Philly’s Perfect Pitcher

Fine Fifteen

1. Seattle (10-1). The Seahawks, who haven’t played in about three years, were supposed to be all healthy and happy entering December. Now Percy Harvin’s likely out tonight. His ailing hip is acting up. As every hour passes before this game for likely NFC home-field advantage against the Saints tonight, the worry beads get rubbed a little harder in the Pacific Northwest. 

2. New England (9-3). Bill Belichick set the record for “Most Times Over-Praising a Team On a Nine-Game Losing Streak, 21st Century Category” last week in advance of the Patriots’ game against the Texans. Whatever works. Turns out he was halfway right, as the 34-31 survival show illustrated.

3. Denver (10-2). After playing three Sunday night games out of five, the Broncos saw daylight Sunday afternoon in Kansas City. They liked it. With a sweep over the Chiefs, the Broncos would have to collapse in the last four games to blow a first-round playoff bye now.

4. New Orleans (9-2). The Saints haven’t won outdoors in seven weeks. They’re playing outdoors tonight, in Seattle. Earplugs optional.

5. Carolina (9-3). After Week 5, the Saints had five wins and Carolina one. This morning, the Saints have nine wins and Carolina has nine. It’d be one thing if the Saints had been stinking up the joint, but they haven’t been. Carolina’s on fire. As big as this game is tonight for the Saints, imagine winning the game, getting on the plane tonight, taking a deep breath and congratulating everyone for such a great win, and thinking, “Our reward is getting home at 5 a.m. Tuesday … and having the Panthers, the hottest team in football, coming to town Sunday.”

6. San Francisco (8-4). Niners versus Rams, 2012: St. Louis wins the series, 1-0-1, by a composite score of 40-37. Niners versus Rams 2013: San Francisco wins the series 2-0, by a composite 58-24.

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 (8-4). In a field-position game, it’s always good to have a great punting day. Kevin Huber, who entered with a bad ankle, punted four times for a 55.5-yard average—and zero yards returned. That means, of course, he had a 55.5-yard net. Which is quite fantastic. Included a 75-yard punt.

8. Detroit (7-5). Based on the 40-10 win over Green Bay, the Lions should be higher. Based on the previous two weeks—losses to Tampa and Pittsburgh—the Lions should be lower. I guess we ought to wait to pass judgment on the Lions until we see whether they can wipe the butter off their fingers.

9. Philadelphia (7-5). Week 17, Eagles at Cowboys. Flex, anyone?

10. Indianapolis (8-4). Well, the last month of games in the AFC South now has no meaning, with the Colts building a four-game lead over Tennessee with four to play. (Four, because the Colts swept the Titans this season, making a three-game lead in the standings beefier thanks to the head-to-head tiebreaker.)

11. Kansas City (9-3). Reeling. A trip to Washington Sunday should help.

12. Dallas (7-5). For years, some in the league have grumbled that the Cowboys have an unfair advantage by playing on Thanksgiving at home every year. That’s true; playing at home in an exceedingly short week when the other team always travels is a big edge, as is what Dallas has now: the ability to give its players four full days off, plus an extra day before playing a Monday-nighter next week at Chicago.

13. Baltimore (6-6). Current sixth seed in the AFC. My only question about the Ravens this morning: In the last two games, Torrey Smith has eight catches for 20.9 yards per catch, and Jacoby Jones eight catches for 19.5 yards per catch. Can you explain to me why Baltimore has run 124 plays in the last two games and attempted only 27 throws to these two deep threats?

14. Arizona (7-5). Gotta be better than that, Carson Palmer. Much better.

15. Miami (6-6). Hesitant to give the Dolphins that much due … yet. But the defense was very good, albeit against the Jets, on the road in a smothering at the Meadowlands.

The Award Section

Alshon Jeffery (top left) and Eric Decker (top right) had monster receiving days Sunday. Jurrell Casey (bottom left) was more quietly dominant, while Scott Chandler's overtime fumble lost the game for the Bills. (Nuccio DiNuzzo/Chicago Tribune/MCT :: John Sleezer/Kansas City Star/MCT :: Andy Lyons/Getty Images :: Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)
Alshon Jeffery (top left) and Eric Decker (top right) had monster receiving days Sunday. Jurrell Casey (bottom left) was more quietly dominant, while Scott Chandler’s overtime fumble lost the game for the Bills. (Nuccio DiNuzzo/Chicago Tribune/MCT :: John Sleezer/Kansas City Star/MCT :: Andy Lyons/Getty Images :: Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)

Offensive Players of the Week

Eric Decker, wide receiver, Denver. Wonderful receiving symmetry on the Broncos’ receiving corps, after Decker’s eight-catch, 174-yard, four-touchdown job in Kansas City. Now the TD scoreboard in Denver is Demaryius and Julius Thomas 10 apiece, Wes Welker 9, Decker 7. Decker’s last three came in a bunch. Denver trailed 21-14 early in the third quarter, and over a 13-minute span he caught 37-, 15- and 1-yard touchdown strikes from Manning to give Denver a lead it wouldn’t relinquish.

Alshon Jeffery, wide receiver, Chicago. The Bears have been alive for 94 seasons, and never has a Chicago receiver had a day like Jeffery did in a loss at Minnesota Sunday: 12 catches, 249 yards, two touchdowns. He’s becoming a terrific physical complement to Brandon Marshall. With those two, plus Jay Cutler likely back a week from tonight against Dallas, it’s unlikely but not out of the question the Bears can run the table and get back in the pennant race.

Defensive Players of the Week

Justin Tuck, defensive end, New York Giants. Entering play Sunday night with 2.5 sacks, he trapped Robert Griffin III four times and had five tackles. The impressive part of his sacks: Two came from interior rushes, where he beat/overpowered guards, and two came from the edge. On one of them, Tuck sprinted and caught Griffin from behind. On nights like this Tuck still looks like one of the best defensive linemen in football.

Jurrell Casey, defensive tackle, Tennessee. As dominant as Ndamukong Suh was on Thanksgiving (see the next paragraph), Casey was that good in Indianapolis in the 22-14 loss to the Colts. Continuing a season-long trend of dominance, Casey had a stunting 10-yard sack of Andrew Luck, and on the Colts’ very next offensive play, busted through the line to tackle Darrius Heyward-Bey on a reverse for an 11-yard loss. He also knocked Luck down an additional three times. If you didn’t know Casey better, you might confuse him with …

Ndamukong Suh, defensive tackle, Detroit. Amazing looking at his stats for the game: four tackles, a sack, one additional quarterback hit, one pass deflected. After watching the Lions’ 40-10 trouncing of Green Bay, I wouldn’t be surprised if you’d have told me his numbers were triple that. The sack of Matt Flynn was for a safety, and he had at least five pressures/hits that I saw. His brute strength inside destroyed the integrity of the Green Bay line.

Special Teams Player of the Week

Stephen Gostkowski, kicker, New England. You want your kicker to be good from the outer limits, and you want your kicker to be good from the outer limits in clutch situations. With the Patriots trailing Sunday at Houston, 31-28, midway through the fourth quarter, Gostkowski drilled a 53-yard field goal to tie. Then, with 3:15 left, Gostkowski drilled a 53-yard field goal for the winning points. When New England chose not to pay Adam Vinatieri, it hoped to replace him long-term with a kicker just as good when it matters. That’s what Gostkowski is.

Coach of the Week

Bill Musgrave, offensive coordinator, Minnesota, and Jedd Fisch, offensive coordinator, Jacksonville. This is not about winning. This is about being creative when your offense is struggling — which both of these offenses are. Musgrave and Fisch created touchdowns out of whole cloth on Sunday. Fisch called an end sweep-turned-halfback-pass for a touchdown, an eight-yard strike from Maurice Jones-Drew to Marcedes Lewis to tie the Browns at 14 in the second quarter at Cleveland. In Minneapolis, Musgrave lined up wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson as the I-back in a two-back formation, a fullback in front of him, and had Christian Ponder hand the ball to him as if he were Adrian Peterson. Patterson zoomed through the hole and scored on a 31-yard gallop. Smart coaches improvise when their players are stuck in neutral. That’s what Musgrave and Fisch did Sunday—and it helped their teams win.

The Jags play:

 
And the Vikings:
 
 

Goats of the Week

Stevie Johnson, wide receiver, and Scott Chandler, tight end, Buffalo. Madness in Toronto. In a 31-31 game with 20 seconds left, Johnson fumbled at the Atlanta 30, foiling what would have been a 47-yard field-goal try for the win. On the second play of overtime, Chandler caught a pass from E.J. Manuel and coughed it up, with Atlanta recovering at its 40. The second fumble led to a 36-yard field goal by Matt Bryant for the 34-31 Falcons win.

Rhett Ellison, running back, Minnesota. The Vikings won, but that doesn’t take away two brainlock plays from Ellison. With 4:40 left in the fourth quarter and the Bears up 20-17, Matt Cassel put a perfect throw on Ellison at the goal line, and the ball bounced off Ellison into the hands of Bears linebacker Khaseem Greene. Interception. Seven minutes into overtime, Blair Walsh kicked a 39-yard field goal to win it … But wait. Ellison grabbed a facemask on the field-goal try, pushing the Vikings back 15 yards. Since it was still third down, Minnesota ran a play to try to regain some of those yards but instead lost another three. On fourth down Walsh missed the 57-yarder. He eventually kicked the winner later in overtime, but no thanks to Ellison.

CEO of the Week

Laura Sen, chief executive officer, BJ’s Wholesale Club Inc. Bucking the trend of monster stores opening on Thanksgiving, Sen was one of a few executives who chose to shutter her 201 stores in 15 states until Friday at 7 a.m. “Call me old-fashioned,” Sen told The Boston Globe. “But I think Thanksgiving is a lovely holiday and not the time to be shopping.” You are old-fashioned, Ms. Sen, and kudos to you for it. Family time on Thanksgiving. What a concept. Is that new?

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345 comments
DrewS
DrewS

From Philly and love Nick Foles. Everybody is looking for the next great QB in the draft. You can end up with Peyton Manning or you can end up with Ryan Leaf. That wasted number one pick can set your team back 3-4 years. It's not the big rookie contract which is a thing of the past but the time you waste trying to determine if the QB is the real deal. Can the Eagles win a Super Bowl with Foles, who knows. Is Flacco in Baltimore that great. How much better is Flacco over Foles. Certainly the skills sets of Wilson, Kapernick, Breeze, Luck exceed those of Nick Foles. I really don't know if a slow footed QB with a good but not great arm can win it all. It would seem the time for game manager QB's to win a Super Bowl has come and gone. I'm willing to give up the next three seasons to find out if Foles is the one.

capsize284
capsize284

Miami was right to go for it on 4th down.  Every team in the league should go for it in that situation.

mg87
mg87

Regarding heartbreaking, last-second sporting decision:

Last year in Soccer in England a pretty similar thing happened during the play-offs for promotion to the Premier League. Leicester won the first game 2:1 and was awarded a penalty in the 94th minute in the second game (score was 2:1 Watford at that point).

Take a look what happened then: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_655WeSlBhM

BillRobinson
BillRobinson

I can't believe I actually took the time to read all 329 (to this point in time) comments to Peter's article above.

john174
john174

Hey PK, anyone who talks as much about drinking beer as you do really has no business making judgements about people who smoke pot. just how many people have died from a THC overdose anyway? And now,  how many every month die due to alcohol poisoning, drunk driving, etc? just saying you might want to rethink your attitude

raput76
raput76

who cares is the coach is European-American or black? I am so sick of the new racism....give it a rest, King

TomGrant
TomGrant

I can't wait to read more fascinating revelations about the referees.  I'm mean, Get Back Coach--who knew?  Actually, everyone except Peter King, apparently.  I just don't see how someone who makes their living watching football could not know about that.  Sort of makes you wonder what else he's missing.

berdosux
berdosux

Ok I know this is being picky, but I hate it when you do your "non-football" thoughts of the week, and then all it is is FOOTBALL talk.  Maybe put non pro football talk? 

GregAtkin
GregAtkin

I love PK i like his style, his tone his insight. But he has to become more objective.he despises Dallas. He isn't looking forward to seeing aspecial on one of the all-time greatest defensive line-the Dallas '90 D-line. Why?  Cause they didn'thave a cute nickname OR because they destroyed his pet teams in the northeast.   PK ignored the Dall-Redskin game a few weeks ago to watch the Red Sox.

C'mon . ThisCowboy team is the greatest of all times having won all 9 games in their respective super bowl title  years by double digits. No team was even close.  They handled the mighty 49ers in 92 and never looked back. They annhilated HOFer qbs Young ,Farve, and Kelly.  No lastsecond FGs , no tuck rules. They just smashed people

PK despises them yet constantly chirps up Miami and those horrible jets who were in his "fine fifteen just a few weeks ago. 

PK needs more perspective.

woodpro34
woodpro34

Really admire your work Mr. King, but your comparison of Megatron to Rice is pretty much plagiarism of Bill Simmon's Grantland masterpiece of 2 weeks ago, whether you know it or not.

gary7
gary7

Now you know what the “get-back coach” is,   um hey genius everybody over the age 10 who has watch NFL films knows this, numerous videos of coaches yelling where is the get back coach (Sorry Sabols, he must never watched one) and the "I kept saying to myself, I didn’t know that. ....Finally after all these years you hit the nail with the hammer

BhagwanRajneesh
BhagwanRajneesh

“What’s left of what used to be Dennis Miller sucks.”

Jon8
Jon8

Tonight: Seattle 41, New Orleans 21.

If I were Shanahan, other than looking for a new job or checking my retirement portfolio, I would have thrown my red flag as far out onto that field as I could throw it! I would not have cared that I was out of timeouts! Triplette, who has always been one of the worst Ref's in the NFL, with several controversies on his record, could not have ignored the flag and that would have allowed me (Shanahan) to try and get the situation straightened out!

Diversity by any other name is still affirmative action!

Tom52
Tom52

good one mentioning Rhett ellison as a goat. However you missed Adrian Peterson on your offensive players of the week. he ran for 211 yards. I think that should qualify.

wholesaler1972
wholesaler1972

No mention of the record-breaking Josh Gordon? Glad to see you did a Brett Favre update, though.

SemperFiDTM
SemperFiDTM

Not A more thrilling finish than Auburn Alabama PK? I guess youre forgetting your beloved Patriots losing the Super Bowl (not to mention the only perfect season since the Fins) on a velcro top-of-the-helmet catch by David Tyree of the NY Giants. But nah, youre right...a college game sure beats that...{smirk} 

jhymas25
jhymas25

Bears fan here. I don't think they're making the playoffs, which is disappointing. But I find all the praises heaped on Josh McCown to be interesting; he is putting up fantastic stats to be sure, but the offense does not seem to be any better and may actually be worse. Just with the most basic measurement of ppg, Cutler holds a 27- 26 advantage. This counts the ravens game for Cutler and the Redskins game for McCown. If you throw out these two games Cutler holds a 29 - 23 advantage. As I said, pretty shallow analysis but something needs to be added to the conversation other than merely stats. All this talk of McCown being a better option at QB is just not passing the eye test to me. Very grateful for a competent backup after the last few years of horrid ones, but Cutler seems to make the offense as a whole better. Anybody know where stats to measure offensive efficiency adjusting for opponent can be seen for each week? (As far as I can tell, football outsiders only shows for the entire year)

Also to hear Mel Tucker as a head coaching candidate is kind of funny. He's running a defense that is currently ranked 17th on football outsiders (through week 12) after being 1st at the end of last year. Injuries are a part of that but the defense wasn't playing well early in the year either. 

Earl52
Earl52

Family time on thanksgiving? Not if you're an employee of the nfl with its 3 games which leads to players, coaches, stadium employees, extra policemen, etc all having to miss time away from their families, never mind the season ticket holders and fans who must choose between family and football. Kind of hypocritical to bash retail establishments for being open isn't it?

seamillguesthouse
seamillguesthouse

Again my Chargers are not worth mentioning.

Bolts fans are now  looking forward to 2014 season.

ruggerrick9
ruggerrick9

If nine of your "non-football thoughts" are going to be about football, you should probably change the heading to "my non-NFL thoughts  of the week".  Not sayin', just sayin'.

stagger
stagger

"The Denver Post has hired a Marijuana Editor.

Ricardo Baca, a blunt-speaking man..."

Very punny Peter.

jeff_jo
jeff_jo

Auburn’s Jordan-Hare stadium is at 85.5W, 32.6N. Mizzou’s Memorial Stadium is at 92.3W, 38.9N. If you go north from Auburn to get to 38.9N, as Peter describes, you are 369 miles due east of Mizzou, not 445. That’s about a 21% error, Peter. But the result depends on which you do first: going south from Mizzou, you end up 399 miles due west of Auburn. That’s closer to your result, only a 12% error. :)

And in the NFL, however you do something similar with Cincinnati and Indianapolis, the likely winner of the AFC North lies 46 miles to the south of the likely winner of the AFC South.

ruggerrick9
ruggerrick9

I realize that Nick Foles does not run a 4.3 40 and doesn't have the fast twitch quickness of a young Mike Vick or RGIII or whomever.  But I think it's unfair to call him "unathletic".  He is certainly athletic enough to move the pocket, scramble away from pressure, and make occasionally runs when the defense gives it to him.  He ran 9 times for 47 yards last week, a 5.2 average, numbers Trent Richardson will kill for right now.  And how "unathletic" can a guy be who was offered basketball scholarships by Georgetown and the University of Texas?

andruid
andruid

I don't see why the end of the Auburn-Alabama game is such a big deal. As soon as I saw they were going for the field goal, I started shouting: "That's a big mistake. What about the runback?" Here are some examples of field goals returned for touchdowns [http://www.nfl.com/history/randf/records/indiv/misc]. Despite Nick Saban's claims to the contrary, not going for field goals like this is a well-known fact of football life. You didn't see Belichik make this kind of mistake.

UnishowponyWherebeef
UnishowponyWherebeef

I wonder if Peter King understands that NFL referees get paid six figure salaries.

So being impressed that they use expressions like UNR for unnecessary roughness is kind of goofy.

Over one hundred thousands dollars.

For being a referee.

They should be NFL encyclopedias. End of discussion.

JoseFigueroa
JoseFigueroa

Hey Peter,


Stop overreacting to the latest fad. I don't know how you have the Eagles 4 spots ahead of the Cowboys when they have the same record and Dallas beat the Eagles in Philly (held them to 3 points) and knocked the latest boy wonder out of the game. Plus the Cowboys are undefeated in the division. Be objective please.

woodson26
woodson26

@raput76 Yep....and why are players drafted, signed, traded, and cut from teams? because of performance, not the color of their skin...and that is how coaches should be judged

ProfessorGriff
ProfessorGriff

@GregAtkin 

They beat teams with stright up execution.  No Trick plays, no uneven formations, teams across the field knew what they were gonna do and still couldn't stop it.

MatthewEugeneHaag
MatthewEugeneHaag

@GregAtkin First off its that everyone in the COUNTRY outside of the actual city of Dallas is tired of hearing about the Cowboys.  Second I would've watched the Red Sox win the world series rather than the HORRID game that would be Dallas vs Washington.  Look its the fact that in those days the Cowboys were a GREAT football team.  We all know that.  We get it.  What we get sick of is you all NEVER let ANYONE forget it.  That and every single freakin YEAR we have to hear how you would go to the Superbowl if Tony Romo wasn't your QB.  Tell you what I am a Vikings fan.....Trade you Christian Ponder for Tony Romo.  Now Romo is not your QB go to the SB with Ponder.  Dare you.  If you take that offer it will prove that while Romo is no Troy he may be better than many out there.  I hate Dallas.  I have reason.  I grew up in Houston so I hate Dallas.  From Minnesota so I hate Green Bay too.  In the end I hate Dallas more than Green Bay because of obnoxious can't face reality fans.  Personally I wanna see a doc on the 85 Bears D.  Or the old Steel Curtain with Jack Lambert.  

JahliSuwaghaman
JahliSuwaghaman

@woodpro34 : like there haven't been 1254 other writers who have thrown Rice's and Johnson's stats in their column in the last month for the same reason?

gary7
gary7

@woodpro34 he knows it, probably tells young woman at the coffee shop he is a GM 

JahliSuwaghaman
JahliSuwaghaman

@BhagwanRajneesh I thought Miller was GREAT on MNF but, i realize that i'm in the 5% or so of the football-watching world that could put together his metaphors and comments without google in front of me.  That said, he's a shill, sell-out, phony, waste of air time these days.  Very sad.

GregAtkin
GregAtkin

@BhagwanRajneesh No the NFL sucks. There's going to be a wikileak expose on fixed games soon. Horrible officiating. the cap has created a mish-mash of mediocrity.

gary7
gary7

@Jon8 so Fred"The Head" Davis would not have dropped the ball on a average hit and Garcon would not have the ball taken from him like a mugger taken a purse from a 90 year old woman , the REDSKINS and Scamahan have more excuses than Peter King when he plays coach/GM like who should be starting at QB (Matt Flynn for the Bills a few games back, when he was on the roster for a week) Maybe King can become the GM for the Skins just to show even Vinnie Cerrato know more than this guy

SemperFiDTM
SemperFiDTM

Full disclosure - Im the most miserable Jets fan you know, and would like to complain right now that you didnt dump on them enough this week. Yes, really. (God they SUCK!! SHOOT ME!!!!)

blynder
blynder

@seamillguesthouse 

I don't agree.  I think there is some worth in mentioning the Chargers - it's a different year for them.  They have some talent issues they need to address - particularly on defense.  They are still "in the hunt" for that final wild-card spot.  They have games against Denver and KC yet to come. They could be the 6th Wild Card (Yes, it is a long shot); but that would be something to see!  Especially for the AFC W, which was the "worst" division last year....

josef918
josef918

@jeff_jo Ah, but are we considering traveling along great circles only, for the shortest distance, or simply moving east-west along lines of latitude?  I don't think this will make up the difference but we must be sure.  These things matter!

JahliSuwaghaman
JahliSuwaghaman

@ruggerrick9 I'd be willing to sacrifice a chicken to Jobu if it would get TRich to explode for the rest of the year like people thought he would coming out of college.

JPM
JPM

@andruid You absolutely shouted no such thing.

Mike26
Mike26

@andruid Don't forget - he also went for the field goal with his PUNTER/long-range kicker, NOT his full-time kicker.

SkeeterSkier
SkeeterSkier

@JoseFigueroa I'm a Cowboy fan, and I really don't care where a writer "ranks" my team. If it were my column, I may have ranked the Eagles (the team I detest more than any team on the face of the planet) a few spots ahead as well.

The REALLY COOL thing about the NFL is that teams make it to the post-season based on records, not polls. You've got 4 more weeks to curl up in your Cowboy pajamas and root for them to win...just like I'll be doing.

I'll never understand the nitpicking that goes on about who's ranked where when it just-doesn't-matter. 

KelubTX
KelubTX

@JoseFigueroaI totally agree. Plus the entire Cowboys' post being about how unfair Thanksgiving is... Yet nothing about the Lions having the same advantage in their write-up. At least he mentioned that Tony Romo should maybe, possibly, potentially, be in the conversation for MVP - but only if Nick Foles is too.

I'm glad to see some light being shed on the officiating, but there's still too much reverence placed on the referees. The officiating has been TERRIBLE this year. Just TERRIBLE. Yet no one wants to talk about it unless egregious mistakes are made. When the small mistakes continue to be made without anyone pointing them out, the large mistakes will eventually be made. You can't criticize the officiating without someone saying you're being a sore loser or acting like it's a social taboo. I clearly see it in games I have 0 interest in the outcome of. It's not bias. It's just people being bad at their jobs and no one being willing to discuss why they've digressed and what needs to be done to improve it.

I've been reading Peter's MMQB articles for over 10 years, but something about this year has just been sub-par. Used to be I could expect more depth to his articles, but the past year or two it seems like he just regurgitates the same talking points that everyone else mindlessly uses.

daved1015
daved1015

@SemperFiDTM   Geno is named the starter again this week to boot . Rex is going down with the ship.    Geno can't hit the broad side of a barn right now if he was standing right on front of it 


duckfan59
duckfan59

@Mike26 @andruid Why would he? His regular kicker was 0-3 from shorter distances and had one blocked.
I just think he should have tried the Hail Mary and if it doesn't work you go to OT. (yeah, I know, there's still the chance of an interception returned for a TD but at least with your offense on the field you have some athletes out there to tackle someone, unlike the field goal unit which is just O linemen, the kicker and the holder.).
Think Saban wishes he coul;d go back in time and NOT have that 1 second put back on the clock?  That made it even more absurd. That play would not have happened but for the clock adjustment.

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