MUNICH—Tom Brady, for at least once this autumn, could smile and mean it.
“That was spectacular,” he told me of the NFL’s first regular-season game on German soil. “I mean, that stadium was rocking. The crowd singing ‘Country Roads’ and ‘Sweet Caroline,’ it felt like it was a Red Sox game out there. It was amazing, the whole experience.”
Forget the Tampa 21, Seattle 16 aspect of the day, and even the season-altering 88-, 86- and 87-yard drives by Brady and the formerly offensively somnambulant Bucs. Think of the day this way: This was a good game—not an all-timer. If it’d been played in Tampa as a Bucs’ home game, people would have left the stadium happy that the Bucs were 5-5, but the fans and the quarterback wouldn’t have had a special feeling about the day, and there wouldn’t have been thousands celebrating a regular-season game for five days here—and I mean celebrating.
Instead, after this city and the NFL put on one of the great shows for a regular-season game ever, Brady walked to the postgame podium and said, “This was one of the great football experiences I’ve ever had.”
Seattle coach Pete Carroll said: “The fans were extraordinary. Everything about this whole trip has been great. What a spectacle. This has been an unforgettable occurrence.”
And Carroll lost!
The thing is, the 69,811 at Allianz Arena didn’t leave the stadium. They stayed, singing and cheering the players as they left the field, then just hanging out watching RedZone on the big screens and watching a live postgame show on the field. It’s like the fans were really unhappy the game was played in a tidy 2 hours, 48 minutes. “I stayed for an hour after the game,” said Max Lange, the founder of the German Seahawkers fan club. “No one wanted to leave. No matter who won today, it was such a celebration of football. We lost, but I’m so happy. We showed today we can support the NFL at a very high level.”
What a day. This city, and this country, deserve many more.
So I missed most of Minnesota-Buffalo, but I caught up in time, back at my hotel in Munich, to hear the German voice-over announcer on the FOX telecast scream on my TV, “HOLY MOLEY” when the Bills forced overtime after a thousand momentous things happened before then. So a few things I’ll account for in Football Morning in Germany:
- Justin Jefferson, after the greatest catch of his life (and probably any other receiver’s life), tells me what Kirk Cousins told him leaving the huddle. It’s important.
- The Bills are the AFC’s sixth seed after 10 weeks. That’s surprising enough, but Miami and the New York Jets are both ahead of them in playoff seeding now. Can you imagine this table-smashing horror in western New York if the Bills were to sneak into the playoffs as the six seed?
- Looks pretty solid that, in some order, Philadelphia (8-0 with Washington at home tonight) and Minnesota (8-1) will be the top two NFC seeds come mid-January.
- The Bucs, suddenly, are who we thought they were.
- Last year’s Super Bowl teams, Cincinnati and the Rams, are 8-10 this morning. Colt McCoy beat the Rams at SoFi Sunday, and by the way, after 10 weeks of the season in which they’re trying to repeat as world champions, the Rams are in last place in the NFC West.
- Tennessee, 29-13 in the regular season since opening day 2020, is going to win the AFC South again. This despite the fact that Derrick Henry is the only Titans’ offensive player who scares any defensive coordinator in football, and the fact that the Titans have scored 19, 17, 17 and 17 in the last four weeks. Titans eked out a win over the toothless Broncos and mysterious Russell Wilson.
- Jeff Saturday has the best winning percentage in Colts’ history. He’s had a week to tell the grandchildren about. I gave him every chance to fire back at his detractors, and not only would he not do it, but he understands why they are firing. “I love coaches,” he told me after the 25-20 win over the Raiders in the first NFL head-coaching game of his life. “I get why people question this. But for the last week, I’m watching all the coaches on our staff, and these super-smart people with very defined roles are doing things so well, and I’m so impressed. It was like watching an orchestra.”
A note from me: This is an unusual week. I know the other 12 games deserve more than I’ll give them here. I hope the words I give you on what happened in Munich make it slightly tolerable that I missed a lot of good stuff stateside Sunday.
FMIA has partnered with NFL Next Gen Stats for a deeper look into one story each week, using motion and speed trackers on players all over each NFL field.
This note is why you should value the contribution of NFL Next Gen Stats to the discussion of the intricacies and appreciation of how difficult football really is. (Hat tip here to Conor McQuiston of Next Gen for his work on the numbers in this section.)
The catch Minnesota wide receiver Justin Jefferson made at the two-minute warning in Buffalo Sunday—Bills up 27-23, fourth-and-18, game on the line on this single play—is one of the best catches in NFL history. Impossible to downplay. The Bills, trying to keep hold of a narrow lead in a suddenly hard division. The Vikings, trying to show they can beat a power team on the road, with a quarterback, Kirk Cousins, who hadn’t inspired confidence in monumental spots like this one.
“Before we left the huddle,” Jefferson told me from the locker room in Buffalo, “Kirk said to me, ‘Hey, I might just throw this up to you.’ Kirk knew. We just needed to make something happen.”
He’s right. The old cliche among quarterbacks and coaches is, “Hey, what play you got in the gameplan to convert a fourth-and-18?”
None. Of course. So Cousins, and good for him, just figured he was out on the playground and looked at the best player on the field and said, You and I are going to make something happen.
The crazy thing is, this could have—should have, probably—been an interception. Bills safety Cam Lewis was breathing down Jefferson’s neck, behind him around the Buffalo 40-yard line. When the ball was in the air, Next Gen calculated the probability of Jefferson making the catch at 28.8 percent. Honestly, watch the play as Lewis and Jefferson each go up for it. Lewis has two hands on and appears to be coming down with the interception, ending the game. Then, as the two men come to earth, Jefferson’s brute strength takes the ball one-handed out of the grasp of Lewis, and as Jefferson falls, he cradles the ball and completes the catch.
Joe Davis, on Fox: “OH MY GOODNESS! JUSTIN JEFFERSON PULLED IT IN! THE CATCH OF HIS LIFE!”
JUSTIN JEFFERSON WITH ONE-HAND 🤯 pic.twitter.com/3wLjjXYcWH
— PFF (@PFF) November 13, 2022
“I felt how close [Lewis] was,” Jefferson said. “I knew it was going to be a battle for the ball. On plays like that, I don’t remember exactly what happened. But I’m going up, I’m going to fight for the ball. That’s my ball. Since ninth grade, those are the balls I think I should catch. I’m just happy Kirk trusted me and put the ball up for me to catch.”
It wasn’t just that catch that Next Gen found unlikely. Nine of Jefferson’s 10 receptions had less than a 50 percent chance of being caught by him. No player in the seven-year history of Next Gen analyzing every catch in the NFL has made nine catches in one game with less than a 50-50 chance of being caught.
Two other things: Jefferson said “probably” that was the best catch of his life—and he’s been a high school, college and pro wide receiver for 10 years. (I should hope so.) And the NGS data on Jefferson’s day is worth noting. He had 106 receiving yards over expected yardage on the day.
Jefferson is such an impressive receiver. Historically impressive too.
The week started with the Saturday family at church and relaxing in Georgia. The week ended with Saturday winning his first game as an NFL head coach. We spoke as the Colts’ bus was on the way to the airport in Las Vegas after the 25-20 victory over the Raiders.
A week ago tonight, what were you doing?
Saturday: “I was leaving Monday morning for ESPN, and so I was actually at home … Jim [Irsay] called me and just said, ‘Hey, will you talk to Karen about this? See if you’d be willing to do it?’ He was gonna talk to [GM] Chris Ballard and have the conversation with him. Anyway, I talked to my wife that night.”
What did she think? That it was insane?
Saturday: “She did. Our family motto is, ‘If life isn’t an adventure, it’s not worth living.’ We want an adventure in our life. We teach our kids that. I told her, listen, I’ve been around this game for 25 years, playing, coaching and even more from the media. I’ve never heard of a player having the opportunity to go be a head coach. First of all, I would want it because I love this organization. I care about not only the players and coaches but the organization, right? My adulthood was forged here. It is my home. Indianapolis totally changed the direction of our lives. So how do you say no to this? So I said I’m gonna do it.”
Bill Cowher said this is a disgrace to the coaching profession. When you hear things like that, what do you think?
Saturday: “I respect his opinion, you know? Here’s the thing. God is my defender, man. I don’t have to defend myself. I am absolutely comfortable in who I am. I respect all those guys. Whoever has whatever negative opinion, I can assure you, it’s not gonna change who I am or what I believe I’m called to do. I have no idea, and I still don’t, how successful I’ll be, but we’re gonna work hard at it and I believe I can lead men and lead the staff. I’m excited about the opportunity.”
Joe Thomas said of the hire: ‘When you hire your drinking buddy to be the head coach of an NFL team, it’s disrespectful.’ Thoughts?
Saturday: “I had no idea that he said that. I can assure you, I have never gone drinking with Jim. I don’t even know that Jim drinks. I don’t drink very much either. I don’t know Joe. I’m not worried about what Joe thinks about me or anybody else. Like I told you, the Lord will defend. I feel like I’ve been called to do it, so I made the decision to do it. Again, no disrespect to either of those men. They are who they are and said what they said. It will not sway me.”
Do you think we should think of the coaching profession differently?
Saturday: “Yes. Part of the reason why I did accept the job is for that exact reason. I hope that many other former players will get opportunities like I’m getting. I was at ESPN when Aaron Boone was there and then two days later he’s the manager of the Yankees. And basketball right? I’ve watched all these guys get these opportunities. Like I told the team, my leadership is the number one quality. I’ve talked to Tony Dungy, I’ve talked to Jim Caldwell. Those were the two men who led me the most. Both told me to drive into who I was as a player, as a leader of men during those times. Lean on those things that you’re extremely good at. And that’s uniting people. I told the staff and I told the players, my job is to empower them to be the best they can be.
I don’t pretend to be the smartest coach on the staff. I don’t pretend to be something I’m not. I know football. I’m passionate about football. I study the game. But I will trust the men and empower those men to do the things that they know that they’re called to do. And that’s the job man. That’s the job in my opinion. To this point, that’s been what I have been. I would never minimize how important all of the coaches on the staff are. How hard these guys work, man. The hours they put in and the ideas that they bring.”
Any given Saturday. pic.twitter.com/W9Y3uhXWSW
— Indianapolis Colts (@Colts) November 14, 2022
What was it like, going from sitting at home in Georgia one Sunday to coaching on the sidelines the next Sunday in the NFL?
Saturday: “Oh, it was awesome. I enjoyed it. I looked up and laughed a lot. Talked to coaches during breaks. I wanted to make sure I didn’t miss the moment. But you know what’s crazy? From a player perspective, games don’t feel nearly that fast. Like I literally remember looking up, going, oh my, the game’s already halfway over. Then I blink and the third quarter’s over. I’m like, I think it was two drives. Wow! From a player’s perspective when you’re in it physically, the time of it feels so different. Coaching, I blinked and it was like, we’re in the fourth quarter and it’s time to go. It was awesome man.”
Now for the story of football, Munich, history and why so many people got emotional about this game.
I took a Munich City Walk Tour Friday morning, listening to a podcast directing me where to walk, when I got to Odeonsplatz, one of the historic squares in the city. This is where Adolf Hitler’s Nazi movement had one of its first seminal moments 99 years ago this week, when 2,000 followers marched to the square hoping to overthrow the government; 20 died in a gun battle with government police who held off Hitler from taking power. By 1933, Hitler had that power, and that year he spoke from the steps of Feldherrnhalle, at the far end of Odeonsplatz, to thousands of enthusiastic Germans.
Football fans flooded this area all week, because Odeonsplatz was the site of a big NFL Shop, and on the square, 32 oversized NFL helmets dotted the cobblestones. Kids and families took photos and communed with new friends wearing jerseys of every team in the NFL.
Talk about a juxtaposition. What a difference 89 years makes.
American football, regular-season football, took its latest step in trying to own the world Sunday. The NFL debuted in Germany with Tampa Bay’s win on a pristine, 51-degree afternoon, the first non-soccer event staged in Allianz Arena in the venue’s 17-year history. It took Roger Goodell and Tom Brady to make the Munich city government waive its soccer-only dictum for the famous stadium of FC Bayern Munich, the biggest soccer team in Germany. The city leaders, and the seven FC Bayern players who waited for 40 minutes after the game to meet Brady, are damn glad Brady and the Bucs took their turf for one day.
A few days before the game, Jim Tomsula was educating me on the importance of football in the country. You remember Tomsula. He coached the Niners in 2015, between Jim Harbaugh and Chip Kelly. Before that, he coached in the old NFL Europe league. Now he’s back coaching the Rhein Fire in Dusseldorf, a northern German city, in the 18-team European League of Football. It’s the Patriot League to the NFL.
“It is pure, and it is awesome,” Tomsula said. “It’s a part of America that people here just love. To people in Germany, football represents the dream of America, and America is still the sparkling star that intrigues the hell out of everybody. With our team, the pageantry just grabs fans. They drink, they dress up, they sing, they chant. It’s a rockin’-ass party for three hours.”
He said people in Germany were blown away that the NFL would send Tom Brady to play a real game over here. I told him that Chicago-based sports consultant Marc Ganis said Brady playing in Germany would be like the Beatles playing in New York in the sixties.
“The comparison to the Beatles is spot on,” Tomsula said. “Sunday will be unbelievable. I’m telling you, people in Germany will cry, they’ll be so happy.”
It was nutty in Munich all week. On Thursday night, ex-Niners and -Lions coach Steve Mariucci, in town with NFL Network, dressed in lederhosen just for fun and drank at the renowned Hofbrau Haus. “I wanna be a part of it!” he said, trying to be heard over the German oom-pah band. The Seahawks bar was overrun with Seattle fans from across the globe, as far away as Australia; many came 5,500 miles from western Washington.
But mostly, this was a national holiday for the fans here, like 38-year-old journalist and Ravens fan Tobias Zervos of Bad Homburg, near Frankfurt. “I like soccer too,” Zervos said. “But in football, the salary cap makes the game more fair. In our Bundesliga, the difference between the top-spending teams and the teams on the bottom is about 250 million euros. I like the fact that in football, more teams have a chance to win the championship.”
Zervos and the German Seahawker fan I referenced earlier, Max Lange, also said putting two games per Sunday on free TV was important; that started in 2015. But the Germans are still struggling to produce a consistent pool of talent. “We need to find our Dirk Nowitski,” Tomsula said.
Germany has produced some big linemen, including former Patriots tackle Sebastian Vollmer and ex-Giants defensive tackle Markus Kuhn. Both work as ambassadors for the league here, and as TV commentators on the game. Their origin stories are long shots, which is why the NFL wants to see more club football and flag football programs—both of which are growing here.
Kuhn, by age 14, hadn’t found a sport to his liking until he was prompted to try out for a club football team near his home in Weinheim. As a linebacker and defensive tackle on his club team, he was an all-league player. But then what?
“I wanted to try to play college football,” Kuhn said Saturday. “I thought I might be good enough, but I didn’t know. So my dad and I flew to Washington D.C., rented a car. We didn’t know how the recruiting process worked. I had a recruiting tape, and for two months we just drove down the coast—Liberty, Richmond, William & Mary, North Carolina State. Just showed up at the front door of the schools and said, ‘I’m Markus, I’m from Germany, I play football.’ They looked at me like I was crazy. But I got offered some scholarships. (He took one from N.C. State and played there.)
“Four-and-a-half years later, I’m the first German ever invited to the Scouting Combine. I got drafted by the Giants and played in the league for four years. I accomplished way more in football than I ever thought I would. Now, seeing the growth of the game back home, so many kids playing flag football and loving the game, seeing the growth of the game on TV … Now the NFL sending its biggest star to play a game here.
“Goosebumps,” Kuhn said. “I’ve got goosebumps thinking about it.”
It used to be, until recently, when teams began making marketing agreements with countries around the world, that it was hard to convince teams to play in Europe. No more. After Sunday’s game, Pete Carroll said he hoped the Seahawks got invited back to Germany soon. Carroll is bullish on making football a world game. He told me Thursday he’d love to see each country have a national team, with world tournaments pitting country teams against each other the way soccer and basketball do.
“The world is watching,” Carroll said. “They’ve known about our sport for such a long time. I’ve always imagined someday that American football would be everywhere and there would be people coaching their football team for their country. It’s always been a great spectacle and I love that we’re sharing it with the world now—the stories, the color, the music, the speed, the ferocity. It captures people.”
By noon Sunday, one estimate had 40,000 people tailgating—another thing that isn’t done as enthusiastically in soccer—in the parking lots around Allianz. A Jacksonville-Houston game would have packed in a crowd here, but it was huge that Seattle, appealing because the Legion of Boom at the height of its popularity got lots of these fans to love the game, and Tampa Bay, with the great Brady, were the competitors.
It seemed about a 55-45 Seattle crowd. With a revived Tampa offense giving Brady time to throw—the Bucs finally got Brady some help with a run game that managed a season-high 161 yards on the ground, led by rookie back Rachaad White’s 105—the Bucs broke to a 14-0 halftime lead and held on.
In the fourth quarter, during a break, from out of nowhere, the stadium was filled with John Denver’s “Take Me Home, Country Roads.” Many of the Americans in the stadium looked around like, John Denver in Germany? Why? Incredibly, as the song reverberated through the place, the fans started singing it. “WEST VIRGINIA, MOUNTAIN MAMA!” Loudly. In tune. The fans knew every word. Down on the field, Seattle linebacker Bruce Irvin—a West Virginia Mountaineer himself—began bouncing and dancing to the song, even though the Bucs were in the process of sending Irvin home with a loss.
— West Virginia Football (@WVUfootball) November 13, 2022
“Why ‘Country Roads?’” I asked Max Lange afterward.
“We play it at parties all the time,” he said. “We love it. All those songs they played—‘Sweet Caroline,’ ‘Hey Baby.’ Those are party classics in Germany.”
A stadium in Munich, reverberating with 69,000 singing a song extolling the virtues of West Virginia. You learn a lot at the first NFL game in Germany.
The NFL agreed last spring to stage four games between 2022 and ’25 in Germany—two in Munich, two in Frankfurt. “I wouldn’t be surprised to expand beyond that,” Roger Goodell said Saturday at a fan event. There are growing indications that two prime fan favorites in Germany—Kansas City and New England—both could serve as home teams for games in 2023. The league is working with the Bundesliga, the German soccer league, on dates because the games come in the middle of the Bundesliga season. But I heard at least one of the games and perhaps both would be held in Frankfurt.
Interesting to see the cooperation between the NFL and the Bundesliga. What’s in it for the German league? A couple of things—help for some German teams’ American “friendlies” in the off-season (such as Bayern Munich’s August game in Green Bay) and technical support in advanced analytics. The NFL has shared Next Gen Stats technical support and player-tracking data with the Bundesliga.
Next year is the AFC’s turn for teams to have nine home games, so the NFL will use AFC teams to be home teams for international games. The NFL has raised the prospect of a team or teams in Europe permanently—Goodell said a four-team division one day is possible—but that’s very unlikely in the near term. The NFL doesn’t want to expand from 32 teams, and there’s not a single team that appears close to wanting to move. “The more likely outcome is having more games over here,” said Vollmer, who lives in Florida but commutes here for football.
Sunday’s game, Vollmer said during the week, “is the next big step. It won’t be the last.”
The NFL will play games outside of England and Germany at some point; Miami could play a game in Brazil or Spain in the next three or four years. The Rams are bullish about playing in Australia one day. But clearly the horizon with the biggest upside is Europe. There were journalists from 22 countries credentialed for Sunday’s game, including 18 in Europe (Croatia, Serbia, Portugal), with varying degrees of enthusiasm.
Denmark was here. Danish reporter Kasper Skipper from TV2, the NFL rights-holder there, covered the game. I asked him about football in his country.
“It has a following in Denmark,” Skipper said, “but it’s not quite [team] handball or badminton.”
Well then. The NFL has some work to do in Scandinavia. But they’re in pretty good shape in Germany.
“Thank you for hosting us,” Brady told the German media after the game. “Everybody who was a part of that experience has a pretty amazing memory for their life.”
If you’ve read me in the last few years, you know I have a fascination with how the schedule gets made, and then the mechanics of how it works during the season when flex-scheduling comes into play. Like: I am interested in Kansas City playing on national TV—Thursday, Sunday or Monday night, or the Sunday national double-header window—in 11 out of its first 13 games. The NFL’s in love with Patrick Mahomes and why wouldn’t the league be, but 11 of 13 is a wow to me.
Anyway, here are a few interesting media things:
- The Miami-Buffalo rematch was supposed to be an anchor game for NFL Network on the Saturday of Week 15, but I won’t be surprised if it moves to Sunday night. Remember how the NFL decided to give NFL Network a triple-header on a mid-December Saturday, after all the college football weekends? When the schedule is announced in May, the league designates five games for the “Saturday pool” in Week 15, with the understanding that three would be played that Saturday (at 1 p.m., 4:30 p.m. and 8:15 p.m. ET) on NFL Network and the other two Sunday on CBS or Fox. This year, one of those five slated games is Miami at Buffalo. NFL Network would be thrilled for that huge AFC East game to be played in prime time on the league’s channel. But the Sunday night game that week is New England at Las Vegas. We’re still a month out, but Pats-Raiders looks like a ratings clunker. NBC likely would want to swap out Pats-Raiders for Fins-Bills. This is the advantage of the NFL owning NFL Network—if it wants, it can take a huge game from a league-owned outlet and move it to a network paying millions to do the games. If the NFL keeps Miami-Buffalo on NFL Net, it’s a sign they want to fortify the value of NFL Network. If it’s moved to Sunday, it’s a sign of how realistic the NFL is in satiating the networks that pay the NFL billions.
- ESPN paid for flex scheduling in 2023. I bet ESPN wishes it had it now. Among the inventory for ESPN’s last six Monday night games: Pittsburgh at Indianapolis Nov. 28, New England at Arizona Dec. 12, Rams at Green Bay Dec. 19, Chargers at Indianapolis Dec. 26. Last year, when Disney/ESPN negotiated a long-term contract with the NFL, it got three perks beginning in 2023: a Saturday double-header on ESPN in Week 18, the ability to simulcast a few games each year on ABC, and a limited ability to flex-schedule games after Thanksgiving. ESPN has never been able to replace Monday night stinkers with decent games. The league will have the option to change some beginning next year. I don’t think it will be nirvana for fans, though. Moving a Sunday afternoon game to Sunday night is an inconvenience for fans and teams, to be sure. But moving a Sunday afternoon game to Monday night is a huge ask. The NFL likely would be okay moving a game with two woebegone teams out of the Monday night slot. But it will be judicious—I’d be surprised if it happened more than once a year. If the league had the flex this year for ESPN, maybe Steelers-Colts would move to Sunday at 1 p.m. ET, with Cincinnati-Tennessee flipping to Monday night. I think the bar will be higher for ESPN to flex than it will be for NBC.
- So what happens to Patriots-Raiders in Week 15 if it’s moved out of Sunday night? The easy fix would be to move it to Saturday if Miami-Buffalo moves to Sunday. Two problems: New England plays at Arizona on Monday night in Week 14, so making the Pats come back on very short rest wouldn’t be good. Plus, Allegiant Stadium is in use on the Saturday of Week 15 for the Las Vegas Bowl. So Pats-Raiders, if moved, would switch to a Sunday afternoon game.
- Dec. 4 is shaping up as a tough flex decision for the league. On the SNF schedule is Indianapolis at Dallas. The league would be loath to move Dallas out of a prime-time slot, because Cowboys ratings are always good—and ratings for a playoff-bound Cowboys team would be better, theoretically. But there are two complicating factors. One: No one on Sunday night is hanging in if it’s 28-3 at the half and with the Colts being awful, that’s possible. Two: Look at the NFL’s alternatives to flex: Jets-Minnesota, Kansas City-Cincinnati, Tennessee-Philadelphia. That is one competitive slate if the NFL wants to move a game.
- Game 272. In my preseason predictions, I picked Baltimore-Cincinnati to be the Sunday night game in Week 18 (game 272). The NFL picks the game that would either be a division championship game, or a game that would have major playoff implications. This morning, there are a few options. Ravens-Bengals is a strong one—both could be in play for the division then. But Jets-Dolphins has good playoff win-and-in potential. And though this is a long shot, what if Philly’s 16-0 going into the final game, hosting the Giants? That would be a great candidate, particularly if Eagles coach Nick Sirianni says he’s going for all the marbles there.
By the way, Howard Katz and the NFL scheduling team usually are good at projecting in April and May which teams would be late-season attractions. Good, but not flawless, as shown by the league slating the Colts in prime time in three of the five weeks after Thanksgiving.
Offensive players of the week
Justin Jefferson, wide receiver, Minnesota. Catch of the year. Beckham-like. Pickens-like. And because he was covered tightly, I’d say even better. What makes Jefferson great—so, so great—is that he makes that catch and you say, What a great day he had, and you look up at the end of the day and realize he had 10 catches for 193 yards and a 22-yard touchdown catch also.
Tua Tagovailoa, quarterback, Miami. Ho-hum: 25 of 32 for 285 yards and three touchdowns. Two reasons he’s here: Tua’s not using Waddle-Tyreek as a crutch; on Sunday against the Browns, he threw TD passes to Alec Ingold, a fullback, and Trent Sherfield, a wideout. Also, per Football Perspective, Tagovailoa is the seventh QB in the last 56 years to have three TD passes and a passer rating over 135 in three straight games.
Rachaad White, running back, Tampa Bay. White, a rookie from Arizona State, picked a great time for his first 100-yard game in the NFL (22 carries, 105 yards). Tampa had its best rushing day of the season—44 carries, 161 yards—at a time it was desperately needed. White also showed his football brain at the two-minute warning by gaining 18 yards for a first down deep in Seattle territory up five, and going down voluntarily inbounds so the clock would keep running, knowing that Seattle could not get the ball back after that. Nice day for the rook.
Christian Watson, wide receiver, Green Bay. The gamble that Packers GM Brian Gutekunst made to trade two prime picks to move up to pick Watson in the second round last April bore fruit Sunday in the Pack’s upset win over the Cowboys. Watson caught three touchdown passes–from 58, 39 and seven yards–from Aaron Rodgers. The last two brought Green Bay back from a 28-14 fourth-quarter deficit and forced overtime in a game the Pack desperately had to have.
— Green Bay Packers (@packers) November 13, 2022
Defensive players of the week
Patrick Peterson, cornerback, Minnesota. Great players make clutch plays when said plays are required. Peterson did it twice in the last 20 minutes of a season-changing 33-30 win over Buffalo. He picked off Josh Allen in the end zone with 10:25 left in the fourth quarter, then picked off Allen two yards deep in the end zone to end the game in overtime. Want him back, Cards? Can’t have him.
Devin White, linebacker, Tampa Bay. Dramatic week for the nerve center of the Tampa defense. White was still getting over former Bucs DT Warren Sapp saying the team should strip him of his captaincy for loafing two weeks ago against the Ravens. Then, while on the team bus on the way to Tampa International Airport Thursday for the flight to Germany, he got a call from a family member telling him his father died. To make the trip or to not make the trip? He decided to go, saying being with his mates on the trip would be good for him. Then he went out Sunday and played one of his best games—nine tackles, two sacks, a forced fumble, three total QB pressures. White’s 10-yard sack put the Seahawks in a huge hole on their last fruitless series of the first half. His second sack changed the game. Late in the third quarter, Seattle was still down 21-3 but threatening to score at the Tampa nine-yard line. White burst through the line and strip-sacked Geno Smith. The Bucs recovered, and a crucial Seattle chance was snuffed out. Great day for White. “It was very hard to play,” White said. “But I tried to turn it into good emotion and tried to keep a good spirit.”
Special teams player of the week
Jake Camarda, punter, Tampa Bay. The Bucs used a fourth-round pick on the four-year Georgia punter, and it paid off Sunday in Munich. In the first quarter of a scoreless game, with the Bucs pinned at their 16-yard line, Camarda boomed a 59-yard punt to stick Seattle at its 25-. Just inside the two-minute warning of the half, with the ball at the Tampa seven-, Camarda punted a rainmaker at Allianz Stadium, a 63-yard bomb fair-caught at the Seattle 30-. This field-position football left Seattle with long fields at big moments of the half. For the game, Camarda just had those two punts, but they were huge in a one-score game.
Coach of the week
Kevin O’Connell, head coach, Minnesota. The Minnesota team that went into Buffalo and trailed 27-10 with 16:30 left in the game looked absolutely cooked. But the Vikings scored 23 points in the final 25 minutes of the game, and there was a doggedness to their performance that was admirable. When O’Connell took over, he emphasized teaching over hard discipline. Maybe that’s how Minnesota has won seven in a row and beaten 7-3 Miami and 6-3 Buffalo. Whatever, the O’Connell way is working for one of the hottest teams in football.
Goats of the week
Josh Allen, quarterback, Buffalo. A brutal end-of-game sequence for Allen, throwing two picks to Patrick Peterson in the final 20 minutes—both in the end zone with the Bills having a great chance TWICE to win the game—and also a botched snap with the center in the final minute of regulation. This is the second straight week to forget for the great Buffalo quarterback.
Have you ever seen anything like this?!
— NFL (@NFL) November 13, 2022
Mitch Morse, center, Buffalo. We may never know how Morse botched the snap to Allen in the end zone with 49 seconds left as the Bills held a 27-23 lead. But whatever the reason, that can’t happen. The Bills might lose home field in the AFC playoffs (and truly might lose an increasingly strong division and need to play the entirety of the postseason away from home) because two veteran players who have worked together for four years could not execute the simplest play in football—the center-to-QB snap.
Hidden person of the week
Kevin Stine, replay official, Minnesota-Buffalo. What happened Sunday in Buffalo doesn’t bode well for Stine. His faux pas didn’t determine the winner in the game, but it very well could have. Buffalo was down 30-27 with 24 seconds left in the fourth quarter, and Josh Allen threw deep down the left sideline for Gabe Davis, who dove and, officials ruled, caught it while falling out of bounds. It was close, but it should have been incomplete—Davis was lightly juggling the ball as he fell to earth. And senior VP of officiating Walt Anderson agreed in a pool report: “Even though it happens fast, Buffalo hurries to the line of scrimmage for the next play,” Anderson said. “If the replay official can’t confirm it was a catch on that long of a completed pass, we should stop play to ensure it is a catch. I’ll have to find out from the replay official exactly what he didn’t feel like he saw to stop the game.” Uh-oh. Gonna be a bad week for Kevin Stine.
The Jason Jenkins Award
Lamar Jackson, quarterback, Baltimore. A young Ravens fan had a heart problem. Jackson agreed to meet him. Here is what happened:
Before our game this week, @Lj_era8 met Landon, a huge Lamar fan from Mississippi who has a heart condition 💜🥺
Via dad Jason Berry/FB pic.twitter.com/zcFhpu8FzY
— Baltimore Ravens (@Ravens) November 8, 2022
Von [Miller] always says don’t blink, and I feel like we might be blinking a bit.
–Buffalo receiver Stefon Diggs, after a nightmarish loss by the Bills to Minnesota.
I know I can lead men. I know I know the game of football, and I’m passionate about it. I have no fear about, ‘Are you as qualified as somebody else?’ Bro, I spent 14 years in a locker room. I went to the playoffs 12 times. I’ve got five dudes in the Hall of Fame that played with me. You don’t think I’ve seen greatness? You don’t think I’ve seen how people prepare? How they coach? How they GM? How they work? I dang sure won’t back down.
–The inexperienced Jeff Saturday, after taking the Colts’ interim coaching job.
It’s a disgrace to the coaching profession.
–Hall of Fame coach Bill Cowher, on CBS’ “The NFL Today” Sunday.
When you hire your drinking buddy to be the head coach of an NFL football team, it is one of the most disrespectful things I’ve seen in my entire life … It’s the most egregious thing I can ever remember happening in the NFL, and I went 1-31 my last two years in the NFL.
–Former Cleveland tackle Joe Thomas, on “Good Morning Football,” on Indianapolis owner Jim Irsay hiring Jeff Saturday, who has never coached above high school football, to be the Colts interim coach.
Pretty rough comment there, about the “drinking buddy.”
The Baltimore Ravens are the best team in the league, and it’s not even close. This may be the best Baltimore Ravens team we’ve ever seen.
—Brandon Marshall on Inside the NFL.
Well then. Ray Lewis, a partner on Inside the NFL, would like a word.
Career NFL head-coaching records of coaches with deep tentacles in Buffalo:
Reich led a comatose offense this year; that’s for sure. Throw the darts and arrows at him for that. But he coached the Colts for 4.5 seasons, during which he had five different opening-day starting quarterbacks, and he finished his Indy career seven games over .500 (40-33-1).
Put another way: The great Bill Belichick, over the last four full seasons (2018-’21), with Tom Brady as his quarterback for two of those four full seasons, went 40-25. In Frank Reich’s four full seasons, with four different starters not named Tom Brady, Reich went 37-28.
Lest you think the badness of the NFC South is unprecedented, I bring you the 10-week standings of another division, recently:
Washington won the East two years ago at 7-9. My best guess is that the NFC South winner this year will be no better than 9-8.
Sunday was the 240th game (regular- and post-season) of Matt Ryan’s NFL career. He had never rushed for 39 yards in a game.
In Las Vegas Sunday, he rushed for 39 yards on one scramble.
Six observations about Munich, and Germany:
1. Smoking is out of control here. My bet is, comparing Munich versus New York City, is that five times as many people smoke in Munich compared to New York. At least. On Friday morning, I was having a coffee and people-watching outside in a city plaza, Marienplatz. Nursing a macchiato. In a five-minute span, two smokers sat down with coffees to enjoy and lit up. Time to go.
2. People are polite, in so many ways. In crowded city intersections, even when there’s not a car in sight, no one walks across the street when the WALK sign is red. Other than one ugly American from Brooklyn who shall remain anonymous. I must say these people are lovely, polite and friendly, and the vast majority I encountered can speak English. This was a great trip to take, both for the football and humanity parts.
3. Dogs. My scientific poll of citizens in Munich shows that one in 50 citizens owns a dog. Amazing how few there are here. Where I live, it’s like one in two. Did find a lovely German Shepherd on some strasse Friday and remarked: “Good dog!” Owner, beaming, said, “Danke!”
4. What a great walking city. On Friday I walked through three great green spaces (including a cemetery) and put 19,795 steps on the pedometer, and it was great. Walking through the neighborhoods of Munich, passing by one grade school at what appeared to be recess, getting coffee in Marienplatz with the commuters walking/bike-riding to work, stopping to pick up the Munich morning paper, TZ, with FOOTBALL-FIEBER! on the cover, with a 32-page special section on the game.
5. This is not a poll, but these people like football. Ran into two Patriots fans from Switzerland, Fabio Buchler and Roman Aeschbach, who drove five hours to see the scene and go to the game. “We’ve been four times to games in London,” Aeschbach, 36 and in an NFL hoodie, said. “The difference is this city is smaller and more packed with fans. So many fans.” On Friday night, one overserved Seahawks fan in a D.K. Metcalf jersey puked into a planter outside the Seahawks-designated bar, and he got trolled by a passerby: “It’s only 9 o’clock! Come on!”
6. I took one cab, and the driver was into our politics. Had a four-mile ride to take, so I got in a cab Saturday afternoon, and the driver, a 70-year-old guy with perfect English, asked me, “So you had your midterms, right?” Wow, I said—you know about the midterm elections in the U.S.?” He said yes, and he was hoping they would provide some of the sensibility the world wants to see out of America. “It’s terrible over there. The guns, everybody so divided. You need to do something about that.” He said the world looks to the U.S. for leadership. I couldn’t believe this 70-ish man was so focused on that, and realized the importance of the midterm elections. One other thing: “This DeSanteese—has he overtaken Trump?” I told him he was asking a question a lot of people in America were asking.
When they are designing the statue of Justin Jefferson in downtown Minneapolis, I suggest having him catch Mary Tyler Moore's hat.
— Sam Farmer (@LATimesfarmer) November 13, 2022
Sam Farmer, who was born with a mature clever gene, of the Los Angeles Times.
Justin Jefferson is the best receiver in football
— Lance Moore (@LanceMoore16) November 13, 2022
Moore is a former NFL wideout.
Mike Tomlin has now beaten all 31 teams not named the Steelers.
— Andrew Siciliano (@AndrewSiciliano) November 13, 2022
Siciliano is a clever RedZone host.
— Vic Tafur (@VicTafur) November 14, 2022
Tafur covers the Raiders for The Athletic.
How many games had Leonard Fournette started this season? Nine.
Did Leonard Fournette start today in Germany? Nein.
— Michael David Smith (@MichaelDavSmith) November 13, 2022
Michael David Smith is managing editor of Pro Football Talk.
The story of Wilma Rudolph is such an inspiration to me. We may face challenges, many times we are think they are insurmountable–our dreams unachievable, but with a community, with fierce determination, we can fly. pic.twitter.com/A84cTEruxU
— Cory Booker (@CoryBooker) November 5, 2022
Booker is a U.S. senator from New Jersey.
— meine-NFL.de 🏈 (@meine_NFL) November 13, 2022
Carsten Keller is the voice behind Meine-NFL (“My NFL”), a German football blog and podcast. This tweet, a response to my report on my time in Munich, reads (as translated by Twitter): “If Peter King is enthusiastic, we have done everything right. What an epic day.” Epic indeed, Carsten.
I am overrun with Irsay-Saturday emails, but I thought this one was smart. From Rich Haley: “This comes down to a question of trust. By going outside the building for an interim coach, Irsay is saying loud and clear: I don’t trust anyone in the organization right now and I need to bring someone in who will give it to me straight. I think Jeff Saturday is there to evaluate the organization, at least on the coaching side, in order see how deep the cuts need to be. Also, Jim Irsay is telling [GM] Chris Ballard: I don’t trust you either.”
Thanks, Rich. Not so sure about the trust aspect, because Irsay is a total bottom-line guy. This team wasn’t winning, and so his high regard for Frank Reich went out the window—even though he just gave him a huge contract extension last year. As for keeping Ballard, my gut feeling is Irsay doesn’t want to have a debit of $50 million (or whatever the figure he would owe his coach and GM with 4.5 years left on contracts), but I do know he has high regard for Ballard. So we’ll see what the off-season brings. Thanks again.
I think John is right about the mailbag. From John Allen: “I’ve been reading your column since I was in high school back in the early 00’s. I think the mailbag in its current iteration brings down your column. It feels like, at least to this admittedly amateur psychologist, that you’ve turned it into a place to almost make yourself feel better about stupid opinions or takes that people have and you want to shine a light on because you’re fed up with them. I certainly don’t need the column spoiled with some stupid take most of us know is dumb before we even read your response. It is my opinion that you should use the mailbag as an opportunity to spotlight something interesting someone came up with, something good/positive, or just get rid of it. I really enjoy your insight, and that section just bums me out.”
Such good points, John. Thank you. I have always felt that if someone writes me an email challenging me or semi-attacking me that I didn’t want to censor anyone’s opinion. But in the case of clearly stupid things, I really should exercise the edit button and move on to something else. You’ve brought me to my senses. I’ll still use the critical emails, but I’ll edit out the ones that don’t make much sense.
Who knows, but I’d be surprised to see Brady coach. From Guy Grant: “Do you think when Tom Brady retires, he will [ever] coach? I could see that he would like the competitive aspect of it. Or perhaps he would become a GM.”
Well, Guy, Brady will have every option in the future, even seeing that he has signed a 10-year contract with Fox to go into the booth after he retires. I do think he’d find a path to ownership tempting, if he can find one. Immediately after retiring, whenever that is, Fox will pay him something like $37 million a year to be a broadcaster/speechmaker/whatever. That’s a five-month-a-year job, four days a week max. He’ll want to find something else to do with his life. Coaching? I’ve never pictured him doing that.
Great topic, Jim. From Jim Susbauer: “As a voting member for the Hall of Fame, I wonder how you feel about broadcasters and analysts referring to players as ‘Hall of Famers.’ I hear them talk about Travis Kelce as a Hall of Famer or other current players (Brady, Mahomes, Rodgers, etc.) as shoo-ins to the Hall. I realize Brady and Kelce will be voted into the Hall, but until they are eligible and voted into the Hall, they aren’t ‘Hall of Famers.’ I think it’s an insult to the members of the Hall.”
Jim, my problem is a slightly different one. Announcers are quick to label top current players as “future Hall of Famers.” It’s fine to call Brady or Rob Gronkowski or Aaron Rodgers future Hall of Famers. But it’s thrown around so often, without regard to the reality of how difficult it is to make the Hall of Fame. In the last few years, I’ve heard Kam Chancellor, Earl Thomas, Zach Ertz, Michael Thomas, Khalil Mack, Philip Rivers, Marshal Yanda and so many others described as “future Hall of Famers.” Now, all of them may make the Hall one day—surely at least some will. But I sit in those Hall meetings, and five (at most) modern-era players get in each year, and the queue is long. It leads to false expectations from fan bases and the players themselves to call every guy who makes three or four Pro Bowls a future Hall of Famer. Because they all are not.
1. I think as the weeks go on, there can be no doubt that the Bears have themselves a quarterback for the long term. I am sure offensive coordinator Luke Getsy doesn’t like endangering Justin Fields by running him so much, but he is so darn good at it, that I think the Bears simply have to play to his strengths.
2. I think, maybe, Christian Watson wasn’t a bad draft pick.
3. I think I’m going to start a new section in the column next week for the last eight weeks of the season. It’s going to be called MVP Watch, and I’ll have a top five each week. Let’s just say we do a preview this week. Here’s my top five after Week 10, and comments to firstname.lastname@example.org are welcome:
- Jalen Hurts, QB, Philadelphia.
- Patrick Mahomes, QB, Kansas City.
- Tua Tagovailoa, QB, Miami.
- Justin Jefferson, WR, Minnesota.
- Saquon Barkley, RB, NY Giants.
4. I think I know Mark Davis has inherited one trait from his father—impatience—and that doesn’t bode well for Josh McDaniels, who is 2-7 with wins over two of the worst teams in football, Denver and Houston.
5. I think you can count Kadarius Toney as another in the line of Patrick Mahomes Reclamation Projects by KC GM Brett Veach. The Jacksonville game was not going to be a tough one to win, but you could make a case for Toney being the most important runner/receiver in the Mahomes stable on Sunday in Kansas City’s 27-17 win over the Jaguars.
IT'S TONEY TIME. pic.twitter.com/VaWS3WzyIr
— Kansas City Chiefs (@Chiefs) November 13, 2022
6. I think this column by union president JC Tretter about artificial-turf fields is important to consider, because it makes the point that not all turf fields are created equal. Before the last few days, I never heard of “slit film turf.” But when I see respected players like Calais Campbell, the former NFL Man of the Year, take it to task, it’s time to do a deep dive into the stuff.
7. I think this is something you should take a few minutes to watch. It happened 41 years ago today, and it’s a gigantic reason why a figure in the current history of pro football got to where he got. Man, it’s a touching, and important, piece. Attaway, Scott Pioli.
9. I think a smart Cowboys beat writer, Jon Machota, proved me wrong—with the help of Dallas running backs coach Skip Peete—about Pollard. Peete told Machota that, when Pollard started for an injured Elliott against Chicago two weeks ago, Pollard ran for a 54-yard TD in the fourth quarter and came to the sideline and told the coach: “Coach, I’m done. Done for the game.” As Peete said: “Some guys are race cars, some guys are high-quality, expensive sedans. Those sedans can go forever and for a long distance, at a very high rate, where race cars go very fast and quick and then they run out of gas.” Good work by Machota, answering a question that a lot of people surely had about Cowboys’ running-back playing time.
10. I think these are my other thoughts of the week:
a. The best thing about the aftermath of the elections last week: Ohio senatorial candidate Tim Ryan, who lost to J.D. Vance, said what all losing candidates should say when he met the media after Vance was declared the winner. This from Ryan:
“I have a privilege right now, a privilege, as someone who was the Democratic nominee. I have the privilege to concede this race to J.D. Vance because the way this country operates is that when you lose an election, you concede. And you respect the will of the people. Right? We can’t have a system where if you win, it’s a legitimate election, and if you lose, someone stole it. That is not how we can move forward in the United States.”
b. That is the act of a good person. And it’s important today.
c. Former Football Player Story of the Week: Dave Itzkoff of The New York Times on the former running back for Morehouse College, the St. Louis Rams, Rhein Fire and Sacramento Mountain Lions—John David Washington, one of the best actors in the land.
d. John David Washington is making his Broadway debut in a play called “The Piano Lesson,” starring alongside Samuel L. Jackson. And the lessons he is learning, and the adversity he is experiencing is, quite frankly, inspiring to anyone, in any walk of life.
e. The thing that’s so transferable about John David Washington is he is the son of a very famous actor, Denzel Washington, yet he has put in the work, in football and in acting, of a person with zero connections. There’s a lot to like about John David Washington.
f. Writes Itzkoff:
To navigate a text and a discipline that are unfamiliar to him, Washington is approaching the task like a humble rookie, ready to receive the education that it might provide — along with any bumps or bruises that might come with it.
Asked why he wanted to perform in “The Piano Lesson,” Washington said: “I did it for selfish reasons. This was like going back to school. This is a master class. I want to learn. I want to get beat up.”
He added, “If I can survive, I’m going to be such a better actor than I was before I started this.”
… When Denzel Washington learned that John David was getting ready for the eight-shows-a-week rigor of Broadway, he heartily encouraged the proposition. “He said, ‘It’s a full-contact sport, John David,’” the younger Washington recalled.
But when John David decided that he wanted to pursue acting, after a torn Achilles’ tendon halted his sports career, it was impressed upon him that he’d achieve success only through hard work and not by trading on his last name.
Jackson, a longtime friend of the Washington family, said that he was one of several people who talked to the young man about the challenging path that awaited him. “We all told him, you can’t just step up in there and think it’s going to happen,” Jackson recalled. “You’ve got to go to class, you’ve got to put in the work. Being the dedicated athlete that he was, he attacked it in the same way that he attacked that, and he got all he could out of it.”
g. Seems like football lessons were important for the star of “The Piano Lesson.”
h. Memory of the Week: Bob Greene, writing in The Wall Street Journal, reminding us of what is possible in this country.
i. Writes Greene:
There is an old newspaper front page that I keep around. It features a big, bold main headline, all in capital letters.
During this bitter, take-no-prisoners election season I’ve found myself turning to it more often. The headline feels like an artifact—specific to the story beneath it, yes, but more like an echo from an America that now seems lost.
That front-page headline was from the Cleveland Press, once among the nation’s most prosperous papers, now long out of business. The edition was from Nov. 23, 1963, and the words across the top of the page were about the new president of the United States:
ALL OF NATION RALLIES TO JOHNSON’S SUPPORT.
…The headline writer was endeavoring to sum up what felt like a unanimity of spirit that day. Sitting at the copy desk, was he willfully naive, unschooled in political realities? I doubt it. Those were hardly innocent or Pollyannaish times; a murdered president was awaiting burial. The nation was in trouble, and such a headline was not controversial. It felt almost like a prayer.
j. Football Story of the Week: Kalyn Kahler of The Athletic on the NFL player that got so seriously ill with Covid that it wrecked his career.
k. The Ryquell Armstead story is crazy. He developed Multi-Inflammatory Syndrome, a Covid offshoot which is so rare that the CDC during the pandemic said only 27 cases were reported in the United States and England. Armstead went days without it being diagnosed, and his temperature stayed so high that, per Kahler, Armstead was afraid he would die, even with the Jags’ doctor for internal medicine working overtime on his case.
l. Armstead’s journey is incredible. In some ways, it’s surprising he’s alive. Good story by Kahler.
m. Surprising iPhone Story of the Week: Julie Jargon of The Wall Street Journal, with one about “This School Took Away Smartphones. The Kids Don’t Mind.”
n. There is so much that is so smart about what the Buxton School in Williamstown, Mass., did.
o. Wrote Jargon:
Buxton School, a 57-student high school in Williamstown, in northwest Massachusetts, had always prided itself on its close-knit community, where family-style meals are eaten at round tables and students and teachers share in chores. But as smartphones became ubiquitous, faculty members say that sense of community eroded.
Students often looked down at screens during meals and even in class, where phones were prohibited. Teachers grew tired of being gadget police. Kids retreated to their rooms after class to scroll and text rather than gathering in student lounges. When the Covid-19 pandemic hit in 2020 and the school closed for a few months, class went virtual and things got worse.
“We found our students had disengaged more and more from real life as their phones became their world,” says John Kalapos, Buxton’s associate head of school, who graduated from the school in 2013. The trend continued after students returned to campus, he says.
p. Kalapos said at first, “Everyone was crying.” But here is what Jargon found in one senior, Yamalia Marks, who is 17:
“I’m a lot happier being on social media less. I think I’ve been a lot more self-aware,” she says, adding that she expects the benefit to carry into her first year of college. “Will I ever go back to having a phone with me all the time?” she wonders. “I don’t know, but I hope not.”
q. Sometimes the hardest things—and a teen without a smartphone is a very hard thing for that person—can be the most rewarding things.
r. The Astros won the World Series, the GM (James Click) had an expiring contract, and he got offered a one-year contract after the team won the World Series? Why didn’t they just fire him, which is clearly what they wanted to do?
s. I think I featured this video once, but the Dave Grohl-and-friends version of “Times Like These” from the pandemic is just fabulous, even after 2.5 years. Ellie Goulding, Dua Lipa, Chris Martin, Grohl. So good.
t. Want one more?
v. UConn 36, previously 8-1 Liberty 33, leading to the most surprising sentence in college football: The UConn Huskies are bowl-eligible.
UConn football is bowl eligible pic.twitter.com/jVj4QyToEr
— Joe Arruda (@joearruda9) November 12, 2022
w. Congrats to Seton Hall (N.J.) Prep for a big comeback win in the state football playoffs over rival St. Joseph’s, 34-30, coming back from 16 points down in the third quarter to win on a TD pass with seven seconds left. That’s what you call a big win over a big rival.
x. Speaking of my Jersey roots, how about the Devils winning nine in a row? They’re 12-3. I wonder if they ever started that fast with Martin Brodeur in net.
y. Beernerdness: Of course there has to be Beernerdness after four days in Germany. I tried five of the German beers. The best, I thought, was Furstenberg Premium Pilsener (Furstenberg Brewery, Donaueschingen, Germany), which I had on tap at a hotel in Munich. It’s brewed in western Germany near France, Switzerland and Liechtenstein. (No charge for the geography lesson.) A little bitter, and I say that in a positive way, with a great frothy head, and a little hoppier than a regular pilsner. Excellent. I had two.
z. RIP, Fred Hickman. I used to work with Fred at CNN. Delightful person, extremely professional, with one of the great broadcast voices I’ve ever heard.
Philadelphia 27, Washington 16. The Eagles are 8-0, with Washington home, at Indy, Green Bay home over the next 14 days. Gotta like their chances to be 11-0 as December dawns.
N.Y. Jets at New England, Sunday, 1 p.m., CBS. Zach Wilson handed the first meeting to the Patriots three weeks ago. Robert Saleh told me the coaches have been pretty educationally firm with Wilson, stressing that some of the best throws a quarterback can make are throwing the ball away. Has he learned? Tune in Sunday.
Dallas at Minnesota, Sunday, 4:25 p.m., CBS. Nice little cross-flex bone thrown to CBS, and it should get a huge number. A Dallas loss here, and the Cowboys can probably kiss any chance of catching Philly in East goodbye.
Kansas City at L.A. Chargers, Sunday, 8:20 p.m., NBC. I am convinced the next time Patrick Mahomes won’t play a nationally televised football game will be in week three, 2033.
The league should not play
Once a year in Germany.
Try four, maybe five.