Ten Things I Think I Think
1. I think this is what I liked about Week 10:
a. What a great player Andre Johnson is. His two touchdown catches in Arizona were miraculous displays of keeping feet inbounds on the last blades of end-zone grass.
b. Robert Griffin III, who played very much like he did a year ago Thursday night, and had no business losing.
c. Christian Ponder, who played like a real, live NFL starter in the 34-27 win. Suddenly, that quarterback job is very complicated.
d. I love the instincts of Eddie Lacy. Did you see the lunging, desperate, successful dive for a first-quarter first down, with third-string quarterback Scott Tolzien in the lineup?
e. The St. Louis pass rush. Robert Quinn and Chris Long are just killing it the last few weeks, and they punished Andrew Luck at Indy.
f. Nick Foles, picking up where he left off.
g. Linebacker Rocky McIntosh of the Lions, stoning Chicago back Michael Bush on a 4th-and-four-feet early at Chicago.
h. Terrific touchdown catch by Reuben Randle, with a Raider draped all over him.
i. And a terrific effort play by Oakland wideout Andre Holmes, sprinting from way behind the play to catch up to Terrell Thomas returning an interception inside the Raiders’ 10-yard-line. Holmes forced a fumble, but Thomas was saved by being down an instant before the ball was jarred loose.
j. DeAndre Levy, who makes a big play every game for Detroit. The Bengals have a guy seven percent of the American football public has heard of, defensive end Wallace Gilberry, playing better than 70 percent of the players in the NFL.
l. Seattle cornerback Walter Thurmond, playing for the groin-addled Brandon Browner, looked like he could start for about 31 other teams against Atlanta.
m. The Arizona pass rush. The Cards really have some good building blocks.
n. Julius Thomas. That’s a guy who was hurt all week and questionable?
o. The all-around excellence of Darren Sproles.
2. I think this is what I didn’t like about Week 10:
a. The hands of Washington’s receivers. The final three passes thrown by Robert Griffin III in Minnesota hit his receivers in the hands. Two were dropped/missed, and Santana Moss couldn’t get both feet down in the end zone on the third.
b. Washington loses, despite three touchdowns and no picks from Griffin, and 191 yards rushing, and holding Minnesota to 307 yards. That’s quite a feat.
c. Jerrel Jernigan fumbling the opening kickoff for the Giants and handing the Raiders seven gift points.
d. A rookie mistake by a veteran: Reggie Nelson, the Cincinnati safety, face-guarding on a 48-yard pass-interference penalty.
e. And a horrible field-goal try by Mike Nugent of the Bengals, kicking it so far left with the Bengals down 10 that it missed the net behind the goalpost.
f. A ridiculous interception thrown by Joe Flacco. You’ve got a 10-point lead, and you take a risk that that, throwing a wounded duck under heavy pressure?
g. Darrius Heyward-Bey (surprise!) with a drop of a perfectly thrown Andrew Luck pass.
h. What the Packers did late in the first half. First, Mike McCarthy called pass on 3rd-and-1 with Scott Tolzien at quarterback—not a conversion run by Eddie Lacy. Then Mason Crosby missed a field goal wide right.
i. An absolutely preposterous pass by Eli Manning, thrown right to Tracy Porter for the easiest interception-turned-touchdown you’ll ever see.
j. So Clay Matthews hits Nick Foles hard in the left shoulder pad and gets 15 yards for it? Football rules: I give up.
k. Andrew Luck, who threw a bad end-zone interception to Trumaine Johnson and, in general, had one of the roughest starts of his young career.
l. What a stupid personal foul by Nick Fairley, flinging Josh McCown to the ground near the game’s end, keeping Chicago in it a while longer. Good thing he made up for it with a great stop of Matt Forte on the Bears’ last offensive snap.
3. I think Jay Glazer handled the interview with Richie Incognito well. That’s not an easy interview, people. Every eye in America is on you, first of all, so you’re going to be under the microscope in a big way. FOX should have shown Incognito ducking the question about whether he was told to toughen up Jonathan Martin by the coaches; Glazer said Incognito wouldn’t answer the question, and his no-comment was a part of the story we should have seen. And the allegedly joshing text about Martin saying he’d murder Incognito’s family wasn’t a text at all, but rather the forwarding of a piece of internet gallows humor.
“How do you expect anyone in America to believe you’re not a racist?” Glazer asked Incognito, and it was a good question, one that had to be asked. We haven’t seen the whole Q&A, nor how it was edited for TV, but from what I saw, Glazer asked what needed to be asked, with the proper gravitas.
4. I think the one question I’d have for Incognito is this: “Do you think there’s something wrong with a locker-room culture that has a white man talking derisively to a black man and calling him a half-n—–, and the other black men in the locker room chuckling instead of being outraged?”
5. I think Ted Thompson is one of the best GMs in football. Hands down. But why an unemployed Matt Flynn is not on the Packers right now boggles the mind, whether he’s got a sore arm or not. To refresh your memory, the last time Flynn started a game for Green Bay, he threw for 480 yards and six touchdowns. It was the greatest passing day in the history of the Packers. He is healthy. He will come relatively cheap. And this team is playing Seneca Wallace and Scott Tolzien while in a dogfight for the playoffs?
6. I think it’s stunning how awful Atlanta is.
7. I think the Saints’ performance Sunday night reminded me of one of those road-grading performances in 2009, when they ruled the NFL world. Forty first downs? Crazy. Outgaining a division leader by 433 yards? Crazier.
6. I think there’s not an NFL coach who knows Gus Bradley who isn’t very happy for the relentlessly optimistic teacher of football this morning.
7. I think no one in Colorado will exhale today until they hear these words out of Broncos headquarters: “The MRI on Peyton Manning’s knee and ankle shows no structural damage.”
8. I think this says it all about the state of the NFC East: If Washington beats Philadelphia and the Giants beat quarterback-depleted Green Bay Sunday, no team in the division will be over .500 after 11 weeks, and first and fourth place would be separated by one game.
9. I think the Ravens are as flawed as any contender can be (Ray Rice: 2.5 yards per carry … for the season) but they bought themselves a reprieve Sunday. A game back in the AFC North loss column, Baltimore plays three of the next four at home, and none of the foes (at Chicago, Jets, Pittsburgh, Minnesota) is a super team. Baltimore will probably need to win three of those four, seeing that the finish of their schedule is brutal: at Detroit, New England, at Cincinnati.
10. I think these are my non-football thoughts of the week:
a. This is the best video I’ve seen in a while. It’s Minnesota coach Jerry Kill—who has had to miss time due to bouts of epilepsy—with his team following the 24-10 win over Penn State Saturday.
b. Good to see Leigh Montville back writing a weekly column at the Boston Globe after 24 years away. From his first effort Sunday: “I am a Mike Napoli type of free agent, a veteran catcher/first baseman with possibly bad hips who might be able to help a little bit. I will do what I can do. I might even grow a beard, add some tattoos, maybe take off my shirt and go for a midnight stroll down Boylston Street if everything works out.”
c. The more Montville in our lives, the better.
d. I suppose we shouldn’t laugh at Toronto mayor Rob Ford, but every time I hear the tape of him talking about smoking crack, I can’t help it. Ford: “Have I tried it? Probably in one of my drunken stupors. Probably approximately about a year ago.” And then, basically, apologizing, wanting life to go on as before.
e. Rob? That’s sort of a big deal.
f. Doesn’t Rob Ford look exactly like Chris Farley’s slightly older brother?
g. Penny for Their Thoughts Dept.: Chris Berman and Dan Patrick together in the dressing room of the Eagles’ Glenn Frey, Friday night at Madison Square Garden, at the Eagles concert.
h. Wishing you the best after your little heart procedure last week, Bill Keenist. Get well soon.
i. Good luck in your little procedure Thursday, Ken Fost. (Ever notice it’s “a little procedure” to others, but not when you’re having it?)
j. Coffeenerdness: Fantastic recognition by the barista at the 51st Street Starbucks Sunday morning. I walked in the door in a quiet moment between rushes and she looked at me and said: “Triple grande hazelnut macchiato.” And this is a store I go in once a week. I said, “You must have been good in school. Great memory.”
k. Beernerdness: Happiness is finding Allagash White in the local Whole Foods. I am a simple man, except when it comes to expensive beer and coffee.
l. Glad to see Charlie Batch’s Best of The Batch Foundation getting some attention Tuesday night on NFL Network (10:30 p.m. ET). His literacy work with kids in his Pittsburgh neighborhood is a good example for players who want to give back.
Who I Like Tonight
Miami 24, Tampa Bay 13. If I thought the Bucs could take advantage of the leaks on the Miami offensive line brought about by Incognitogate, I would predict otherwise. But I don’t.
The Adieu Haiku
A heaven for dogs?
If there’s one, Bailey’s there now.
She was a good dog.