Peter King And The Quirkiest Game Of the Year

11.12.12 5 years ago 34 Comments

Ape works a tireless schedule around these parts, so I thought I would offer him a break and take Peter King coverage off his hands to help save his sanity this week. Little did I know, it would come close to costing myself my own mental well-being to plow through the 8000+ word column.

Tie Trivia as we wrap up another week in the playoff race to determine who’ll square off in New Orleans:

“Wrap.” “Tie Trivia.” I see you, Peter King.

• This is the 39th season with a form of regular-season overtime, and Sunday’s 24-24 Rams-49ers tie was the first on the West Coast since the system was established in 1974.

Typical East Coast media bias to give themselves all the ties.

• The last six overtime ties have been November games — on Nov. 19, 16, 23, 10, 16 and 11.

Those ties are all Scorpios, intense and controlling.

• In the last tie — Cincinnati 13, Philadelphia 13 four years ago — Bengals quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick (yes, that Ryan Fitzpatrick) drove the Bengals to a shot at the winning field goal with seven seconds left, but Shayne Graham shanked it right.

You mean the only Ryan Fitzpatrick to ever play in the NFL? That goodness you cleared that up, I was thinking of the other Ryan Fitzpatrick, the one who didn’t play football.

Sunday was a rollicking, fun day in the NFL, but before we get to the 11 non-ties, we have to spend a few paragraphs on the quirkiest game of the year.

Quirkiest game of the year? Didn’t realize Fox had put Zooey Deschanel in their game coverage.

A little before noon Pacific Time, as the San Francisco crowd began to settle in their seats, fans in the lower bowl at Candlestick Park were treated to an odd display. Two Rams starters in sweat clothes, cornerback Janoris Jenkins and wide receiver Chris Givens, both rookies, began sprinting up and down the stairs in one section of the stands, supervised by assistant strength coach Adam Bailey.

It is odd to see athletes do athletic things like running stairs in an athletic venue. Go on.

How odd, the fans with trays of Gordon Biersch craft beers and garlic fries reporting for the game must have thought. What are these Rams doing running the stairs at this hour? Shouldn’t they be stretching for the game, or doing something down on the field?

Odds are those fans were more concerned about not spilling their Gordon Biersch craft beer — a beer so crafty and special, it’s the Trader Joe’s store brand — and garlic fries, because those thin cardboard trays collapse in a heart beat. If they did notice Jenkins and Givens, the wouldn’t be worried about them getting ready for the game since they were both inactive for violating team rules.

“It was two-fold,” said Rams coach Jeff Fisher, who suspended Jenkins and Givens for an unspecified violation of team rules Saturday. “They weren’t going to play, so they needed a workout. And I guess you can say it was part punitive. We still have to sort some things out about what happened, but hopefully this helps them get the message.”

“I didn’t even know that happened,” said St. Louis receiver Danny Amendola.

Score one for the beer drinking, garlic fry eating fans.

Early in the second quarter, with the Rams holding a 14-0 lead, Alex Smith had a 3rd-and-15 at his 38. He completed a pass to Michael Crabtree that got very close to the first down, and the officials called for a measurement, with 13:32 to go. Out came the sticks. On ticked the clock. The Niners were a few inches short of the first down. The ball was spotted at the Ram 48. Tick, tick, tick. Now the clock was down to about 12:10 when someone on the field finally noticed the clock never stopped.

Referee Clete Blakeman got on his mic and said: “We are checking the game clock for accuracy.” OK, now he’d just have the clock reset to 12:32. Nope. He came back on the mike shortly thereafter and said: “The game clock is correct.” Who’d he check with? The drunk tailgaters who never came into the game? And the band played on.

Lost seconds in an NFL game being just as tragic as the band going down with the Titanic and the AIDS epidemic.

We’d have skewered the replacement officials for this; the NFL needs to come down hard on the stadium timekeeper and seven men who apparently never saw a minimum of 72 and maximum of 90 seconds tick off what should have been a stopped clock.

If the officials are not accurate with the amount of time that should have been put back on the clock, why should I be?

Then Smith left with a concussion. Then Rams punter Johnny Hekker completed a 1-yard pass on a fake punt, just before the half. Then the Niners went ahead 21-17 in the fourth quarter. Then the Rams, at their own 33 with 5:23 to play, had a 4th-and-8. Fisher called for the fake again. “I didn’t think they could stop it,” he said, and Hekker, sure enough, threw a perfect spiral to a wide-open Lance Kendricks. Gain of 19. First down.

Two fake punts, one from the Ram 10, one from the Rams 33. Now that’s different. Who fakes a punt standing in his own end zone?

Jeff Fisher does, which is why you never trust a man with a mustache.

Here came the Rams, Sam Bradford evading the rush long enough to find Amendola — playing his first game since severely fracturing his collarbone five weeks ago, the injury so grotesque and graphic that it made Rams COO Kevin Demoff faint when it was described to him — for five yards and then 16 yards and then eight yards, down to the Niners’ 2 with 73 seconds left. “It hurt sometimes,” Amendola said from the locker room afterward. “But you just have to block that out.” For 70 snaps Amendola blocked it out. For 11 catches he blocked it out.

And took 15 Toradols which will eventually lead to intestinal collapse.

With 8:14 to go in overtime, David Akers missed a chippy field goal from 41 yards. Wide left. In fits and starts, the Rams got the ball down to the San Francisco 35 with 3:25 to play. Fourth down. Hekker was the holder, Greg Zuerlein the kicker. Both rookies.“They’re out of timeouts,” Fisher told Zuerlein on the sidelines. “They can’t ice you.”

Plus, you can’t Ice someone with a Gordon Biersch.

Each team had another chance, but there was no more drama. When the clock got to :00, Amendola — and he wasn’t the only one — didn’t know the rule that the game was over. (Shades of Donovan McNabb, 2008, Cincinnati.) “I thought we were going to keep playing,” he said.And everyone in the game was left to feel … odd.

Too many garlic fries will do that to a person.

Youth and costly mistakes. That’s the headline. But the upshot is this: The Rams are not pushovers anymore. Three NFC West games this year: St. Louis, 2-0-1. Rams 60, Foes 40.

Foes now the leading contender for expansion into Los Angeles market.

Now onto the other news of the day:

Peter King reading the news for BBC World Service.

The Texans prove something to America, and themselves. Bears weather. Driving rain, windy, slippery turf, chunks of grass and dirt flying all night.

Bits of thick pizza, sauerkraut and old Mike Royko columns littered the muddy field.

Most impressive: Houston never fumbled on a night made for fumbling.

It was in the weather forecast. 80% chance of fumbling, 100% chance of it raining Culters and dogs.

The Bears turned it over four times, Houston twice. The call has gone out to the rest of the league. Houston’s not going to fold if they have a crummy field in Nashville Dec. 2 or Foxboro Dec. 10, or if they have to go on the road to a Baltimore or Foxboro or Pittsburgh in January. After Sunday night, with a one-game lead for AFC home-field advantage and a 7-0 AFC record, they’re the favorites to be home as long as they last in January.

No calls went out about how the Texans would play on turf in Detroit and Indianapolis.

I hope you were careful not to put a stake in the Saints a month ago. They’ve got the 49ers, Falcons and Giants in a 15-day span starting in Week 12, but New Orleans is 4-5 with Oakland next Sunday, and the 31-27 win over Atlanta was no fluke. Drew Brees is hot, the defense is generous but not hopeless and New Orleans is dangerous. Can you imagine the story if they wiggle into the sixth seed and have a prayer to play in a home Super Bowl, after what this team has been through this year?

My dream of a rabid Saints fan attacking Roger Goodell on Bourbon Street moves a little closer to reality.

What a day for the tight end. When I interviewed Tony Gonzalez for an SI feature three weeks ago, the former Cal forward was eloquent talking about how being a basketball player helps him in his position. “So many of the catches as a tight end you use the same skills as you would in basketball, boxing out,” he said. “I play basketball in the offseason against some really good players, but guys who probably aren’t going to play in the NBA. And when I see a guy I think has a tight end body, I say, ‘You ever play football? You should try it. You’d be perfect for it.’ ”So it was no coincidence that in the Superdome on Sunday, when a former Super Bowl champ was battling a team hoping to be a Super Bowl champ, the two biggest receiving weapons were tight ends, Gonzalez and the Saints’ Jimmy Graham. Both of whom, by the way, are veterans of NCAA Division I basketball. Graham played at the University of Miami before turning to football. And did you see what they did when they scored Sunday? They dunked the ball over the 10-foot-high crossbar.

Hey, that’s the same height as a regulation basketball hoop! Maybe the NFL should consider putting hoops on the crossbar so when players go to dunk footballs, we can truly appreciate how high they are jumping.

Uhhh, you mean Adrian Peterson might be getting better? And in the 11th week, he rested. Adrian Peterson, with a 123-yard lead over Marshawn Lynch in the rushing race, has his bye this week, and by all accounts, you’d think he needs it. He’s playing after major knee surgery last winter, and he’s playing better than any back in football. Last four weeks: 153, 123, 182 and, on Sunday, 171 yards rushing. A four-week total of 629 yards, with five touchdowns and a gaudy 7.7-yard average. The crazy thing is — as he told me after the Vikings beat the Lions Sunday — is he’s still recovering from his surgery.

The crazy thing is, a player is back on the field without being back at 100%. Just wacky. And he’s playing better than everyone else. Imagine if he was wasn’t recovering. He’d probably be able to dunk a football.

“Last week in Seattle, on one run, I felt scar tissue break up around my patella tendon on one of my cuts,” he said from Minneapolis. “That’s part of the recovery, that scar tissue breaking.” That’s why he thinks he’ll continue to get better. I asked him about one particular run last week in Seattle when he got caught from behind on a 74-yard run. You recall it; he was down at the 1 and looked totally spent. “That was simply poor technique,” he said. “I was running like Michael Johnson ’til I got to the 30, and I just wasn’t running open enough.” Whatever … Peterson’s on pace for the best year of his life, and some day, some orthopedist is going to write a paper on how his body got so good so fast after such a major surgery.

Section 1, Synthesizing Wolverine’s Biochemistry For Medicinal Use.

An X-factor in the Sean Payton decision. As of this morning, the New England Patriots and Chicago Bears have seven players scheduled to carry 2013 salary cap numbers of $3 million or higher. The New Orleans Saints have 15, including the gaudy $17.4 milion number quarterback Drew Brees will carry based on his new five-year deal signed in July.

Cap numbers, of course, can and will change. But as of today, the Saints are in major trouble if they’re going to use any avenue except the fixed-cost NFL Draft to repair their defense in 2013. The 15 heaviest contracts the Saints have, as of this morning, take up 87 percent of their 2013 salary cap. The NFL is scheduled to have a cap number of about $121 million per team next year, though that varies from team to team depending on cap credits and money carried over from the previous season.

As of this morning? Didn’t the trade deadline already pass? Does it really need to be as up to date as of this morning?

Think of that: The Saints have 28 percent of their 53-man roster taking up 87 percent of the cap room. And they’ll be at least $25 million over the $121 million cap at the start of the free-agency period.

Of course, that will have to change. But even if the Saints can re-do huge pacts like Will Smith’s, and even if they make a veteran such as Jonathan Vilma or David Hawthorne a cap casualty, the front office will still find it tough to keep this team intact for the long haul. (And cutting Vilma would still incur a $2.6 million cap charge for the 2013 portion of his pro-rated signing bonus.) How, for instance, will they be able to re-sign left tackle Jermon Bushrod, scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent?

That’s why owners, general managers and coaches make the big money, to decide who to spend valuable cap space on. Don’t ask me how to do it, I forget to pay the gas bill half the time.

As Mike Florio pointed out on NBC last night, the Saints now have a 13-week edge on the competition to get a valid contract done with Payton — because Payton cannot be reinstated for at least 13 weeks, until the day after the Super Bowl, and thus can’t speak to any other team about a job until then. New Orleans is the lead dog in the pursuit of Payton, and Dallas is a clear No. 2, though there’s no guarantee the Cowboys’ job will open up yet. For the record, some of the onerous cap numbers in 2013 that will weigh on Payton’s decision are on the right.

So let me get this straight; this was a huge exercise to go through the Saints cap numbers —  which have no bearing on what Payton makes, by the way — to say that maybe the Saints cap issues may be a factor in his decision to come back to New Orleans when his suspension is lifted? If cap space is an issue for a coach, why not also run through the payroll of the Dallas Cowboys and the Philadelphia Eagles, two teams presumably in the Sean Payton derby, for comparison? Without context, this is just a bunch of numbers vomited onto the page without any relevance to the point.

Kremer, the veteran TV reporter, has signed on with NFL Network for a newly created post of chief correspondent, health and safety. She’s not leaving her gig at HBO’s highly respected Real Sports show, just supplementing it with this new job.

Because one well researched story a month isn’t challenging enough, she’s supplementing it with One A Day multivitamins with extra iron and work.

Her first major contribution comes this week, when NFL Network opens health-and-safety coverage with an over-arching four-part series on, well, health and safety. Timely, especially considering the spate of concussions suffered Sunday; three starting quarterbacks left games with concussions (Michael Vick, Alex Smith, Jay Cutler). The series begins Tuesday night on NFL Network’s Total Access, with the remaining three segments on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.

I have known the dogged Kremer for a long time, and I spoke with her Saturday, mostly about her plans for doing a job that could put the league in the difficult position of exposing the underbelly of the sport it has long kept in the dark. Concussions, sordid lives after football, and the like.

Because those are issues that haven’t been covered by Real Sports, Sports Illustrated, ESPN, Deadspin and the like.

MMQB: What exactly do you aim to do in this job?

Kremer: “The goal is to deal with these issues that, for whatever reason, you fill in the blank, the NFL Network has overlooked in the past. I will use the word [NFL Network vice president of programming] Mark Quenzel used when we first spoke about the job — substantive. He said: ‘We want more substantive stories on health and safety.’ It’s the biggest issue not just in football, but in all of sports. People are talking about how ‘bigger, stronger, faster’ will lead to more health problems. There are so many stories. So many. Where do you begin?”

“Well, as one professional to another, I’d start with why we can’t get Allagash in more stadiums.”

MMQB: You’ve always been known as a pretty tough reporter. The NFL’s now going to be signing your paychecks. Concerned you’ll be able to report everything you want?

“I myself feel free to act like a mouthpiece for the league with no guilt whatsoever, and my checks come from somewhere else. Well, that and the free Starbucks coffee in the press box.”

Kremer: “I have no indication whatever that we will be censored in any way. The mandate we have been given is: Just be fair. Be balanced. We’re going to get calls from the league office. Just let us know what you’re doing. But that doesn’t bother me.

“Fair and balanced? Sounds like Starbucks House Blend.”

MMQB: You think you’ll be able to do all the stories you want, including some that will make the league uncomfortable?Kremer: “Like Mark Quenzel said, ‘I’ll be honest with you: I don’t know if our audience wants this. But we want it.’ In our unit, we’ve nicknamed ourselves the vegetables. You have to have us on the plate, but you don’t really want to eat us.”

Not a quibble with PK here, but with Kremer. Ms. Kremer, you’ve been a hero of mine for quite some time and to diminish yourself to the side dish of vegetables no one wants is rather disheartening. It’s not your style to be loud, and saying what you plan on covering is important isn’t being boastful nor is it egotistical. Hard news isn’t the vegetable, it’s the main course. The vegetable is the NFL Network trotting out yet another fifteen year old clip of Deion Sanders playing football during the highlight show.

(Seriously, just stop it with the Deion clips NFLN.)

Good book coming out this week New York Daily News NFL writer Gary Myers has some good insight and more than a few compelling stories in his book, Coaching Confidential: Inside the Fraternity of NFL Coaches, (Crown Archetype, New York) out on Tuesday. It’s about the complicated lives of head coaches and everything they have to handle. There’s lots of football, and some vengeance even.

Actually, I’m looking forward to reading this book too. Don’t ruin it for me.

Two snapshots:

SPOILER ALERT! I said don’t ruin this book for me.

Patriots owner Robert Kraft told Myers after the Spygate discipline came down on the club in 2007, he asked Bill Belichick: “How much did this help us on a scale of 1 to 100?” Belichick answered: “One.”

“Then you’re a real schmuck,” Kraft said.

“Now take of that sweatshirt and help me run lines in front of this green screen.”

Each week, thanks to play-by-play game dissection by, I’ll look at one important matchup or individual performance metric from one of the Sunday games.

In his four years as starting quarterback for the Jets — including this star-crossed one — Mark Sanchez has ranked 28th, 27th, 23rd, and, this year, 30th, in passer rating. The slide well below mediocrity continued Sunday in Seattle, when Sanchez’s 9-of-22 day helped the Jets fall, 28-7. He had only two drives of more than 35 yards, and one ended in an interception.

Those numbers sound pretty bad. Maybe Pete Carroll was right to say Sanchez shouldn’t leave USC early.

Enter Tim Tebow.

Stage left.

The Jets have so far used him on 10 percent of all offensive plays, just under half of those as a runner. They’ve also let him pass on just four occasions. And of those 55 plays, he’s never been allowed on the field for three consecutive offensive plays. In this game he was brought in for 18 percent of the 55 offensive plays (including penalties). What he did in itself wasn’t bad. On his eight non-penalty-erased plays, Tebow picked up three first downs and made no major errors.

Apparently the Jets are so bad, three first downs are an encouraging sign.

The real problem was what, apparently, it did to Sanchez.

It’s easy to get jealous of three first downs.

Obviously, the Jets’ coaching staff clearly thinks the way forward is not with Tebow, except as an inconsistent novelty item. But from watching the games, you see Sanchez and Tebow are not close, and Sanchez’s performance to date could be a result of two things: his battered and sub-par supporting cast, and the fact he’s uneasy (if not unnerved) with Tebow’s presence and insertion into games as the quarterback.

Probably much more of the former than the latter.

The Jets either need to stick with Sanchez and keep Tebow off the field entirely as a quarterback, or they need to give Tebow an extended trial. If that doesn’t work, third-stringer Greg McElroy, likely the most accurate of the three of them, should get a shot. The current scenario isn’t working. At all.

And if that doesn’t work, see how Erik Ainge is doing now that he’s clean and sober.

Fine Fifteen
1. Houston (8-1). “We do not like the taste in our mouths from the Sunday night game against Green Bay,” left tackle Duane Brown told me the other day, concerning the 42-24 loss to the Packers in the Sunday night game a month ago. The Texans spit out the taste thanks to their hard-earned victory at Soldier Field Sunday night.

Yes, a 43-13 tromping of the second best team in the AFC plus a win over a mediocre Bills team and a bye-week in the past month didn’t help the Texans move on, beating the Bears backup quarterback erased losing to Packers in their collective psyche.

2. Atlanta (8-1). The first 400-yard passing game of Matt Ryan’s five-year NFL career kept Atlanta in the game Sunday at New Orleans and nearly beat the Saints. But when Roddy White turned the wrong way on the last drive of the game, all hope was lost. It had to happen sometime. This Falcons team just didn’t have the feel of one to go through a season unbeaten.

It’s been forty years since a team has had an unbeaten season, does anyone knows what that feeling is supposed to feel like after all this time? Is it soft like a kitty or old and wrinkly like a raisin?

3. Chicago (7-2). If Jay Cutler’s MIA with his concussion recovery next Monday night at Candlestick, I don’t like backup quarterback Jason Campbell to beat the Niners. At all.

Other than the fact Cutler wouldn’t actually be missing in action, maybe you want to lay off the military jargon in football around Veterans Day.

5. Pittsburgh (5-3). Prime-time menu for the Steelers at Heinz Field … Tonight, ESPN, the JV game: Chiefs at Steelers. Next Sunday, NBC, the Varsity game: Ravens at Steelers.

Browns-Steelers the following week, the freshman football team.

7. Denver (6-3). The Broncos officially have a good enough defense to be competitive in January.

Good thing they took their defense to the notary to make it official. Opposing teams won’t take you seriously without the seal.

8. Baltimore (7-2). Good comeback game for Joe Flacco, and the Ravens needed it. Can’t figure out, though, why the Ravens, with a 41-17 lead and 20 minutes left over a vanquished opponent, would use a fake field goal. Nothing to do with running up the score — only with the thought that you don’t want to show fake field goals and the like to future opponents when it’s garbage time.

Maybe Harbaugh is just showing how poorly they run the fake now so it will be a surprise when they run the play perfectly because they practiced it in a game setting.

9. New England (6-3). Still a generous defense, but as long as the Patriots keep scoring in the 30s every week, the wins will keep coming. They’ll get in trouble for it in January, though. Opposing passers have produced more touchdowns than Tom Brady, 19-18.

Gisele has to be running out of curse words for Welker at this point.

11. New Orleans (4-5). Playing for .500 next week at Oakland. Anyone picking the Raiders? Bueller? Bueller?

Twenty-five year old pop reference. Time for me to reconsider the life choices that brought me here and volunteering to give Ape a break from the Peter King column this week.  How much more of this article is there to go?

/Scrolls down.

I can’t go on. I have to do something to make myself feel better or I’m not going to make it through this post.

There. Now I feel a little better.

Offensive Players of the Week
Arian Foster, RB, Houston. He’s had better games; he’ll tell you that. But the touchdown he scored, on a diving try, parallel to the earth, with his arms fully extended and making the catch and securing it to his body as he thumped to the ground … a thing of beauty. On the same drive, Foster went over Duane Brown at left tackle for six, then for 21. He rushed 29 times in the muck and mire and cold rain of Soldier Field for 102 yards.

A man, the elements, the ground. Adversity. Primal in his victory.

Danny Amendola, WR, St. Louis. Coming back five weeks after breaking his collarbone, Amendola was a horse in one of the most physical games you’ll see all season. If the Rams don’t get a careless and insignificant-to-the-play illegal formation penalty on the first snap of overtime, Amendola would have been around 12 catches for 182 yards. As it was, the free-agent-to-be was impressive enough — 11 catches for 102. He told me after the game he had to block out the pain in his collarbone, because it was there.

Adversity, and again, 15 Toradols for the co-win.

Adrian Peterson, RB, Minnesota. He could have won for his fourth quarter alone — 11 rushes, 120 yards, one touchdown. The 171 yards altogether puts him on pace to rush for more yards than he ever has in his career. What an incredibly ridiculous story he’s writing, 46 weeks removed from knee reconstruction.

Adversity and seven Toradols for the co-win.

Coach of the Week Joe Vitt, interim coach, New Orleans. In the span of seven days, with Vitt being the pregame fire-and-brimstone guy, the Saints have gone from 2-5 and on the edge of a cliff to 4-5 and 1.5 games out of the second wild-card spot in the NFC. Vitt and GM Mickey Loomis were reunited this week, with both off their league-imposed bounty suspensions, and they’ve brought stability the Saints have lacked. Defeating the unbeaten Falcons is a great accomplishment for any coach, but particularly for a coach and a staff in the odd position of changing head coaches on the fly twice in the first half of a season.

Also, I cannot think of the last time I’ve seen a coach get an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty for being out of the box. Vitt’s penalty gave the Falcons first and goal from the five-yard line. Coaching prowess right there, making sure your defense has to work extra hard at the goal line.

Goat of the Week The officiating crew in San Francisco, led by referee Clete Blakeman. I don’t care what excuse they come up with. I don’t care how the league whitewashes it, if it even tries. Losing 72 seconds in the first half of a game is inexcusable, and that’s what this careless crew did on Sunday.

Was it 72 seconds or 90 seconds? Maybe PK should go back and read the top of his column.

Pundit (Or Whatever You’d Call What He Does) of the Week Nate Silver, FiveThirtyEight Blog, New York Times.

“Statistician” is such a complicated concept, especially for someone who has worked in sports as long as Peter King has.

Derided by critics before the election for saying there was a 73 percent chance Barack Obama would be re-elected president, Silver ended up predicting that correctly, plus getting 50 of 50 states correct in his pre-election forecast, now that Florida has wound up in the Obama column. In addition, he called every senate race right, with the exception of one in North Dakota (those crafty North Dakotans). Silver’s an economics grad from the University of Chicago, and there’s a good chance he’s the first one of those to ever grace MMQB’s Awards Section.


Quote of the Week II,  “They can kiss my a–.”

— Antonio Cromartie, Jets cornerback, on the hue and cry from Jets fans who want to see Mark Sanchez benched.

You really don’t want to know where Fireman Ed’s lips have been.

Stat of the Week
The Pro Football Hall of Fame’s 44 selectors just finished voting to winnow the list of 127 preliminary nominees for the Hall of Fame’s Class of 2013 down to 25. On that list of 127 names was coach Bill Cowher, former coach of the Pittsburgh Steelers. I think it’s a good time, in the middle of current Steelers coach Mike Tomlin’s sixth season, to compare him to Cowher. Their careers are similar, with Tomlin having a slight edge.

I used the 60th victory of each man’s regular season career, which Tomlin achieved last week against the Giants, as the line of demarcation. How each man fared at the time of that 60th victory is in the table to the right.

Cowher won a Super Bowl in his 14th season and coached 15 years. The way Tomlin has begun his career, and with the Steelers such a consistent organization, there’s no reason to think he won’t follow in Cowher’s career footsteps — and perhaps even eclipse what his predecessor did.

The difference being Tomlin inherited a solid team from Cowher and Cowher took over a shell of a team from Chuck Noll, but let’s not let history get in the way.

Factoid of the Week That May Interest Only Me Peyton Manning threw his 420th touchdown pass Sunday in Charlotte, tying Dan Marino on the all-time TD list.

Peter King said 420, Peter King smokes pot. Peter King said 420, Peter King smokes pot.

Mr. Starwood Preferred Member Travel Note of the Week

I went out with my wife to the Rockaways, hit hard by Hurricane Sandy, on Election Day, to ferry some supplies a volunteer group said was needed. Since Joe Nocera of the New York Times went out three days later and wrote a lot more eloquently about it than I could, here’s the link to his column. Anyway, our loaded-up car had some shovels, wide push brooms, water, baby formula, warm clothes, flashlights and lots of batteries of all sizes.

Seems like a lot of work to get to a Starwood.

When we got to the area, a peninsula of many streets with both beach and permanent homes, it was stunning to see the consistent sight in front of almost every house. It was as though the houses had all vomited all of their waterlogged possessions onto the front lawn and curb. House after house, street after street … and the closer you got to the ocean side of the peninsula, the more sand you had to drive through. Once, driving slowly, I feared getting stuck because the sand was so deep on the street.

Lofty sand.

Originally, we were told to go to the large Catholic church in town, St Francis de Sales. But a military unit with a Humvee blocked that street and we were told to go to another church about 30 blocks away. Fruitless search. We couldn’t find it. But we did stumble on big white tents on the east end of the peninsula. “VOTE AQUI” signs were there, and “VOTE HERE” signs, for the locals whose polling place was not usable.

I saw two white-coated men waiting to vote — men taking a break from ripping apart home interiors to do their patriotic duty. So we went back to the neighborhood of the church, and, unable to get close to it, we found a woman and her husband, running a free general store on a busy corner. Amazing sight: Townspeople in work boots were rummaging through the hurriedly set-up tables of food, tools, water and clothes, with the woman and her husband the only ones riding herd over the free “store.” We thought it was as good a place as any to unload our stuff, and so we did, and within three minutes the shovels were gone, and probably half the batteries, and two cases of the water. “Thank you so much!” the woman running the general store said to us.

And thus King saved Rockaway. Should have planned ahead and brought them some Starbucks too.

Though we did see several Red Cross trucks, and FEMA was in the neighborhood too, what impressed us the most was the horde of volunteers who just showed up to help. We saw some cars with Georgia plates parked in front of a home with people using crowbars and mallets to knock down sodden walls. I saw a woman with an “OCCUPY SANDY” handwritten T-shirt, and we were told lots of the Occupy Wall Street crowd was here, and on Staten Island, to help.


That part was heartening. Disheartening was the massive job that will take months — getting the power and heat back, fixing some lovely homes with winter coming. And though I appreciate the strength and we’ll-be-fine can-do attitude of the mayor, Michael Bloomberg, I fear people will see attention to the area fade as news crews start covering other things, and I fear they’ll say, “Well, everything’s going well in New York and New Jersey and Long Island.” Well? No. Surviving? Yes. But thousands on Long Island are still without power, and it’ll be months before there’s anything close to normal in the neighborhood we visited Tuesday. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie compared the area to Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama after Katrina, and I don’t think he’s far off.

We tease Peter King, but he’s not wrong here. If you want to help out here is a pretty exhaustive list of places and services that need donations in wake of the storm.

Tweet of the Week I

“The amount of courage that people develop over social media has always been intriguing to me.” — @Niles_Paul84, the Washington tight end.

You’re not the only one intrigued by that.

Unlike the courage of writing columns from your living room.

Ten Things I Think I Think

1. I think this is what I liked about Week 10:

a. The Patriots, setting aside one seat permanently on Sunday, Veterans Day, in Gillette Stadium, as a memorial to military service members. “We are all Patriots,” read a plaque on the end-zone seat. “God bless you. God bless America.” Great gesture.

1 A!?!?

/Scans down column, sees A-M listed under 1, sings alphabet song while counting on fingers.

Thirteen items under 1 for Ten Things I Think I Think? No, you cheating bastard that’s 23 Things You Think You Think.  DOES THIS COLUMN EVER END?

b. Danario Alexander, signed just three weeks ago by Chargers GM A.J. Smith, with a terrific catch-and-run 80-yard touchdown.

You didn’t think this, this is a fact.

c. C.J. Spiller. Never thought he was special before this season, but I do now. He has to be among the league leaders in making defenders miss.


d. Joe Flacco, three touchdowns and 341 passing yards.


e. Paul Kruger, who was in the Oakland backfield quite a bit Sunday, with two sacks and a pick of Carson Palmer.


f. Way to stand up for yourself, Ryan Fitzpatrick, calling Brandon Spikes of the Patriots “sort of a punk” and matching Tom Brady aerially.


g. Chris Johnson doing something the Dolphins don’t let happen: rushing for 100 (actually 126 yards) against Miami.


h. Tennessee left tackle Michael Roos, with a virtual shutout of one of the best pass-rushing ends in the league, Cameron Wake, in the Titans’ rout of the Dolphins.


i. Chris Long and Michael Brockers, for a strong pass-rush late in the Rams’ tie with San Francisco.


j. How do you not love the way Brandon Marshall’s playing?

This is neither a fact or a thought. This is a question.

k. Brandon Carr, for his heads-up pick and touchdown run to clinch the Cowboys win in Philly.


l. Marshawn Lynch, 27 carries for 124 yards. And we hardly noticed. We take his greatness for granted too much.

Fact and thought.

m. Ugly-looking throw, Golden Tate. But it sure got the job done. And for that southpaw TD throw, you’ve now got a perfect passer rating –158.3.



2. I think this is what I didn’t like about Week 10:

a. Ten penalties for 115 yards, and the very un-Mularkey-like tantrum from coach Mike Mularkey, in the Jags’ 27-10 loss to Indianapolis.


/Scans down 2 list, sees A-L listed, sings alphabet song again while counting on fingers.

12 more! We’re up to 35 Things You Think You Think on a ten thing list. That’s a lot of extra nuggets.

d. Not that this was a big factor in losing by 35, but Taiwan Jones, two carries for six yards? Come on, Raiders. Free Taiwan Jones.

No word on if King supports actual Taiwan independence.

e. Speaking of the meaninglessness of big passing numbers, Carson Palmer has thrown for 782 yards in the past two weeks … and the Raiders have lost to Tampa Bay and Baltimore by a combined 45 points.

If they’re meaningless, why bring them up? Pretty sure Peter King made this column extra long this week just to torture me.

f. Eli Manning in his last three games: 55 percent passing, zero touchdowns, four interceptions.

Just another random fact to make this article longer. Do King have the same agent as Dickens and is being paid by the word?

g. Me, for thinking the Dolphins were contenders.

Apparently “Hard Knocks” fooled PK into thinking they were a good team.

i. Rex Ryan standing by Mark Sanchez. Not smart, plus it’s boring.

Wait, just three lifetimes ago in this very column PK said the Jets needed to stick with Sanchez and stop using Tebow because it was messing with Nacho’s rhythm. Do you want boring and wins or exciting and losing? Wait a second, I see what he’s doing here. This goes back to being paid by the word thing again, doesn’t it?

j. Not a smart challenge, at all, by New Orleans, wasting a timeout when Falcon wideout Harry Douglas was clearly down with less than three minutes to go in the fourth quarter. Not smart because the Saints had to know they’d likely need that timeout inside the two-minute warning. Joe Vitt got some very bad advice on that call.

And to think he’s coach of the week in the eyes of this column.

3. I think Pittsburgh receiver Emmanuel Sanders deserved his $15,000 fine for faking an injury and thus allowing the Steelers a clock-stoppage in Week 7 against Cincinnati. That’s as clear a phony injury as I’ve ever seen in football. It was a professional wrestling flopperoo.

I also think, however, Sanders should get the $15,000 rebated to him by the coach or player who told him to go down. Sanders is in the third year of his rookie contract, making $540,000 this year. That comes out to $31,765 per week. So following orders to fall down was a pretty big tariff for Sanders

Has there ever been a fake injury bounty scandal?

5. I think Bud Adams could pass for Tony Robbins.

I’d be fine with fire walking events for Titans fans.

7. I think I have absolutely no problem with a player missing a football game for the birth of his child. Good for you, Charles Tillman. (Even though he said Thursday he would play Sunday, then attend the birth of his child on Monday.)

Must of made for a tense night on the set for PK and his good buddy and satanic overlord, Mike Florio.

8. I think I loved those TV shots of Julio Jones arguing with Falcons trainers to go back into Saints-Falcons game after injuring his ankle. He did go back in — and caught a bomb.

Wait until you see the footage of Jay Cutler lighting a smoke while arguing with trainers to go back in after being clocked in the first half of the Bear Weather game.

Wow: Someone is making “Chuck on three. One-two-three CHUCK!!!” T-shirts. That’s great.

“People listen to me! It was my idea to put it on a t-shirt!”

I learned a lot from NBC’s Chuck Todd watching election stuff last week, including the future of how the American population shift may change presidential voting patterns in what have been consistent Republican strongholds. “In 2016,” Todd said, “you’re going to see Georgia, you’re going to see Texas and you’re going to see Arizona possibly in play because that’s where the Hispanic population has been booming.” In 2008, he said, 71 percent of the voters in Florida were white; in 2012, it was 66 percent.

Odd, I learned in my middle school social studies class that minorities would take over the white majority in my lifetime. Is Peter King so old the didn’t teach demographic trends when he was in school?

What’s disheartening about the political process in America is that, after an election, there’s far too few voices who mean it when they say, “Let’s compromise and do what’s best for America,” and far too many who say, “OK, what do we have to do to win in 2016?”

Disheartening to hear about people talking about winning, what being a sports reporter and all.

Maybe this basketball-on-aircraft-carriers-on-the-East-Coast-at-night idea isn’t such a hot one.

Because it was icy, get it? No? Well, I’ll just go get a coffee and maybe by the time you get back the joke will be funny.

Thank you, Chuck Klosterman, the New York Times‘ ethicist, for weighing in on Lance Armstrong Sunday thusly: “All we can do is work with the accepted reality: Armstrong helped the lives of many cancer victims by being the most talented cheater within a sport where cheating is rampant. Now, does that positive conclusion ‘offset’ the unethical exploits that allowed it to occur? I would say it does not. And I say this because they are too interdependent to isolate and judge. There is no right or wrong way to feel about Armstrong, but however you feel should be based on the totality of his career. Everything has to matter.” An excellent take.

Sorry, I saw the name “Klosterman” and my brain turned into a white fireball of rage and John Cusack lust. I’m sure King had a perfectly reasonable take on Chuck’s work and I would comment on it if I could read any further without having an aneurism.

Sprint, do not run, to see Argo. How many movies, when you know the basic outcome before you walk in the theater, cause you to sit on the edge of your seat and want to pace nervously in mid-plot? This one did. Ben Affleck, superb. John Goodman, wonderful. A fantastic history lesson for us all.


Coffeenerdness: Illy espresso shots are more consistent than Starbucks. Study that, Seattle.

Have no idea why the company that invented the modern espresso machine would be better producing consistent cups of coffee than Starbucks.

Beernerdness: A minor Allagash White quibble, seeing that it’s hard for me to denigrate the beer I love: If you say stores in Manhattan sell your beer in bottles, they should really sell them. Maybe it’s just too good to keep on the shelves, I don’t know. But it’s not where it’s supposed to be, which causes me great heartache.

Not for nothing, but again, maybe Peter King should read back in his own column and see the part where he talks about the big storm that just went through the New York area. Considering places cannot still get gas, I’m sure there is a good reason why Allagash is out of stock right now.

Now for the game: Pittsburgh 33, Kansas City 10. Maybe the Chiefs rise up, tired of being laughingstocks. Maybe Matt Cassel says, “My last prime time game as a Chief, and if I’m going to get any team out there interested in me for 2013, I’d better look better than Kyle Boller.” Maybe Justin Houston and Tamba Hali box Ben Roethlisberger’s ears a few times and get him off his game. Maybe, but I doubt it. Feel like taking a night off from the NFL? There’s always that Family Feud marathon on the Game Show Network tonight.

See? Even if you think tonight stinks, there is nothing better on hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha OMG IS THIS THE END OF THE COLUMN YET.

The Adieu Haiku
A Rams-Niners tie.
Thought it would be boring. Not!
Line up right, Gibson.

This isn’t even a haiku, there is no imagery and you didn’t imply a season.  5-7-5 meter just makes you a lazy writer.

Cold Los Angeles.

Why did I agree to help,

Fall King is a lie.

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