If there’s an obscure, stupid rule in the NFL, you can bet the Detroit Lions will be the team that gets screwed by it.
Remember Calvin Johnson’s catch that wasn’t a catch even though it was completely OBVIOUSLY a catch a few years back? Well check this one out. During the Lions Thanksgiving game against the Texans, Houston RB Justin Forsett was apparently tackled (and when I say “apparently,” I mean he was knocked completely to the ground by an opponent who fell on top of him. . .that kind of “apparently”), but the whistle never blew. Forsett alertly got up and ran 81 yards for a touchdown.
No way, right? That’s gotta get overturned – after all, touchdowns are AUTOMATICALLY reviewed.
With one exception, apparently. Lions coach Jim Schwartz threw his challenge flag after seeing the hideously terrible non-whistle.
If you throw a challenge flag on a touchdown play, because it gets automatically reviewed, you get a 15 yard penalty.
OK, I can understand that. But wait. The bad play you wanted reviewed that would be AUTOMATICALLY reviewed? That stands. They don’t look at it.
So the 15 yards isn’t enough of a punishment for throwing a challenge flag when you’re not allowed to, a bad call leading to an opposing touchdown just HAS to be left on the board too. Who came up with that completely IDIOTIC rule? If a coach throws a bad challenge flag, penalize him 15 yards. Hell, take away one of his challenges too. But don’t let a bad call go unreviewed.
That is the dumbest possible conclusion to a play like that the NFL could want. How much you wanna bet it gets changed next year (too late, for the Lions, of course).
Did you notice that both Jacksonville and Cleveland, who came so close to pulling off upsets last week, did so this week? Both teams clearly felt their narrow losses were unfinished business and took it out on vulnerable opponents.
This Week’s Sucked And Won: Michael Turner, RB (ATL). The Falcons have some kind of magic this season, but Michael Turner isn’t part of it. Once the key to the Falcons offense, Turner gained just 17 yards on 13 carries against Tampa Bay. Don’t blame the blocking, either. Backfield mate Jacquizz Rodgers gained 49 yards on 10 carries in the same game.
I give credit where it’s due, and this week it’s due to Fox Sports for smartly shifting away from Bears/Vikings (boring blowout) coverage to Buccaneers/Falcons (seesaw battle) coverage early in the second half, instead of waiting until there was just a few minutes left in the respective games.
Shocking Realization of the Week: The Steelers committed 8 turnovers this week, including 3 INTs by Charlie Batch and committing 8 fumbles, losing 5. What were they using, the Crisco ball?!
Should you read too much into the fact that top teams like Houston, Atlanta and Baltimore only barely managed wins this week? Maybe. Close games can be an indicator of a weakness a tougher opponent (like, in the playoffs) can exploit, or they may be evidence of a team’s character, being able to win a game even when they get outplayed. One thing I’d keep an eye on is Houston’s defense, which has suddenly gone from being one of the league’s best to giving up successive big performances to Chad Henne and Matt Stafford. CB Jonathan Joseph, Houston’s top man in coverage, has been injured, and apparently, until he’s 100%, the Houston defense can be attacked through the air.
This Week’s Great But Lost: Russell Wilson, QB (SEA). The rookie just keeps getting better, as he went 21 for 27 for 224 yards and 2 TDs and a passer rating of 125.9. He even rushed for 38 yards on 5 carries, but it wasn’t enough, as Seattle fell (again) on the road to Miami, 24-21.
If you’re a fan of the Vikings, Buccaneers or Seahawks, is your glass half full or half empty. Your team lost, and missed a chance to take a lead in the wildcard race. But very other team in the race also lost, so you’re no worse off than you were before the week started.
Thursday Pick: New Orleans (+4) @Atlanta (MGM Mirage)
Boy this is a tough one. This game means absolutely EVERYTHING to the Saints. They must win or their season is truly over. And the game means equally NOTHING to the Falcons. They’re set as both the NFC South division winner and most likely the #1 seed in the NFC. Still, Atlanta will be looking for a little payback for New Orleans handing them their only loss of the season, and the Falcons are a seriously tough out at home in their dome. I’m taking the points here, although I’m guessing Atlanta finds a way to win yet another very close game.
Atlanta Falcons 27 New Orleans Saints 24
WAR OF WORDS
“There wasn’t much for him to say. He said we don’t want to get embarrassed like this. Let’s not get blown out.” – Raiders S Michael Huff, on QB Carson Palmer’s halftime speech with his team trailing the Bengals 24-0.
“Tony and Roddy, they have been to a lot of Pro Bowls. They need to be over there guarding them.” – Falcons WR Julio Jones, on how he drew single coverage which led to an 80 yard touchdown bomb against the Bucs.
“I do and I think our team will play a heck of a lot better. I don’t think anybody will ask that question by the time the year’s over.” – Jets’ coach Rex Ryan, on whether he believed he would be back to coach the Jets next year.
“I’m not going back home and saying, ‘Dang, that was a close one,’ I’m saying, ‘8-3 baby!’” – Broncos DE Elvis Dumervil, on winning a close one against the Chiefs.
“Hey diddle diddle, Ray Rice up the middle.” – Ravens RB Ray Rice, whose incredible catch and run on 4th and 29 helped Baltimore down the Chargers 16-13 in overtime.
“You know, the biggest thrill was to see who was leaving early, right?” – Browns owner Jimmy Haslam, on the visiting contingent of Steelers fans exiting Cleveland Browns Stadium before Browns fans did.
“Our message all week was play like world champions.” – Giants coach Tom Coughlin, whose team responded with an impressive 38-10 beating of the Green Bay Packers.
“You’ve got to roll with the punches in this league. I think I punched myself pretty good today.” – Cardinals QB Ryan Lindley, who threw two pick-sixes against the Rams.