The Tale Of The Drunken PK Claus

12.06.10 7 years ago 90 Comments

When last we left subway alarmist Peter King, we was telling us how Josh McDaniels shouldn’t be blamed for any of the problems of the Broncos because PK knows he comes from good people. And good people don’t produce bad coaches. But sometimes they do produce poor egg nog, and that’s when you need to kick up a fuss.

What of the F line rat droppings this week? Can we call Peyton Manning a victim for never getting to play with Maurice Jones-Drew? Is Jay Cutler dangerous? And to who? Is our way of life imperiled by the rise of sulk? Also, the Geico gecko gets a talking-to. Onward!

Four weeks to go in the regular season … 29 days left, 37 division games to play (including tonight’s Armageddon Bowl in Foxboro)

A shame last night’s game couldn’t have been the Armageddon Bowl. A bombed-out hellscape like Baltimore would suit the name much better.

Steelers 13, Ravens 10. Game of the Year, no doubt. Four consecutive three-point games now between the teams. If we ask real nicely, commissioner, could we see this game eight times a year instead of two?

You better believe Goodell would do that if he thought he could. Just think of all the fine money he could raise.

Colts coach Jim Caldwell should begin his press conference today saying, “Playoffs? PLAYOFFS?”

That’s way too much personality for Jim Caldwell. It’d be more like, “Postseason? … [Blank stare for a minute and a half]”

By the way, Costas made this exact reference last night during halftime. In a eerily elevated voice, no less. Way to steal from your colleagues, Peter Downer.

Brett Favre’s not getting suspended, unless I’ve got the football acumen of Cosmo Kramer. And he might not be sanctioned at all for Sterger-gate.

I don’t believe anyone gave you permission to rename Dong-gate.

And since we never got around to using this picture last week, might as well make use of it now.


Interim coaches in the NFL this year: 5-1. And they’d be 6-0 if Roy Williams hadn’t been stripped by Malcolm Jenkins on Thanksgiving.

And they’d be 4-2 if Peyton Manning hadn’t transformed into an interception machine. And 3-3 if Perry Riley didn’t commit a retarded block in the back on a game-winning kick return. But sure, we get your point: if it’s meaningless standings-padding, draft pick depleting wins ye seek, best get out the firin’ stick.

Drew Brees is very good at the No-Brainer Freeze. Pat Sims is not.

No-Brainer Freeze? Is that what you get for drinking an off-brand Slurpee?

I can’t imagine what you’re thinking if you’re a Redskins fan today. Maybe this: Is it really possible that we traded Cerrato, Zorn and Campbell for Allen, Shanahan and McNabb … and got worse?

“Oh no! Did we trade one cooch for a worse cooch? IT’S TIME FOR COOCH GIBBS TO MAKE SECOND RETURN TRIP TO GLOREEEE!”

Inside the NBC Studios Sunday, we watched game after game, slack jaw after slack jaw.

Ah, the famous yokel sound stage inside NBC Studios.

Bengals up on the Saints by three with four minutes to go; Saints win. Lions up on the Bears by three with nine minutes to play; Bears win. Darkness falls. The Bucs lead Atlanta by three with five minutes left; Falcons win. Indianapolis comes all the way back from 17 down to lead Dallas by a point with five minutes left; Cowboys win. Now midnight approaches in Bludgeonville. The Ravens lead Pittsburgh by four with five minutes to go; Steelers win by three.

Yes. Those things all happened. And I would like to support Andre Johnson’s candidacy for mayor of Bludgeonville, sister city of Cudgelville. If I have my way, he will hoist the ceremonial shillelagh.

You don’t want to bet against the Steelers.

Unless the bet is that they won’t be Pittsburghish enough.

Troy Polamalu was the last Steeler left in the shower early this morning, and Mike Tomlin was feeling frisky.

Someone’s about to raise hell. And then insert it.

“Hey Troy!” Tomlin yelled into the shower, according to Sam Farmer of the Los Angeles Times.

Ooh, we had a witness. Not sure how I feel about the exhibitionist side of Tomlin.

“You in there washing your hair? Take your time! I ain’t leaving you, baby!”

Polamalu’s strip-sack of Joe Flacco with less than four minutes to play was — is — the play of the season for Pittsburgh. It led to the Steelers’ only touchdown of the game, with three minutes left at Baltimore. It’s no Mazeroski beating the Yankees with a homer in the ninth inning of a Game 7, but it’s big because of the spoils.

Because nothing’s big in Pittsburgh right now like the Pirates.

Three or four times in the last three games, I’ve seen Peyton Manning walk off the field after an interception or a bad bit of communication with a receiver, moving his hands as if to show where the receiver really should have been, with the kind of frown that seems immovable. Manning being bummed out is noticeable enough.

If you say so. I think he hides it really well. You could barely make out the spittle he got all over Blair White’s face after one of his picks yesterday.

Manning being without good-enough weapons … that’s the reason Indianapolis is in the mess it’s in at 6-6, a game behind first-place Jacksonville, with the worst record it has had this late in a season since 2001.

Manning needs a weapon! Reggie Wayne only had 200 receiving yards yesterday, but a real receiver would have had 350. AT LEAST!

There are a couple of reasons. In 2006, the Colts picked Joseph Addai in the first round of the draft, and he’s had a nice career in Indianapolis. Nice, but not starry.

Like the night sky in an urban setting where pollution has blotted out the heavens. Wait a minute. Urban. Black guy. DAS RAYCESSS!

As the second round of that draft progressed, even though they’d chosen Addai number one, the Colts gave serious consideration to picking Maurice Jones-Drew 62nd overall. And they very well might have — if the Jaguars, picking 60th, hadn’t chosen Jones-Drew in their spot.

You got MJD-jacked!

GM Bill Polian wouldn’t have thought twice about taking another running back there, especially since he’d just jettisoned Edgerrin James. And if the Jags hadn’t jumped on Jones-Drew, I have a very strong feeling the Colts would have, and their world would have been shaped a lot differently today.

Yeah, well, the Jets traded just ahead of the Steelers to select Darrelle Revis in the first round of the 2007 Draft and you don’t see me still crying about it.

/still crying about it

The Colts’ rushing attack, again, is feeble, in part because of a neck and shoulder injury that has sidelined Addai much of the year.

Hey, you’re forgetting Donald Brown. The Colts wasted a first round pick on him, too!

Imagine how un-feeble the running game would be with Jones-Drew, the league’s second-leading rusher, with 100-yard games each of the last five weeks, running on the carpet of Lucas Oil Stadium. Manning and Jones-Drew. Scary thought. I bet Manning wouldn’t be in the slump he’s in right now.

This is a herculean effort to deflect criticism from Pey-Pey. It’s not his fault he’s been playing like dogshit for a full month now. If only the Colts hadn’t made a poor decision in the draft four years ago, it’d all be okay. Somehow the lack of MJD wasn’t a problem last season, but now: REGRETS!

Quick hits while we kill time (and I know you’re doing that in your cubicle right now; admit it) waiting for Jets-Pats tonight:

Not everyone works in a cubicle, you know. I happen to squandering time in the comfort of my squalid living room.

If I’m right, what seems logical to me is the league was not able to connect the sordid cell-phone photos from Favre to Sterger beyond the shadow of a doubt. If that’s the case, my interpretation is that barring absolute proof those photos came from Favre, the league would probably not discipline Favre much (if at all) for the awkward phone messages he allegedly left for Sterger while both were in the Jets’ employ.

Oh, so the league needs absolute proof for Favre now? Ginger Hammer nails most players for just getting into untoward situations and justifies it by saying the association hurts the shield. But with the ol’ Gunslinger, they need an air-tight case.

Talked to Vikings coach Leslie Frazier Sunday after the Vikings’ rout of the Bills, and he said if team medics tell him Favre is ready to go this week — after bruising a shoulder bone and joint and his sternum on a hard Buffalo hit early in the game — he’ll play against the Giants. “I expect him to be back this week, because I’m like you and everybody else over the past 18, 20 years,” Frazier told me. “He gets hurt, but he always seems like he rebounds and is ready to go the next game. But we’ll see.”

Frazier, obviously, was very happy with Tarvaris Jackson’s performance in relief. He has a head coach’s next-man-up philosophy about players on his 53-man roster and said, “If Tarvaris is our quarterback against the Giants, we’ll be confident.”

“And if I’m forced to start Brittfar, I’m confident the Giants will be able to maul him, too.”

The Redskins are awful.

/high-fives Maj.

How beautifully fitting that Devin Thomas — a second-round pick of the ‘Skins in 2008, a high-profile example of their draft failings, cut by the Redskins earlier this season and picked up by the receiver-needy Giants — would make the special-teams play of the game.

And that Fantasia would make a music video about it.

How did Pat Sims fall for No-Brainer Freeze? It’ll be a long time before Cincinnati defensive tackle Sims lives this one down. Fourth-and-two, 34 seconds left, Bengals up 30-27, Drew Brees at the line of scrimmage, barking out signals for the Saints in a rising and falling cadence. The play is called “No-Brainer Freeze,” simply, because every one of the 10 players aside from the quarterback is not supposed to use his brain, and every one is supposed to freeze.

It’s the kind of mistake bad teams make. It’s the kind of incredibly miniscule, boring piece of practice that every player dreads. But on Sunday in Cincinnati, it won the Saints a game, and kept them within one game of the NFC South-leading Falcons. That’s what draws me to plays like this. I love the minutiae that wins and loses games. After 59 minutes, the Super Bowl champs were trailing a 2-9 team, and the crowd was whipped into a frenzy, and it was fourth down, and it looked like the Saints were going for it to win it right here, and here was the cool Brees drawing a lesser player offside to win the game. That’s some great stuff right there.

Peter King is a lover of minutiae and arcane details. Especially when they very obviously swing a game in ways that are obvious to any viewer, regardless of their knowledge of the game.

Cortland Finnegan has another side.

Uh oh. Looks like we’re getting another one of PK’s Profiles In Complexity, starring people with bad reputations who reach out to him.

Three days before his brawl with Andre Johnson, Finnegan asked coach Jeff Fisher if, on Thanksgiving, he could report to work a little bit late. Fisher wondered why. Finnegan told him he needed to run in a five-mile Thanksgiving morning race in Nashville, the Boulevard Bolt. Actually, it wasn’t Finnegan running on his own. He’d be pushing a cancer patient, local high school athlete Kelsey Towns, who, not long after treatment to battle sarcoma, was determined to run in the race she’d competed in for 11 years.

Finnegan met Towns on a visit to Children’s Hospital in Nashville in the offseason, and they kept in touch during her subsequent chemotherapy treatments. “Every day I visit her during chemo,” Finnegan said. “It’s great for me, really. She is just the most positive person, no matter what’s going on in her life. When she told me about the race and how much she wanted to do it, I asked, ‘Can I push you?’ And it wasn’t difficult, not at all. Especially because it meant so much to her. She’d run it since kindergarten. I really enjoyed it. It was sort of heartwarming.”

I’ll have a little more about Finnegan next Monday as the Titans head into the rematch with Houston the following week. I’m not trying to convince you he’s saintly. Just trying to show you a side of a player you might not know.

A carefully crafted side that is palatable to a public that realizes he’s an asshole on the football field.

The Fine Fifteen

2. New England (9-2). Hate to be so bottom-line here, but what a break the Patriots got when the Jets lost Jim Leonhard to a broken leg in practice Friday for tonight’s veritable AFC East title game. Leonhard was the kind of smart safety who wouldn’t buy what Tom Brady will be selling with his pre-snap reads.

“For the last time, NO! I don’t want any Uggs.”

3. New York Jets (9-2). Not that I don’t like a team unafraid of talking a little bit before a big game. I actually love a team that talks. (This just in: Woody Johnson is on Twitter and he commented on practice Saturday; can you imagine Bob Kraft tweeting about practice — and Bill Belichick not going nuts?) But the Jets had 261 hours between the end of the last game (beating Cincinnati on Thanksgiving) and the start of this one, and I think Rex Ryan was talking for about 259 of them. Let’s play this thing.

However much or little Rex Ryan talks has no bearing on when the game starts.

5. Pittsburgh (9-3). I don’t know how you …
6. Baltimore (8-4). … separate these two teams.

One beat the other on the road at full strength. The other one needed a last-minute touchdown pass to beat Charlie Batch. Seems pretty easy.

7. Chicago (9-3). Jay Cutler is now officially dangerous.

12. Tampa Bay (7-5). I don’t care that they’re 0-5 against winning teams now. This Tampa team is feisty, well-drilled, on the verge of being very good, and totally unafraid. I like the Bucs.

NFL Films presents “Losing Feistily: The 2010 Tampa Bay Buccaneers” With music by Feist.

14. Jacksonville (7-5). Strange but true: If the Colts win out, they’d overtake the Jags and win the AFC South on a tiebreaker.

And the Jaguars will be forced to return MJD to his rightful owners.

By the way, Garrard was being extra Silky during the postgame presser yesterday.

MVP Watch

4. Maurice Jones-Drew, RB, Jacksonville.

From earlier in the column:

Maurice Jones-Drew might not be good enough to make the Pro Bowl


Defensive Players of the Week

Troy Polamalu, SS, Pittsburgh.

/masturbates furiously

Terrell Suggs, OLB, Baltimore.

/ceases masturbation… for now

How can anyone play better in defeat?

How about complete a sack in the red zone before the opposing team can get its go-ahead score? Just a thought.

Champ Bailey, CB, Denver.

The hottest single player entering Week 13 in the NFL was Kansas City receiver Dwayne Bowe, who’d had 49 catches and an astounding 13 touchdowns in the previous seven weeks. On Sunday, in a contentious 10-6 Chiefs win, Bailey put Bowe out of commission for four quarters. Matt Cassel attempted three passes to Bowe and completed none. Of all the outstanding defensive days of 2010 by any player, this has to be in the top handful, regardless of the final score — Kansas City 10, Denver 6.


Goats of the Week

Peyton Manning, QB, Indianapolis.

You could have told me a lot of things before the season. Lions win the Super Bowl. Patriots go 0-16. Giselle divorces Tom, marries Rex Ryan.

Give it time.

But Manning throwing 11 interceptions in three weeks? Manning throwing four picks in back-to-back games? Manning throwing four pick-sixes in an eight-day span? All very, very weird. But his last of four interceptions against Dallas led to the Cowboys’ winning field goal in overtime. Dallas 38, Indy 35.

Unlikely? Perhaps. Entertaining? Most very absolutely for certain.

Quote of the Week I

“I’ll keep throwing. I just hope I throw it to our guys.”
— Indianapolis quarterback Peyton Manning, after his second straight four-interception game led the Colts to their third straight loss.

Peyton’s even starting to sound like Charlie Brown now. “Aw shucks, guys, I guess I gotta give a go. Just hope it works out for me this time.”

Quote of the Week III

“Looks like they’re the best team in football. That’s what all the experts say. Except me.”
— Jets coach Rex Ryan, on the Patriots, before tonight’s matchup between the 9-2 Jets and 9-2 New England in Foxboro.

Quit flapping your gums, Rex. The game will never start at this rate.

Factoid of the Week That May Interest Only Me

With four regular-season weeks left in the 2010 season, we may be about to see the rich get quite a bit richer. The Carolina Panthers, 1-11, have a one-game edge over Detroit, Cincinnati and Buffalo for the top pick in the draft, and for the top pick in each of the subsequent six rounds.

We’re aware how the draft works, thanks.

I’ve been asked by quite a few of you for book suggestions for the holiday — other than the paperback version of my monstrously successful and insightful Monday Morning Quarterback wonderbook, of course — and I would give you three that are very good reads, and very educational about the game: Blood, Sweat and Chalk, by my friend Tim Layden, a great one about the roots of football and why today’s game is so sophisticated; The One Who Hit the Hardest: The Steelers, the Cowboys, the ’70s and the Fight For America’s Soul, by Chad Millman and Shaun Coyne, which, though overtitled, is a fascinating look at football and life in the seventies.

Overtitling sounds like the most twee problem facing the upper class today. I would really love to have Peter King write an essay about it in the New York Review Of Books.

“In Defense Of Concision: Why Overtitling Is A Scourge Upon Literature And My Thirteen-Point Plan On How To Eliminate It Posthaste, by Peter King.”

Mr. Starwood Preferred Member Travel Note of the Week

Good MMQB Samaritan of the Year: Chris Bierly, Newton, Mass.


I stood in Penn Station in Manhattan Wednesday at 11:50 a.m. with a friend, Alex Stern of the Elias Sports Bureau. He was going south on the Amtrak Acela for the Thursday night game in Philadelphia. I was going north, home to Boston, after the Sports Illustrated Sportsman of the Year event Tuesday night. And we discovered trains were frozen in the northeast in a heavy rainstorm due to a downed wire in Newark. So we waited. And waited. Finally, around 1:45, in a packed train station, with no end to the delay in sight, I got on the phone to my travel agent and asked her to look for a car-rental place anywhere near Penn Station. Much to my chagrin, because I wanted to work on the way home, now I’d have to slog five or six hours through the nor’easter to get home.

“Want a ride?” a complete stranger to my right said.

I looked at him, wondering if I should know him. “I recognized you and heard you on the phone, trying to get a car,” Chris Bierly, a businessman from suburban Boston, said. “I just got one. I’m going home to Boston. You can come if you’d like.”

“Yeah, I was eavesdropping on your conversation and know where you’re headed. You seem pretty dumb. I like that. Feel like being mutilated and left in a dumpster behind a Denny’s?”

“Wow,” I said. “Thanks. I’m in.”

So we sat in the back of a Town Car, Chris on the left, me on the right, and we chatted for a few minutes, then settled in to work/call/write, thanks to the wireless DSL devices we both had. Ryan Clark of the Steelers called


and I made a couple of calls on a story I’m working on for the magazine. I napped for 20 minutes. All in all, a great trip. When we were close to his home in Newton, I asked him if I could pay the driver to take me the final 15 minutes home to downtown Boston. “It’s all taken care of,” he said. “He’ll take you there.”

That, ladies and gentlemen, is one class guy. Just when you think they don’t exist anymore, here comes a gem of one.

And Peter paid it forward by switching to his softest homeless person kicking shoes.

One other Acela note

Scrawled on the finest, watermarked parchment.

from a Friday afternoon trip back to New York. As critical as I’ve been of their awful coffee, I’ve got to hand it to Amtrak for adding Dogfish Head 90 Minute Imperial IPA to the beverage list. I asked my Twitter followers Friday afternoon if it was too early to sample one of the Dogfish Heads, and the answer was about 269-0 in favor. Very good decision.

Fuck. Dogfish 90 is awesome. I hate that I’m not drinking it right now.

Tweet of the Week

“This game has just turned into a classic.”
–@ChrisHarrisNFL, Bears safety Chris Harris, at the two-minute warning of the Steelers-Ravens instant classic in the Inner Harbor Sunday night.

Slightly more eloquent than mine at the end of the game.

FUCK YESSSSSSSSSSSSless than a minute ago via web

Ten Things I Think I Think

c. Great CBS graphic about Tennessee having 12 straight touchdown-less quarters entering the fourth quarter against Jacksonville, a franchise record.

Wow, it’s like they added up something very apparent when an offense is struggling and presented it visually.

d. I highly recommend taking a look at Chicago Trib NFL ace Dan Pompei’s National Football Post Sunday column. His best gem from this column: NFL’s on pace for 462 offensive-holding penalties, or 89 more than last year. Obvious cause: The umpire being in the backfield for 53 minutes per game, with a better view of offensive line play, instead of being shielded by the defensive line when he used to line up in the linebacker area. Good work, Dan.

Lofty nugget, but could you make a graphic of it?

g. Clint Stitser! You’re in the Pro Football Encyclopedia now!

Filed under: People You Don’t Need To Give A Fuck about

h. Stitser. Bengal kicker. Managed a line-drive 29-yard field goal against the Saints, just a few days after being signed away from the Nevada high school team he was coaching. Don’t get comfy, Clint, considering that you missed a conversion kick.

No cushy Acela class for you yet.

j. Drew Stanton, ladies and gentlemen. How many times was Matt Millen cursed for wasting a second-round pick on him? How many times was he hallelujah-ed at Ford Field Sunday?

Quick guess: zero. Zero motherfucking times.

k. Nickname of the Week, by’s Mike Florio: “Bitter-Beer Face.” For Peyton Manning.


The only thing more annoying than Florio trying to be funny is Florio doing anything else.

p. Don’t know whether to laud Leon Washington for the long kickoff return or to knock him for semi-celebrating early, allowing the kicker to trip him up at the 1 to prevent a Seattle touchdown.

Ooh, semibrations! We have our latest Peter King neologism. Semibrate good times, c’mon!

q. Eric Weems, save that kickoff return in some time capsule.

Put it with your slap bracelet and your first generation iPod.

2. I think this is what I didn’t like about Week 13:

a. I’m not telling networks what to do or anything, but the tell-all, gut-wrenching Mike Vick interviews are over. I love the story, and it is well worth telling. But he’s said the same thing 63 times now. Enough.

PK has a truly lofty hateboner for Vick. I kind of admire it, actually.

b. Where’d you get those uniforms, Packers? Costco?

Sam’s Club.

g. At halftime of Jags-Titans, these negative Tennessee numbers dominated: Over the past six quarters, Tennessee had been outscored 37-0, and Chris Johnson had been held to 14 yards on 13 carries. Those two stats were related.

A graphic told me so!

i. Ed Hochuli’s crew for a ridiculous call ruling that Ndamukong Suh unnecessarily roughed Jay Cutler.

Okay, that was a horseshit call. And there is no roughing of Jay Cutler that should be deemed unnecessary.

k. Can’t miss the call busting Ben Roethlisberger’s nose, nor the one busting Heath Miller in the head, Terry McAulay and crew.

“But by all means, miss them on Vick.”

5. I think the best thing Carolina owner Jerry Richardson and GM Marty Hurney can do — assuming the Panthers lose out and get the first overall pick — is hire Stanford coach Jim Harbaugh to be their head coach and draft Andrew Luck with the first overall pick.

But what about pro-ready stalwart Jimmy Clausen? I seem to recall something about him being the loftiest passer ever to go through something emotional.

6. I think, speaking of coaching jobs, it’s hard to envision Josh McDaniels surviving now in Denver. After Spygate II, there was no question both in terms of public opinion and the opinion of the owner and front office that McDaniels had to have an impressive finish to keep the job. Well, Denver has since lost to St. Louis at home and scored six points in a loss to Kansas City on Sunday. Even with injuries on defense, you’ve got to wonder whether the D is tuning the coaching staff out; Denver has allowed 32 points a game, on average, over the past six games.

And here’s the portion of the column where Peter takes back everything he wrote last week.

8. I think you should check out this map of FOX coverage for the late game Sunday. Tell me if anything really surprises you. Look at how much of the country bypassed 9-2 Atlanta versus 7-4 Tampa Bay, with huge playoff implications, in favor of 3-8 Dallas against 6-5 Indy. What surprises me the most is not just the mass of the country — probably 85 percent — taking Colts-Cowboys, because I totally get the Peyton Manning/Lure of the Cowboys’ ratings power. But how about some of the places that chose it over a huge NFC South game: Jackson, Miss., Meridian, Miss., Lake Charles, La., Miami, Fort Lauderdale. Odd, to me. But I would like to praise station directors in Fargo and Duluth, of all places, for going Bucs-Falcons.

Holy shit, Fox gave undue attention to a COWBOYS game? And assigned their marquee announcing team to it? THAT NEVER HAPPENS!

9. I think Ken Whisenhunt needs to play Fordham rookie John Skelton Sunday, and maybe for the last four games. Really, what does he have to lose? And he has to know Derek Anderson won’t be back, so why prolong the agony by playing Anderson?

The tantrums, mostly.

10. I think these are my non-football thoughts of the week:

a. We’ve had enough of the gecko, Geico. I think I speak for all of America when I say that, the same as it was once over for Spuds McKenzie.


That this wasn’t followed by a plea for the return of the John Hodgman Apple ads – cut down well before their time! – is a shock I may never recover from.

b. Coffeenerdness: Starbucks finally has the egg nog latte right. In the past, they’ve had so many varieties of egg nog, some of it actually metallic-tasting. But I’ve had the egg nog latte in four markets now, and they’ve figured some way to get it right. And they have it right.

Finally, they’ve done using the eggs of robot birds.

d. Classic New York Scene of the Week:


Walking west on 51st Street Friday around 5 p.m., I saw a Santa Claus with his hat and beard off, standing just off Rockefeller Center with the bustle of the holiday season. He had all his belongings in a brown bag between his legs, and as I passed, he lifted a one-shot bottle of liquor (Stoli vodka, I think) and downed it in a flash. Aaaah, the holidays.

The streets teeming with drunkards and reprobates. It’s just like Watchmen said it was.

f. Re the Adrian Gonzalez trade: I’m usually in favor of a deal of a big star in his prime (particular one with a very good glove) for four prospects, and this is no exception. Once I found out Gonzalez hits well the other way — 18 homers to the left of dead-center last year — it got the King seal of approval.

An eggnogish level of excellency.

Who I Like Tonight, and I Mean Ron Jaworski

Patriots 27, Jets 20. You’ve read quite a bit about this game, even if you’re in Nome. My view, in short, is that a very big key to this game is Patriots rookie cornerback Devin McCourty has to come up very big, particularly when he’s covering Santonio Holmes, for the Patriots to win, because the New England nickel will struggle to hold down the Jets’ passing game.

McCourty played the Lions like he was a five-year vet, which was no surprise to the centerpiece of the Pats’ D, linebacker Jerod Mayo. “The way he came through the door told me he’d be a good player,” Mayo told me the other day. “He’s kind of an old soul. The way a lot of first-rounders come in to teams is almost like you should respect them. Devin earned it from the first day.” He showed that savvy against Detroit by out-wrestling Calvin Johnson for an interception. “Veteran play,” said Mayo, “especially coming against a good receiver like Johnson.”

Who was probably going through something emotional.

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