Some Random Thoughts About Week Six In The NFL (October 14, 2012)

Michael Koenen is this generation’s Garo Yepremian.

After having his punt blocked, Buccaneer Punter Michael Koenen picked the ball up, scrambled to his right, and under the threat of half the Kansas City punt return unit, threw one of the most ridiculous-looking pick-sixes I have ever seen.  Officially, it is listed as a fumble, but that’s just because it was such a God-awful pass that the ball was slipping out of his hands during the entire throwing motion (just like Yepremian almost forty years ago).

What Koenen should have done was fallen on the ball in the end zone instead of picking it up.  There is close to zero probability that anything good could come out of him picking that ball up.  Tampa Bay was up 21-3 at that point.  Take the safety and make it 21-5.  From Pee-Wee Football on up, punters are taught to do one of two things on a blocked punt or a bad snap: fall on the ball, or kick it out of the back of the end zone.  Giving up two is better than seven.

It ended up not mattering, and Tampa Bay won the game easily, 38-10, over hapless Kansas City.

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The Jets finally put it all together against the Colts in their 35-9 win.  The Colts played a very emotional game last week in their 30-27 win over Green Bay, but it’s impossible to play on that much emotion for much longer than one game.  The Jets looked prepared to play, executed the game plan, and lived up to Rex Ryan’s “Ground and Pound” moniker while running the ball 44 times for 252 yards.

I do have to wonder though, is all the hype over Tim Tebow worth it?  He threw a 23-yard pass to convert a fourth down on a fake punt, and ran four times for seven yards with his longest run being three yards.  This was the first time I saw a really good ‘Tebow play’ this season, and it was against one of the worst teams in the NFL.  I don’t see how creating a media circus and quarterback controversy in exchange for a few conversions (the 3rd- and 4th-down variety) is a good trade on a cost/benefit level.

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What happened to the 49ers?

The San Francisco 49ers set a franchise record last week against Buffalo (I shudder as I type this) with 621 yards of offense.  That is really impressive considering they were quarterbacked by Joe Montana and Steve Young for twenty years, and coached by Bill Walsh for ten.

The 49ers went from beating the Jets and Bills by a combined 79-3 score over the last two games to never really challenging the Giants in losing 26-3.  That score is not indicative of how lopsided the game really was.  The Giants returned two interceptions inside the twenty yard-line, but came away with field goals both times.  Lawrence Tynes finished the game with four field goals, and all of them came with the Giants inside the red zone.

Every game in the NFL qualifies as a must-win, but you would think that the New York Giants would have been a star on the 49ers’ calendar after narrowly losing to them in the NFC Championship last season.

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There was something that Marv Levy used to say that applies to Buffalo’s 19-16 overtime win against Arizona today:

“If you don’t quit, sometimes you get lucky”.  – 1990 Week 4 after scoring 20 points in 77 seconds to beat Denver 29-28

Buffalo looked dead in the water after seemingly blowing their three-point lead fourth quarter lead with three seconds left.

The Bills were leading the Cardinals 16-13 with 3:19 left when Brad Smith threw an ugly-looking interception into double coverage out of the Wildcat.  The Cardinals drove to the Buffalo 43 with the help of a successful 4th and 11 conversion, and Jay Feely drilled a 61-yard field goal that was so good that it was actually caught by a fan in the stands.

Buffalo went nowhere on the ensuing series, and the Cardinals used all of their timeouts in getting the ball back, which they did after a miserable 30-yard punt by Buffalo.  Larry Fitzgerald’s 27-yard catch-and-run put the Cardinals in prime position to win the game with Feely’s 38-yard attempt, his fourth of the game, and much easier than his last kick.  It would have been easy for anyone on Buffalo’s field goal-block team to sit back and accept the inevitable.  After all, Feely just made a much more difficult kick than that, and 38 yards is virtually automatic for an NFL kicker nowadays.

But they didn’t just accept the inevitable.

Alex Carrington deflected the ball just enough that it hit the left upright and sent the game to overtime and gave Buffalo new life. Buffalo ended up winning 19-16 on their own field goal from Rian Lindell just under four minutes into overtime.

Up till now, Feely was 93 for 107, 88%, on field goals from 30-39 yards in his career.  That also means that he has missed fourteen such attempts.  Why not now?

This is why you can’t assume any particular course of events in the NFL.  Nothing is guaranteed.

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