When last we left inferno of repetition, Peter King, he was cautioning us to respect the weather. Don’t make snide remarks to a rainstorm. It’s poor form. He also implied that Cam Newton might be a bust because he wants Cam to fail. PK was also amazed to report that employees at Twitter don’t sit around drinking beer all day like he does.
What about this week? Is Andrew Luck not just a regular horse, but a precocious super horse that only interests Peter King? Who does Peter King sit next to in the NBC Viewing Room and is there any reason you should give a sh*t? Nope, but you should READ ON.
Yup. That’s his lede this week. We’re not getting a historical novel, you guys. This is a column after actual happenings. Expectations: set. Nuggets: current-ish.
This morning, Chuck Pagano checks into an Indianapolis hospital for a second round of leukemia treatment. Tomorrow, we vote. And for a long time — weeks, months, years — the New Jersey/New York/Connecticut region battered by Hurricane Sandy rebuilds and heals.
BREAKING: Things happening over periods of time.
Appearing tired and slightly thinner than when the team last saw him, Pagano spoke, his voice quivering at times. “I’ve got circumstances. You guys understand it, I understand it,” Pagano said. “It’s already beat. It’s already beat. My vision is that I’m living is to see two more daughters get married, dance at their weddings and then lift the Lombardi Trophy several times.”
And then the interim coach and friend of Pagano, Bruce Arians, had all the players put their hands in the middle, enveloping Pagano. Kids on third-grade soccer teams do the thing Arians called for next.
PRECOCIOUS third-graders, of course.
“Chuck on three!” Arians shouted. ‘One-two-three CHUCK!!!!!”
Then everyone threw up.
Somebody has to make a T-shirt of that. It’s the coolest saying in sports right now.
The coolest saying that absolutely no one outside the Colts locker room is saying. Anyway, get on the T-shirt making. PK will take a size quadruple extra lofty.
The Colts often this year have looked like colts, just learning how to gallop.
Now that he mentions it, I have detected a certain centaur quality out of this year’s Colts team.
Chicago pasted them. The Jets, who don’t rout anyone, embarrassed them. But since Pagano got sick, the Colts, somehow, are 4-1. Margin of victory in those four wins: three, four, six and three points. They find a way.
They use their horse sense. They run! They jump over things! Sometime they have a paddle.
I’ll write more about Luck’s record-setting day with an NFL-rookie-record 433 passing yards and how the Colts are winning tomorrow. It’s Hollywood Day today.
We’re all doing coke and sleeping until noon? Wish you told me earlier.
“The whole story’s for Spielberg,” Arians, sounding a little misty himself, told me Sunday night.
Sorry, Spielberg already directed one horse movie. You’ll have to settle for Senor Spielbergo.
Then Arians gave me a surprise.
“The goal is to get Chuck on the field December 30th,” Arians said. “I don’t know if it can happen, but that’s the goal.”
Final home game of the year. Houston at Indianapolis. The new power of the AFC South coming to town — maybe with a playoff spot on the line for the little-engine-that-could Colts.
Little engine with horse power! Because the Colts players are actual horses, apparently.
Memo to my bosses at SI and NBC: Whatever I’m doing Dec. 30, make sure I can do it from Lucas Oil Stadium.
NBC production assistant to make calls to ensure that there are places in Lucas Oil Stadium to drink citrus beer, namedrop celebrities and jerk off to Brett Favre voicemails.
Now for the Cowboys. If you saw Jerry Jones’ interview with Bob Costas Sunday night on NBC, you saw the Dallas owner give what I’d call a tepid endorsement of his current coach, Jason Garrett.
“AS FAR AS FAGGY LOSER GINGERS GO, I GUESS HE ALL RIGHT! YYYYYYYEEEEEEEEEEEEE HHHHHHHHHHHHHHAAAAAAAAAWWWWWW!”
I know Jones really likes Garrett, but the owner also has to be frustrated with the fact that Garrett’s just 16-16 in his short career as coach, and 3-5 this season following a soft offensive performance in a 19-13 loss at Atlanta Sunday night. Awful clock management likely cost the Cowboys a good shot at a win at Baltimore three weeks ago, and Tony Romo and his receivers sometimes look as though they’re all college freshmen going through orientation together. Jones liked Sean Payton when Payton was on the Dallas staff coaching quarterbacks and the passing game from 2003 to ’05, and they’re similar people. They work hard and play hard.
THEY BOTH LIKE TWO THINGS: WINNIN’ AND SKY FUCKIN’
What the Bears are doing is extraordinary.
Charles Tillman forced the 33rd, 34th, 35th and 36th fumbles of his illustrious 10-year NFL career Sunday in Nashville, where the Bears humbled the Titans 51-20. (It wasn’t that close.)
Damn, ’cause that 31-point victory sounds like quite the nailbiter.
Where I watch the games on Sundays, in the NBC viewing room, I sit next to Tony Dungy
“Oh, did you think me and THE DUNGE just happened to be in the same room – THE NBC VIEWING ROOM! – during Sunday’s games? Oh no. Much more involved. Let me assure you that me and THE DUNGE have long, probing conversations about what flavor of body oil he would most like licked off his taint, which isn’t gay because we’re just guys talking, that’s all.”
who once had Bears head coach Lovie Smith and defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli with him for five seasons on his Buccaneer coaching staff. “We used to have a turnover period every day in practice,” Dungy said.
Trent Dilfer came in handy for those.
The Bears do the same thing now, which is a very good reason why they forced six fumbles Sunday, intercepted one pass (Brian Urlacher returned it for a touchdown) and blocked a punt for a touchdown. The five takeaways pushed the season total through eight games to a league-best 28. Chicago is plus-16 through eight games, a vital reason they’re 7-1 and the defensive scourge of pro football right now.
Chicago PRACTICES trying to force turnovers? That’s good strategy. Surely no other teams do that. Football 2.0 thinking.
“I guess I have gotten good over the years at punching,” Tillman said.
/directs Tillman to Cutler’s punchable face
“And if I don’t get the punch or the forced fumble, the majority of the time I get the tackle.”
“Plus, I got to hit somebody.”
Tillman said he told Urlacher, “Call it, man. The tongue has the power of life and death. Call it, say it, speak it, believe it. He did, and he got in the end zone.”
Urlacher: “You trying to use poetry on me? That’s fag shit.”
Then Tillman channeled his inner Iverson. “Our whole motto on defense is ‘score,’ ” he said. “We practice it every single day. Practice.”
He sounded like Allen Iverson just then, but no one in the media crowd got the message.
Probably because that’s the opposite of what Iverson meant by that quote.
“You like that reference?” he said. “You’re supposed to laugh!”
/I imagine Tillman holding a balled fist up to Peter King’s face while saying that last sentence
A day in the life of the Steelers
This day in Pittsburghishness!
Tomlin didn’t make a big deal of the travel situation, which was smart.
“Men, let’s save our concern for this really stupid fake field goal I have planned.”
Here, then, was the Steeler Sunday schedule:
7 a.m.: Players wake up at Omni William Penn Hotel, downtown Pittsburgh, eat, and drive individually to the airport, 25 minutes away.
8:30 a.m.: Discover Rashard Mendenhall is on the no-fly list
9:03 a.m.: Enlist five more running backs to get hurt in next game
9:28 a.m.: Take off from Greater Pittsburgh International Airport.
10:21 a.m.: After a 53-minute flight, land at Newark (N.J.) International Airport.
10:33 a.m.: Team boards buses for ride to Newark Airport Marriott
10:55 a.m.: Pregame meal begins.
11:01 a.m.: Distract Casey Hampton so rest of team gets food
11:30 a.m.: Players lay on couches and sit on chairs, trying to rest before leaving for the stadium.
12:30 p.m.: Team boards buses for nine-mile trip to MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J.
12:55 p.m.: Arrival at stadium.
4:26 p.m.: Gametime.
7:29 p.m.: Game ends. Steelers 24, Giants 20.
8:35 p.m.: Buses leave MetLife Stadium for nine-mile trip to Newark Airport.
9:29 p.m.: Takeoff from Newark International Airport.
10:18 p.m.: After a 49-minute flight, land at Greater Pittsburgh International Airport.
Time from morning takeoff in Pittsburgh to nighttime landing back in Pittsburgh: 12 hours, 50 minutes.
Any frequent MMQB reader knows that Peter King loves the shit out of travel itineraries to a disturbing degree. If PK could chart out a trip plan for Brett Favre to see a Red Sox game then go visit a concentration camp in Europe, that would be his heaven.
It’s a mark of how meaningless the odd travel day was that the Steelers played their best game of the year.
Unless they lost, in which case everyone including PK would be bitching about it.
The artistic part of the game might have been better in wins over the Jets and Washington
The interpretive dance part of the Steelers gameplan has fared better, but it was all function over form on Sunday.
but this was against the Super Bowl champs, on the road. The Steelers outscored the Giants 14-0 in the fourth quarter and throttled Eli Manning (10 of 24, 125 yards, no touchdowns, one interception) all day.
Eli was only sacked twice.
Let’s not forget the game Alex Smith played in Arizona
Good idea, we definitely should remember that totally forgettable game.
It’s always easy to dump on Alex Smith.
Because he sucks.
Is there a young quarterback in NFL history who, in the first 16 games he played as a pro, lost by 39, 35, 38, 41 and 31 points; a quarterback who’d been given up for dead time after time in his star-crossed career; a player who — after leading his team to the conference title game — watched his team flirt with another quarterback to take his place, and, in response, took a forlorn free agent trip to the last place he ever wanted to be?
Is there is a young quarterback who has lived Alex Smith’s life exactly how Smith has lived it, possibly because he is Alex Smith? MAYBE.
There was something else notable about his game: Not one of his 19 throws (20, actually, if you count one that was negated by penalty) was off-target. His accuracy, in a word, was stunning. I watched the game again on NFL Game Rewind, focusing on each of the 20 throws, and watching each one several times, running it back and forth. Though he threw short much of the night, he did have completions that traveled 10, 11, 15, 20 and 22 yards past the line of scrimmage. Here’s how I graded the 20 throws:
A = Lofty, I think
1A = Semi-great-esque
2A = On or about the target
B = Pretty good for someone going through something particular to Alex Smith
C = Vomitous
1C = UBER Vomitous
Stat of the Week
Rating the best quarterbacks in football in yards per attempt and accuracy through nine weeks (not including Eagles-Saints tonight) shows Smith, at the NFL’s midpoint, is second in completion percentage and fifth in yards per attempt, two key indicators for quarterback play. Guess who’s first in each category? Peyton Manning.
Two other points to make from watching the 49ers passing game:
Peter crammed that Peyton nugget inside a span of six or seven paragraphs about the 49ers offense. “What was I saying? I seemed to have gone a minute without slurping Peyton Manning. Begging you pardon.”
Hard to pass judgment on this just from watching every play in the passing game one week, but I didn’t see receivers show any sign of ego or anger for not getting the ball when open. You know how you see, on iso-camera replays, receivers sometimes waving for the ball, or jumping up and down when they don’t get it, or showing some emotion when they think the ball should have come to them? None of that here. Again, don’t draw any conclusions based on one rout of the Cardinals.
But you can still totally use a single preseason game to jump to all the outlandish conclusions you want.
Each week, thanks to play-by-play game dissection by ProFootballFocus.com, I’ll look at one important matchup or individual performance metric from one of the Sunday games.
This week it’s Andrew Luck, who completed 30 of 48 passes for 433 yards (151 yards after the catch), two touchdowns and no interceptions, good for a 105.6 rating. The numbers don’t tell the whole story, but in this case they come pretty close. A number of things that make this performance one to remember:
– It happened on Hollywood Day Eve
– The winning team had horses for players
– Chuck Pagano’s cancer is worth 30 points, even when they don’t score 30 points
– Precociousness, Luck has it
– ONE, TWO, THREE CHUCK!
Yards in the air. One of the trends recently has been for quarterbacks (particularly novices) to throw short passes and let the receiver do the work.
Like Alex Smith, for example.
In summary. To put this performance in the category of “rookie” record only would be wrong.
Because Peter told us we shouldn’t use that word anymore, except when we should. Like now. Even though it’s wrong, unless it isn’t.
It was so much more than that because without much semblance of a running game Luck took a good defense apart, particularly on third down. In short, there are not many quarterbacks in the NFL who could have won this game for the Colts.
Please recall after Week 1 how PK reacted to Indy’s Week 1 loss to Chicago by saying Colts fans must wish they still had Peyton. That was after saying Andrew Luck winning the Offensive Rookie of the Year was a foregone conclusion two weeks earlier. PK is knee-jerking extra hard on Luck.
1. Houston (7-1). The 14-2 Showdown next Sunday night at Soldier Field: Twin 7-1 teams, the Texans and Bears.
Identical records means twinsies! Because Jay Cutler and Matt Schaub totally look alike.
2. Atlanta (8-0). Falcs are 4-0 at home, 4-0 on the road, 4-0 against the NFC, 4-0 against the AFC, 4-0 in games decided by six points or fewer, 4-0 in games decided by a touchdown or more, 4-0 when Matt Ryan’s completion percentage is in the 60s, 4-0 when his completion rate is in the 70s.
Yup, no matter how you slice it, an unbeaten team doesn’t have a loss. WEIRD!
4. San Francisco (6-2). Bye week note: I had to do a double-take when I saw Alex Smith, Patrick Willis and Jim Harbaugh in that Visa commercial. Not so much about Smith and Willis; the commercial got shot at Candlestick in the day off between the final preseason game and the start of prep week for the first game of the year. But Harbaugh … didn’t know he had the levity in him.
Harbs: “YOU WANT LAUGHS!? WATCH ME PICK APART A HOMELESS GUY WHILE WEARING A CLOWN MASK! NOW THAT’S COMEDY! WAIT, WHY THE FUCK AREN’T YOU LAUGHING!? GRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR!”
Then I come to find out Harbaugh, as part of something called the Visa NFL Fan Offers, is going to allow one fan the chance to sit in on a pregame speech to the team. Those, I’m told, can get rather fiery. I always viewed Harbaugh as a clannish, insulated coach who would want his locker room a sanctum. “Coach is an outside-the-box guy, full of surprises,” Smith told me. For me, this is one.
I know! Visa offered him money and he took it! No telling what that guy is capable of!
5. Pittsburgh (5-3). In the last month the Steelers are 4-1, including wins over every team in the NFC East save Dallas. I was down on this team after its losses to the Raiders and Titans — well, duh!
— but Pittsburgh’s a dangerous team on both sides of the ball.
So long as you ignore their still shitty line, army of injured running backs and lack of pass rush, they’re a juggernaut!
6. New York Giants (6-3). Tough loss for a hurting region, and Eli Manning put it best after the game when he said the Giants haven’t been playing well on offense, and it finally caught up to them.
Tough loss for someone going through something meteorological.
9. Denver (5-3). Denver 100, Foes 37 in the last two-and-a-half games.
Way to lop off that disastrous first half against the Chargers to make Pey-Pey’s march through three shitty teams look that much more impressive. That’s good slurpin’
11. Seattle (5-4). Russell Wilson at home: 4-0, nine touchdowns, no interceptions.
But what of his stats in Wichita?
12. Indianapolis (5-3). Don’t try to explain. Just sit back and enjoy the story of the year through nine weeks. Chuck on three! One-two-three CHUCK!!!!!!!
I’ll just wait on the movie. Which horse are they gonna get to play Reggie Wayne?
14. Tampa Bay (4-4). Doug Martin is making a horse race out of the Offensive Rookie of the Year competition.
Sorry, you can’t out-horse a real horse like Andrew Luck. Nice try, Doug.
15. Detroit (4-4). Weirdest stat of the year (reiterated on the Red Zone Channel Sunday): Calvin Johnson hasn’t caught a touchdown pass from Matthew Stafford this season, through eight games. His one TD catch was from Shaun Hill. Not that Stafford hasn’t hit Megatron in the hands a couple of times.
Oh my God, it’s like Stafford has been horrible this year or something!
Defensive Players of the Week
Terence Newman, CB, Cincinnati. He hit the lottery against Peyton Manning Sunday at Paul Brown Stadium. Imagine intercepting Peyton Manning on consecutive throws, in the process turning what appeared to be a Denver rout into a close game late.
Oh fuck off with “hit the lottery” Because you can only be ridiculously lucky to intercept Manning. It’s not like something you had control over.
Coach of the Week
Greg Schiano, head coach, Tampa Bay.
Oh good, PK is getting to fellate all of his favorite people this week. I’m counting on a Land Baron of the Week Award before I get out of here.
At 1-3 in the first quarter of the season, and then having Aqib Talib, his best cover corner, suspended on the eve of the Bucs’ fifth game, Schiano faced the prospect of an embarrassing first season as he tried to transform a soft team into a competitive one. But in the next four weeks, Schiano, with an assist from GM Mark Dominik, continued to remake the team, dumping Talib and a seventh-round pick on New England for a fourth-rounder in 2013 and winning three of four games.
Schiano was at a disadvantage for not having his best corner, so it’s awesome that he traded him away for a mid-round pick? All right, then.
The 42-32 victory in Oakland continued to show that Schiano’s way on offense can work. He’s determined to be able to run the ball for big chunks in a league where offense seems to be increasingly measured by how gaudy their passing numbers can be. After half a season, Schiano has made his mark in a way the Bucs could have only dreamed of when they made him their surprising hire to replace Raheem Morris last winter.
He’s defying conventional wisdom. Before Schiano, it was thought impossible to win in the NFL when your amazing running back goes for 6,000 yards and 10 touchdowns in each game. HE’S CHANGING THE WAY WE FOOTBALL!
It looks like we’ve been bombed.”
— New Jersey governor Chris Christie, on a Saturday tour of Bay Head, N.J., a shore enclave — Giants guard Chris Snee has a beach home there — that suffered massive damage from Hurricane Sandy.
Christie could have been talking about many different areas between Long Island and the Jersey shore.
This Chris Christie is doing a fantastic job. What a leader he is.
— Peter King (@SI_PeterKing) October 31, 2012
Leaderiness, Chris Christie defines it.
Andrew Luck Factoid of the Week That May Interest Only Me I
/chugs paint thinner
Luck and Peyton Manning have a little connection in football history, which you probably can understand. They also have this connection: After eight games, Luck and Manning have each passed for 2,404 yards.
Xerox of Horse Fate!
Andrew Luck Factoid of the Week That May Interest Only Me II
Precocious Rookie Quarterback Note of the Week: In Indianapolis Sunday, Luck and Ryan Tannehill dropped back to pass 89 times and threw no interceptions.
Not just any nugget, but a PRECOCIOUS Luck nugget. PK must have fapped himself dry pumping out this week’s column.
Factoid of the Week That May Interest Only Me
Heath Shuler has retired from two incredible careers, and he’s only 40.
Also, he’s been leading two incredible careers no one knew about in addition to the two horrible ones everyone did.
In a statement announcing his refusal to run again, Shuler said: “I have always said family comes first, and I never intended to be a career politician. I am ready to refocus my priorities and spend more time at home with my wife, Nikol, and two young children.” The Shulers have a daughter, Island Shuler, and a son, Navy Shuler.
Well, Shuler is incredible at giving his children retarded names.
Hmmm. Four years in the NFL. Six years in Congress. The next career should be eight years. But what?
Something where it clearly doesn’t matter if you’re awful, like Sports Illustrated columnist.
Mr. Starwood Preferred Member Travel Note of the Week
Had some business in Baltimore early Wednesday morning. Left BWI Airport at 6:55 a.m., drove through light traffic back to Manhattan, and got through the Lincoln Tunnel at 10 a.m. sharp. It is 2.4 miles to my apartment on the East Side of Manhattan. I got there at 11:25. Which means:
I drove the first 193 miles in 185 minutes.
I drove the last 2.4 miles in 85 minutes.
There was a lot of traffic in Manhattan Wednesday, as you’re well aware, because of the mass-transit shutdown because of Sandy, and the snarl in midtown because of a collapsed crane on a skyscraper. But as I listened to the radio with the horror stories from around New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, and as I sat for four and five minutes at a time, I couldn’t have my usual emotion — spittin’ anger — at the traffic.
“Instead, I calmed myself knowing that I could use my column to illustrate how a tragedy that left people homeless slightly inconvenienced me.”
Tweet of the Week I
“The fix is in.”
— @JamesFarrior, the former Steeler linebacker, after ref Bill Leavy, on replay, confirmed a Giants touchdown that will live in infamy for the Steelers.
Most yinzers have already forgotten about because the team won. But yeah, there were a bunch of dipshit Steelers fans airing conspiracy theories at the end of the first half on Sunday. Because the NFL totally has it in for this team it has allowed to win titles recently.
Tweet of the Week III
“I’m surprised the presidential candidates haven’t promised a couple of high NFL draft picks to the Cleveland Browns.”
— @nprscottsimon, the weekend host on National Public Radio, with a nod to the intensity of the presidential race in Ohio.
Because they won’t get those anyway.
Ten Things I Think I Think
Because this has been a different week where I live, it’s a different time for the Ten Things, with the feelings of some Giants fans who went to the game and some who couldn’t even think of going Sunday.
A Jets fan e-mailed us to complain that PK only included stories from Giants fans. It’s not Jets fans also live in the region. It’s probably because Peter used to be a beat writer covering the Giants and this is the way his bias manifests itself. Also, it was probably just dumb luck that the first few people he sought out for quotes were Giants fans
8. I think I understand the emotion Mario Williams must have after the Texans let him go without a fight in free agency. Logically, he’d want to have a great game for the first time against the Texans. But for him to sack Matt Schaub and then point a wagging finger at the Houston bench, as if to say, “You never should have gotten rid of me,” well … that was a great play, Mr. Williams. But if you think the Texans should be regretting NOT paying you $16 million a year, you’re living in a different reality from mine.
Yes, Mario, the next time you get a sack, you should do a dance that at once conveys you did something good, but have overall been a disappointment. I’ll let you work on it.
9. I think, for all the times Cam Newton has been bashed this year, he deserves more than a little praise for engineering Carolina’s 21-13 win at Washington. He was decisive, accurate and knew when to run and when to stay in the pocket. I thought his game was a step in his progression that was sorely needed.
Petey is totally covering his ass for the grief he’s taken for being super harsh on Cam Newton. So here’s Peter with an obviously begrudging compliment for Cam buried under mountains of Andrew Luck horse ejaculate.
10. I think these are my non-football thoughts of the week:
a. Thank you for re-signing, David Ortiz.
Peter King can’t wait to start bitching about your further decline.
d. There’s a reason I never hear Les Miles’ name when there’s talk of how certain college coaches would fit in the NFL.
He hasn’t berated a employee over pasta even once! Not head coach material. And he would rather eat grass than nutmeg. Yuckville.
g. Coffeenerdness: I couldn’t figure out why, walking Bailey around Tuesday afternoon in the desolate city, after the storm, I saw 10 or so people outside a Starbucks with their laptops in one hand, or seated on the sidewalk with laptop in lap. Then I figured they must be using the wireless. Good citizenship by Starbucks, if it indeed was intentional to leave the WiFi up and running for desperate people to use.
“You came to us in our hour of need, Seattle. Thank you!”
h. Beernerdness: Had a chance the other night to sample a couple of Flower Power IPAs from the Ithaca (N.Y.) Beer Company, and it’s one of the best IPAs I’ve ever tasted. Dry, easy to drink, with a faint scent of pine. Great beer.
/pours Pine-Sol into a beer bottle
//place bottle in PK’s fridge
As for the game tonight: Philadelphia 33, New Orleans 31. On Saturday, after the Eagles’ final full-scale practice of the week, I asked Andy Reid a few things.
Q: Are you worried that with Vick saying things like he has to get his swag back and play like the old Michael that he’s not going to follow the game plan?
“Are you worried or uber worried that swag is some sort of code word for racial upraising?”
Reid: “Not at all. I don’t worry about that. He feels he’s the leader of the team and he has to take control, and that’s good. He’s the most competitive guy. He’s got an inferno of competition inside him.”
Flames fighting other flames!
The Adieu Haiku
Morning, Jersey Shore.
Staten Island and Queens too.
We won’t forget you.
Movie: One Two Three Chuck!
Get Spielberg to direct