When last we left bulbous hop sucker, Peter King, it wasn’t football season, but now it is! WEIRD! But what about this week? What star is like a claymation character? You’ll never guess nor care. Also, be advised ref nerds, this one is for you! READ ON.
So the season-opener featured 76 points and a quarterback performance for the ages, and there was all this explosive-offense talk, and then, on Sunday, to open the 94th NFL season, this happened:
The sun exploded, consuming the planet and extinguishing all life? Wait, that’s what I hope happens every time I sit down to read this.
• The Patriots, who averaged 34 points a game last year, needed an Audie Murphy performance by Danny Amendola and a Stephen Gostkowski field goal with five seconds left to beat Buffalo 23-21.
Even more shocking!
Also, did you know Danny Amendola is like a war hero? Something to keep in mind next time PK gets high-minded and lectures about romanticizing the brutality of the game.
• Seven of Sunday’s 13 games totaled 40 points or less.
Clearly it’s the Year of Defense. I’ll start printing the banners.
• Pittsburgh’s offense was shut out at home for the first 58 minutes of a 16-9 loss.
Possibly because their running back fumbled inside the opponent’s five in the first quarter, then they lost their best lineman from an already shaky line. Oh, and they weren’t very good to begin with.
• Seattle scored 37 points a game, on average, in its last six games of 2012. They managed 12 in Charlotte, and still won.
It’s as though they have a good defense or something.
• Adrian Peterson’s first carry of 2013: 78 yards. His next 17 carries: 15 yards.
What? Running backs can have breakaway rushes that go far outside their average. And here I thought Purple Jesus gained exactly 4.6 yards on each carry.
But here’s my favorite stat of all from the weekend:
Baltimore’s four wide receivers Thursday night: 15 catches, 215 yards, one touchdown.
The receiver Baltimore traded for a sixth-round pick: 13 catches, 208 yards, one touchdown.
PK’s been harping on this for a while so there was no way he wasn’t gonna gloat about being right about Boldin, even if he was hardly out on a limb with that opinion.
“I think you earned that $2 million today,’’ I said to Anquan Boldin Sunday night.
“Thanks,’’ he said with an awkward laugh.
Internal monologue: “That’s right, Anquan. Give him the brief recognition and the polite laugh he’s desperate for and maybe he won’t follow you back to the hotel this time.”
I remember when Boldin signed with Baltimore in 2010, how the Ravens raved about quickly he adjusted to the new offense and to quarterback Joe Flacco. I looked it up this morning: He had 20 catches for 287 yards in his first three games in Baltimore. And now, on the phone from San Francisco, he sounded like an avid reader of Who Moved My Cheese?
After doing a search to figure out what Who Moved My Cheese? is, I’m very proud of myself that I didn’t know before.
Long year for the Steelers. I’ve learned never to count out Mike Tomlin, and his players will play hard in the fourth quarter of the 16th game if they’re 0-15.
Damn straight. Never count out Mike Tomlin. He has slogans! Even if his team enters Week 17 winless. No other coach can make it look like their team is trying really hard while being hapless. The standard is the standard.
But the offensive line is full of leaks, and now Maurkice Pouncey is gone for the year with a torn ACL (injury of the day), running game savior Le’Veon Bell (foot) is maybe a month away from contributing, and they’ve got to go to Cincinnati a week from tonight to face a team that looks to be passing them in the AFC North hierarchy.
Is that good?
Danny Amendola has a little Welker in him, and maybe a lot.
Depends on how much he worked the shaft before Welker inserted.
Late in the first half at Buffalo, Amendola, who entered the game nursing a groin injury, pulled up in the end zone in obvious pain, grabbing the inside of his upper leg. Well, that’s it. He’s gone for six week. The Legend of Brittle Amendola continues. But back he came in the second half with seven catches for 64 yards in the last two quarters, converting a 3rd-and-8 on the winning field-goal drive in the final minutes. “I knew he was a tough player,’’ Shane Vereen, his new teammate, said after the game. “But for him to come back from that and play how he played in the second half, that was pretty impressive.”
Almost as though he beat the Germans by himself.
The Raiders might not be good, but they might have a quarterback. For a first start, it was a B-plus
Does that mean Terrelle Pryor is Daniel Bryan?
and I definitely want to see more. San Francisco was supposed to have the mobile quarterback who could hurt you with his legs and his arm. Now maybe Oakland has one too.
Because Colin Kaepernick is the only other fast dynamic quarterback in the league? What of the Charmslinger?
Geno Smith has at least one element of what it takes to be a New York quarterback. Thick skin, apparently. He can tune out the crap. The Jets were on their way to a 17-15 loss when Smith got whacked out of bounds—to me, the call was ticky-tack, but as Smith said, “Doesn’t matter; they called it”—and the 15-yard penalty allowed Nick Folk to be in range for a 48-yard winning field goal. A totally unlikely first victory. He was 24 of 38 for 256 yards, with a touchdown and a pick. And not affected by any of it. Isn’t it amazing to see so many rookie quarterbacks starting openers in the last couple of years (Smith, Russell Wilson, Andrew Luck, Robert Griffin III) be totally cool with the bigness of it all?
Bigness, you guys.
It’s tough not to be dwarfed by the enormity of it.
The sheer bigiosity.
But that’s why we’re not among the precocious. They can deal with it, except when they can’t.
This used to be unthinkable, starting so early. But now, it’s almost expected that a passer with lots of college experience will step in and not embarrass himself.
It’s almost as though the sport has changed in several significant ways.
One of the good things about a Thursday night game, and about NFL Game Rewind, which I’d like to buy stock in, is that it’s easy to go back in the next day or two and watch the game in-depth, to see what really happened. And the great thing about NFL Game Rewind is being able to toggle between the TV feed of the game and the coaches’ video, so you can see—for instance—how utterly awful Ed Dickson was for the Ravens in the season opener.
Yes, you really need more technology to see that the 18 passes he dropped was a bad thing.
I went back originally to try to judge whether Baltimore coach John Harbaugh was right in contending that NBC didn’t show a replay of the Wes Welker trapped catch before Payton Manning snapped the ball in the third quarter on a vital series of the game. (Truth in journalism here: I also work for NBC. So you’ll have to take my findings with that understanding, but I wanted to be clear about that before we start here.)
That’s right. Peter King won’t report which owners voted against the settlement but when it comes to protecting the honor of NBC that motherfucker is ON IT.
Denver trails 17-14 with 14:13 left in the third quarter. Manning throws low to Welker, who appears to trap it. The officials call it a catch. Cornerback Corey Graham immediately motions to the ground that it bounced. Now, keep in mind that each coaches’ booth in every NFL stadium is equipped with a TV monitor that shows the exact feed that is shown in the replay booth; the only difference is the coaches cannot run a play back and forth the way it can be done in the replay booth. But the replay shown by NBC, with Welker clearly trapping the catch, comes either 10 or 11 seconds before the snap of the next play by Manning. (I was using the sweep hand on my watch, so it’s not precise.) And in the first half, when Harbaugh challenged almost exactly the same kind of trap by Demaryius Thomas, the Ravens threw the challenge flag six seconds after the first replay of the Thomas trap. So, unless there was a blackout or a TV malfunction in the Ravens’ coaches booth, the replay was shown up there in plenty of time for Harbaugh to have been told he should throw the challenge flag. The coach upstairs blew that one.
Fair maiden NBC is safe once again. Hopefully that’s the last time that the nefarious forces of scrutiny dare trifle with her.
Calling all ref nerds.
This year’s Ref-Con will take place at the Wichita Convention Center Nov. 13-15
What you need to know about new rules and points of emphasis for the 2013 season, in the order of significance (well, my order of significance):
All right, Peter is recapping the new rules for the readers who only follow him during the football season, which is masochistic but certainly less so than the 48 weeks of hell I experience a year. Time to move on.
The Fine Fifteen
3. Seattle (1-0). I don’t rank the Seahawks here with conviction
Because the only thing you do with conviction is defend your employers?
because Russell Wilson had defenders buzzing around him all afternoon in Charlotte. But you looked up at the end of the game, and Wilson still had 320 yards passing against a pressure D, and the Seahawks played well enough to steal one.
The good teams find ways to win etc etc platitudes and so forth
9. New England (1-0). No style points in NFL victories, which is a good thing for the Patriots.
“I have absolutely nothing of value to say about this game.”
11. Cincinnati (0-1). A.J. Green is a very tall Gumby.
Does that make Andy Dalton Pokey? He is orange.
13. Tennessee (1-0). Maybe Mike Munchak’s right. Maybe you can still win by running the ball predominantly—in part because so many teams don’t work that much in practice to stop the run, because so few teams are big-run teams anymore.
Indeed, it is still possible to beat shitty teams with no offense primarily with the run.
14. Baltimore (0-1). Repeat after me, Timonium: It’s only one game … It’s only one game …
Timonium? Is he trying to be like Chris Berman and just randomly citing small areas around Baltimore? Does he think Ravens fans just hang out at the state fairgrounds? I mean, I wouldn’t put it past them, but seems unlikely.
15. Arizona (0-1). Larry Fitzgerald touchdown catches last year: four. Larry Fitzgerald touchdown catches Sunday in St. Louis: two. The Cards are going to be a tough day for every team on their schedule.
Like like Mike Tomlin, you should never count out the Cardinals, even if they lose all their games. They will make it incredibly difficult to beat them every time.
Offensive Players of the Week
Peyton Manning, QB, Denver. At age 37, in the 245th game of his career, Manning did something that hadn’t been done since the AFL and NFL merged in 1970: He threw seven touchdown passes in a game. His 27-of-42, 462-yard, no-interception performance, coming against the defending Super Bowl champs, will be one of those he tells the grandkids about someday.
Tells them? That’s cute. His grandkids will spend their first six years living exclusively in the film room.
Goats of the Week
Bill Leavy, referee, Green Bay-San Francisco game. When there are offsetting fouls after a play has ended, the down is not supposed to be replayed. But Leavy erred on this most basic of officiating tenets, and it played a major role in San Francisco’s victory. With 9:02 left in the second quarter, Colin Kaepernick scrambled out of bounds, and he was hit late by Clay Matthews. Matthews was flagged for hitting Kaepernick out of bounds, two steps after the play officially ended. A scrum ensued, with Matthews and Niners tackle Joe Staley going at it. Staley got a personal foul. But instead of ruling that the play should stand and it should be 4th-and-2, meaning the Niners would have attempted a field goal, Leavy ordered the down replayed. Kaepernick threw a touchdown pass to Anquan Boldin, making it 14-7 San Francisco instead of 10-7. Leavy admitted his error afterward, but that likely didn’t make the 3-hour, 40-minute flight home much nicer for the Packers.
Leavy is an idiot but I’m not all that upset about this oversight because I thought the retaliation penalty on Staley was unwarranted or at least iffy. Or maybe it’s because I saw Florio trollishly try to connect it to the Fail Mary play from last year – TOTALLY THE SAME THING, YOU GUYS.
Quotes of the Week
“Fantasy owners might not be happy. But we’re sure happy.”
—Detroit coach Jim Schwartz, after Calvin Johnson and Brandon Pettigrew were held to a total of 43 receiving yards and no touchdowns Sunday in a 34-24 Lions win.
Anyone who has ever owned Pettigrew becomes well conditioned for disappointment.
“Will the Lions cover four-and-a-half tomorrow against Minnesota?’’
—Brent Musberger, during an interview with Lions fan and rapper Eminem during Notre Dame-Michigan Saturday night. Want to define the look of paranoia? Check out Eminem’s face. That uncomfortable Q-and-A will be a case study in Weird Announcing History 101 in broadcast schools for years to come.
Not if it takes space on the syllabus away from Joe Namath and the Matron Saint. I also love that PK implies that there are advanced classes in Weird Announcing History. I only took the entry level as an elective but my friend minored in Announcer Weirdness.
Factoid of the Week That May Interest Only Me
Imagine suiting up for three teams in three different stadiums in 18 days. Linebacker Adrian Robinson just did it. Check out his winding three-week road:
Itineraries! The most structured of nuggets!
The statistical oddity in Peyton Manning’s regular-season games with very big TD numbers:
• In his first 83 games, Manning did not have a game with five or more TD passes.
• In his next 24, he had six such games.
• In his ensuing 117 regular-season games, he had no five-plus TD games.
• In Game 225, he threw seven touchdown passes.
It’s almost as though he peaked at one point in his career then had a statistical outlier at the end. WEIRD!
Stat of the Week
It’s likely the Titans cannot play the way they did in Pittsburgh, win 11 games and qualify for the playoffs; you’re not going to face a bumbling offensive team with no running game every week, as the Steelers appeared to be in Week 1. But for one day, the Titans played just as coach Mike Munchak drew it up when he paid big money for one guard in free agency (Andy Levitre), drafted another guard 10th overall (Chance Warmack), signed 225-pound Jets running back Shonn Greene in free agency to back up Chris Johnson and 240-pound back Jackie Battle for insurance, and inserted 247-pound undrafted Army fullback Collin Mooney in the starting lineup.
The percentage of Tennessee running plays in 2012: 39.5 percent (378 of 957 plays).
The percentage of Tennessee running plays Sunday: 66.7 percent (42 of 63 plays).
“That’s who we are,’’ said Munchak. “But, what I really like about the offense is that we’ve got the kinds of weapons—Kenny Britt, Kendall Wright, Nate Washington—that we can use to get in a throwing contest if we have to. Who knows? Maybe next week we’ll have to throw it 40 times to win. That’s okay too.”
So much to love about that Munchak quote at the end. Not only the fact that he lists his incredibly average receiving corps of Kenny Britt, Kendall Wright and Nate Washington as reasons why they could win in a shootout against, like, the Saints, but he doesn’t mention Locker. The way the NFL is now, a really awesome quarterback can win with just about set of halfway passable receivers, but Munchak seems to believe what he has at wideout is so awesome it can compensate for how shitty Locker is.
One game in 2012, out of 256 regular season games, started with a 2-0 score. Three games Sunday started 2-0.
DURRR IT’S THE YEAR OF THE SAFETY AND TEAMS SCORING FIRST IN A RANDOM WAY. Week 1 reactions are the worst.
Mr. Starwood Preferred Member Travel Note of the Week
Now this is something that never happened to me before on an airplane: I had an aisle seat in a three-across row flying home from Denver and the season-opener on JetBlue early Friday morning. The man sitting next to me was asleep when I boarded. He slept the entire way to New York. He didn’t wake up when we landed. I got up and disembarked. He was still asleep. When I was walking off the plane, I looked over at the poor guy in the window seat who didn’t know whether to shake the guy or try to climb over him to get off the plane.
The poor sucker. PK wouldn’t have stood for that. He would dumped scalding coffee on the man then lectured him about line-cutting moochers at the boarding gate.
“Yes, our daughters are born in China, speak French, & love Indian & Mexican food. That’s the story of America.”
—@nprscottsimon, the terrific host of Weekend Edition on NPR, Scott Simon, on his mutlicultural family.
Oh fucking BARF. So nice that you adopted a couple Asian kids and brought them into your yuppie paradise. Give yourself the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
Ten Things I Think I Think
1. I think this is what I liked about Week 1:
a. The play of Denver safety Duke Ihenacho, an undrafted 2012 college free agent from San Jose State. He was everywhere Thursday night.
Is this a Gregg Easterbrook crossover column?
g. Alex Smith, for being Alex Smith.
There’s more to this item but I don’t wanna kill the romance.
h. Andrew Luck, for his eighth fourth-quarter comeback in 17 professional games. Think about that.
Thinking who plays him in the Hollywood adaptation of the Colts 2012 season? Still a shame Andre the Giant is dead (we hardly knew he). He had the voice.
k. The Cleveland run defense: 23 Miami carries, 20 yards. Told you Cleveland could be a top-10 defense.
l. Told you to draft Jared Cook, fantasians. Hope you listened.
m. I knew Martellus Bennett would be a great signing for Chicago, and the leaping fingertip touchdown catch on the first Bears touchdown of the year just proved that.
Oh hey, remember when you said the other week that Matt Leinart should start in Buffalo and then he got cut within five days? SOMEHOW THAT MISSED THE CUT OF TOLD-YA-SO’S.
2. I think this is what I didn’t like about Week 1:
a. Two timeouts on the opening drive of the season for the Bucs, and then Josh Freeman getting sacked. Not good.
THE SCHIANO FACTOR
PK’s man crush on Coach Shitbag has quietly dissipated over the last year. Possibly because Schiano is a hilarious failure.
g. The Bucs’ composure—13 penalties, 102 yards. Atrocious.
h. The Giants’ ball security—six turnovers. Atrocious.
i. David Wilson needs to go to the Tiki Barber School of Ball Control. I might be serious about that. Barber should call him.
Which he will, just as soon as he can afford a phone.
8. I think in the realm of unintended consequences, the two penalties called on Tampa Bay safeties for hits on Jets receivers—because the receiver was defenseless or because the hit was very marginally high—will continue the trend of defensive backs lining up receivers and whacking them in the legs. What was ridiculous, I thought, was Jeremy Kerley curling up in anticipation of a hit, and Mark Barron and Dashon Goldson going low on him (I mean, where else could they go?) and getting flagged for unnecessary roughness. It is a rough sport! If a receiver gets in a fetal position and is attempting to go forward, are defenders supposed to leave him alone, or hit him? Said Goldson: “I can’t think about it. I can’t play timid. If I’m not in a position to get a guy clean, then I’ve got to go low. That’s just the way it is.”
Either you’re willing to accept concussions or you’re willing to accept crippling leg injuries. This the choice that the NFL has given us.
9. I think Jerry Jones, Dan Snyder and Bob Kraft—and all the other owners in the league who believe, strangely, in attracting fans to the stadium rather than repelling them — are laughing this morning at this: Notre Dame and Michigan celebrated the largest crowd in college football history (115,109) Saturday night in Ann Arbor by apparently deciding not to play again in Ann Arbor until at least 2020, and maybe never again. Such a good idea, to give the public less of what it’s crying out for.
Good point. Let’s built an incredibly expensive taxpayer-funded stadium and then NEVER USE IT. The fans will go apeshit with ticket lust.
10. I think these are my non-football thoughts of the week:
b. I have to tell you it got quiet in the NBC Football Night in America Red Sox Wing
That’s the worst thing I ever heard. I want to kill it with fire, invent a time machine so I can stop myself from killing it with fire so I can then kill it with poison.
when the Jacoby Ellsbury foot news came in Sunday. He’ll miss some time with an injury.
Name five things I could give less of a shit about. You can’t!
c. This is saying a lot, but the just-completed four-game Yankees-Red Sox series is in the modern era top five Yankees-Red Sox series for weirdness.
Snicker if you want, but I’m convinced SportsCenter has actually showed this countdown on several occasions.
d. Thanks, Lake Bell, for being a fan of The MMQB. You’re good at movies too.
/never watches Children’s Hospital again
e. Feeling stupid for ignoring Breaking Bad.
People miss stuff. You’re a quasi-busy-ish guy. No, it’s “The Newsroom” you should feel stupid for liking. Also, please never watch “Breaking Bad” I want it to stay a wonderful thing you never get your fat, clammy hands on.
h. Coffeenerdness: Nice espresso, Dazbog. That’s the Denver coffee place I hit a couple of times last week. Less bitter than most espressos.
Unless espresso is lofty slang for legal weed, I once again find myself not giving a shit.
i. Beernerdness: Subbing a wine this week:
I remembered having a Cabernet called “Educated Guess” a few months ago in New Jersey. The owner of the place told me it was a Wayne Gretzky wine from the Napa Valley, and it was terrific. Found it in Denver Wednesday night at our NBC dinner, and the crowd went wild. Very good value.
Well aren’t you the Peacock champion this week? Sticking up for the company in your column and snagging wine for dinner. I bet you park Dick Ebersol’s car for him for fun.
Who I Like Tonight
Washington 31, Philadelphia 23. Robert Griffin III and Mike Vick set a land-speed record for number of plays (2,349) in a 60-minute game. I don’t trust the Eagles defense.
But you trust RGIII’s knee in FedEx? If you say so.
Houston 34, San Diego 16. With Manti Te’o on the sidelines with a foot injury that’s idled him for 31 days, America will see one of the great names in the game instead—inside ‘backer Bront Bird. Arian Foster is not amused, or intimidated.
But he is kind of injured.
The Adieu Haiku
I know. Raiders lost.
But my Week 1 takeaway?
Oakland’s not boring.
The Red Sox Wing
Lofty house of Pedroia
Burn it to the ground