Best of Times, Worst of Times

Week 14 was the most exciting of the season so far, with records—and snow—falling all over and a blizzard-like finish in Baltimore. Sadly, though, it wasn't all fun and games, with a series of badly blown calls in key spots casting a shadow over Sunday

The envelopes, please.

Performance of the Year by a running back: Philadelphia’s LeSean McCoy, who ran through eight inches of snow in the greatest fourth-quarter performance ever by an Eagle back—11 carries, 148 yards, two touchdowns. How does he not slip when everyone else does?

Performance of the Year by a return man: Detroit’s Jeremy Ross, who returned a punt and a kickoff for touchdowns on that same snowy field. Running 98 yards in that stuff … can’t wait to see it set to some symphony by NFL Films.

Dreads of the Year: DeSean Jackson and the dreadlocked Louis Delmas went crashing into the deep end-zone snow in the fourth quarter in Philly—and Delmas’ black dreads came up snowy white.

Kick of the Year—and the Century: Denver’s Matt Prater, who told me he’d never tried a kick of 60 yards or longer in high school, college or the NFL, said he “tried to kill it” from 64 yards in the Denver-Tennessee game, on the last play of the first half in Denver. Right down the middle. Good. Four times in NFL history men had made 63-yarders, but never from farther. Via my Sports Illustrated friend Tim Layden, the man who set the record 43 years ago, Tom Dempsey, lives in a New Orleans retirement home now, suffering from Alzheimer’s disease, and was told about Prater’s record-breaking field goal late Sunday afternoon. “Must have been a great kick,” Dempsey said.

Hour of the Year: From 3:45 to 4:45 Eastern. When all heck broke loose, everywhere.

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

Injury of the Year: New England all-world tight end Rob Gronkowski, lost with an ACL tear, crippling New England’s chances to win a fourth Super Bowl in the Belichick era.

Awkward Meeting of the Year: When Dan Snyder and Mike Shanahan pass each other in the hallway at work today. After a story appeared on ESPN Sunday morning claiming that Shanahan cleaned out his office at the end of the last season, expecting to leave his job in part because of the too-cozy relationship between Washington owner Snyder and quarterback Robert Griffin III, Shanahan’s team went out and laid a church-fart performance in the desolate pews at FedEx Field. Kansas City 45, Washington 10, and it wasn’t that close. I now do not wonder whether Shanahan will get a contract extension in Washington. I now wonder whether he’ll be working for Snyder at the end of Monday. There is no question Snyder will think the ESPN story was borne of the close relationship between Shanahan and Adam Schefter of ESPN, no matter what Shanahan tells him. Won’t be long before Snyder’s looking for the eighth coach of his stormy tenure.

125 Seconds of the Year: Here. Go to Baltimore. Look at them. Minnesota led 12-7 when it all began.

Quarter Time left Touchdown Score
4 2:05 Dennis Pitta, 1-yard catch 15-12, Ravens
4 1:27 Toby Gerhart, 41-yard run 19-15, Vikings
4 1:16 Jacoby Jones, 77-yard kickoff return 22-19, Ravens
4 0:45 Cordarrelle Patterson, 79-yard catch 26-22, Vikings
4 0:04 Marlon Brown, 9-yard catch 29-26, Ravens

First 57 minutes: 19 points scored. Last three minutes: 36.

But you can’t write the story of an amazing Sunday without the four calls (and I’m probably missing one or two) that materially affected three games. As you may know, I’m not one to kill the umpire. Or the head linesman. Officials have a tough job, and if you read my three-part opus last week on A Week in the Life of An Officiating Crew, you saw that I have respect for the work they do and the difficulty of the job they have. The close calls, the bang-bang calls, the helmet-to-helmet stuff they’re trying to get out of the game … I get it. All good. And it’s a tribute to the greatness of football Sunday that I’m not going to spend half of this column berating crews in Philadelphia, New England and Cincinnati for indefensible calls that swayed the outcome of all three of those games. I said “swayed,” not “determined.”

But I am going to spend a few words up here on these calls. Because they stunk. And 345 Park Avenue needs to be concerned with the hue and cry of the fan right now, because the fan, mostly, is right. The missed flag on Steelers coach Mike Tomlin in the game with the Ravens on Thanksgiving night, when he was on the field during a real live play and two officials were right there, is one play. Just one. The Jeff Triplette idiocy in the Sunday night game in Week 13, when referee Triplette refused to call time even though two officials had a different down than he did and the game descended into chaos, that’s one too. On Sunday I saw four in very big moments.

1. At Philadelphia, early fourth quarter, Lions up eight, Eagles ball, 2nd-and-10 at their 45. A millisecond after Nick Foles released an incomplete pass, Detroit’s Nick Fairley, not using his head and not hitting above the sternum, plowed into Foles. Ref Ed Hochuli flagged Fairley for roughing the passer, a blown call for which he certainly will be downgraded by the league office. So, instead of the Eagles having a 3rd-and-10 at their 45, they had 1st-and-10 at the Detroit 40 … and LeSean McCoy promptly romped to a 40-yard touchdown. That made the score Detroit 14, Philadelphia 12.

2. On the very next snap in Philadelphia, Foles, attempting a two-point conversion pass, threw the ball out of bounds. No conversion. But hold on—Detroit’s Ndamukong Suh is flagged by umpire Richard Hall for holding Eagles center Jason Kelce. FOX ran it back three times. A hold never happened. A hold was not close. Hall blew it. The ball got moved a yard closer, and Bryce Brown ran in the two-pointer from the one-yard line. Tie game. A total, absolute gift of two points.

3. At Foxboro, Cleveland up 26-21, 40 seconds left, Patriots ball at the Browns’ 30-yard line. Tom Brady throws deep down the right sideline for Josh Boyce, into the end zone, with rookie cornerback Leon McFadden in coverage. There is light contact. Incidental contact. The ball falls incomplete. McFadden is flagged for defensive pass interference. The 29-yard penalty puts the ball at the Cleveland 1, and Brady throws the winning touchdown pass to Danny Amendola on the next play. That’s not interference in second-grade flag football, and here it could well have handed New England a win. Where did the flag come from? Why? How is that call made? TV color man Steve Tasker agreed. He called the call “horrible” twice and “terrible” once. Couldn’t have said it better.

4. At Cincinnati, late in the first half, the Bengals were up 7-0 when BenJarvus Green-Ellis dove for the goal line and appeared to be stopped short. In the last two minutes of the half, replays are initiated by the replay assistant upstairs, and that’s what happened here. The ruling on the field was that Green-Ellis was down by contact, from Indy nose tackle Josh Chapman touching Green-Ellis’ leg and causing him to fall short of the goal line. Triplette went under the hood. At NBC we watched the replay three or four times. Nothing there. The play would stand. Check out the video above. Almost certainly Chapman flicked Green-Ellis’ leg, causing him to fall forward, and his knees and thighs were down before he reached the goal line. Triplette overturned the call. He ruled a touchdown, saying Green-Ellis clearly had not been touched and could then reach the ball across the plane because he had not been touched down. We gasped in the room at NBC. Incredible. Jeff Triplette, for the second week in a row, made the kind of decision that makes the American public distrust, if not altogether hate, the officials who work these games. Triplette made a mockery of the term “indisputable visual evidence.” Later in this column I’ll explain why the league may go to centralized replay review. This call should be Exhibit A for it.

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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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