Best of Times, Worst of Times

Now for a few other events of Week 14.

Four kickers have connected from 63 yards. Only one—Matt Prater—has hit from 64. (Joe Amon/Getty Images)
Four kickers have connected from 63 yards. Only one—Matt Prater—has hit from 64. (Joe Amon/Getty Images)

The Longest Yard.

From the Broncos’ locker room, the new king of the field goal was talking about Tom Dempsey, the man whose record he broke just before halftime on a frigid and breezy Sunday afternoon in Denver. Dempsey, he knew, was handicapped—he was born without toes on his right foot—and kicked straight-on, his right shoe cut in half into a boot. It’s with that foot that Dempsey kicked a 63-yard field goal outside at Tulane Stadium for the Saints in 1970.

“That is awesome,” said Prater, a 29-year-old veteran from Central Florida. “What an achievement for him—and he did it straight on, with worse equipment than we have now, so long ago, when no one would think you kick a 63-yard field goal. That’s an incredible record to have for so long.”

I told Prater—through my colleague Tim Layden, that Dempsey praised his kick from his retirement home in New Orleans. “Wow,” said Prater. “That’s really awesome. That’s an honor for me.”

Prater, in fact, was almost late for his record. He had to rush out to the field after Peyton Manning completed a seven-yard throw to Jacob Tamme to get Denver on the outer limits of field-goal range. But he’d never kicked a field goal of 60 or longer in his life. “I really didn’t try many long ones today before the game because it was so cold,” Prater said. “Just figured we probably wouldn’t try any real long ones. I think I kicked one from about 60. That was it. But I hustled out there and we lined it up. When I saw it on the stripe, I knew what it was.”

Meaning: He knew it was for the Holy Grail. Sixty-four yards. The record.

(Jack Dempsey/AP)
(Jack Dempsey/AP)

The snapper, a San Diego State kid, Aaron Brewer, is from Fullerton, Calif. The holder, punter Britton Colquitt, who went to Tennessee, is from Knoxville. And Prater is from Estero, Fla. Now, here they were, three warm-blooded guys, trying for history.

“Almost every time I kick, just before I kick, Britton looks back at me and says, ‘Follow through straight to the target.’ He said that to me, and I was ready. The balls were pretty good today. [Assistant equipment manager] Kenny Chavez did a really good job with the balls today, getting the ‘K’ balls prepared in this weather. The snap was good, the hold was good. I know I had a chance. I just tried to kill it. It felt good coming off my foot.”

No one’s ever proven the altitude helps the kicks in Denver, though Sebastian Janikowski, one of four men to hold the previous record, always says he feels he kicks the farthest in Denver. (Janikowski and Jason Elam both kicked their 63-yarders in Denver; the fourth, by David Akers, was in Green Bay.) Prater’s kick sailed through the pristine chill, hung in the air an extra millisecond or two, and fell a yard or two beyond the crossbar. Perfect.

“The whole team rushed around me, like we won, and it was pretty exciting,” Prater said. “I went into the locker room and everyone was congratulating me, and I’m thinking, Seems like we just won the World Series—and we’re still losing the game.” Indeed, the kick sent the Broncos to the locker room trailing Tennessee 21-20. Denver would  blow the game open in the second half and win 51-28.

An hour after the game, Prater still was a little dazed by it all. “It hasn’t sunk in, really,” he said. “I’ve always wanted to get a shot to break that record, but the time and conditions have to be right. I’ve been waiting for six years. It’s pretty amazing. Surreal. Everything went just perfect.”

* * *

Looks like it’s Peyton’s MVP to lose now.

Manning has three games left (at home against San Diego on Thursday night, then at Houston and at Oakland) to break the two passing biggies. He has 45 touchdown passes and 4,522 yards. He needs six touchdown passes to break Tom Brady’s mark of 50 TD throws; he needs 319 passing yards per game to break Drew Brees’ yardage mark of 5,476. Seeing that the 11-2 Broncos are in a race with the 10-3 Pats for home-field edge through the playoffs and would lose a head-to-head tiebreaker, Manning may well have to keep playing in shootouts to keep Denver No. 1. The only way I see Manning missing a fifth MVP is if he struggles a bit down the stretch, loses a couple games and does not break one or both of the records. He’s just been too dominant for 13 games, despite his hiccups, to lose it otherwise.

The MVP is voted on by a panel of 50 media members (I’m one of them) under the auspices of the Associated Press. The winner is announced the night before the Super Bowl. The 50 voters simply vote for one player; it’s not a ballot of 10, for example, the way voters in baseball work the MVP. This process is something I’ve long railed against, because I think a ballot gives you a chance to reward the second-highest vote-getter, third- and so on, and because as it is now, very often in a close race the only way a voter can reflect that closeness is to split his or her vote.

* * *

The NFL has discussed centralizing the replay system, likely in New York.

For uniformity of calls, mostly. And why not, after seeing the disastrous Jeff Triplette reversal of a likely correct call in Cincinnati? I’d prefer to have the same people looking at all replays. It lessens—though doesn’t eliminate—the chances of a mistake because the foremost authorities on the calls, led by VP of Officiating Dean Blandino, would be overseeing the process from the NFL command center. Mike Florio and I reported on this last night on NBC, and I can tell you it’s being seriously considered. Nothing is likely to change before 2015, however. I’d expect 2014 to be a study year for the project.

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Sounds like the public wants to take replay—and probably a lot more—out of the hands of referees at game sites. Florio asked on Pro Football Talk: “Should the NFL move the instant-replay function out of the stadium?” By early this morning, 83.7 percent of those responding (5,591 of 6,681) said yes. I asked my Twitter followers last night: “Should the NFL centralize replay in one place?” It was 149-9, yes (94.3 percent).

The league would consider this not only because a uniformity of eyes looking at the calls could lead to more consistency, but also because it would likely shorten games. The time of games (3 hours, 11 minutes, 20 seconds, on average, this weekend) has slowly crept up in the last few years, and the league wants to bring it back down. The time it takes for replay is getting onerous. We measured the fateful Triplette reversal Sunday, from the time he announced that the Cincinnati rushing play near the goal line was being reviewed to the time he announced the reversal: four minutes, 10 seconds … even though the time a ref can spend under the hood is only one minute. There is no question that process can be streamlined by getting rid of the mechanical procedures at the game site that accompany the replay process.

For the record, times of games in the last six seasons, including this one through Sunday night’s Saints-Panthers game:

2013: 3:08:30
2012: 3:06:32
2011: 3:05:48
2010: 3:04:12
2009: 3:03:42
2008: 3:02:12

Stay tuned for offseason debate on this topic.

* * *

* * *

Meet Julian Edelman.

Look there, on the list of leading NFL receivers, and you’ll see an odd name between No. 4 (A.J. Green and Brandon Marshall, tied with 78 receptions) and No. 7 (Calvin Johnson, 75).

Julian Edelman: 76.

The former Kent State quarterback. The seventh-round Patriot who would have signed with Green Bay as an undrafted free agent if New England hadn’t snared him with the 232nd pick in 2009.

I had Edelman on my podcast the other day and discovered why he’s been such a good match with Bill Belichick and Tom Brady:


A sampling:

“The more you can do, the more valuable you make yourself to a team. Sometimes, lying and saying you’ve done it when you really haven’t done it. Put my head down, worked my tail off, watched a lot of great guys ahead of me over the years … You watch Tom Brady and learn how to be a professional. You’re around that, and it becomes your life … Punt-returning, kick-returning, playing defense, whatever the coaches ask you to do. Blocking a kick. When you’re younger and you’re a seventh-round draft pick, a rookie, you basically do everything you can. You could be a camp body … Everyone’s fighting for a job. Any time a coach needed a guy up, you had to go sprint up there and try to deal with it … You saw a lot of guys, Wes Welker in the huddle, Joey Galloway, Randy Moss, even though they’re different body types, they’re such smart receivers. You could always take something away from everyone. When you’re green, you grow; when you’re ripe, you rot. You gotta constantly learn. My father tells me that all the time. We’d be practicing out in the backyard, and if I had a bad attitude or I was talking back or something, he’d go, You think you have all the answers. When you’re green you grow, when you think you’re ripe you’re gonna rot.

Troy Brown, Wes Welker, Danny Woodhead, Julian Edelman. Not all the same guy. But productive, smaller guys who’ve made a good living playing a long time. Edelman’s a free agent after the season. The Chargers struck gold with Woodhead, signing him from New England this year. Read the previous paragraph, and look at his production, and see how Edelman has become a Tom Brady go-to guy. This is a guy you want on your team, a winning player.

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390 comments
toadworth
toadworth

Dear Peter:

Suck it.


Josh McCown

Mood_Indigo
Mood_Indigo

Frank Gore's greatness

Savor on

For one more season

willisdownsouth
willisdownsouth

If you actually watched a South Carolina football game, you can clearly see how teams game planned away from Clowney's side of the field. The SC DT Kelcy Quarles will be taken somewhere in the top 3 rounds, most likely because of the way teams double teamed Clowney. He also had a solid outing against Clemson. Not sure what's so underwhelming there.

aeb0507
aeb0507

Well peter King, you blew it again for the monday matchup. You like Tony Romp over Josh McCown....really

akdonner2
akdonner2

My question is why is shanahan even considered a great coach. He was terrible in Oakland and Washington and he was gifted 2 super bowls by elway and Davis. After elway retired the struggles began and slowly but surely, the broncos began to resemble what the redskins are and what the raiders were. Completely overrated coach.

RobertSmith
RobertSmith

Greg Bedard reports from Columbia, S.C. Clowney, the South Carolina pass rusher, has been on everyone’s radar all season


Including, apparently, the SC highway patrol.  At 110 mph.  If only his motor revved like that on the field.

RobertSmith
RobertSmith

In 14 games, NFL teams scored 88 touchdowns, the most on any day in the 94-year history of the league.


Was it the most per game?  Comparing it to 1960 when the league had half as many games is lazy.   A technically "true" statement that is nonetheless potentially misleading in the implications a reader might derive from it.

Sabahtwit
Sabahtwit

Shanahan played RG3 2nd 1/2 Seattle game and This Year bc of RG 3& OUT's INSECURITY about KC taking his job AND Snyder ENABLED him. It is pretty clear that Shanahan may be the HEAD of the Redskins, but RG3 is the NECK, and he makes the HEAD turn Anyway he wants it to. Please don't blame coach on this debacle.

BrianHayden
BrianHayden

I never thought I'd say these words, but "your link is to the wrong LaVon Brazill touchdown"

BillyG
BillyG

Tom Coughlin has been head coaching in the NFL for 18 seasons.He has won a playoff game in only 5 of 18 them.The 2 seasons he won the SB, he was either a 9-7 lousy division “winner” or a 10-6 wild card.In each of his 2 SB runs he was the beneficiary of some of the most fortuitous plays and calls of all time (including the playoffs leading to the SB).In his last 5 years he is 41-36 AND missed the playoffs 4 of the last 5 seasons…even though he is coaching one of the highest payroll teams, with one of the highest paid (although nowhere near best) QB’s.Two questions…1) should he be fired after this season (or graciously allowed to “retire”), and 2), is there any possibility he DESERVES to make the HOF?

srkusa
srkusa

The team to watch is the Patriots - last time they pulled these late game wins by playing the full 60 minutes they went all the way and won the super bowl. Best damn coached and quarterbacked team in the history of the NFL based on their consistent winning record over the last decade and their desire, determination and dedication to winning no matter who the opponent is - they do just enough and you can say they got lucky on some plays but let's not forget they capitalized on them!

DeeEmm1
DeeEmm1

Senator Murphy was clearly going to discuss Pokemon X and Y and the upcoming Z version. Get with the times Peter.

Rickapolis
Rickapolis

The refs are spectacularly bad. Could there be a Tim Donaghy in the ranks? Just wondering if anyone else has had this thought. Because the kinds of mistakes being made are all but inexplicable. 

Stevo1
Stevo1

So, who is going to replace Shannie?   Can't imagine anyone decent taking the job.  Where's Joe Gibbs when we need him?  Again, that is.  And where will Shannie and his clone end up?  Hopefully out of football.  He never should have let RGIII on the field after the first half of last year's playoff against Seattle.  And he never should have let RGIII near the field until the 7th or 8th game this year.  He's done.

drudown
drudown

Although Edelman does not cite Ray Kroc for his paraphrase "when you’re green, you grow; when you’re ripe, you rot"…great quote.

Rama
Rama

Excuse me. The injury of the year award belongs to Aaron Rodgers. No comparison between an oft injured tight end, who Brady can win without vs Rodgers who is arguably the best player in the league.

SemperFiDTM
SemperFiDTM

So vicious hits that are legal in the NFL that end careers are OK....but fighting in hockey is "revolting". Very Costas-esqe of you Petey, keep riding that arbitrary-moral high horse! (For the uninformed, Bob Costas is the self-appointed moral compass of the nation)

blorjr
blorjr

The football gods got even with Tomlin for his actions in Baltimore .

cgladish
cgladish

Come on, no mention of the MLS cup at all?  An amazing game happened in front of an incredible crowd this weekend for the MLS championship, you figure there might be a sentence or two about it.

Paul_Conrad
Paul_Conrad

Peter King's plantation owner mentality is on full display with his attacks on Jadeveon Clowney.  King and his ilk profit off the free labor of college kids, and feel the need to trash any player who challenges the current billion dollar scam that is the NCAA's student athlete. Peter King is obviously protective of his income source. It's just too bad his nonsense "love of football" doesn't translate into much compassion for the people football exploits.

Frotoon
Frotoon

"a church-fart performance in the desolate pews at FedEx Field"

That's a tacky analogy. Low class.

RayIsBipolar
RayIsBipolar

Was Polamalu getting ran over by Chuck Clay for his 2nd TD vintage as well?

George
George

Niners 19 - Seattle 17


- Sea-hens exPOSED aGAIN!  Can't win on the ROAD!!

They laid an egg and lost the GAME!


The Super Bowl (if the hens even GET there!) is not being played in their noise-nest, but instead at a neutral site

 - where they will be exPOSED in the season finale!

;D

YinkaDoubleDare
YinkaDoubleDare

Really wish the Bears had found a way to retain Toub. It wasn't just Hester, the Bears were good at kick/punt returning in general with Toub, and were one of the top teams in special teams DVOA at Football Outsiders year in and year out.

granite.burner
granite.burner

No mention of the first game changing mis-call in the Patriots game.  That quick whistle while the player was still in mid-air took away a Pats' fumble recovery and gave Cleveland their first score.  Instead of the Patriots having their first drive in a scoreless game it gave the Browns three points and ensured that the Pats were behind before they ever got to call a play.  Blowing the whistle while the player is still upright shouldn't happen on an open field tackle, and this was an egregious example of why not.


LisaJDarln
LisaJDarln

I just want to point out that Brooks Orpik, although he is a hard-hitting, tough defenseman, is NOT an instigator, which you repeated several times. In fact, he has received only a handful of fighting majors in his career and none in the past five years. When a Pittsburgh Tribune Review reporter asked 15 Penguins players if fighting in hockey should be eliminated, only Orpik said yes.


RescuedfromESPN
RescuedfromESPN

Here's what I got with my algorithm:

1.DEN (.797)

2.SEA (.786)

3. NE (.713)

4. NO (.711)

5. CAR (.686)

bserious
bserious

The Patriots may well be, but they're not as overrated as people who try to get free advertising by putting links to their sites in a comment section.

blynder
blynder

@akdonner2

Denver fan here.  I think of Shanny as "flawed" like any human being.  He never did a good job with a defensive coordinator (although Haslett did have his moments) and he needed to either A) evaluate talent and be a GM or B) be a coach; and run the team.  He wasn't good  both.  I was surprised when Washington took RG III TBH; he didn't fit that mold of a Shanny QB and I think we're seeing that now.  Shanny wants an Andrew Luck, Peyton Manning, Tony Romo, Jay Cutler type.  Certainly he did get "help" from Elway and T.Davis; but he also did some good stuff as the H.C. on those SB teams (finding and utilizing T.D., Shannon Sharpe, Rod Smith, Keeping Romo in line, working w/Alex Gibbs and keeping the ling going, etc.)  So I'll agree that he may not be "great" but he's certainly not garbage either.

GlennMiller
GlennMiller

@BillyG I would really like to hear what these "fortuitous plays" throughout the playoffs were.  And in case you aren't aware yet, the NFL is now a salary cap league.  Which means there aren't any "high payroll" teams.  You must be thinking of baseball, which means you have no clue what you're saying.  Coughlin has had success everywhere he has coached.  As far as your stat of missing the playoffs 4 of the last 5 years - why that arbitrary number of years??  How about this stat - Coughlin has won the super bowl in 2 of the last 7 years, which no other head coach can say.  You sound like a typical fan that never played football and really doesn't understand the game.  Go back to your mom's basement.

ILoveMyWife
ILoveMyWife


Sounds like Snyder is the one forcing RGIII down Shanahan's throat ala Bud Adams with Vince Young and Jeff Fisher.

RockOfGib
RockOfGib

@Rama I think he was talking about season-ending injuries. Rodgers isn't out for the year.

SemperFiDTM
SemperFiDTM

@Rama If he played for New England then yes it would definitely be injury of the year. Welcome to Bradyland - ahem - mmqb.com

russel.mcgee
russel.mcgee

@SemperFiDTM To compare the violence of any sport with the institutionalized thuggery of the NHL shows that NHL fans deserve the goons that put on the fights for them--but not in the playoffs for some reason. The fans are goons themselves.


JPM
JPM

And who appointed you?

drudown
drudown

@Paul_Conrad


Taken to its illogical conclusion, you conflate grown men receiving up to $50mm+ GUARANTEED to play a game as (ahem) some form of "slavery"? Sure, right. 


As for Clowney, he doesn't seem to display the zeal or will to excel this year that a GM and/or owner might see as a condition precedent to making him the #1 pick, i.e., in terms of a dispassionate risk/reward business decision analysis. 


Duh.

George
George

@Frotoon not if you're a latte-sippin' beer-suckin' no-neck who farts in church!

:D

Dr.RosenRosen
Dr.RosenRosen

@George First, I think your Shift and Caps-Lock key is broken causing random words to be capitalized for no reason.  Also, your period key is spitting out exclamation points.  You should contact IT and get that fixed quickly before you post again.  You don't want people to think you're an idiot typing nonsense.


Second, the 'Hawks are 5-2 on the road.  They lost both games by a total of 8 points.  I wouldn't call them "exPOSED" or POSED or whatever word you decide to capitalize next.  If you want to capitalize a word, call them GOOD.

Marima
Marima

Yep.  This conveniently gets left out in the 'Refs wanted the Pats to win' conversation.  Plus, on that PI call, how come no one mentions the all important fact that the defender never turned to look for the ball?  If he had ever attempted to turn his head, the flag most likely doesn't get thrown. 

ILoveMyWife
ILoveMyWife

Did you read the article? Peter King specifically mentioned that Orpik would rather there not be fighting. That way he can instigate with impunity.

Rama
Rama

With Rodgers in pain last week, he might get shutdown for the year. I hope Peter then would revise his statement.

ILoveMyWife
ILoveMyWife


Really? Peter's bias is way in favor of Peyton Manning over Tom Brady.

SemperFiDTM
SemperFiDTM

@JPM I appointed myself a commenter on this board. Just like you. Oh, and if you are really Bob Costas, I loved loved LOVED watching you wet your pants when you had Vince McMahon on your show.

sitefix
sitefix

Finally someone says it! How many times have the Pats been called for PI for doing exactly the same thing: not turning to play the ball? I can tell you: plenty. That's why that call was made.

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