Week 14 Morning Aftermath

Now that we’ve locked up a bye week for the first week of the playoffs, the Morning Aftermath will be resting its starters for the balance of the regular season. 

But since I’ve yet to convince Rosenthal and/or MDS to play the role of Curtis Painter and/or Drew Willy, I’ve got to take all the snaps.  So I’ll get my rest by mailing it in.

I just hope I can avoid an injury.

1.  Colts’ plan to rest starters begins and ends with Polian.

Throughout the past week, we’ve suggested that the Colts’ intention to rest starters upon securing home-field advantage for the playoffs is the result of a strategic decision made when the team first faced the issue of meaningless regular-season games, and that the team now refuses to revisit the wisdom of that decision, opting instead to zealously defend it.

Based on team president Bill Polian’s comments during NBC’s Football Night In America and the follow-up observations from former Colts coach Tony Dungy, it’s now obvious that Polian reached this strategic decision long before arriving in Indianapolis.

As Dungy pointed out, Polian applied the approach during his time in Buffalo, which resulted in four straight Super Bowl appearances.

But times change, and circumstances will at times counsel in favor of a different approach.

Over the past four years (some of you should be able to recite this by now), AFC teams that earned a bye are 3-5 in the divisional round.  And the Colts (say it with me) have been involved in three of those games, and the team that secured the bye lost each of them.

This year, Indianapolis will be hosting one of four teams in the divisional round.  With the Chargers on track to nail down the other AFC bye, the Colts can expect to punctuate their extended period of rest with a game against the likes of the Bengals, Broncos, Jaguars (who played the Colts tough in Indy), Dolphins (who played the Colts tough in Miami), or, yes, the Patriots (who played the Colts tough in Indy).  And whoever it is will have become battle tested via a playoff game while the Colts had their toes up, Adalius Thomas style.

Still, Polian is resolute.  The goal is to “get players who are playing hurt as healthy as they can be for the playoffs,” Polian told Dan Patrick of FNIA.  (Polian might have been more convincing if he had been able to maintain eye contact with the camera for more than 0.076 seconds at a time.  Maybe he was simply on the lookout for possible assassins.)

“That’s our number one priority,” Polian added.  “Be healthy in January when the money’s on the line.”

The number one priority, however, should be to have more points that the other team.  And recent history tells us that taking it easy while future opponents are still going hard after wins could keep that from happening when the team that took it easy faces a team that keep pushing.

Rodney Harrison of FNIA at one point seemed inclined to agree with that concept, pointing out that “you feel like you lose that mental and physical edge if you don’t play.”  But he ultimately deferred to Dungy, reasoning that the Colts aren’t built to continue to take a weekly pounding, especially in light of the fact that the team has a small-but-fast defense.

Another potentially legitimate concern when it comes to getting and staying healthy is depth, or more accurately the lack of it.  With so many players being paid big money (Peyton Manning, Reggie Wayne, Dallas Clark, Dwight Freeney, Bob Sanders), there’s less money available for second stringers.  So as many starters as possible need to be healthy.

Still, we don’t think it means that the Colts should assume a preseason posture at a time when other teams are necessarily reaching postseason form via their efforts to qualify for a berth in the tournament.

And that leads to an important point that Patrick made to Polian, asking whether the Colts owe it to the teams who are pursuing playoff berths to bring something more than their C-plus game against the likes of the Jaguars on Thursday night and the Jets ten days later.  (The 2007 Browns likely are still thinking, “Hell yes they do.”) 

Said a slightly-testier-than-usual Polian, “We earned the right to be where we are now.  We did it the old-fashioned way.  We earned it.  And that’s all we owe anyone.”

Actually, the Colts owe it to themselves to be in position to win when the games count.  And we’re not sure that this is the best way to lay the foundation for a mid-January win, especially since the Colts will now be under even more pressure to hold serve at home after essentially taking a month off with pay.

For more takes on Sunday’s game, including a skewering of Brandon Marshall, a look at whether the Saints are on the same page, Norv Turner’s contractual status, the looming Packer invasion in Pittsburgh, the Cowboys’ one-game season, our take on the Randy Moss mess, the AFC wild-card morass, a call for change in Tampa, and a farewell to Bill Sheridan’s NFL career, click the link below.

2.  Brandon Marshall still has a long way to go.

The Brandon Marshall act-mature-so-I-can-get-paid tour hit a bump in the road Sunday, after he hauled in an NFL-record 21 receptions in Denver’s loss to the Colts.

Key word:  loss.

“Whenever you accomplish something like that,” Marshall said after the game, “it definitely feels good.”

So it feels good to lose?  To fall two games behind the Chargers with three to play in the race for the AFC West crown?  To allow a clusterfudge of seven wild-card teams to gather at your gate?

Marshall at least gets partial credit for trying to act like he was troubled by the fact that his effort didn’t deliver the most important prize in team sports — a victory. 

“[A]t the end of the day we have a goal, and our ultimate goal is to win games,” Marshall said.  “I’d definitely trade in a couple of those catches for a win, anytime.  So, yes, bittersweet.”

He’d trade “couple of those catches” for a win?  How about trading all of them for a win?  How about offering to convert his stat line into six drops, three balls clanging off his facemask, and one slip-and-fall on a McDonald’s bag if 8-5 would instead be 9-4?

We realize that the position of receiver attracts and/or breeds self-centered athletes who care more about their own stats than team objectives.  But when Marshall is trying to persuade the Broncos and/or other potential suitors that he gets it, moments like this tell us that he instead has realized that he needs to pretend that he gets it, until he gets his money.

3.  Saints need to get on the same page.

Before Sunday night, it was believed that, while the Colts would be putting their trip to the postseason on cruise control while they work on their laptops (what could go wrong?), the Saints would keep pushing for 16-0.

Michael Irvin’s argument that he would give up three Super Bowl rings and a Hall of Fame bust for a single 19-0 season might have caused some of the players to feel even more strongly about the quest for perfection.

But not all of them. 

Linebacker Jonathan Vilma, the leader of the team’s much-improved defense, doesn’t care about winning each of the next three games, if it keeps them from winning each of the next three.

“To us, the world championship is a lot more important than 16-0,” Vilma told Peter King of NBC.  Vilma also suggested that the stress of winning each week ultimately kept the Patriots from achieving that goal.

Others (including former Patriots safety Rodney Harrison) have suggested that the pressure of continuously winning ultimately caught up to the Patriots when it mattered most — in the Super Bowl.

But did the Pats fail to turn 18-0 into 19-0 because of the stress and strain that arose more than a month earlier, during the push to the first perfect sixteen-game season?  They handled the Jaguars in the divisional round by double digits, and the AFC title game against San Diego was never really in doubt.

We tend to think that the ankle injury suffered by Tom Brady against the Chargers had a lot more to do with the loss in the Super Bowl, especially since the Giants had the manpower up front to continuously pressure the Patriots’ quarterback.  Throw in one of the flukiest (but most compelling) plays in league history, and the underdogs were able to eke out a three-point win.

Still, there definitely will be added pressure during every postseason game if a loss would be the first loss the Saints suffer this season.  That said, the quest for 16-0 won’t necessarily leave them in worse position to win the Super Bowl.

Unless Drew Brees injures an ankle.

Regardless, the Saints players need to be on the same page.  Either 16-0 is a team goal, or it isn’t.  Otherwise, any adversity they might encounter in the postseason could cause finger pointing regarding the impact of the pursuit (or non-pursuit) of perfection on their predicament.

4.  Chargers should lock Turner up now.

We pointed out last week that the Chargers were facing a dilemma regarding coach Norv Turner, whose contract expires after the 2010 season.  Extend the deal too early, and the Chargers could regret it later.  Wait too long, and his price tag could go up dramatically.

Ultimately, we suggested that the Chargers should see whether Turner can beat the Cowboys in Dallas.

Now that he has, a report has emerged that the Chargers will extend his contract after the regular season ends.

But why wait?  Not long after the regular season ends, someone will be driving the coaching wage scale into new heights, giving deals worth $10 millon or more per year to Bill Cowher and/or Mike Shanahan.  With Brad Childress already pushing the going rate for coaches who haven’t won a playoff game into the range of $5 million, Norv could be looking at $7 million or $8 million per year.

So if the decision to wait until the end of the regular season is the result of a hard and fast rule that the Chargers don’t extend coaching contracts during the regular season, the Chargers would be wise to make an exception to this rule and get the deal thing done long before the market reaches new heights.

5.  Black and yellow?  Meet green and yellow.

Over the past several years, teams hosting the Pittsburgh Steelers have experienced a rare dynamic.

The good news?  The stands are always full.

The bad news?  There are a lot of yellow propellers.

This week, there might be a little karma unfolding at Heinz Field.  As one member of the organization told us over the weekend, “Steelers fans are going to find out how it feels to have Steelers fans invade your home stadium.”

Next Sunday, the Packers come to town.  Whether the cheeseheads are making the trek from Wisconsin or other locations, they’ll gladly be buying the tickets that Steelers fans gladly will be selling.  (And the folks at StubHub gladly will be taking their cut.)

But Steelers fans might want to think twice about throwing in the Terrible Towel.  The home team is still alive for a return to the postseason, and that five-game losing streak needs to end at some point.

It has to.

6.  Cowboys’ season comes down to one game.

Two years ago, the New York Giants found the confidence to conquer the NFL, via a meaningless game.

Before hosting the Patriots for a Week 17 affair that meant nothing to neither team, the Giants were believed to be headed for a one-and-done postseason exit.  They had nailed down the fifth seed, guaranteeing that they’d be hitting the road for a playoff game — and very likely hitting the road from the playoffs when it ended.

But instead of treating the last piece in the Pats’ 16-0 puzzle as a preseason game (are you paying attention, Bill Polian?), the Giants went for the win — and nearly got it.

Five weeks later, the Giants scored a three-point victory over the same team in a slightly more meaningful game.

The Cowboys could muster similar confidence at the Superdome on Saturday, since they’d likely end up back there again at some point in January, if the Cowboys make it to the playoffs and, for the first time since December 28, 1996, win at least one game.

If the Cowboys stumble badly against the Saints, who quietly have beaten Dallas five straight times, a “why bother?” vibe could invade the current “here we go again” thing and grease the skids for a “five straight losses to end the season” reality. 

But if the Cowboys can suck it up and stick it to the Saints, the ‘Boys will be able to puff up their chests and push for the postseason, knowing that they can play in January with the best teams the NFC has to offer. 

A loss at home in a high-profile game against one of the few winning teams on a largely soft schedule could also inject plenty of doubt into the mindset of a team that currently regards itself as invincible.

7.  We think Moss wants to be in Minnesota.

In less than a week, Patriots receiver Randy Moss has been exposed as a malcontent who by all appearances is no longer interested in giving his all to help his team win.

Excuse me while I check the calendar — it all of a sudden feels like 2006 again.  Or maybe it’s 2004.  Or perhaps it’s December 2001, when he first uttered the phrase, “I play when I wanna play.”

But we can’t blame Moss for acting in a manner consistent with his makeup.  He’s a supremely gifted athlete, with the attention span of a nine-year-old.

And when his attention strays, he can’t — or won’t — flip the switch. 

So now Patriots fans are waking up to the warning that Mike Freeman sounded back in September, when he noticed not much “wanna play” in Randy during a Week Three game against the Falcons.

At the time, Freeman was villified for suggesting that Moss might be retreating to his true nature.  And we took a lot of flak as well for daring to suggest that Moss’ eyes might have strayed back to Minnesota, where something special is happening for the first time since his first season there.

The events of the last five days have convinced us that Moss wants out of New England.  The next question is whether he has his next destination in mind.

After the 2007 season, when he became a free agent and no one broke the bank for him, Moss accepted a three-year, $27 million deal to stay with the Patriots.  The Eagles were the only other team seriously pursuing him, but they’ve since added DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin via the draft.

Even though Vikings coach Brad Childress (who surely bears a few scars on his soul based on a couple of seasons with T.O.) probably wouldn’t want Moss, quarterback Brett Favre could persuade “Chilly” to chillax on this one, and to trust Brett to be able to push the buttons necessary to get — and to keep — Randy’s head in the game.

Indeed, it would be another chapter in Favre’s “stick it to Ted Thompson” trophy case; Favre reportedly lobbied Thompson aggressively to trade for Moss in 2007, but Thompson refused to do it.

Sure, Moss eventually would once again become a pain in the butt.  But for one year, if the team is winning and if he’s getting the ball and if he’s genuinely beloved (as he surely would be if he comes back to the Twin Cities), it could work.

And he knows it could work.

And that could be one of the reasons why it’s currently not working for him in New England.

8.  Losses by Broncos, Jags open up AFC wild-card field.

In a season of “haves” and “have nots,” the AFC now features a cluster of “have somes.”

With Denver falling to 8-5 and Jacksonville landing at 7-6 on Sunday, there are two wild-card berths firmly in play — and four times that many teams in realistic position to snatch one of them.

Denver currently leads the way, followed by a cluster of four 7-6 teams (Jaguars, Dolphins, Jets, and Ravens), and a trio of 6-7 squads (Steelers, Titans, Texans). 

With the Broncos looking at visits from the Raiders and Chiefs wrapped around Brian Dawkins’ return to Philly, 10-6 is looking like a fairly sure thing.  For the rest of the bunch, it’s anyone’s guess as to how it will shake out.

The schedule features four likely elimination games among the seven teams, with Miami visiting Tennessee on Sunday, Texans-Dolphins and Ravens-Steelers the following weekend, and Dolphins-Steelers in Week 17.

In the end, however, we expect to eventually get a full refresher on all of the applicable tiebreakers, and specific details regarding the manner in which various permutations will extend and/or extinguish a team’s season.  For the next two weeks, however, the franchise whose playoff hopes are still flickering should worry about winning, especially since all of them have through 13 games either won only once more than they’ve lost, or vice-versa. 

9.  Bucs need to pull the plug on Raheem Morris.

Despite a couple of decades of humiliation, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers currently are on track to have their worst season since entering the league winless in 1976.  And since the NFL played only 14 games in 1976, the Bucs could be setting a single-season franchise record for futility, if they lose to the Seahawks, Saints, and Falcons.

So why isn’t first-year coach Raheem Morris on the hot seat?

Though some members of the local media are rousing rabble, Morris has escaped (for now) the unblinking red eye of the national press, due largely to the perception that the Glazers are less concerned about winning football games than they are about saving money.

At some point, though, Morris must be accountable.  He hired offensive and defensive coordinators that he already has thrown overboard — a sure sign of dysfunction, poor judgment, and/or disloyalty.  Besides, the team stinks.  With each passing week, Packers coach Mike McCarthy should actually be on the hot seat for actually losing to this team.

But if the Glazers are inclined to keep Morris around simply because they don’t want to finance another buyout, they should simply reassign him to defensive coordinator, and hire someone who’s truly ready to be a head coach.

Morris wasn’t, and the folks in Tampa need to demand that the absentee landlords running the franchise do something to rectify the situation.

10.  Nice knowing you, Bill Sheridan.

Giants defensive coordinator Bill Sheridan, 50, spent twenty seasons with a smattering of college programs before landing in the NFL four years ago.

After this year, Sheridan likely will be heading back to the NCAA level.

Sheridan has been a Ray Handley-style disaster in his first season as defensive coordinator of the Giants.  Though injuries surely have played a role, someone’s head has to roll for Sunday night’s effort, which resulted in 45 points being surrendered to an Eagles team that scored nine against the Raiders.

In the end, 38 points and 512 yards of offense from Kevin Gilbride and company — usually more than enough to win an NFC East game — were wasted, and now the Giants are two games and a tiebreaker behind the Eagles for the division lead.

But it wasn’t New York’s first defensive collapse of the year.  Sure, they shut out Tampa (who hasn’t?) and they held the Raiders to seven points.  But the Giants have surrendered 30 or more points in five of 13 games, and 20 or more nine times.

So the Giants are teetering on the brink of elimination, with a Monday night trip to face a surging Redskins team on tap. 

Though this Steelers-style collapse likely will result in plenty of changes in New York, the most obvious and likely candidate for cancellation of his dental plan (and all other forms of compensation) is Sheridan.

78 responses to “Week 14 Morning Aftermath

  1. We get the point. The Colts shouldn’t pack it in. They should try to win every game. Please move on to another story.

  2. So much for Favre and the Vikes dropping off. They absolutely DOMINATED a very good Bengals team. Last week was an abberation, every team has bad games once in a while.

  3. As a 45-year Colts fan, it pains me to think about what this pigheaded policy will mean to my team’s chances to reach the SB. In the end, however, Polian has the only voice that matters on this issue. And come mid-January, that voice will be saying “I can’t believe we are one-and-done in the playoffs again.” These Colts are as the Atlanta Braves of the NFL – superior in the regular season; so much nothing in the postseason (except for one brief shining moment they call Camelot … or the Super Bowl).

  4. The Vikings destroyed the Bungles. Any fan who thinks the Bungles are going to the Super Bowl anytime soon is delusional. Ha!
    Put a fork in the Crybabies season. Jerry Jones is a horrible owner. He ruined that organization. He is no football man. Doesn’t know a thing about the sport. Ha!

  5. “And we’re not sure that this is the best way to lay the foundation for a mid-January win…”
    Things Florio was/is sure of:
    1) The Pats were going to kill the Giants in the Super Bowl because the Giants dared to “mouth off” and the Pats couldn’t be beat.
    2) All WV players are going to be monster players in the NFL and are “steals” in the draft.
    3) The injury report and it’s lack of enforcement would result in a “NBA style” scandal any day now (for the last three years).
    4) Kickers would routinely hit the Jumbotron at Dallas Stadium.
    5) Washington Redskins would represent the NFC in the Super Bowl.
    6) (This one still has an outside shot) Florio’s beloved Steelers would repeat as Super Bowl champs this year.
    Maybe you ought be less “sure” about things Florio and just present the other side as a plausible argument to consider.

  6. Sorry Marshall couldn’t be adequately literal for you Florio…I’m pretty sure if you asked him to trade 21 catches for no catches and a win, he’d say yes. He’d HAVE to say yes. But he would. I’d be excited to set that record, too.

  7. So the concept for the Colts is to rest the people who are banged up enough that they are healthy for the playoffs… Uhhh… Who on the Colts ISN’T banged up a little bit??? They had 23 players on their injury report this week… (for those keeping track that over 40% of the team).
    What idiotic person wouldn’t try to get banged up guys healthy?

  8. On the one hand you want to be sharp for the playoffs. On the other you don’t want to risk your stars getting hurt in meaningless games right before the playoffs. So for coaches it’s a lose/lose decision.

  9. Why should we expect the first-round bye teams to win? Leaving aside that 8 games is a very small sample, what really differentiates the first round bye teams from those who play in the wildcard round? Usually, it’s a game or two in the regular season, which usually has to do with things like strength of schedule, injuries, fumble luck etc. The teams that emerge from WC weekend have already indicated they belong in the playoffs…by virtue of beating other playoff teams. The whole idea of “momentum” is ridiculous…it’s something you know teams have because they win, and know they don’t have because they lose.
    And, speaking as a SD fan, I’d sure take a decade of 12-win seasons and a SB win anyday…

  10. Wow Florio… way to hate on Marshall and take what he said completely out of context. He said his number 1 priority is winning. That doesn’t mean there aren’t OTHER priorities, just that they aren’t the main one. The guy did everything he freaking could, set an NFL record in the process, and still lost the game, but he still had a fantastic game, and he can be proud of it. There really isn’t much more that he could have done personally.

  11. Seriously, get off of Marshall. I’m not a Marshall or a Broncos fan…give the guy a break. Yes, he wanted to win. And I’m sure the win is very important to him. But he was asked about the record breaking day, and he said he felt good about breaking the record. So what?

  12. Either 16-0 is a team goal, or it isn’t.
    Of course it’s a team goal. Every team will try to win every game they play. But some of the players won’t be as upset if they lose a regular season game as they will if they lose a playoff game. Some players want to win EVERY game, other players want to make sure they win the BIG game. But they all want to win every game they play.

  13. I’m not exactly sure why most Vikings fans (except PervyHarvin) on here were so incredibly worried last week about the Vikings. They got beat handily by the Cardinals, but it didn’t seem to me that it was anything that a little better scheme or a little more work would fix. In other words, they didn’t have a deficiency like the Bengals have, no one to stretch the field with Ochocinco. They just seemed to play a bad game. Not to say they can’t struggle again with a dynamic passing game like Arizona or the Saints or maybe even the Eagles (hell, anytime you have Madieu Williams as your safety, the chance is there to struggle mightily), but it all seems to be mental lapses and coverage breakdowns, not impossible to fix.
    As for the Bengals, I said this on another article for a local paper, they have no other receiver than Ochocinco that plays against defenses. I would compare the rest of the receivers with AI programs, ending up in their exact spot with no variations based on the defense, except AI programs have more creativity than that group. The NFL passing game is all about blink of an eye adaptation and the only WR who seems to know that is Chad.
    Without a tight end or another deep threat like Chris Henry to take a safety away from Chad or catch a ball when 85 is tripled covered, the passing game is pedestrian on a good day and horrible every other time out.
    In addition to that, and don’t take this as an excuse for their loss, the HL judge on the left side of the field owes the NFL his resignation. He threw a personal foul penalty on J Joseph for getting headbutted by Shiancoe. How does that work again? You could tell, Joseph said something to him and he held it against him the rest of the day. When Palmer did the QB sneak on 3rd and 1 and obviously got a first down, he ran to the right side of the field, the HL judge from the other side came running in where he was down and luckily, marked the ball correctly. The HL judge on the left came running in a full 2 yards behind where Palmer ended up, trying to take away his first down. Sure, the umpire made a mistake on that running into the kicker call, but the HL consistently made calls against the Bengals and I have a hard time believing it wasn’t intentional. I haven’t seen someone from the left make so many bad calls since Obama took office, so either it was intentional or he’s even more incompetent than the President. Either way, turn in your whistle.
    Again, don’t hit me up with the “fans blaming their loss on the refs” nonsense. Two blatantly bad calls and 2 other marginal ones (can’t remember those circumstances) don’t erase a 20 point deficit. The Bungles reappeared and got destroyed. The refs just irked me as I’m sure the running into the kicker irked the Vikings fans.

  14. Really the decision to sit starters hurts me in Fantasy Football. Though I do agree I feel it will come to bite them come January when starters aren’t playing very well because haven’t played meaningful football in a month.
    As far as Marshall goes who cares. He set a NFL record and one that’ll be tough to beat for a long time. Even in a loss doing so is always a great accomplishment.

  15. Ideally you rest players not by not playing them but by playing them sparingly. As an example once the Ccards win the division I would start Matt Leinart for the first half, play Brian St Pierre in the 3rd and let Kurt Warner (designated 3rd QB) come in the 4th. Although I wouldn’t let Warner play against Green Bay since its looking likely we will play them back to back.

  16. Hey Moron, that means you Florio, B Marsh would obviously trade them all for a W. Your like a nagging woman trying to get inside his head off one comment, grow up.

  17. Dear Mike Florio,are you serious with your Brandon Marshall comment,if he trades in half his catches they would not even have been remotely in the game,you say trade in all his catches for a win then they score 3 points. Brandon Marshall did his job which is get open/make catches/score touchdowns/make big plays!!! Without his selfish catches they score 3 points. He caught the ball 21 time cause he did his job and got open 21 times. Also tell me this Mike Florio if you got hired at a base salary to do your job writing articles and after three years you are the top writer,the most popular writer the most productive writer wouldn’t you want a raise?

  18. Regarding the Colts and whether to keep playing or not, how difficult is it to just find a balance? You keep playing to win, yet you also use your undefeated, home-field-clinching record, to enable you to rotate in your rookies and role-players a lot more than usual. Your starters get relative rest while staying in game shape.
    This isn’t rocket science.

  19. why does florio only qoute AFC record of 3-5. Doesn’t the NFC have bye weeks also in the playoffs. What are their records? does the Bye only hurt the Colts and other teams? Give it up and move on.

  20. Chargers should lock up Turner? Why? What has he done? I know he’s not a very good head coach but locking him up is a bit extreme, isn’t it? Just fire him after they choke in the playoffs again and get a real head coach.

  21. Florio’s take on Marshall is comical when juxtaposed with all the other “media” opinions on that interview that came to the exact opposite conclusion…that Marshall is growing up and is starting to get it.
    I guess it’s all about interpretation, I saw the whole interview and the guy looked composed and bummed even after setting an NFL record. I didn’t get the impression Florio did at all and I’m usually with him on his criticism of the DIVA receivers.

  22. Florio,
    Are you serious about Brandon Marshall? The guy does something no NFL player has ever done EVER and you want to rake him over the coals for not saying he would rather have zero catches and the victory? What a clueless joke you are. Did you ever play football or any sport in your life outside of Little League or Pop Warner? So when Marshall gets AFC offensive POW award are you gogin to post that he should not have accepted the award becaus his team lost? Since the NFL is such a team game then why do some guys hold out? Because they are selfish right? I swear Florio you sound like a right winger covering Democratic politics. You act like it is your job to be the moral authority of the NFL. You are a hack lawyer that likes to watch pro football. I bet you didn’t even follow pro football until Fantasy Leagues became popular. In other words, you are just a fantasy geek trying to be a professional football writer. And the geeks at NBC lapped up your nonsense.

  23. Bottom line on Marshall, did he do everything he possibly could to help his team win. I think 21 catches would indicate the answer is “yes.” He may not be as capable with an interview, always saying what the media is hoping to hear, but I doubt that anyone can say that his effort yesterday was in any way suspect. What more do you want from the guy that his 100% best effort?
    By the way, any player who would down-play an accomplishment like that to appear falsely contrite is a lying hypocrite and you know it. He shouldn’t have to be excused for being proud of that feat.

  24. I am not even a fan of Brandon Marshall but HE SET AN NFL RECORD and not just any record. MOST RESEPTIONS IN A GAME is no minor accomplishment. I don’t know what more the man could have done, wait… he could have extended the record. What exactly do you want from the man? He did everything he could to win but in the end they still lost. He has the consolation prize of knowing that in defeat he did something special and in the process showed his team that he wasn’t packing it in even when they spotted Indy 21 pts before spectator seats had even gotten warm (IN A DOME FOR CHRIST SAKES) Give me a break, your point is invalid and you just come off sounding like a bitter little bitch who just wants to lash out because, since birth, you have lacked the skills to even play Pop-Warner. The man will be signed by a team for a HUGE contract and suitors will be falling in line to get a shot at him.

  25. Hope Colts rest starters, with their remaining schedule they can still win out.
    Pats can’t be only team to finish the season 16-0 and not win a SB.

  26. The Packers need to be wary of the Steelers this coming Sunday. Although they have an excellent defense, the Packers offense hasn’t been good for all 4 quarters. The Steelers won’t go out quietly…expect a rough game for the visitors, even if the Packers end up winning.

  27. Seriously, Florio, if you are going to keep moving this post towards the top of the page can you put the click-through link after the second or even third, fourth, or fifth paragraph?
    It’s tiresome hearing the same thing over and over again, even more so if you have to scroll past it over and over and over and over and over again.

  28. Florio, the Brandon Marshall criticism was misguided.
    Marshall played a great game albeit with his normal quotient of drops. With him you have to accept a few drops in exchange for the ability to change the game almost every time he touches the ball.
    If you want to place blame for losing the game send it off in the direction of McDaniels not Marshall. The coin toss decision was lame, as were the multiple times he ran Moreno into the line on 4th & 1 instead of putting Hillis into the game to run on short yardage situations. I’m not even sure McDaniels is aware Hillis is on the team. It took him about 7 games before he finally started targeting Marshall more frequently in the passing game, and Marshall has delivered.
    But you have to give McDaniels credit for hiring Nolan, because without that defense they might be 4-9.

  29. Said a slightly-testier-than-usual Polian, “We earned the right to be where we are now. We did it the old-fashioned way. We earned it. And that’s all we owe anyone.”
    The commish is on record as wanting more competitive football in these type of games AND preseason..yet of ALL THINGS…he has done nothing about this, he of the “let’s fine players 10K for a snow angel while pimping player safety yet fining players only 5k for illegal hits”. Why? Look who’s on the competition committee. Oh yeah…Polian. Nothing will ever convince me that Polian and fellow CCer Jeff Fisher didn’t have some agreement in 2007. Especially since Collins basically outed Fisher. Did Goodell ever REALLY look into this? Probably not.
    I take satisfaction in the fact BP’s too stubborn to learn even from his own team’s experiences though. Here’s to many more years of one and done and one SB ring as a GM, Polian!!!!

  30. shinsnake:
    You hit the nail on the head regarding that Head Linesman (#24). I noticed that as well. He went out of his way to ensure that any close calls went against the Bengals. I cannot believe he flagged Joseph for the “unneccessary roughing” penalty when he was the one who RECEIVED the head-but. Shiancoe should have been penalized and that is it. The mark he gave Palmer on the QB sneak was terrible, but thankfully the real refs got it right. The very late illegal contact penalty that came on a 3rd down was a terrible call as well. All by this same linesman. He’s a douche. I loved how he was yelling at JJoe after JJoe was head-butted. What an ass.
    That being said, I am not saying this was why they lost to the Vikings. The Vikes were also on the end of bad calls like the running into the punter and the hit on Chad that resulted in a first down. Terrible officiating, but the Bengals gave no reason for them not to make calls with their horrific display on offense.
    The Vikes won because they were simply the better team. I just hope the officiating gets better or good teams are going to get screwed. Congratulations to them. They looked pretty damn good yesterday and will make a lot of hay in the playoffs.

  31. Florio, did you hear Marshall on DP?? You ready to do an about face? You look like a moron with that garbage sitting there.

  32. I love that FOF thinks last week was an aberation. Were the last four seasons just aberations as well? Sure favre can win games after Dec 1, just as long as the running game and defense can cover for him. For an example look at the pack’s win over seattle in the playoffs two years ago and how they lost to the giants the next week. Ryan Grant had a big game against the seahawks but was shut out against the giants.

  33. I saw the heading “Cowboys’ season comes down to one game” and was assuming it was going to be able the Eagles @ Cowboys game on January 3rd…

  34. >>>>But if the Cowboys can suck it up and stick it to the Saints, the ‘Boys will be able to puff up their chests and push for the postseason, knowing that they can play in January with the best teams the NFC has to offer.

  35. What a joke. Florio’s take on what teams need to do? What the hell does he know? Not a damn thing. What a joke.

  36. If the Colts want to rest their starters and be one-and-done in the playoffs, let them. I don’t know how many more times I can hear any sports outlet talk about the Colts and what they’re going to do with their starters. Why is this the main conjecture of the league? They’ll do what they want to do. Look forward to hearing about *other* teams…

  37. I love that Starfighter thinks if the Vikes D and run game fail a loss would fall on Favre….sounds a little tarded. Not sure how many quarterbacks would win with no run game or defense backing them up…thats asking a lot out of anyone

  38. “I love that FOF thinks last week was an aberation. Were the last four seasons just aberations as well? Sure favre can win games after Dec 1, just as long as the running game and defense can cover for him. For an example look at the pack’s win over seattle in the playoffs two years ago and how they lost to the giants the next week. Ryan Grant had a big game against the seahawks but was shut out against the giants.”
    UMMMM Grant fumbled a few times early in that game to let Seattle take a 14-0 lead. If I remember correctly Favre had 3 TD passes that game and 0 INTs. He also had that amazing underhand falling over toss to Lee on a 3rd and 8.
    Get your facts straight buddy.

  39. While we are on the subject of teams quiting after the results of the regular season are clear (and they are in the playoffs)… It really is criminal when a star QB/RB/WR stays in the game after the results are set, isn’t it? I mean, he could get hurt, and once the win is obvious, why should he play at all? The Pats leaving in Tom Brady in the fourth quarter in 2007 is just such an example of the kind of arrogant drive-up-the score mentality that everyone hates about them. They were lucky he didn’t get hurt, but it might have been the extra effort in the fourth quarter that left his OL out of gas come Super Bowl time, right? What kind of a team keeps trying after they’ve won in order to “run up” their record… I mean the score.
    Of course, a team should continue to play hard and risk injury when the end of the season is meaningless? Doesn’t that contradict the argument you’ve made many times about continuing to play a game after the results are determined. I seem to remember the argument made recently against Mangini and the Browns too.
    So, to clarify, it’s not OK to keep playing starters late in a game when the results are decided. It’s also not OK for a team to to rest their starters when the results of the season are decided? Am I confused, or is that a contradiction?

  40. Who did the Squeelers beat this past week? Oh, that’s right, the Browns. No, wait, they…lossssssst to the Brownies. That’s right. One of Clevelands 2 wins. Way to represent Squeelers…….

  41. Moss to Minny is pure speculation at this point, obviously, but an offense consisting of Favre, Moss, Peterson, Shiancoe, Rice and Harvin would seem nearly impossible to stop.

  42. I don’t think Chilly would be interested in Moss. But, I do think wilf and Favre would be open to the idea despite the Vikes receiving corps being full of young talent. In all actuality, they would be hard-pressed to find Moss a starting spot. Which is nothing against Randy. However, I’m certain given the stadium issue, and the adoration the Vikes fans possess of Moss, that Wilf would probably welcome him with open arms, and lets face it, Moss should end his career in Minnesota.

  43. Resting starters differs for the Saints and Colts.
    The Colts have home field locked up. The Saints need two more wins (or two Minn losses) to lock up home field throughout the playoffs.
    The Saints mantra this season is “win the next game.”

  44. I think the speculation on Moss in MN is spot on the money and if Favre comes back for another season, I think there’s a pretty high probability it could happen. His contract is up in 2011, so they would get decent value for him, I’m just not sure what the Vikes would be willing to give up…

  45. As a Vikings fan, I would love to have Randy Moss back.
    Here’s why. Randy Moss helps his team win football games. He’s a great player.
    That was simple. It really has nothing to do with some anti-Ted Thompson trophy case. It’s just because Randy Moss is great.
    That said, as a Randy Moss fan, I want what’s best for him, and right now that’s success in New England. Good luck, Moss.

  46. Manbearpig says:
    December 14, 2009 12:23 PM
    Moss to Minny is pure speculation at this point, obviously, but an offense consisting of Favre, Moss, Peterson, Shiancoe, Rice and Harvin would seem nearly impossible to stop.
    Until you get the old Brett trying to force the ball to Moss to show TT what he could have had in 2007 and ends up with a boatload of INTs, so they start running the ball more and AD puts it on the carpet twice a game.

  47. The Vikings have Randy Moss on their team….. His name is Sidney Rice and he is gonna be bigger than Jesus. The next elite receiver in the game

  48. I love that starfighter is an obvious Packers fan that said Favre was washed up…. Now that he has shown that he isn’t….you have to come up with another reason to hate on him….after worshipping him for nearly 2 decades.
    We don’t know for sure if it was an aberation or not against the Cards…only time will tell. They might get blown out, might not.
    And yes your reasoning for Favre choking…the running game getting shut down…..Surprise surprise! I guess I would hope that since you are frequenting this site that you actually watch football. Teams constantly try to make a team one dimensional in order to make their playcalling easier to predict. If this didn’t work, teams would not try to do it all the time. So yes, it is not a surprise OR an aberation that recent history has Favre on the losing side when his team’s RUSHING attack gets shut down. Obviously this is due directly to and only because of his poor play, idiot.

  49. 12:13? Did I hit a nerve? Ha!
    The Steelers will bounce back soon enough. They have the organization to overcome adversity. Not to mention 6 SUPER BOWL CHAMPIONSHIPS!

  50. “The coin toss decision was lame, as were the multiple times he ran Moreno into the line on 4th & 1 instead of putting Hillis into the game to run on short yardage situations. I’m not even sure McDaniels is aware Hillis is on the team.”
    The coin toss decision actually worked out perfectly, if we had been able to get any motion on the first drive after the half. I loved the call.
    And for God’s sake, can the Hillis worshippers get over themselves? The kid isn’t half the back that Moreno is; no one would have made those firsts. The playcall was the problem, not the runner.

  51. Well, Mike, I give you credit. Pretty much everything that could be said has been said about the Steelers’ loss to the Browns–still you’ve managed to come up with something new. But I’m a little confused: Do you have any legitimate source suggesting that Steelers fans are selling their tickets for Sunday’s game or are you just trying to come up with an angle? If you have any quantifiable evidence that Steelers fans are dumping their tickets, you failed to mention it.

  52. Fed up says: December 14, 2009 8:36 AM
    The Vikings destroyed the Bungles. Any fan who thinks the Bungles are going to the Super Bowl anytime soon is delusional. Ha!
    Put a fork in the Crybabies season. Jerry Jones is a horrible owner. He ruined that organization. He is no football man. Doesn’t know a thing about the sport. Ha!
    Perhaps the most ADD comment ever.

  53. Why do all of the “elimination games” involve Miami in your mind? Are you saying Miami is going to pick these teams off one by one or are you saying that any of these 3 teams are going to pick them off? Basically any of the next three games that result in a loss for any of the teams, if that loss matters to the WC race, could be an elimination game. Indy has a couple against Jax and NYJ (way too many people assumming Colts actually lose the next 3 games for my taste).

  54. Cecil:
    I’m not a Hillis worshipper, but when something doesn’t work 3-4 times there’s no reason to believe it’s going to work the next time.
    Of the three Broncos RB’s Moreno is the third best short yardage back behind Buckhalter & Hillis IMO. He’s a good RB and will continue to develop but at the moment he isn’t the answer in situations like this. He has proven it more than a few times this year and McDaniels insists on continuing to use him.

  55. Florio I normally agree with 95% of your opinions. This is one of those times where I differ, with Marshall. Perhaps he should have been down and out because they lost, but HE JUST SET AN NFL RECORD, did you really expect him to not mention that? I would’ve have forgiven him for tearing into the rest of the team if he would’ve. He knew that he did everything possible to win, in this case the rest of the team let him down. He caught 21 passes for 200 yards and 2 td’s-what more do you want from him? Just a thought.

  56. @No means yes, right Ben?
    Well, gee, there’s nothing to suggest McNulty said no to Ben. On the other hand, there are witnesses and her own text messages showing she said …
    -Let’s go to Pittsburgh and see if we can run into Ben!
    -I’m having so much fun entertaining Ben!
    -I’m having dinner with Ben!
    -I want to date Ben!
    -I hope Ben knocked me up!
    Of course you could have just gone with …
    “I’m an idiot fan of a rival team who thinks a woman making false rape claims is funny. I haven’t actually followed your case, Ben. And I’m going to choose a user name that will demonstrate my ignorance for everyone to see.”

  57. There will be no “bounce back.” Tomlin is a joke of a coach. Everything he has done so far is with Cowhers team. He has failed to adjust and upgrade. He is too stupid to be a head coach in the NFL. Admit it……

  58. Fan of Football says:
    December 14, 2009 8:32 AM
    So much for Favre and the Vikes dropping off. They absolutely DOMINATED a very good Bengals team. Last week was an abberation, every team has bad games once in a while.
    “Very good” Bengals team? Not really. The Steelers are just having a down year, and the Ravens sort of suck this year. Otherwise you wouldn’t be hearing about the Bengals. No, this week was no “aberration” it was the Bungals reverting back to the norm.
    Of course, with more 94-yard games out of Choker Carson Palmer, there’s no telling how far this squad could go.
    To the couch while they watch the Super Bowl.

  59. Thank you, florio for taking it up for us Bucs fans. How this disaster has not gotten Morris more scrutiny is beyond me. The team has gotten worse in all apects as the season has gone on, completely inexcusable.

  60. I won’t admit any such thing to a blatant Steeler hater. Tomlin’s Super Bowl ring and other play-off appearance contridicts every word you just spewed. Seventh Heaven is just around the corner for the Pittsburgh Steelers. So all you “Squeelers” fans will just have to grind it out and suffer when the Steel City is once again parading down Main Street, hoisting our 7th Championship high into the air. HA!

  61. The Vilma comment was taken out of context. He and the rest of the Saints are onboard with going 16-0. But if they happen to lose they all understand a 15-1 Superbowl win is just as awesome and besides if are 9-7 or 16-0 it’s the same trophy. WHO DAT GO SAINTS!!!!!!

  62. If anything comes of this Moss to the Vikings thing I’d just about bet my house that BF comes back next year. Especially, if they don’t win it all this year.

  63. Truth hurts , huh? Tomlin can’t coach. The team hates Ben. Whines Hard is a cancer in the locker room. Harrison’s feeling the effects of long time roid abuse…etc, etc. Squeelers won’t be relevant for some time to come…Buwaaaaaaaaaaaa!!!!! Oh yeah, tell Ben to back off the buffet table every now and then.

  64. geek says: December 14, 2009 12:09 PM
    The Pats leaving in Tom Brady in the fourth quarter in 2007 is just such an example of the kind of arrogant drive-up-the score mentality that everyone hates about them. They were lucky he didn’t get hurt, but it might have been the extra effort in the fourth quarter that left his OL out of gas come Super Bowl time, right? What kind of a team keeps trying after they’ve won in order to “run up” their record… I mean the score.
    There is no way that playing Brady in the 4th quarter left his O line out of gas. If they had played Matt Cassel, or whatever no name was the back up are you suggesting that the O line would not have tried? Keep in mind also that there are 2 weeks between the Conference Championship games and the Superbowl. I don’t care what sport you play, if you are not recovered after a two week hiatus then you are not fit to be a pro. You are reaching here, and looking for a reason to slam the Pats. I am by no means a Pats fan, or a Bellichik fan, but the straws you are grasping at are not there.
    You should probably stick to more geek centered activities like D & D.

  65. For the record, I love D&D. Also, I generally agree with your points. I was trying to point out the contradiction between the critics of pulling stars from games and the people arguing the Colts shouldn’t pull their starters from entirely irrelevant games. Florio appears to be one of those people taking both positions. I think there are compelling arguments on both sides, but it really is the same issue. I don’t generally agree with the perspective that players should be rested once the game is “won,” even when it results in significant injuries (like in Cleveland). Really, that is ultimately more humiliating to an opponent than playing them all 60 minutes with your best players. A team should play all 60 minutes, and if it doesn’t they should lose (that’s why the Patriot’s have lost so much lately). Still, when it comes to resting in the last games of a victorious season, I see compelling arguments on both sides. Perhaps we can all agree that taking a little break is OK, as long as you don’t travel to Cabo during the break…

  66. Florio,
    You’re a jackass. Marshall did everything he could to get a win. Don’t grill him for setting an NFL record. You’re taking his comments out of context and trying to make a story out of any bullcrap that you can. I’m sure if you specifically asked him if he would trade ALL of his catches for the win, he would say yes. Where can I find a site with the amount of football news that PFT has without the stupid bias?

  67. The Bengals are not going to the Superbowl. They will probably end up 11-5 and are not strong enough to beat Indy. They are having a great season and lead one of the toughest divisions in football. Many reasons to be proud, but it is still a work in progress.
    It is nice to be competitive ! Pittsburgh will be back, and Baltimore just won’t go away. If the Browns get an offense, look out! Love the AFC North!!!

  68. Frank Burns:
    I think the Steelers down year just shows that last year was a fluke. Or was it that the Bengals had a “down year” all those times that enabled the Steelers to win the division those times? Which is it?

  69. I doubt Florio watched Broncos/Colts…most likely saw some highlights & looked at the stat sheet before doing what he’s good at..taking a players words & telling us what he SHOULD have said…twisting it to put the most negative spin possible
    thats some of the lamest nonsense I have seen him write yet…Brandon Marshall played an amazing game yesterday….

  70. I cannot think of a WORSE idea – notion – aberration – than Randy Moss returning to the Vikings at this point in time, or ever.
    1 – IT WOULD HURT THE VIKINGS RECEIVERS. Brett’s helped to substantially elevate the self-confidence and thus, the performance of the talented Vikings receivers. What would it do to them to have a pouty, sometimes-I’m-willing-to perform-sometimes-I’m-not glory hound receiver-with-a-Rep, come back to grab all their time, all their balls, all their headlines? Not to mention what he’d do to team chemistry.
    2 – IT WOULD HURT BRETT – Brett’s got his hands full and doesn’t need to be babysitting anybody, especially not a vet who seems to have a Peter Pan complex – just not willing to grow up.
    3 – IT WOULD HURT THE TEAM – The Vikings seem to have a really good locker room chemistry right now, and although I’ve heard Randy is good in the locker room, I’m not so sure. I see him as a moody manipulator. Additionally, nobody knows whether Brett will return – or even how this season will play out – and were Randy to return, if there were no strong QB to lead the team, that team would become Randy’s toy. Can you see Sage Rosenfels or Tarvaris Jackson in a battle of wills with Randy Moss? Shudder to think. Anyway, by the time the Vikes came up with a new strong leader, Randy would be too old to play. Thank heavens.

  71. Marshall has a long way to go.
    That is the worst headline I’ve ever seen after someone sets an NFL record, unless of course you mean Honolulu is a long way to go from Denver.
    Did you, in your pathetic opinion, believe that the Broncos would be battling for a playoff berth? Did you think Brandon Marshall would be hugging his coach and doing everything he can to help the Broncos win? Well he is so give him respect where respect is do. Would he trade all of his catches for a win? Honestly that’s the stupidest question you could pose, I think most people have posted on that so no need. How about those Steelers? Losses to Kansas City and Cleveland….now who’s got a long way to go, you worthless jerk

  72. here you go Florio :
    pretty good example of a player doing everything he can to try to help his team get a win
    you should try watching football & appreciating it sometime…having read here for 4 years I am starting to think you dont have much of a future as a football analylist…have you ever considered law school ?

  73. @Cincyboy …
    As a Steelers fan, I appreciate reading an intelligent perspective from a division rival. Congrats on your great season! Like you, I look forward to the AFC North being the best division in football as the Central once was!

  74. # BleedGreen says: December 14, 2009 12:37 PM
    Manbearpig says:
    December 14, 2009 12:23 PM
    Moss to Minny is pure speculation at this point, obviously, but an offense consisting of Favre, Moss, Peterson, Shiancoe, Rice and Harvin would seem nearly impossible to stop.
    Until you get the old Brett trying to force the ball to Moss to show TT what he could have had in 2007 and ends up with a boatload of INTs, so they start running the ball more and AD puts it on the carpet twice a game.
    Just like Brett has forced the ball all year this year in order to show TT what he could have had, in addition to throwing a “boatload” of INT’s? Oh wait. He’s an MVP candidate, the Vikings are 11-2 and Favre has been one of the most accurate, least interception-prone quarterbacks in the whole league.
    Try not to let your lack of football knowledge shine through so brightly dude. At least consult someone who knows a few of the basics before you make the decision to post on here, if you must.

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