though.

  67. trollhammer20 says: Dec 12, 2011 11:32 AM

    Just so you know, not every fan lives within a 1-hour commute of the stadium and would have the luxury of rescheduling their lives to attend a Monday night game. I’m sure many fans find it enough of an inconvenience to re-plan based around a change from a 1 pm start to an 8:30 start.

    This is to say nothing of all the stadium workers (many of whom have other jobs) and extra policemen needed to staff such events. Having a low-paid stadium worker have to choose at this time of year between showing up at one job and showing up at another may cost them one of the jobs. Merry Christmas, Joe Beer Vendor, your kids get no toys because you’re getting canned from your holiday job at Target for not showing up.

    Yes, it would be nice if every single nationally-televised game were meaningful….and given a Seattle win puts them one game behind New York, Dallas, and Chicago (who Seattle plays next Sunday), it actually does have some meaning as far as potential playoff berths go.

    The Rams were considered favorites to win the West, and the Seahawks were defending division champs (don’t give me that 7-9 crap, they won a playoff game for crying out loud), so the idea of having them play at this time of year wasn’t absurd before the season started.

  68. bcar1023 says: Dec 12, 2011 11:33 AM

    Would the ball have been returned to the Vikings since it happened after the fumble? The Vikings didn’t get the ball back when Ponder was lit up after his interception due to infraction coming after possession change. Just wondering……

  69. Deb says: Dec 12, 2011 12:35 PM

    I’m not a Packers fan, but I refuse to believe a working-class guy like Mike McCarthy is going to wimp out on the chance to make history. Of course, he can–and should–pull his starters once they’ve put the game away. But McCarthy isn’t some Machiavellian puppet-master like Bill Polian. He’s a football guy, and I think he’ll play every game to win.

  70. worldchampiongbp says: Dec 12, 2011 12:41 PM

    southpaw2k says:
    Dec 12, 2011 9:16 AM
    11. 2008 Detroit Lions > 2011 Indianapolis Colts

    I’m beating a dead horse here – pun intended – but I’m just appalled at how pathetic the Colts are. Even though the Lions were blown out several times on their way to an 0-16 season in 2008, they could at least put points on the board occasionally. The Colts have not scored more than 24 points in a game this season, and I’m now wondering if there’s a way in Madden NFL to simulate a game between this year’s Colts squad and the 2008 Lions.

    *******************************************

    This humors me a little bit, because do you know how many times the lions scored more than 24 pts in 2008? 1 time, don’t even need an s to pluralize it. 1 single time.

  71. Pat says: Dec 12, 2011 12:58 PM

    For a dude who does this for a living, your blatant lack of knowledge concerning the rules is alarming.

  72. Pat says: Dec 12, 2011 1:00 PM

    The rule book specifically says that if unless your foot/feet come down in bounds and you drag them out, that if a first part of your foot lands in bounds, and then the latter part lands out of bounds, then the entire foot counts as out of bands. Read a book, guy.

  73. 3yrsnfl says: Dec 12, 2011 1:09 PM

    In the Packers-Raiders game, the Raiders picked up a fumble and returned for a touchdown. BUT, there was a clip on the RETURN. Upon further review, it was determined that it was NOT a fumble, but an incomplete pass. So, the Raiders did not get the ball, BUT were still penalized for the clip on the RETURN of the “incomplete pass”. If it was an incomplete pass, then the play was dead at that point. Was that a mistake by the officiating crew?

  74. rpkllc says: Dec 12, 2011 1:09 PM

    Why not schedule 2 games on Monday? Why just in week 1? In fact, why do we only have 3 games on Sundays? There is room for 4 games. First game between east coast teams start at 11 eastern time, next game starts at 2:30 eastern, next game starts at 6 eastern and the final game between west coast teams starts at 9:30 eastern.

  75. txfatmatt says: Dec 12, 2011 1:36 PM

    There should be 2 games Monday night – but start them within half an hour of each other so we can flip back and forth, avoiding laughers and commercials.

  76. skel420 says: Dec 12, 2011 2:02 PM

    I fly down from Canada to see three or four games a year and almost always include a Monday night game. For those Monday night games, I fly into town on a Monday morning. It would be damn expensive to pay airline change fees not to mention the hassle of rebooking car rentals and hotels. Monday night flex is a terrible idea.

  77. darrelb says: Dec 12, 2011 2:57 PM

    The games are already being extended half-an-hour by replay. Pretty soon it will be like watching and Yankees, Red Sox game – 5 hours.

    The answer is to get better referees. Younger, full-time, trained referees. As a 60 year old I’m sick and tired of seeing 55 year-old high school principals who work as NFL refs once a week blow calls week after week. How about some 25 – 40 year olds who can still see and move work as full-time refs?

  78. domehead says: Dec 12, 2011 3:11 PM

    In Re #9: “Though the Packers never will say it, they’re surely rooting for the Saints to finish with the second seed.”

    Careful what you ask…You may surely get it.

  79. rlouisbarrett says: Dec 12, 2011 4:10 PM

    This article implies that the Vikings would have scored given another play. That’s a bit much, especially since, according to Mike Pereira, the ball would have been spotted at the 5 yard line, half the distance to the goaline from where the penalty occurred. Not to mention Webb can’t throw to a wall, much less a receiver on a short field.

    That being said, why are the Lions not scoring in the second half? They should have easily put up 50 on the Vikes. I’d love to see them win a playoff game this year, but they won’t if they have second halves like that. Gross.

  80. downinbungleland says: Dec 12, 2011 4:44 PM

    Replace pylons with powerful lasers so refs can judge a TD by the burns on players or the ball.

  81. teal379 says: Dec 12, 2011 4:55 PM

    The idea that some how bad weather in January will stop the Packers blows my mind.

    Explain this to me – bad weather ONLY hurts the Packers – the team that lives and plays there but there’s NO WAY it hurts a dome team (Saints) or a team off the west coast like San Fran.

    Really……

    And before someone goes off about running games – Ryan Grant averaged over 8 yards per carry yesterday – GB can run the ball when they WANT to. It’s not often they WANT to.

  82. solman1 says: Dec 12, 2011 5:37 PM

    Why not schedule two games on Monday nite and nationally televise the best one….the other stays local. also agree on the heel idea. Don’t know why you get so much flak sometimes….think your pretty OK………..for an ex-lawyer.

  83. thirdandgoal says: Dec 12, 2011 6:02 PM

    @ darrelb : dead-on comment about the old refs.

  84. MossMoon2Packers says: Dec 12, 2011 6:13 PM

    Why shouldn’t the fans complain when the refs blow a call? As fans, it’s tough to swallow a blown call which changes the outcome of a game. So, why can’t there be off-field refs viewing the replays and helping-out with the ultimate decision on the field (via headsets)? That can happen in real-time, so the game would not be appreciably slowed. Why should we continue to accept mediocrity/bias from the refs???

  85. raqaiw says: Dec 12, 2011 8:52 PM

    bigtimetexanfan says: Dec 12, 2011 9:20 AM

    Texans > Patriots

    Texans > Steelers

    Texans = Ravens
    _____________________________________

    The 2011 Texans = The 2010 Chiefs.

    The similarities are staggering:
    Strong running game, weak QB play – Check
    Revived defense spurred by change of D coordinator – Check
    Weak schedule and lackluster division – Check
    Host a home playoff game and get absolutely dominated by a team from the AFC North – TBD

    Let’s just go ahead and pencil in “check” on that last one though.

  86. tellmeaboutitbaby says: Dec 13, 2011 1:14 PM

    Ravens get first seed in AFC because Roger Goddell says so, and Ray wil stab anyone who says otherwise!

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