Mike Florio talks with Corey Chavous of DraftNasty.com about the combine and the top draft prospects. Then, Florio gives the New York Giants and Chicago Bears their offseason to do list.
Mike Florio talks with Corey Chavous of DraftNasty.com about the combine and the top draft prospects. Then, Florio gives the New York Giants and Chicago Bears their offseason to do list.
Some would say Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman is a bad winner. On Sunday, he came off as a bad loser.
After the Seahawks absorbed a 19-17 loss to the 49ers, Sherman blamed the loss on the officiating.
“We didn’t project it to be this way,” Sherman said, via quotes distributed by the 49ers. “We expected to blow them out but they got the benefit of a few calls tonight throughout the game and that helps you especially on third down, we will see them again and it will be a different result.”
He reiterated that he expected a blowout for the Seahawks, and that the home team “got a few questionable calls on third down.”
Sherman also disputed the notion that the return of receiver Michael Crabtree, who missed the Week Two game between the teams due to a torn Achilles tendon, made a difference for the 49ers.
“It didn’t make a difference,” Sherman said. “It didn’t make a difference at all. . . . The penalties, that is what made the difference today.”
Regardless, the 49ers won. If there’s a rubber match in the postseason, the Seahawks most likely will host the game. And that’s what will make the difference in January.
When the Steelers were winning, the talk of quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and offensive coordinator Todd Haley not getting along subsided.
Now that the Steelers have lost two in a row, sliding out of the playoff picture, the dysfunction has begun to return.
Asked after Sunday’s loss to the Dolphins about the lack of a running game in the second half a season-killing loss to the Dolphins, Roethlisberger had this to say (via Aditi Kinkhabwala of NFL Network): “No idea. Coach Haley’s over there. You can ask him.”
Perhaps more telling was Roethslisberger’s response to the question of whether changes need to be made on offense. Per Kinkhabwala, Roethlisberger declined to answer.
At this point, it would be a surprise if Haley returns. Especially since the Steelers have made it clear that Roethlisberger will be back.
Even if Roethlisberger isn’t, the Haley experiment is failing — like many thought it would. If coach Mike Tomlin won’t be taking the fall, someone else needs to. That someone else likely will be Haley.
In a move that could draw NFL scrutiny, Cardinals defensive tackle Darnell Dockett stepped on the right hand of Rams left guard Chris Williams at the conclusion of a third-down running play in the third quarter of Arizona’s 30-10 win vs. St. Louis on Sunday.
After being pushed by Williams at the play’s end, Dockett strode toward Williams, who had put his weight on his right hand in an attempt to get off the ground. Dockett stepped on the hand, which led an animated discussion between the two players.
No penalties were called on the play.
There might still be better quarterbacks in the NFL than Drew Brees.
But there’s not a better blend of quarterback, coach and building than Brees, Sean Payton and the Superdome.
The three of them together haven’t lost since the end of the 2010 season (throwing out Payton’s 2012 suspension).
Brees was at his clinical best in the Saints’ 31-13 win over the Panthers, extending his dominance at home and in prime time.
Brees was 30-of-42 passing for 313 yards and four touchdowns, bouncing back from a three-and-out on his first possession to effectively end the game in the second quarter.
And that was against a defense that entered the game leading the league in points allowed, which was coming in on an eight-game win streak.
Brees also became the fifth quarterback to top the 50,000-yard plateau with a fourth-quarter touchdown pass, joining Brett Favre, Peyton Manning, Dan Marino and John Elway. While Manning was the previous fastest to that mark, needing 191 games, Brees just did it in his 183rd.
That speaks to his own ability, but also the right mix of atmosphere and a coach who knows how to maximize his talents.
Here are five more things we learned during Sunday Night Football:
1. The Saints didn’t drill the Panthers because Panthers safety Mike Mitchell called Brees “soft.”
They drilled them because Brees is a lot better at his job than Mitchell and his friends are at theirs.
The Panthers have survived despite a makeshift secondary rather than because of it, based on the fact they had been able to get pressure on opposing quarterbacks.
The best of the lot is cornerback Captain Munnerlyn, an undersized former seventh-rounder. Munnerlyn’s a solid nickel who is too often forced into physical mismatches because the Panthers don’t have better options.
But when that pressure they’ve counted on wasn’t there (Brees was sacked twice, with backup defensive end Mario Addison getting the line’s lone sack), against a quarterback at the top of his game in his own house, that secondary was exposed.
When you line up undrafted rookies and minimum-wage veterans, the guys up front have to be perfect. The moment they weren’t, the cast-offs were exposed.
2. Because of tiebreaker advantages, the 10-3 Saints are now close to wrapping up the NFC South, and with it the home game in the playoffs and a bye.
That’s huge, because other than the team they were just flattened by (the Seahawks), there’s not a team with a better vibe in their own building.
Now the Panthers have to be ready to take their show on the road, to play the Eagles or Cowboys or the Lions — assuming they don’t let this loss snowball on them.
The Panthers are just a game ahead of the 8-5 Cardinals, who have a head-to-head tiebreaker on them.
3. One of the biggest questions with the Saints this year, as they tried to fix a defense which set a league record for yards allowed last year, was where the pressure was coming from.
The answer is everywhere.
They got good rush from Junior Galette, which they needed. But they also got blitz pressure up the middle and from defensive backs off the edge, keeping the Panthers guessing throughout the night.
4. Panthers right guard Nate Chandler peeks over his shoulder for line calls prior to almost every snap. It almost makes it look like he’s been an offensive lineman for a few months.
Wait, that’s the case. The former defensive tackle has been forced into action as the Panthers sixth choice at the position this year.
Chandler’s part of a right side of the Panthers line that has been exploited this season. Along with right tackle Byron Bell, it’s a side of a line that has to be game-planned out of the game, with tight ends and roll outs to get away from the inevitable pressure.
5. The Saints win was comfortable enough that critiquing individual play calls might be considered quibbling.
But Payton made a couple of unusual decisions which could have been big in closer games.
Not taking a penalty early in the third quarter cost him an automatic first down, in exchange for a 2-yard difference. Then electing for a field goal later in the fourth (when a short fourth-down conversion would have sealed it) seemed like a curious choice.
Again, it’s a brush stroke on a masterpiece, but Payton had a few calls that weren’t as urgent as you’d think they would have been.
The Seahawks lost for the second time this season on Sunday and the cost was more than a game off their lead in the NFC West.
Coach Pete Carroll said after the game that linebacker K.J. Wright broke a bone in his foot during the 19-17 loss to the 49ers. Carroll said that the injury has a six week timetable for recovery, which would put Wright’s return deep into the playoffs if there aren’t any setbacks on the road back to health.
Wright has started all 13 games for the Seahawks this season and has proven versatile and effective enough to be an every down player on the outside for the Seahawks. That’s a big loss at any point in the season, but especially in the postseason.
Malcolm Smith should take over for Wright in the starting lineup when the Seahawks travel to New Jersey for a date with the Giants next weekend.
The league’s top-ranked defense is getting picked apart, and they don’t have long to catch their breath.
The Saints have raced to a 21-6 halftime lead on the Panthers, with Drew Brees at his surgical best.
The Saints have thrown for 183 yards and three touchdowns at halftime, after he was held to 147 yards last week against the Seahawks.
The difference is the Seahawks were able to get some pressure on Brees, and had personnel in the secondary to cover and make Brees make some choices.
The Panthers aren’t getting there with their front four tonight, and Brees is making them pay. He also gets the ball to start the second half, which could allow him to put this one out of reach quickly.
The Saints have gone up 14-6 over the Panthers in the second quarter, cashing in with touchdowns where the Panthers have settled for field goals.
After taking the lead with a nine-play, 80-yard touchdown drive, the Saints just tacked on another Marques Colston touchdown.
After an early three-and-out, Brees has caught fire, 11-of-15 passing for 107 yards and two scores.
The Panthers haven’t been able to get any pressure on him, and he’s picking apart a secondary that plays hard, but isn’t talented enough to match up with his multiple weapons.
No division leader is playing any worse right now than the Indianapolis Colts. But no team in the NFL has clinched its division, except the Colts.
With the Titans’ loss to the Broncos today, the Colts clinched the AFC South, becoming the first team in the NFL to clinch a division title. (The Seahawks and Broncos have also clinched playoff berths, though not division titles.)
But in the process of clinching the division, the Colts aren’t looking good. Today they got whipped by the Bengals, 42-28, and they’ve lost three of their last five.
Although the Colts were playing excellent football early this season, with wins over the 49ers, Seahawks and Broncos, they’ve been plagued by injuries and have declined significantly. Still, they’re assured of playing at least one home playoff game. No other team in the NFL can say that.
The Panthers have been successful at keeping the Saints fans from breaking noise records early.
But they haven’t been able to break into the end zone.
A pair of drives have chewed up most of the first quarter, but they had to settle for field goals both times for a 6-0 lead over the Saints.
The Panthers walked in with a plan to run, shorten the game and play field position. So far, it’s working, as the Saints went three-and-out on their first possession.
But you get the sense that’s only sustainable for so long.
With three sacks in Sunday’s win against the Rams, Cardinals outside linebacker John Abraham has passed Hall of Fame outside linebacker Lawrence Taylor and long-time star defensive end Leslie O’Neal for ninth place on the NFL’s all-time sack list, according to data from the Cardinals.
Abraham now has 133 career NFL sacks, a half-sack more than Taylor and O’Neal (132.5). Abraham now needs five sacks to move past John Randle and Richard Dent (137.5 career sacks apiece) to take over seventh place on the all-time list.
The 35-year-old Abraham has 11 sacks on the season for the Cardinals, with whom he signed in the offseason. He has recorded 10 sacks or more in eight different seasons (2001, 2002, 2005, 2007, 2008, 2010, 2012, 2013) for three different teams (Jets, Falcons, Cards).
According to the 2013 NFL Record and Fact Book, sacks “have been compiled” as a statistic since 1982.
The Cardinals got a win over the Rams on Sunday, but it looks like their promising rookie safety has seen his season come to a premature end.
Cardinals coach Bruce Arians said after the team’s 30-10 victory that safety Tyrann Mathieu “appears” to have torn the ACL in his left knee during the game. It’s a bad blow for a team still trying to fight their way into a Wild Card spot, an effort that suffered another blow on Sunday when the 49ers beat the Seahawks.
Mathieu was injured while returning a free kick that followed a Cardinals safety in the third quarter of the game. Mathieu tried to leave the field under his own power, but he wasn’t able to make it to the sideline and wound up needing a cart to help him to the back.
He’ll presumably have an MRI on Monday so doctors can confirm their suspicions, but Mathieu isn’t waiting to start coping with the bad news. Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic reports that one of the other Cardinals said Mathieu was bawling in the locker room after getting the initial diagnosis from doctors.
With the NFL’s officiating function under siege, a key change could be looming.
Per a league source with knowledge of the situation, the Competition Committee’s annual offseason discussions regarding officiating have in recent years included a conversation about removing the instant replay function from the game site and transferring it to a central location — presumably to the league office in New York City.
That possibility is expected to be on the offseason agenda once again.
Peter King of TheMMQB.com explained during Football Night in America that, apart from a desire to avoid the kind of head-scratching decision made by referee Jeff Triplette in Cincinnati on Sunday, the move would help trim the total time of NFL games.
We made that case back in January of 2012. Plenty of time currently is wasted with the dog-and-pony show that currently unfolds on the playing field, with the referee trotting to the sideline, donning the Dukakis-in-the-tank headset, talking to the guys upstairs before the replays are shown, getting under the hood to watch the various replays, emerging from the mobile booth to have more discussions, determining the precise ball placement if necessary, informing one or both coaches about the decision, trotting back to the field, and explaining the outcome to the rest of the world.
The mistake made Sunday by Triplette, who overturned a call on the field of no touchdown without indisputable visual evidence, resulted in a five-minute, 13-second gap between the end of the play to the announcement from Triplette.
With the average length of games currently at three hours and eight minutes for 2013 (according to King), centralizing replay would streamline it.
Besides, if the referees are going to continue to apply the wrong standard to the replay function, substituting their own judgment for the question of whether indisputable visual evidence exists to overturn the ruling on the field, the referees have no business juggling that role with everything else they do during a game. It’s far better to export the function to the league office, like the NHL already does.
Led by impressive passing from Carson Palmer and another strong outing from their stout defense, the Cardinals defeated the visiting Rams 30-10 on Sunday in Arizona.
However, in victory, the Cardinals lost key rookie safety Tyrann Mathieu to a left knee injury suffered on the return of a third-quarter free kick. Mathieu was carted off the field as he tried to run onto the sideline after being tackled on the return, which occurred as Arizona got the ball back after a safety.
Palmer completed 27-of-32 passes for 269 yards and one TD for the Cardinals, who improved their record to 8-5. They are one game behind San Francisco (9-4) for the final NFC wild-card spot.
Palmer’s top target Sunday was wideout Larry Fitzgerald, who hauled in 12 passes for 96 yards, including a seven-yard second-quarter TD.
The Cardinals’ defense helped break the game open in the first five minutes of the third quarter.
First, linebacker Karlos Dansby intercepted Rams quarterback Kellen Clemens and scored a 24-yard touchdown 18 seconds into the third quarter. Then, on the Rams’ third drive of the quarter, Cardinals outside linebacker John Abraham sacked Clemens in the endzone for a safety, extending Arizona’s lead to 23-3 with 9:10 left in the third.
The Rams would cut the lead to 23-10 with 14:57 left in regulation on a one-yard TD run by Zac Stacy. However, St. Louis (5-8) would get no closer.
Rams rookie wide receiver Tavon Austin appeared to suffer an injury upon being tackled at the end of a 56-yard run that set up Stacy’s touchdown. While Austin would return to the game, the Rams would later rule him out for the rest of the contest.
Clemens completed 16-of-27 passes for 181 yards for the Rams. He was intercepted twice. The Cardinals outgained St. Louis 369-257, converted 8-of-14 third downs and held the ball for a little more than 35 minutes.
Eli Manning claims not to remember why he and his family didn’t want him to play for the Chargers when he entered the NFL and he might not be able to remember Sunday’s 37-14 loss to the team he once spurned either.
After all, the blowout losses have to be running together a little bit at this point. Was it against San Diego or Denver when the Giants defense impersonated a sieve? Did the Chiefs, Chargers or Panthers defense cause the Giants offense to flail around aimlessly? They’ll be plenty of time to figure it out since the Giants have no officially been eliminated from playoff contention.
Manning was 20-of-32 for 259 yards on Sunday and threw his 19th and 20th interceptions on the year. That’s more than anyone but Geno Smith, who has also thrown 20 on the year. That’s likely another piece of information that Manning would like to erase from his memory but, much like the way things played out in San Diego, too many people are aware of what happened for it to disappear completely.
Philip Rivers has no need to live out Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, however. He was 21-of-28 for 249 yards and three touchdowns to continue a strong 2013 season that has quieted the worries he generated with his play in the 2012 season. At 6-7, it may be too late for the Chargers to make a real playoff push but they’ll remain alive for at least one more week and can head toward next season with the knowledge that their quarterback can still get the job done.
For the last week, the entire NFL world has hailed the Seattle Seahawks as the best team in football. Today the San Francisco 49ers reminded everyone that there’s still a whole lot of football to play.
In a tough, physical battle between these two NFC West rivals, the 49ers won 19-17 and made a big statement that they’re still Super Bowl contenders, even if the Seahawks remain atop the division.
San Francisco running back Frank Gore had a big day that was topped with a 51-yard run late in the fourth quarter, which helped set up the game-winning field goal in the final minute. That field goal made Phil Dawson a perfect 4-for-4 on the day.
The 49ers’ defense did a good job of keeping Marshawn Lynch in check, and although Russell Wilson was efficient and effective with his passing, the 49ers were able to contain him for the most part, and he didn’t make many big plays. If the 49ers’ defense can hold Seattle’s offense to 17 points, they’ll take that every time.
The Seahawks are still the favorites to win the division and earn home-field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs, but the 49ers, who will likely be an NFC wild card team, have at least made the case that they’re a team to be reckoned with in the postseason.
Still, the good news for the Seahawks is that if these teams meet a third time, it will be in Seattle.