The Highs, and Very Low Lows, of Week 9

It was an NFL weekend we'll never forget, for better and for worse. It was a weekend of record performances and dazzling plays, but our thoughts are with two coaches in somber situations

After Week 9 wins, the Panthers and Jets are surprisingly prominent players in the playoff picture. (Mike McCarn/AP :: Ron Antonelli/Getty Images)
After Week 9 wins, the Panthers and Jets are surprisingly prominent players in the playoff picture. (Mike McCarn/AP :: Ron Antonelli/Getty Images)

I’m still trying to take it all in. We all are. What a day. What a night.

In Houston, 52-year-old picture-of-health coach Gary Kubiak slumped to his knees leaving his home field at halftime Sunday night. Medics rushed to his side and Kubiak was wheeled off the field, appearing in pain, to a waiting ambulance, which sped to hospital. It wasn’t a heart attack, the club said, but in the wee hours of this morning, doctors examined Kubiak to see exactly what it was—a stroke, exhaustion, something else—as a city already saddened by the recent deaths of local sports fixtures Bum Phillips and Bud Adams held its breath.

Moving On

What's it like for a team to lose its coach midseason? Andrew Brandt explains the mindset—and what happens from here—in Denver and Houston.

In Denver, with 58-year-old coach John Fox lying in a hospital awaiting surgery to replace a defective heart valve, executive vice president John Elway negotiated into the night for an interim coach to fill in for Fox for as long as he needs to convalesce. His target, presumably, was defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio, the former nine-year coach of the Jags. “I’m getting close,’’ Elway told me Sunday night from Denver. (Del Rio was named interim coach on Monday morning.)

In South Florida, in a matter of six days, the left side of the offensive line vanished. The apparently excessively hazed left tackle Jonathan Martin left the team on Oct. 28, and Sunday night just before midnight, after a crazy day of charges and angry denials, the Dolphins suspended left guard Richie Incognito (the angry denier) for his role in Martin’s departure.

Then there was football.

.

Philadelphia hadn’t scored an offensive touchdown in the last two games. Nick Foles threw seven TD passes in the first 41 minutes Sunday against the Raiders. “I mean, it’s crazy,’’ Foles said from Oakland, exuding the same disbelief America had about what he’d just done. Seven touchdown passes in a game … Marino, Favre, Elway, Montana, Unitas never did it. Foles did. Eagles 49, Raiders 20.

Kansas City didn’t score an offensive touchdown Sunday at Buffalo. But with the defense outscoring the placekicker 12-11, the Chiefs won 23-14, remaining the lone unbeaten team in the NFL. After the bye, 9-0 K.C. will travel to Denver to play the Broncos, who will be close to perfect (8-1) if they win at San Diego Sunday.

Carolina put Atlanta out of its misery in Charlotte, while the Jets shocked the Saints. Meaning two things: Carolina is a game behind New Orleans in the NFC South. (They don’t play until Dec. 8 and 22, by the way.) And though the playoffs don’t start until two months from today, the Panthers and Jets would be postseason teams if the derby started now. How does this projected wild-card weekend of matchups look, based on this morning’s standings (and do not tell me you had Peyton Manning and Geno Smith as your office-pool picks for road AFC wild-card quarterbacks):

NFC, with Seattle and New Orleans the 1-2 seeds

Carolina (6th seed) at Green Bay (3)
San Francisco (5) at Dallas (4)

AFC, with Kansas City and New England the 1-2 seeds

Jets (6) at Indianapolis (3)
Denver (5) at Cincinnati (4)

.

Cleveland, which now has the best division record in the AFC North, continued to play like Believeland. The Browns (4-5) beat the Ravens (3-5) for the first time since Joe Flacco’s senior season at Delaware (2007), 24-18. That’s right. Flacco and John Harbaugh now know what it feels to lose to the Browns. They’d been 11-0 against Cleveland before Sunday.

Seattle (8-1) trailed Tampa Bay (0-8) 21-0 in the second quarter, and Bucs coach Greg Embattled Schiano (check his birth certificate; I believe an official name change has happened) orchestrated the funkiest touchdown play of the season in the process: a jump-pass TD from running back Mike James to tight end Tom Crabtree, the kind Tim Tebow used to throw. Fairy tales happen only in Tebowland. In overtime: Seahawks 27, Bucs 24.

Indianapolis got Andrew Luck’s 10th fourth-quarter comeback in 24 professional games at Reliant Stadium, which was lethargic after the Kubiak incident. Colts 27, Texans 24. Andre Johnson caught three touchdown passes in the first 30 minutes. T.Y. Hilton caught three touchdown passes in the last 16 minutes.

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New England beat Pittsburgh in Foxboro, but the story was more the Steelers’ loss, and the way the Steelers lost. New England scored 55 points, the most ever allowed by Pittsburgh, and the Steelers surrendered 610 yards to a team that, at game time, was searching for an offensive identity.

Way back when, on Thursday night, when Richie Incognito was a reborn team leader, Miami won a game in overtime on a walkoff safety.

So really, we should have seen this kind of weekend coming.

Peyton Manning, Matthew Stafford, Calvin Johnson and Colin Kaepernick had byes this week. Sunday’s 11 games featured exactly none matching teams with winning records. And it’s a weekend we’ll never forget. 

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442 comments
JPW74
JPW74

Feel sorry for Cardinals fans?  They have two World Series championships in the last decade.  Shut.  Up.  

jimmybb25
jimmybb25

Peter love reading your column but had to chuckle at your defense of Ortiz. Given that you've excoriated Lance Armstrong in the past, it might be worth remembering, Lance never failed a drug test either.

If you're not "cheating" in today's sports world, you're probably not very good. And if you don't believe that, you're probably not looking too hard.

bayman
bayman

How can a Buffalo touchdown be described as 'decisive' when the team loses by 10 points?

Mikerw00
Mikerw00

Peter,

I greatly enjoy your weekly column as a source of insight with good humor, plus a good beer recommendation or two. Having said that you need to become a realist when it comes to PEDs. Every professional sport is rife with them, full stop. MLBs testing program is way to lenient. If every olympic athlete has to "pee in the bottle" anytime, anywhere, and certainly after a win why don't professional athletes in the US have to do the same?

While circumstantial what Ortiz did is a statistically extremely low event. He not only shattered performance records at an advanced age, but also broke his own trends. This is extremely unlikely without PEDs. And, unfortunately, one has to suspect he took them.

As others have pointed out the "I never tested positive" excuse means nothing whatsoever.

We either want our athletes to compete clean, which means a truly rigorous testing program, or we don't. To this point MLB doesn't what to take it seriously (nor for that matter does the NFL, NBA, PGA (which I am told by those with a basis to know has the highest usage rate), etc.

JahliSuwaghaman
JahliSuwaghaman

Every week I'm slightly shocked at the number of people who seem to hate Peter King but keep reading his column, and keep commenting and throwing criticism at him.


If you, in the past, haven't liked what he said, and you don't like what he said this week.... why not just make a choice to NOT READ MMQB?!

porsche356
porsche356

You should be a NFL GM. You seem to know everything. 

Your team  probably would never lose a game

Hektor
Hektor

Once again Peter King is so far out to lunch he's at dinner. 

"Half N____r" ... "I will kill you." ...

Says Peter King: "But Incognito’s humor can have a very sharp edge."

Yeah. That's real humorous. The first choice of "humor" will get you killed in some places, and the second one can also get you killed in some places. 

"Sharp edged humor." Get a clue King.

Frotoon
Frotoon

Peter King has gone to the dark side of political correctness. Every time a coach gets hurt, King elevates it to the most important story of the day. Of course King is also rolling around in the Martin/bullying story. Peter King spends too much time positioning himself as some sort of liberal moral voice than he does analyzing football.

jj55
jj55

Love it! Peter King, Official Liberal Democrat of the NFL, editorializes against hard work. Let's create a Federal Agency to protect coaches from themselves.

Rexal Parshapswich
Rexal Parshapswich

Come on Peter. Really? Defending Ortiz with the "never failed test" argument. Marianne Jones never failed a test, Lance Armstrong never failed a test. And they weren't 38-year old power hitters.

Smoke = fire.

decredico
decredico

peter,  you have always been a horrible writer and now you are really making some impressive strides in being a horrible human being as well


guthrie2912
guthrie2912

I don't feel sorry for martin at all, sure it's wrong to be a racially insensitive bully like incognito but i'm sure that type of behavior is comman in nfl, just like it is everywhere else, i've been working as a cook 15 years with people of every race and gender and have heard the most racist things you could imagine mostly in jest, and people would laugh it off because you got to get paid and there adults and have a sense of humor, martin could have handled this in house but he broke  a sacred code and that is this even if you hate your brothers in arms/co=workers, you man up and work along side them because that what being an adult and a part of a team is about.

Martin saying he was scared what ingonito would do makes him look even weaker, i'm 140 pounds soaking wet but my whole life when someone tried to bully me i'd mouth off, if the hit me i'd hit back,etc..., that's what a man does, not go crying to mommy and daddy and goodell , it makes me sick, nobody is going to want this guy on there team after this, he's to weak minded,

As for incogonito, he's a decent guard and if he can chill out a bit i would like my colts to pick him up next year, but martin shouldn't be in the league where real men play I wouldn't want him as a colt even with the stanford connection.

George
George

Seahens exPOSED again!  At HOME, no less.

Tampa Bay just might be the second-worst team in the league - certainly in the bottom 5 - and they gave the hens all they could handle.

From what I can see, the first time Seattle goes on the road in January, it'll be one and DONE.

Afiba
Afiba

From my probability course:  If the Chiefs really had only a 50% chance of winning each game, that means that there is 1 chance out of 512 = 0.19% of them winning 9 in a row.  Looks like blind luck as an explanation doesn't go too far.  As for the easy schedule, maybe, but Denver has the exact same schedule except for 2 games.  And many of their opponents would be over 500 if they hadn't lost to both the Chiefs and the Broncos.  The Chiefs finishing at the bottom last year only influences two games on their schedule.

Afiba
Afiba

Calling all Chiefs bashers.  Here's a good article for you to read from Lyle Graversen:
http://arrowheadaddict.com/2013/11/04/chiefs-won-anyway/
A quote from the article:  «Nobody in KC is arguing that KC is playing perfect. What KC fans are trying to get people to understand is that finding a way to win even when everything doesn’t go perfectly is a more valuable trait to have than being able to fill up a stat sheet.»
And nobody can say the Chiefs haven't been finding ways to win!  But of course the East Coast media dandies love to talk stats, stats, stats, as that's how they can earn their living.  But don't forget  the most important stat of all:  the "W"'s.  It's the only one that really counts.

The Chiefs run will end someday, maybe soon.  Enjoy it while it lasts.  It's great to see a team having fun and really, truly playing together and giving it their all.  

ianlinross
ianlinross

If Incognito ran for public office, I think he'd punch a baby in the face.

jhymas25
jhymas25

The Chiefs have had an easy schedule, but credit must be given for taking care of business. Sometimes even winning the games you're supposed to win is difficult but they have done that so far. Also, this happens quite often. A last place teams take advantage of an easy schedule to make the playoffs. It is what the Colts did last year. The Chiefs are just being scrutinized more because they have still not lost a game. Anyways, I don't see them having the firepower to hang with the Broncos so I think they'll be lucky to split the games against them. On top of that they have the Chargers (2x) and Colts in the second half. We'll get to see how good they are in those five games. 

Seattle's offense will get better, I don't think that's a worry. I do think the defense is a worry. In the last two weeks they've given up 400+ yards rushing at 5.4 yards per attempt. That is troubling IMO. However, I think ranking them sixth is too low. 

unit5139
unit5139

it's the Redskins, not the Shanahans. And Sally Jenkins is a weenie. Thank you for reading. :)

BY
BY

I get that it is not the Chief's fault that they have this schedule (although it kind of is because they were so crappy last year with the NFL's weighted schedule) but being 9-0 does not make them the best team, not by a looooooooooong shot. On a neutral field the 49ers, Packers, Seahawks, Broncos, to name a few, all kick their a$$.

GregAtkin
GregAtkin

Chiefs will lose their first playoff game. 

mahaloluinoa
mahaloluinoa

@JahliSuwaghaman I only read to see if I can guess which of PK's moronic nuggets will be deservedly mocked on KSK.  Enhances the experience.

Mike N
Mike N

@jj55

Still pissed that Sara Palin didn't win the Vice Presidency?

SpartanTarget
SpartanTarget

@Rexal Parshapswich I agree that "never failed a test" is no longer a valid "he never used" argument, but I think that Armstrong, toward the end when he was still winning, was the equivalent of a 53-year-old, one-armed power hitter taking the home run derby.

decredico
decredico

@guthrie2912 you know we can read that, right?  thanks for taking the time to show you are just as big a dope as peter king

Merv
Merv

@guthrie2912    You know that Martin went to Coach Philbin last Spring and talked it over with him.  Philbin evidently called in Incognito and told him what Martin said and let it go at that.  It got worse rather than better (see tweets in April) and Philbin never bothered to follow through.  A serious lapse I think

Merv
Merv

@George Yet Seattle still leads the NFC by two wins.  Funny how that works

Merv
Merv

@Afiba That would fit Seattle perfectly also.  How many Ws next to your name is how the score is kept.

George
George

@Afiba The Chiefs have earned their status as #1 and should remain so until they prove otherwise.

And besides - it's a no-brainer - the Denver game(s) will determine who's the boss.  Two weeks from now, it's "put up or shut up time"  and that's the way it ought to be.

Jon8
Jon8

@BY 

Until that happens, unbeaten means best! 

guthrie2912
guthrie2912

Read it or don't it makes no diff to me, it must have made an impression since you took time to write a snarky reply so I guess my job is done here.

guthrie2912
guthrie2912

@sterculius65 @guthrie2912 I never said I was a tough guy , just that martin was to weak to stand up for himself and is to weak mentally to play in the league , I don't hide from anyone and don't avoid physical confrontation , my address is 2032 W maryland st Apt H evansville indiana 47712, it's been a while but fighting gives you a rush that I like, and standing up for yourself is always good.

guthrie2912
guthrie2912

@Merv @guthrie2912 Maybe i'm old fashioned but I have a code, and by even going to the coach he broke it he should have went to ritchie and said it wasn't cool and if not then maybe fight him or go to coach , from what I heard martin was to scared to do anything from fear of ingognito and that is just weak.

guthrie2912
guthrie2912

@rslai76 @guthrie2912 True everyone is wired differently, It's not in my blood to avoid confrontation just like my dad and his dad and probably dating back to scotland my family are drinkers and fighters, I just can't understand someone who would give up potentially millions of dollars because he can't stand up for himself. Sure fighting is dumb but it's also kinda fun call me crazy.

George
George

@Merv @George On the road in January, they will be exPOSED and eliminated.

Take it to the bank.

Merv
Merv

@guthrie2912 @Merv   I think the kind of fight it would have taken would have gotten them both hurt and maybe dragged in another player or two.  That could have gotten them both fired or maybe just Martin.  Plus, bullies tend to be cowardly when faced up to so you could have expected anything once he turned his back.

Jon8
Jon8

@blynder @Jon8 @GregAtkin 

Are you his agent? If he intended to say, I hope the Chiefs lose their first Playoff game, he would have said so!



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