Letdowns, New Leases and Late-Night Football

Fine Fifteen

1. Denver (5-0). Exhilaratingly exasperating on defense. But the offense looks unstoppable.

2. New Orleans (5-0). Building a 23-7 lead and coasting is great for the confidence of a team that might have to play outdoors in January.

3. Indianapolis (4-1). Andrew Luck owns the fourth quarter. What a fabulous career he’s going to have.

4. Seattle (4-1). Why Seattle Must Play At Home in January Dept.: Seattle in Seattle this year—‘Hawks 74, Foes 20 in two games. Seattle on the road this year—‘Hawks 63, Foes 61 in three.

5. Kansas City (5-0). Allowing 11.6 points per game gets you in my top five.

6. San Francisco (3-2). The meltdowns to Seattle and Indianapolis are in the rearview mirror. Scoring 69 points against the Rams and Texans helps. And their next five weeks are pretty tolerable: Arizona, at Tennessee, Jacksonville in London, bye, Carolina.

Talk Back

Have a question or comment for Peter? Email him at talkback@themmqb.com and it might be included in Tuesday's mailbag.

7. Cincinnati (3-2). Beat Aaron Rodgers. Lost to Brian Hoyer. Beat Tom Brady. All in 15 days.

8. New England (4-1). Hard to say what that loss in the rain meant, but the protection of Tom Brady simply must get better—and Rob Gronkowski might want to play one of these weeks.

9. Green Bay (2-2). They’ll petition the league for eight home games against Detroit every year. I think they’d rather play the Lions at home than the Jags.

10. Baltimore (3-2). Good win to pull it out in Miami, but this is something John Harbaugh frets about: Last year, Ray Rice and Bernard Pierce averaged 4.6 yards per carry. This year: 2.9.

11. Dallas (2-3). One of the craziest games in Cowboys history. In NFL history. Showed how great, and how maddening, Tony Romo can be in one game.

12. Detroit (3-2). Calvin Johnson missed the game, out of nowhere, and it showed. The Lions played like they had a thorn in their collective paw.

13. Tennessee (3-2). Ryan Fitzpatrick has to be better than 24 of 49 through five quarters to salvage the Titans’ playoff hopes while Jake Locker mends.

14. Chicago (3-2). Outscored by 16 the last two weeks, but an elixir’s on the way: the Giants, at home, Thursday night.

15. Atlanta (1-3). Speaking of New Jersey teams you like to see coming to your place … Jets at Falcons tonight.

The Award Section

T.Y. Hilton (top left) burned the lauded Seahawks secondary, but Seattle drew blood with a special teams safety (bottom right). Terrell Suggs (top right) and Charles Woodson (bottom left) both played the role of cagey veterans for their winning teams. (Brent R. Smith/AP :: Marc Serota/Getty Images :: Kelley L Cox/USA Today Sports :: Sam Riche/MCT/ZUMAPRESS.com)
T.Y. Hilton (top left) burned the lauded Seahawks secondary, but Seattle drew blood with a special teams safety (bottom right). Terrell Suggs (top right) and Charles Woodson (bottom left) both played the role of cagey veterans for their winning teams. (Brent R. Smith/AP :: Marc Serota/Getty Images :: Kelley L Cox/USA Today Sports :: Sam Riche/MCT/ZUMAPRESS.com)

Offensive Players of the Week

Julius Thomas, TE, Denver. His nine catches for 122 yards and two touchdowns came in many different forms, but the most unusual was a shovel pass you could barely see, Peyton Manning opening the Denver scoring with a four-yard sideways toss to the first-year starter.

T.Y. Hilton, WR, Indianapolis. So hard not to fall in love with this guy, watching him consistently. His five-catch, 140-yard performance in the win over Seattle was the latest in a string of games that shows Indianapolis has drafted well to supplement Andrew Luck in this new era. Hilton’s 73-yard touchdown catch and run up the right sideline was a perfect example of speed, agility and tightrope-walking.

Defensive Players of the Week

Charles Woodson, FS, Oakland. A historic night for the great Woodson, who turns 37 today. His third-quarter 25-yard fumble return against San Diego was the 13th touchdown of his career, tying an NFL record for defensive players. And his game-sealing interception of Philip Rivers in the final minute was the 56th pick of his career, tying him with Lem Barney and Pat Fischer for 17th on the NFL’s all-time list. Woodson looks good in silver and black.

Tramaine Brock, CB, San Francisco. Call him Wally Pipp—you’ll have to Google (or Bing) that if you need to know what it means. Suffice it to say Brock subbed for the injured Nnamdi Asomugha at nickel cornerback Sunday night, and it’s going to be tough for Asomugha to get his job back after the 34-3 beatdown of the Texans Sunday night. Brock pick-6’ed Matt Schaub on the opening drive of the game, then intercepted Schaub again in the second quarter. The two picks led to 14 Niners points.

Robert Mathis, OLB, Indianapolis. With his 100th and 101st career sacks in the 34-28 win over previously unbeaten Seattle, Mathis, a ‘tweener of a fifth-round pick 10 years ago, became the 30th player in NFL history to record 100 sacks. “He’s the benchmark for any young player coming in here,’’ coach Chuck Pagano said.

Terrell Suggs, OLB, Baltimore. Suggs had three sacks in a seven-minute span of the fourth quarter, and his final two came within a minute of each other on the Dolphins drive that stalled and handed the Ravens the ball for the game-winning field goal. Impressive that Suggs had that much left in the tank on an 87-degree afternoon in Miami during a 26-23 Baltimore win.

Special Teams Player of the Week

Kevin Huber, P, Cincinnati. See above.

Jermaine Kearse, WR/punt rush, Seattle. This guy has turned into an important and versatile weapon for the Seahawks. In the first half at Indianapolis, he blocked a Pat McAfee punt, and it bounced into the end zone and out of it for a safety. That made it 12-0 Seattle. After two quick Indy touchdowns, Kearse, an undrafted second-year wideout from Washington, caught a touchdown pass from Russell Wilson, making it 19-14.

Justin Tucker, K, Baltimore. Can’t get much better than this guy. Tucker kicked field goals of 42, 50, 25 and 44 Sunday in Miami, and the last one won the game with 1:42 to play. In his 13-month career with Baltimore, Tucker is 45 of 50 on field goals, making all 22 attempts from inside 40.

Coach of the Week

Adam Gase, offensive coordinator, Denver. For the smooth transition from Mike McCoy at offensive coordinator and offensive play-caller, for being able to bond quickly with a quarterback who clearly respects him (Peyton Manning), and for piloting an offense that’s putting up 46 points a game through five weeks.

Goat of the Week

Matt Schaub, QB, Houston. It’s sad to watch the implosion of this productive player. And make no mistake—he’s imploding before our eyes. For the fourth straight game, an NFL record, he had an interception returned for touchdown, this one 90 seconds into the first quarter. It was one of three picks in all for Schaub. Though coach Gary Kubiak said Schaub remains the starter, it’d be a shock if Schaub can hang onto the job with one more poor performance Sunday at home against the Rams. Who, by the way, have a risk-taking secondary.

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483 comments
ArnoldNewman
ArnoldNewman

The 10% of native Americans who are bitching about "Redskins" should lose all their benefits.  Then they'll have something real to complain about.

gary41
gary41

We're real tired of reading about the Redskins name change.  You might like to know 3 out of 4 fans favor keeping the same name, so you might want to get off the political thing and get on with the business of football......

BAYOURANCH
BAYOURANCH

Atlanta just fell out of your 15 spot

captainfuzzypants
captainfuzzypants

the problem isn't "a health-care law some of the politicians don’t like,"   It's a law that half of them don't like, and that half of america doesn't like.  if it was just some, implying a few, then they wouldn't be stuck passing their next horribly destructive "budget".  We didn't get to debate it when it was being forced on us, and we don't get to debate it now i guess.  All or nothing: the new "negotiation"

ChiBears85
ChiBears85

You all can let Romo off the hook all you want, but as Herm Edwards famously said: "THE POINT IS TO WIN THE GAME!"  This game is about wins and losses, and if you can't finish, you're going nowhere.

Richard Long
Richard Long

As a Denver fan, I think I would have preferred to face any other QB in the league other than Romo on Sunday.  Not that he plays like that every week, but on Sunday, he was every bit as good as Manning.  Denver's D is not that bad.  When you have a line that protects like the Cowboys did and a QB make the decisions and deliver the ball as Romo did, there isn't much you can do to stop him.  Sure he threw a pick, but so did Manning.  Romo just threw his with 2 minutes to go. 

retro-grouch
retro-grouch

Romo played a great game for 58 minutes.  Here’s the rub.

Situational awareness 101: final possessions in a tied game have an extremely high value.  It doesn’t matter whether the score is 48-48 or 3-3, except in the high scoring game with tired DBs the QB should have a reasonable expectation that patience and mobility will be rewarded by open targets.   The win probability needle is way over to the team with their offense on the field and execution is determinative.

Throwing from a stale pocket with blocking traffic in front of him Romo opted for a tight window with a good cover LB tight on his target rather than taking the vastly wide open checkdown to his RB.   His foot contacted his own lineman as he stepped up and that's why you don't force a tight window from a busy pocket.

It was one bad play by a QB who had dozens of good plays under his belt but situational awareness and keeping clean in the pocket are part of the job description.

DennyCrane
DennyCrane

" to protest a health-care law some of the politicians don’t like"

Stop lying Peter. When the law was voted in not a single Republican voted for it because their constituents didn't want them to. That means millions of conservatives didn't want ACA. A number of Democrat politicians had to be bribed by their OWN PARTY to vote for it because, without the sweetner their millions of constituents didn't want the ACA.

Many unions and friends of Obama have opted out of the ACA because they don't like it and finally, Obama, Pelosi, and every member of Congress and their staffs have opted out of it because they don't like ACA.

Please stop being so stupid and continuing the lie that "only politicians" don't want the ACA because that's demonstrably not true. Even the very persons who voted for it don't want it.

IvanAJagerbomb
IvanAJagerbomb

Newsflash Peter -- Tony Dungy is not a respective analyst by the fans.. he is a torture to listen to and focuses too much on not enough black QBs or coaches.... and nonsense like the Redskins name change

2001mark
2001mark

Romo is fair game.  If they win (even if they had to eke) out the W v Denver, it would've been headlines the league over 'Romo finally bags a big one!'

Well, he didn't, so that makes it not on him?  

DaveBolt
DaveBolt

TONY (CLAP CLAP) CHOKER (CLAP CLAP). It's like clock work. Throw him more money, Jerry!

Gregory2
Gregory2

Wow, I just realized that the Sports Illustrated writer does not name the Redskins anymore.  Any comments on the Fighting Irish?  That is much more derogatory than the Redskins.  Blackhawks? Braves?  Why does he not have a problem with the Cowboys?  After all, they stole land from the Redskins, I mean the Indians, I mean the Native Americans, I mean the First Nation peoples.  Buffalo Bills, who are named after Buffalo Bill Cody should be a major concern for this retard, after all, he was an Indian Fighter, and PETA should be incensed since he murdered over 4000 bison!

Seriously, these PC morons should really concentrate on what they think they know, and that is sports, and not what I know they don't know, and that is politics.

johnc596
johnc596

"Same ol' Romo" means great performance until the clutch and then fail.  How does that not fit?  It's a real hoot to watch the Cowboys refuse to run with only one linebacker in the middle.  How can a team with the collection of coaches they have be so strategy-challenged?


LeBP
LeBP

Well Peter--guess Atlanta did not enjoy hosting a team from New Jersey--Time to stop hating the Jets and admit the Team is well coached.

tjw_ia
tjw_ia

Many good comments. Disclosure...not a DCowboys fan.

re: Romo's turnover at the end...it was a hold by that linebacker w/ his left arm. It slowed the TE running his route and sling shotted the LB into position. The pompous one's will believe whatever they want to believe...

friendly--neighborhood--scrawler
friendly--neighborhood--scrawler

After the Cowboy's game i noticed the same typical media trash reporting, "blame the QB"

I looked at the scoreboard saw more than 45 points by a Cowboys offense...  enough said !!!

OK
OK

Who I Like Tonight

Atlanta 20, New York Jets 15. The Falcons have ruled out Steven Jackson (hamstring) for the third straight game; with the bye next week, that means he’ll be able to give the hammy 34 days to feel right, before Atlanta faces Tampa Bay coming out of the break. The Falcons should be able to beat the turnover-prone Jets without Jackson and with a gimpy Roddy White (who might have 2011 Falcons practice-squad cornerback Darrin Walls covering him in the depleted New York secondary), but the heat is on coach Mike Smith and quarterback Matt Ryan here. A loss to the Jets would be disastrous, obviously.

#####

Smith, Folk lead New York Jets past Falcons 30-28Associated Press

ATLANTA -- Nick Folk kicked a 43-yard field goal on the final play of the game and the New York Jets handed struggling Atlanta its third straight loss, beating the Falcons 30-28 on Monday night.

#####

Right again, Peter. Of course, the Falcons' loss to the Jets makes you look like God's Own Idiot, too.

cozmikrebl
cozmikrebl

As a Bengals fan, even I find it baffling as to how you could not place the Browns in your "Fine 15" the last 2 weeks. Sure Hoyer going down hurts (wait did you even mention him at all?)..but still, they have played better than a few other teams you have on there. 

Also, the rain didn't have anything to do with the Bengals beating the Pats yesterday. It rained for like 5 minutes. The Bengals D were in Brady's face all day. And that my friend is how you beat these "elite quarterbacks". Pressure

posmoo
posmoo

You lucky Native Americans, Peter King has given you his loving, paternalistic, probably subconscious, but nonetheless startlingly racist embrace. 

Peter King knows what you apparently simply can't comprehended, my fellow citizens of Native American ancestry: But don't worry about these deficiencies he finds in your culture, he's sworn to protect you from what he thinks you just can't grasp or are too disorganized to do anything about.

Peter King is what smug self-righteous paternalistic racism looks like.

He disregards the minority opinion, because in fact the extent to which he cares about it is for use as multicultural prop to proclaim himself the hero. Ask yourself, in the past has Peter King done one thing to bring attention to help Native Americans with the myriad problems affecting the community? Of course not.

Peter King is what smug self-righteous paternalistic racism looks like, and it is disgusting.

JimCody
JimCody

Yet another attempt by Peter King to manufacture phony momentum to get the Redskins name changed. Enough already. You're getting worse than Silver and Florio.

OK
OK

The book, League of Denial: The NFL, Concussions and the Battle for Truth, and accompanying PBS Frontline documentary about the NFL's questionable history of dealing with head injuries and concussions both come out on Tuesday.

Peter King, ever-vigilant NFL Spin Doctor, buries his brief interview with the book's authors on the second page of this MMQB.

Peter King, ever-eager to fill the NFL HQ's Jimmy Roberts-like needs, wants, and offshore desires, BURIES the decision by ESPN's bosses to pull out of their years of work with the authors and PBS.

Peter King is hiding this story, hoping the MMQB reader will simply ignore it and rush to the Fine Fifteen.

The questions are, why is Peter King hiding this story? Who's paying Peter King to hide the story? How much is Peter King getting to hide the story.

OK
OK

The NFL's Chief Spin Doctor picks the White Reverend Tebow over the Non-White Josh Freeman.

Quite telling...and the product of living in two of America's Most Racist Non-Dixie Cities, Cincinnati and Boston.

Fins
Fins

Atlanta fine 15...ha ha. 

bobinpowell
bobinpowell

"Andre Smith: You’re letting a free-agent rookie from Bowling Green, Chris Jones, beat you on the inside to sack Andy Dalton?"

If Jones was good enough to make his team and to be playing in this game, what difference does it make where he went to college?  Geez, that's unsportsmanlike conduct at best--and just plain snarky at worst.

joeshine730
joeshine730

Well Kubiak will be fired in Houston along with his QB. About time. Josh McDaniels is destroying the Patriots.

ImmaFubared
ImmaFubared

Romo self destructed again as I knew he would. I gave him a lot of slack, as Dallas has, but last year towards the end with the playoffs on the line he flubbed it all up. I decided that this year he better produce or else. He screwed up the whole season last night. He is not the leader that will take this team to the playoffs. 

sbhall52
sbhall52

So you had to watch a game "in the early morning" back there on the least coast? My heart bleeds. But think about this: How many games played in the Eastern Time Zone end after midnight Eastern Time? A LOT, that's how many. How many games played in the Mountain and Pacific time zones end after midnight local time? NONE. East Coast bias, much? Usually, Peter, I'm on your side. This time, you're way off base, and way over the top. GET OVER IT.

(Also, Oakland Raiders? Sue the NFL so you can play in Santa Clara, too.)

gary7
gary7

Go back to trying to be a wannabe GM and leave the REDSKINS name alone.  After Rick Riley's article, all you Political Correct Zombie Sheep need to just go away, you are not the smartest kids in the class, your not even aloud in the room.


BabylonDon
BabylonDon

@captainfuzzypants This isn't the space for you to prove you don't understand politics, it's the space for you to prove you don't understand sports.

ginge159
ginge159

@2001mark No, it wouldn't. Romo bags plenty of games like that. It's just as soon as the game is over, the narrative becomes that it wasn't a big game.

Sdwalt
Sdwalt

@OK So he got the score wrong on a football game, Everyone I know picked Atlanta to win. I gotta wonder if God really calls someone a idiot over a football game.

johnc596
johnc596

@posmoo You're moving into Miley Cyrus territory here on the stupid-meter.  She makes money off her stupid - what do you think you're getting from this other than general disdain?

mike202
mike202

@JimCody Enough of the White Guilt.  STop telling people what should offend them.  Show me a poll where 50% of Indians find the name offensive and I will agree with you.  

Yieldman
Yieldman

@OK Peter King is "hiding" the story?  Did you read the part where ESPN removed themselves as a partner?

mike202
mike202

@OK I didn't ignore it because it was on page 2 but because it is boring.   If you don't want to get buried alive don't work in the mine.

drudown
drudown

@epicfailureismymiddlename

You mean the President that is SAVING the US taxpayers TRILLIONS over the next hundred years via Obamacare is "unpopular" compared to his GOP predecessor that decided to "give" TRILLIONS to GOP campaign contributors by selling Iraq to the People and Congress under false pretenses? I find your unfounded "insult" humorous insofar that, since President Obama has been in office, his agendas have led to (1) a stronger US dollar; (2) a lower deficit; (3) extricating ourselves from fiscally imprudent GOP occupations abroad; and (4) saving the auto industry.

Perhaps you'd like to humor me with specifics as to how the GOP agenda of (1) deregulating markets; (2) starving the State of revenue; and (3) instituting wars based on false pretenses served the People in better, more fiscally prudent ways? Then you can reconcile the "insult" that the GOP's budgetary tactics place upon democracy. Remember when W was prating on and on about how "freedom" and "democracy" must prevail in the world? I guess the GOP gets to follow the laws that serve their campaign contributors and, well, hold the entire Nation hostage if their Unconstitutional demands to "exact concessions" from  federal law (upheld by the Supreme Court) aren't met in similarly Unconstitutional ways? Spare me your pathetic insults. Be a man and speak to the merits of policy.

Last time I checked, Iraq costs over $ 4 trillion.Taken to its illogical conclusion, your ilk conspicuously omit the fact the the Bush Tax Cuts did NOT lead to a stronger US Economy. "Trickle Down" Economics is a farce. Massive borrowing just leads to (1) a WEAKER US dollar and (2) budgetary scare tactics.

Your "leaders" refuse to even follow the law. 

Richard Long
Richard Long

@ImmaFubared I'm a Denver fan and I found myself wishing that it were any other QB other than Romo over there playing.  For 58 minutes, he made every correct read, moved in the pocket and delivered the ball in perfect spots. Trust me, Denver's defense and the secondary are not that bad.  Between the line giving him time and Romo playing all world, I was worried.

Yieldman
Yieldman

@ImmaFubared Screwed up the whole season by keeping his team in the game for the first 58 minutes of a game in which NOONE had picked Dallas?  Seriously?

Sdwalt
Sdwalt

@ImmaFubared I am not a Dallas fan, but I am pretty sure it was not Romo who screwed that game up.

BobLang
BobLang

@ImmaFubared Have you ever watched a football game? How about calling out the defense that didn't generate a pass rush. At all. Or stop Manning all day. No, you call out someone that was responsible for keeping his team from getting blown out and racking up over 500 yards passing, 5 TDs. 

Self destructive? There isn't another QB in the league that would have had Dallas within 10 points yesterday. Not one. 

josef918
josef918

@Sdwalt @OK Not an idiot, but now it does look kind of foolish to have included a struggling 1-3 team in the fine fifteen.  Not sure why we don't wait on Tuesday morning for that kind of ranking, after all the games shake out?  I think I personally would have had the Browns knock Atlanta off that list even yesterday.

Gregory2
Gregory2

@drudown @epicfailureismymiddlename 

Stronger dollar?  The only reason the dollar isn't weaker because of QE Infinity is because the Euro has been debased by their own QE's.  Only since he has become president has there been a downgrade and talk of replacing the dollar as the reserve currency.

The only reason there is a lower deficit FROM THE PREVIOUS YEAR is because the Republicans stuck to their beliefs and held the president to HIS promise and idea of a sequester.  This deficit is STILL HIGHER than any under GWB.  This president had deficits in the TRILLIONS, more than double than any GWB had.

The Democrats are the ones who have the spending/borrowing problem. 

Please realize you have been brainwashed, get yourself to a deprogramming place before you are lost forever.

Richard Long
Richard Long

@BobLang @ImmaFubared Few QBs outplay Manning and on Sunday, Romo did.  Manning's pick was just as costly to Denver.  It just came earlier in the 4th. 

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