by NFL Gimpy
A tie? Ugh. A tie is the worst on field result if you have no vested interest in the outcome. As a fan of football who didn’t care whether San Francisco or St. Louis won, a tie is just an awful outcome. You can almost sense it in players too in their reactions. A loss can be very motivating. I could throw a long list of coaches and players who rarely lose two games in a row at you. The Patriots with Tom Brady at the helm are famous for it. Since 2003, the Patriots have lost back to back games only 4 times. Players reacting to the tie don’t know how to react. Do you get angry? Are you content you didn’t lose?
A tie doesn’t seem to mean anything. It’s half a win and half a loss technically, but it feels like there’s a void left where positive or negative emotion should be felt. Since it’s such a rare occurrence, I hit the rewind button on my DVR and watched overtime again and took some more detailed notes. It’s crazy to see how many times the game should have ended. It really takes a few crazy things to happen for a game to end in a tie. There’s also some interesting playoff history that goes along with the most recent tie game in the NFL. First, let’s look at how they got to overtime.
I was watching this game on my tablet while the Eagles played a fun game of “how many different ways can we lose?” The Rams shocked everyone when they jumped out to a 14-0 lead. Alex Smith narrowed the lead to 14-7, but didn’t finish the half due to a concussion. The 49ers offense struggled initially but got things going in the 4th quarter, now down 17-7. Backup QB/NFLGimpy man-crush Colin Kaepernick and Frank Gore led the 49ers on an 11-play 83 yard touchdown drive. On the ensuing kickoff, rookie RB Isiah Pead fumbled, giving the 49ers the ball on the Rams 20 yard line. Frank Gore punched it in on the first play to give the 49ers a 21-17 lead.
Game over, right? The 49ers defense is one of the best in the NFL and no way do they allow the Rams to march 80 yards for a touchdown, right? Wrong. The 49ers defense and special teams flat out choked. They allowed a fake punt on 4th and 8 to get a first down. Then the Rams got the additional 52 yards in 9 plays to take the lead. Colin Kaepernick did a great job tying it up with a 63 yard drive in 1 minute and change to give David Akers an easy 33 yard FG for the tie.
The Rams won the coin toss and elected to receive the ball. On the first play from scrimmage, bizarre event #1 happened. Danny Amendola got open deep, about 35 yards down the field and ran an additional 45 yards before Donte Whitner forces him out of bounds at the 2 yard line. 1st and goal on the 2 yard line, a touchdown wins it. Wait, what was that? Illegal formation penalty. Replay clearly showed that the WR was not up on the line of scrimmage.
The Rams went 3 and out after that deflating penalty and the 49ers got the ball back where any points, FG or touchdown, win the game. Naturally, bizarro time kicks in. David Akers, who set numerous NFL records in 2011 and is currently tied for the longest FG in NFL history at 63 yards, missed a 41-yard FG that should have been automatic. The 49ers got a little conservative on offense right before that, but a 41-yard FG for an NFL kicker in good weather isn’t something you expect to go wrong.
But leave it to the Rams to come up with the most bizarre play of all. Greg Zuerlein has earned the nicknamed “Legatron” for his powerful leg. After the missed FG by Akers, the Rams got into Legatron’s range, which would have been a 53-yard FG. Zuerlein booms it through the uprights, Rams win!!! Except not. Delay of game, 5-yard penalty. Here’s the worst part about this delay of game: THE RAMS HAD A TIMEOUT!! Holder Johnny Hekker took the blame, but with a timeout remaining, there’s no excuse to take that penalty. Zuerlein missed the 58-yarder and after that neither team really threatened to score.
The Rams accomplished 2 of the most unique ways to not win you’ll ever see. In a way, the 49ers are the lucky one here. They needed a FG to force OT after their defense choked and two stupid penalties by the Rams to avoid losing. The tie is also a big help to the 49ers. At 6-2-1 and leading the division, 2nd place is the 6-4 Seahawks. This still forces the Seahawks to win 1 more game than the 49ers to take the division. If they possess the same win total at the end of the season, there are no tiebreakers necessary because with the tie counting as half a win, the 49ers will take the crown. Sadly, this is almost as good as a win for the 49ers in terms of winning the division.
This won’t be the first time a tie functions like a “kind of win” for playoff standings. In 2008, the last time a tie happened, the Eagles and Bengals tied in one of the worst games you’ll ever see. At the time, it seemed like a must win game for the Eagles who were treading water in the playoff race. They somehow won 4 of their last 5 and squeaked into the playoffs at 9-6-1. There were 3 other 9 win teams, all with a 9-7 record. That tie was a de facto win because it put the Eagles in the playoffs over those three.
Eagles fans know what happens next. They beat the Vikings and then upset the Giants, both on the road, en route to an NFC Championship appearance against the Cardinals. Sadly for Eagles fans, Larry Fitzgerald happened. Fitz had the best playoffs an NFL WR ever had and nearly won the Super Bowl for the Cardinals too.
Who knows what this tie could mean this season for the 49ers. Maybe it’s the difference between home field advantage and just having a first round bye. We’ll see.
Year of the Rookie QB: A challenger emerges
Andrew Luck: 18/26 227 yards 1 interception. 7 rushes 11 yards for 2 touchdowns, 2 sacks for 6 yards, and a lost fumble. 80.1 QB Rating and the win.
Robert Griffin III: Bye week, hopefully he used his free time to buy some stickum for his receivers so they stop dropping the ball.
Ryan Tannehill: 23/39 217 yards 3 interceptions. 1 sack for 8 yards. 42.4 QB Rating and a loss.
Brandon Weeden: Bye week to curl up in the fetal position and cry for getting drafted by the Browns and not one of the 30 other teams (minus the Jaguars, of course).
Russell Wilson: 12/19 188 yards 2 touchdowns. 7 rushes for 34 yards 4 sacks for 22 yards, and a lost fumble. 131.0 QB rating and the win.
Nick Foles: 22/32 219 yards 1 touchdown 1 interception. 2 sacks for 11 yards, a lost fumble. 85.3 QB Rating and the loss.
With Weeden and RG3 taking a week off (slackers), Nick Foles volunteered to make sure I had more to write about! In all seriousness, I hope Vick is OK. You never want to see players injured, ever. I may have wanted to see Vick benched at times, but I want him healthy on the bench. He has a family that I’m sure wouldn’t complain if he is healthy when he retires. It’s important to keep that in perspective.
Luck had a slightly ugly win on Thursday night football against the Jaguars (lost fumble, interception) but the important thing is they won. Luck ran for 2 touchdowns (7 points is 7 points no matter how it’s scored) and the defense did the rest. The Colts are 6-3 and in great shape to make the playoffs. This is the same team that had the worst record in the NFL last year. The most impressive thing about Luck is that he’s taking a team that has no business making the playoffs on a run. They have no running game, only one experienced weapon in the passing game, a defense that was 28th in points allowed in 2011 transitioning to a new scheme, and a head coach who’s battling cancer (and by battling, I mean kicking the $%!& out of it Chuckstrong style).
Ryan Tannehill was thrown into a tough situation. Right now, he’s a good game manager. He can keep the game in front of him, make a few plays, and not lose the game. But no one on offense showed up to help and by the time Tannehill threw his 2nd interception, it was over. This is one of those games you just throw out the tape and pretend it never happened for the entire team. The Dolphins, who were in good shape to make a playoff run 2 weeks ago, are now 4-5 with a must win game at Buffalo next week to stay in the hunt. Short memory Ryan, short memory.
Russell Wilson can throw the deep ball. He had touchdown passes of 38 and 31 that were both beautiful passes. The first one to Golden Tate was a high ball that just cleared the defender into Tate’s hands on about the 3 yard line. The second to Sidney Rice was an over the shoulder throw where Rice had a half step on the DB. Wilson did have a lost fumble that led to the only Jets touchdown, but think about this. Mark Sanchez, in his 4th season as a starter, had an interception and a lost fumble. For the season, Sanchez has 10 TDs, 9 INTs, and a 70.4 rating. Wilson has 15 TDs, 8 INTs, and a 90.5 rating. Mark, when you’re getting drastically outperformed by a 5’11” 3rd round rookie, your job is in danger. Oh, and Tim Tebow, when your coach won’t bench that guy for you, you might want to consider that switch to FB.
Nick Foles entered the QB derby and Foles would have instantly been my Rookie QB of the Week Clipart Certificate Winner if he beat the Cowboys. Even if he throws 8 interceptions, if the Cowboys lose, he wins the prize. It’s tough to judge a rookie QB who’s forced to jump in the lineup after an injury. You didn’t get many reps in practice that week (if any at all) with the starters, you’ve never been in a regular season game, and you don’t know the offense as well as the starter.
With that said, Foles didn’t do that bad. His interception hit DeSean Jackson in the hands, and while the throw was behind, Jackson is paid to make catches like that. In a close game (down 24-17 before the interception) you have to make that catch. I’ll assign 70% of the blame to Jackson, 30% to Foles. He led the Eagles on 3 scoring drives (2 touchdown, 1 FG) and while he wasn’t great, he didn’t look lost. You have to look at the little things. He didn’t panic with pressure in his face, he made calls at the line, he didn’t look confused or lost.
If Foles starts this week, we’ll have a much better idea as to what he’s capable of after an entire week in practice as the starter. Sadly, since he didn’t beat the Cowboys, the MAQB Rookie of the Week Clipart Certificate comes down to Russell Wilson and Andrew Luck. With the win over a superior opponent, I’m giving the nod to Russell Wilson. Congrats Russell!
Overpaid/Underpaid Players of the Week
Overpaid: Eli Manning, QB New York Giants
Obviously you can never rule out the Giants, but they always seem to have this midseason slump before they pull it all together for a Super Bowl run. Thanks to awful play as of late by the rest of their division, the Giants still have a 2-win lead over the Cowboys. But that doesn’t excuse how poorly Eli played yesterday and the past few weeks. Yesterday, Eli only had 215 yards passing on 46 attempts (4.7 yards per attempt) and 3 turnovers (1 lost fumble, 2 INTs). Eli has 0 touchdowns and 4 interceptions the past 3 weeks (the Giants are 1-2 in that time frame). The Giants always have the ability to turn it around but they have a knack for making things way more dramatic than they need to be. If Eli Manning could sing most Giants seasons would be Broadway worthy.
Eli, take your gigantic salary, endorsements, Manning family money, etc. and polish your Super Bowl rings to remind yourself that you’re better than this. Or don’t, I won’t mind watching you lose more.
Underpaid: Chris Ivory, RB New Orleans Saints
Ivory has spent a majority of the 2012 season inactive because he’s behind Darren Sproles, Mark Ingram, and Pierre Thomas on the depth chart. I can’t see how after the past 2 games he isn’t the #1 until Sproles comes back. In the past 2 games, he has 19 touches for 135 yards and 2 touchdowns. Those touchdowns were 56 and 22 yard runs. He’s been the leading rusher in both games.
Ivory is one of those players who always seems to make the most out of his playing time. His career yards per carry is 5.2. For comparison, Mark Ingram has a 3.7 career average. I think this is a classic case of a player’s draft position determining the depth chart. Chris, use your meager salary to beg for a trade/release in the offseason to go to a team who could use your talent. Ivory could be a great #2 RB for many teams.
-A lot of officiating mistakes yesterday. A lot. I won’t go over them, but they were pretty inexcusable and several arguably determined the winner (or the tie) in games.
-Jacquizz Rodgers should get more touches at RB than Michael Turner, who’s hitting a wall right now. Turner is one of the slowest RBs in the NFL at this point and I’m surprised he had anything left in the tank to start the season.
-Philip Rivers is a very good QB who makes 3 or 4 boneheaded throws per game. When I say boneheaded, I mean inexcusably dumb. Rivers has thrown 32 interceptions in his past 25 games, including 2 yesterday in a close loss.
-Congrats to Johnny Football and Texas A&M for their victory over Alabama. I bet Mack Brown is wondering why he didn’t offer Johnny a scholarship.
-We will never have 2 players more qualified for Comeback Player of the Year than Peyton Manning and Adrian Peterson. I’m giving the nod to All Day because of how incredibly short his rehab period was. He’s on pace for career highs in several categories and if the Viking make the playoffs, I’m calling him MVP too.
-There are 9 RBs with a higher per year than Marshawn Lynch. I can think of only 3 I would say are definitively better: Peterson, McCoy, and Foster. You can argue maybe Ray Rice, but that’s it.
-I subscribe to the idea that there’s no such thing as running up the score in the NFL. In college it can be a joke, but in the NFL, teams are more or less equal in their opportunity to succeed, so if you have a team run up the score on you, it’s your job to stop them. With that said, the Ravens did something I’d call a “dick move” against the Raiders. Up 41-17 late in the 3rd quarter, the Ravens were set up for a short FG that would have given them an insurmountable 27 point lead. The Ravens ran a fake FG and scored a touchdown.
This doesn’t make any sense to me. You gain nothing by running this play. First off, you’re going to win the game and it isn’t going to be close. 4 points won’t make any difference. Second, you just showed the entire NFL what your fake FG looks like at a useless moment. They gained nothing with this fake FG and I have no idea why they ran it.
-The Saints have won 4 of their last 5 after a dreadful 0-4 start. They’re only 1.5 games behind the Seahawks for the 6th playoff spot. The team is clearly different with Joe Vitt at the helm. If they pull it off and make the playoffs, I’d be scared to see them in the first round.
-If the Steelers win tonight, the 6 spot in the AFC will have a 2 game lead over the 7th place team. At this point, it’s tough to say that 11/12 playoff spots are going to be any different than they are now. The only spot with a big question mark continues to be the NFC’s 6th spot.
-I can’t get over how intriguing Chip Kelly to Carolina is. Whoever their new GM is gets a chance to make a mark and what better way to do that than to bring the most innovative coach in football to town to work with one of the most physically gifted QBs? Kelly was RB Jonathan Stewart’s coach for a year at Oregon and Steve Smith’s athleticism would be a great fit in that kind of offense.
-I still can’t believe how wrong I was on the Kansas City Chiefs. Their defense looked great at the end of last season, they have talent at WR and RB, and all that was needed was smart, efficient QB play yet they’ve had possibly the worst QB play of any team in the NFL this season, Jaguars included.
-If you’re the Jaguars, do you give up on Blaine Gabbert after this season? Do you make a play for a veteran QB like Mike Vick, gamble on Tim Tebow, or use another high 1st round pick on a QB? The draft may not have a bonafide blue chip QB this year. The Jags don’t look like they’re going to be able to improve for another 2 or 3 years without drastically improved QB play.
-The Titans have to be the worst 4-6 team I’ve ever seen.
Monday Night Prediction
Jonathan Baldwin scores the lone touchdown for the Chiefs, or at least I hope so. If Baldwin doesn’t score tonight (or the Chiefs don’t re-sign Tyler Palko and play him tonight) the streak of Pitt players in the NFL who score a touchdown will end. C’mon Jon!!!! Otherwise, the Steelers win in a game that’s not as close as the score appears.