Best of Times, Worst of Times

Ten Things I Think I Think

1. I think this is what I liked about Week 14:

a. Mike Tomlin coming relatively clean.

b. LeSean McCoy. What a talent. Electric in the open field even with eight inches of snow on the ground.

c. Another 397 yards and four touchdowns for Peyton at home on Sunday. Temperature at kickoff: 14°

d. Vintage Troy Polamalu with the over-the top pick-6.

e. Exciting day in the third part of football: special teams. Multiple kick returns for touchdowns. Patriots recover an onside kick to pull off the comeback. Blocked punt spurs the Jets. Prater breaks the FG record.

f. Josh Gordon’s catch-and-run TD. Turning into an absolute star right before our eyes.

g. Frank Gore’s 51-yard run to set up the Niners’ winning field goal. Big-time play in a big-time football game.

h. Great to see Dennis Pitta back in action for the Ravens. Joe Flacco celebrated by throwing him a fourth-quarter TD.

i. Big day for the Bengals’ offense. Three TDs for Andy Dalton. Good sign for the playoffs.

j. Keenan Allen’s full extension, diving touchdown. Heck of a rookie year thus far.

2. I think this is what I didn’t like about Week 14:

a. Come on, Washington special teams. Look at the extra point after the late-second-quarter Kansas City touchdown. Three Washington players, as Ryan Succop kicked, stood and made no attempt to rush the kick, or do anything. Nice effort.

b. The Cincy defenders’ tackling attempts on LaVon Brazill’s 19-yard touchdown. Just ugly.

c. The knee injuries. Rob Gronkowski and Tyrann Mathieu both went down with apparent ACL tears. Hate to see that happen to anyone, let alone two of the league’s brightest young stars.

d. Vikings’ pass defense at the end of their wild game in Baltimore. There were 45 seconds left, and they let Flacco march the Ravens right down the field for a touchdown.

e. Chris Johnson’s fourth-quarter fumble in Denver. Just a bad, bad football play.

f. What a mess in Washington. Just an embarrassing loss to the Chiefs at home.

g. RGIII’s interception to Derrick Johnson. Telegraphed all the way.

h. Blair Walsh has to at least get Jacoby Jones out of bounds on his kickoff return TD. Pitiful effort.

i. E.J. Manuel tossing four interceptions in the Bills’ loss at Tampa Bay. 

3. I think of all the media-relations professionals I’ve worked with in 30 seasons covering the NFL, none has been more professional than Jim Saccamano, who had the press box in the Denver stadium named after him Sunday. Saccamano is retiring at the end of the year after 36 seasons working for the team. You always knew who Saccamano worked for, but the mark of a good PR guy—I’ve always thought—is he understands those sent to cover the games have pressures on them, too, to come back with unique takes and insight, and he was always prepared to go as close to the line as he could without going over it to help us do our jobs. I’m grateful for the help he’s been to me, and SI, over the years.

4. I think when I heard the Chicago Bears were retiring Mike Ditka’s jersey tonight, I thought, “You mean it wasn’t retired already?” So glad the Bears are honoring an icon when he can still appreciate it and feel the adoration from a city he’s so much like.

5.  I think I can’t add much to the incredible tributes we’ve seen around the world for Nelson Mandela after his death Thursday at 95. I hope his powers of forgiveness, tolerance and peaceful activism live on. You can tell the impact Mandela had on people around the world by the candlelight vigils by schoolchildren in Indonesia, by the immediate changing of school names in his honor, and in my little world, by the scores of NFL players who chimed in emotionally on the meaning of his life. I’ll never forget covering the World Cup in South Africa in 2010 and meeting his grandson, Mandla Mandela, who was trying to raise money to build a new school in the tribal area where Nelson Mandela was born. (Mandla Mandela has since been enmeshed in several controversies, and been accused of pulling a gun on another man, and so images may well be deceiving. But on the day I met him, he had his grandfather’s earnest calm.)

We talked about how important it was to his grandfather that the World Cup was in South Africa—and make no mistake, it never would have been awarded to South Africa without the icon’s influence. I asked him if his grandfather was watching the games, and pageantry, on TV. “Oh, yes,” Mandla Mandela said. “But he is old now, and he needs his rest. He might watch the first few minutes of a game, and he gets a little bit excited, then he goes for a rest, and later, he will say to us, ‘Who won the game? What happened?’ He can’t afford to get too excited these days, but he loves this World Cup. It was his dream for South Africa, and for Africa. It has been on my grandfather’s agenda to use sport for nation-building, and I think he feels strongly that this is happening here right now.’ “

6. I think, whatever you think of the job Gary Kubiak did, you cannot deny his class.

7. I think there’s more to come on the Mike Tomlin sanction, which means I erred when I reported Friday on NBC Sports Network’s Pro Football Talk that the penalty for the Steelers will likely end with the $100,000 fine from the league. It won’t, and I apologize for the mistake. The league will either take a late-round pick from the Steelers (which, if the team gets a sixth- or seventh-round compensatory pick, would mean in essence that the team won’t get compensated for losing a mid-range free agent next spring) or diminish the value of a pick or picks by lowering one or more of them.

8. I think the story of the weekend belongs to Dan Graziano of ESPN.com. He alleges Mike Shanahan almost left Washington at the end of last season because he didn’t like the favoritism owner Dan Snyder was showing Robert Griffin III. Graziano’s good at his job, and it bears watching very closely whether Shanahan would even entertain a contract extension, or whether Snyder would even entertain offering him one at the end of the season.

9. I think my favorite stat to steal from Sunday comes from Mark Kiszla of the Denver Post: In John Elway’s 233 regular-season games as a Bronco, he never put up 50 points in a game. In 13 games this year, including on an 18-degree afternoon in Denver Sunday, Peyton Manning has done it three times.

10. I think these are my non-NFL thoughts of the week:

a. I’m a hockey fan, but I don’t know the game that well. I do know that, watching highlights of the first period of Pittsburgh-Boston Saturday night, I was sickened by the grotesque violence. A purposeful knee in the head—or, at least what sure looked to be a knee in the head on purpose. Then, as mentioned above, Boston’s Thornton chasing down Pittsburgh’s Orpik, a noted instigator who wouldn’t fight this time, and after Orpik had fallen to the ice, pummeling him with two solid punches. Just revolting. Orpik was immobilized and taken off the ice on a stretcher.

b. No idea why fighting is legal in hockey. It’s so ’80s.

c. Get ’em, Brendan Shanahan. Dish out some discipline that matters. Five games, 10 games … pshaw. Make it hurt.

d. Re Jacoby Ellsbury signing with the Yankees and Jarrod Saltalamacchia signing with the Marlins: Two hard-working, tremendous guys to root for over the years, professional to the core. They’ll be missed, at least by me.

e. Now, if you ask me about the Yankees paying $21.9 million a year for Ellsbury, who missed 41 percent of Boston’s games over the last four seasons, it sure seems dumb. Maybe he’ll suddenly turn durable, but to pay him that money you trust him to be in the lineup every day. I don’t see how you can. He’s played nearly every day in just one year of the last four.

Talk Back

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

f. Robinson Cano’s going to regret that deal. He’s just not a face-of-the-franchise type, and now the Mariners are going to demand it.

g. Newspaper story of the week: Geoff Baker of the Seattle Times, on the Mariners’ front-office dysfunction recounted by departed manager Eric Wedge.

h. Took a few minutes to be a real person over the weekend and saw Inside Llewyn Davis, the latest movie by the Coen brothers. All I can say is I would pay Ethan and Joel Coen to make movies 24/7, because every time I walk out of the theater after seeing one, I cannot wait for the next one. This is a story of a week in the life of a pretty good folk singer in 1961, trying to make it in New York (with a detour to Chicago). Llewyn Davis, actually actor Oscar Isaac, sings beautifully, I think, so beautifully that I’ll be buying the soundtrack. But he’s sort of a wayward bum, irresponsible to put it nicely, and the Coen brothers chart his vagabond existence the way they did car salesman Jerry Lundegaard (William H. Macy) in Fargo or Llewelyn Moss (Josh Brolin) hiding the big money in No Country for Old Men. The end is so … cool. Listen to the voice at the end. Remember it’s 1961. I loved this movie.

i. Coffeenerdness: It really shouldn’t happen, Starbucks, that I have to nerdily tell a new barista that the shots in a macchiato get put in at the end of the drink, on top of the foam. But that happened this week, at a midtown shop. The barista looked at me and said, “Really?”

j. Beernerdness: Well, that was a mistake. Maybe because I’m not a big bourbon guy. But when the server at the Brown Hotel bar in Louisville asked what I wanted the other night, and I asked what the local beers were, one she named was Kentucky Bourbon Barrel Ale. “It’s actually stored in bourbon barrels,” she said. I had to try that. Yikes! Tasted like a shot of carbonated bourbon. I’m sure for you mint julep aficionados, that would be a nice beer. But I had to switch over to the regular Kentucky Ale. Not bad. Kind of a dark pale ale.

k. How old did it make me feel when I saw my old hometown newspaper, the Montclair Times, in its “Ten Years Ago This Week” section, report that Mary Beth King was named first-team all-conference in field hockey this week in 2003 after the MHS team swept through the league at 15-0? Pretty darn old.

l. The more I look at Pope Francis, the more he looks like Chance the gardener.

m. I’m a few days late on that drones-delivering-packages story, which truly is amazing. Except if some skeet shooters are out for a tidy package of Clark’s loafers that go flying by.

Who I Like Tonight

Dallas 30, Chicago 27. Each team could tie its division’s leader with a win (the Cowboys are a half-game back of the Eagles, the Bears a half-game behind the Lions), but they’re headed in different directions, with Dallas winning two in a row and the Bears losing consecutive games to the bottom-feeding Rams and Vikings. Even on the frigid Soldier Field grass (it’ll be in the teens but dry at kickoff), the combination of the league’s 29th (Chicago) and 32nd (Dallas) defenses should mean plenty of points, and I like Tony Romo more than I like Josh McCown.

The Adieu Haiku

Frank Gore. What a back.
Appreciate him now, please.
Soon, he’ll have to go.

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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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