A Perfect Weekend (Except the Bengals)

Ten Things I Think I Think

1. I think this is what I liked about wild-card weekend:

a. Alex Smith’s mobility. A 15-yard scramble out of trouble in the backfield and then through traffic to keep the first drive of the game alive … it’s a totally underrated part of his game.

b. Andy Reid and Doug Pederson, calling a wishbone/option run to Knile Davis on the first play of Davis’ playoff life.

c. John Dorsey, Chiefs GM, using the 95th pick in the draft on Knile Davis, a hugely important element despite the loss.

d. T.Y. Hilton. Everything about him.

e. The hustle of Antoine Bethea (I love this guy) in stopping Dwayne Bowe from getting to the end zone on the long first-half throw from Luck … a play that paid off very large in a one-point victory.

f. Andrew Luck’s second half.

g. Our Greg A. Bedard’s story on the Bears-Packers Week 17, talking about how vital the block fullback John Kuhn threw was. Bedard makes a great case that the block of Kuhn’s life won the division for Green Bay.

h. The class and dripping disappointment of Mike Munchak, who played 12 Hall-of-Fame seasons as a guard for the Oilers from 1982 to ’93 and was coach for the Oilers/Titans since 1994, in his statement upon leaving the Titans Saturday: “This is a day I hoped would never come, but there is a reason for everything. Words cannot express the sadness for leaving this organization that I have been a part of for over 30 years.”

i. The Cris Carter feature with Jordy Nelson on ESPN, with the secret to catching sideline balls and getting both feet inbounds. “Your body just has to go limp,” Carter said. Really interesting inside football.

j. Drew Brees finding Kenny Stills on the third-quarter snap when Cary Williams had to sit because of injury. Very smart by a vet quarterback, and he got a first down out of it.

k. Chris Mortensen’s information that Mike Munchak turned down an extension with Tennessee that would have paid him “almost double” his current $3 milion annual salary. Good information. And absolutely mind-boggling. Munchak  was head coach for three playoff-less seasons, was 7-9 in a mediocre (at best) division, and spent massively to build a running game this year that was just average. Wow. That was a stunner to me. And to pay him that money while insisting he change half the coaches on his staff? Hey, right hand: Have any idea what the left hand is doing?

l. Donald Butler’s instinctive play at inside linebacker for San Diego. Much more effective Sunday than running mate Manti Te’o.

m. Cincinnati defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer sending seven rushers on the first big third-down snap for the Chargers. Philip Rivers got smothered. Punt.

n. John Pagano. Everything the Chargers defensive coordinator did seemed to work against Cincinnati.

o. Love smart players. Did you see Eric Weddle in the fourth quarter tackling the Bengals receiver near the sideline, not letting him get out of bounds so Cincinnati could stop the clock?

p. Kudos, GM Tom Telesco of the Chargers … for many things. The biggest I can think of this morning is signing Danny Woodhead for two years and $3.5 million. Woodhead is worth three times that.

q. Colin Kaepernick knowing when to run and when to wait, wait, wait and throw it. Only quibble I have is passing on a wide-open Vernon Davis to make his 42-yard first-half scramble.

r. Just give me Jordy Nelson, Anquan Boldin and a competent quarterback, and I’ll give you any two receivers in football, and I’ll take my chances against you.

s. John Kuhn on that lead fullback dive. Now that’s a dangerous play. And an effective one.

t. Davon House with a huge pass-deflection on a bomb for Vernon Davis … two plays before he was caught interfering.

u. CBS, for giving Dan Dierdorf a monster game for his finale: Indianapolis at New England, Saturday night, Foxboro.

2. I think this is what I didn’t like about wild-card weekend:

a. Jamaal Charles going down in the first five minutes of the game. Love watching him play. Amazing this game produced 89 points without him.

b. Greg Toler being in the game at all. Awful in coverage, or non-coverage. Too hurt from his groin injury coming in.

c. Bad non-call on clear pass interference by Kansas City’s Marcus Cooper in the second quarter—on a very big play.

d. Colts: 14 turnovers in the regular season; four Saturday.

e. Those who would say Alex Smith made a critical mistake by taking an intentional grounding call on the Chiefs’ last possession, helping knock them out of field-goal range for a kick that could have won the game. Kansas City had the ball at the Colts’ 39, 2nd-and-7 with 2:30 to play. Smith set up a screen to his left, ideally to throw to Dexter McCluster. Before the play could even remotely develop, Smith was swarmed by the unblocked Erik Walden and Cory Redding and at the last millisecond threw the ball away to his right, far from any of his receivers. What were his options here? Throw it away, which he did. Or get sacked with the ball at the 47 and have it be 3rd-and-15. I watched the play three times on NFL Game Rewind, and there was nothing else Smith could do, except eat it. If he did, it would have been 3rd-and-15 instead of 3rd-and-17. Big deal. 

f. As an inside linebacker Sunday, Manti Te’o too often made a good bystander.

g. CBS’ Tracy Wolfson, late in the first half at Cincinnati, after a graphic showed a temperature of 41, with Wolfson wearing a knit hat and gloves: “It feels like San Diego weather.” As she spoke, it was 73 and mostly sunny in San Diego.

h. Awful clock management near the end of the first half by the Packers. With one timeout left, they let the clock bleed down from 22 to eight seconds before snapping it and throwing an incompletion, causing them to go for a field goal one play before they had to. What a waste.

i. Call pass-interference somewhat close in the postseason to the way you do it in the regular season, zebras.

j. The clock management this weekend was amateurish. (See Goat of the Week, above.) The Niners spent two timeouts in the first half of the first quarter and two in the first half of the third quarter. That is just nonsensical.

k. James Jones has had better games.

l. If Micah Hyde makes that pick with four minutes to go, there’s a very good chance the course of 2013 NFC playoff history would be a lot different.

m. Same old Bengals.

3. I think I don’t care one bit who Aaron Rodgers—or any player, coach, fan or writer—has sex with. Nor should anyone. If a player chooses to discuss, it’s his business. If not, leave it alone, world.

4. I think I saw enough evidence in three hours of one game at Indy Saturday, with four possibly concussed players and another with two possible major knee injuries, to know the NFL can never have an 18-game regular season. You’re not serious about player safety and player health if you want 18 games … unless you say each player’s max games per regular season is 16. That, of course, would necessitate Brock Osweiler starting two games for Denver, for example, because Peyton Manning would have to sit twice. That’s the only way I’d support an 18-game schedule.

5. I think if this doesn’t illustrate the way the game is going today, nothing does: The Chiefs started eight defensive backs on the first snap at Indianapolis Saturday.

6. I think as redemptive as this season was for Riley Cooper, his third-quarter drop on a wide-open crossing route on third down was the biggest negative play of the game for Philadelphia. The Eagles trailed 13-7 when it happened—Cooper could have raced for at least 20 yards on the play—and the Saints, on the change of possession, drove for a touchdown to make it 20-7. Though the Eagles came back, that was one possession, in retrospect, where Philadelphia gave away points.

7. I think, as I said on NBC’s Football Night in America pregame show Saturday, there is no momentum in league circles to re-seed the playoffs the way the league should, which is to base the seeds on the regular-season record. But too many owners think winning a division title should not only be a pass into the playoffs, but should also carry with it the right to host a playoff game. There is, however, momentum to add a seventh playoff team to each conference. My guess is the added playoff team happens by 2015 or ’16. I hate it. But no one asked me. Had it happened this year, here are the two extra games we’d have seen over the weeks, or perhaps tonight: Arizona at Carolina and Pittsburgh at New England.

8. I think I’ll have a mini-MMQB on Tuesday this week, because of the voluminous news week. Coming: a Saints item, interviews with Bill O’Brien and Lovie Smith, and your email.

9. I think the tough decision Dolphins owner Stephen Ross faces is this: What if he keeps Joe Philbin and Jeff Ireland, as he appears to be leaning toward doing, then finds out something ugly from the Ted Wells report? It’ll be pretty awkward to fire your coach or GM on Feb. 10.

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

a. I never met Jerry Coleman, the legendary ex-Yankee and San Diego Padres broadcaster. I wish I had. Coleman died Sunday and leaves a tremendous void in the San Diego sports scene.

b. My old buddy Mark Purdy might be the only person alive who attended the Freezer Bowl in Cincinnati 32 years ago (he wrote for the Cincinnati Enquirer then) and the Niners-Packers game Sunday (he writes for the San Jose Mercury News now). We spoke Sunday. We were on the same staff in Cincinnati; I was in Indianapolis that day, preparing to cover the Xavier-Butler basketball game at Hinkle Fieldhouse, where Xavier coach Bob Staak would be so cold in the 45-degree fridge of a building that he wore his overcoat on the bench that day. Anyway, Mark said it was significantly colder in Cincinnati for the 1982 game. “You walked outside and took your first breath and everything inside your nostrils froze,” he said. “This is really cold, but not like that.”

c. One of the cool things about working at NBC over the last eight years has been the chance to work in and around the Saturday Night Live set at Rockefeller Center. The first few years our set was the old Jeopardy studio, which was fun to me because that was my favorite game show as a kid (the Art Fleming version). Once, in my dressing room prepping for a Saturday Notre Dame halftime segment, I stepped on a Taylor Swift red dress and got a big footprint on it. I don’t believe I was supposed to do that. I was aghast. Guess that’s why they have quickie dry cleaners. This year, that studio was under construction, and so we moved over to the SNL studio for a year, a crack carpentry crew transitioning the set many weekends from Justin Timberlake to Dan Patrick in a matter of hours. Wild-card Saturday was Football Night in America‘s last day on the SNL set, and—I don’t get this way too often—I had to take a few photos to commemorate the occasion. I often wrote a few chunks of this column on an applebox under a Miley Cyrus photo.

d. My sincere thanks to Dave Goren of the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association, and all the NSSA voters, who voted me sportswriter of the year for 2013. I’m humbled and so appreciative. Thank you. 

Talk Back

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

e. Baseball writers have a tough job with this Hall of Fame voting, tougher than we have it in football. Do not envy them one bit, trying to decide if Bonds and Clemens belong.

f. Coffeenerdness: No Tom Curran/coconut coffee tales for you this week, unfortunately, but I am looking for help in this regard for coffeephiles: I need a recommendation on how to clean a veteran Krups coffeemaker that hasn’t been cleaned in over a year. Baking powder and hot water, run through a normal cycle?

g. Beernerdness: Lucky enough to try Alaskan Brewing Company’s ESB—Extra Special Bitter—on New Year’s Eve, and it was terrific. I like a hoppy, bitter beer, and this was a perfect one. Will be on the lookout for it on future Seattle trips.

h. Found out how to make Rodney Harrison and Mike Florio laugh uproariously Saturday.

The Adieu Haiku

Harbaugh kissed writers.
Gadzooks. I doubt Tom Coughlin
ever kissed Vito.

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537 comments
PubliusK
PubliusK

Hey Peter.  I was looking at your One and Done piece and thought: finally someone is talking about Peyton's playoff futility.  Then I read it.  I thought that Jack Del Rio and Mike McCoy were asking Peyton if he was a one and done guy like he has been for the majority of his playoff career.  Peyton is a freakish fantasy guy.  It is the reason why he gets the love.  His stats are amazing, the best ever.  So if we're going to look at stats, why not look at these:  12 playoff appearances (amazing) 8 years or 67% one and done (not so much) and 10 seasons where he played in 2 games or less (seeing a trend).  In the seasons where 'he' was successful and went further, it was the defense that won it, not Peyton.  In his SB year, he threw 3 TD's and 7 INT's and got bailed out.  His career playoff record is sub .500 (9-11).  In other words, he does not win unless his defense is superior.  And this one gave up more points than any other team in the AFC other than the Raiders and Browns.  Add to this the fact that the team he is playing has never lost to him in a playoff game and has given up fewer points than all but 3 other AFC teams, we are not beating up on the poor guy, we're pointing out the obvious.  Can we take back his 'Sportsman of the Year' award when he does it again?

Jon8
Jon8

I like the all the home teams except Carolina.

scuser1985
scuser1985

I don't care what anyone thinks about previous games, it's going to be the Seahawks and the Broncos on that SB field. This 2014 Super Bowl survey tells us the same too (http://questionpro.com/t/AKpfOZQkn5) Sure, 49ers and Patriots come close, but I have a feeling we'll be seeing Russell Wilson step onto that field. 

cozmikrebl
cozmikrebl

Andy Dalton gets raked over the coals throughout most of the article leading the reader to believe he was the sole reason the Bengals lost yet when it comes to the headline we get "except the BENGALS" and under "things i didn't like"  "same old BENGALS". Well, whose fault is it Dalton's or the entire team? Make up your mind.

Fran Fried
Fran Fried

Factoid of the Week That May Interest Only Me: That you used to work in the original "Jeopardy" studio. Much coolness. I started watching the show when it first aired in 1964 and I was a precocious 3-year-old tot in Brooklyn. One of my life goals is to be a five-time champ. And I'm preparing to take the online test again tomorrow night. I've been in the contestant pool three times now -- the fourth has to be the charm, right?

kissandraknight
kissandraknight

peter ... either you or bedard needs to change the name of your column. seriously. what happened to creative thought? surely mmqb isnt all there is.

scottmacnj@aol.com
scottmacnj@aol.com

BTW- can anyone tell me what the rule for Pass Interference is now, regular season or post season? At least when the rule was yo couldn't touch an eligible receiver when the ball was in the air it was clear. Now with all the pushing off (both offense and defense) "incidental contact", etc. I have no idea what the rule is and I don't think the officials do either. 

scottmacnj@aol.com
scottmacnj@aol.com

If they are using all star officials how the heck did Jeff Triplett get in?!

Serena
Serena

Dalton 3 turnovers = Goat

Luck 3 turnovers = NFL glowing over him


An the media doesn't have favourites

GregAtkin
GregAtkin

Another great PK article  but  the Fouts/train conversation is just showing off.

We get it Pete; players call you.

Never ever did Friedman of the NY times or Elsberg mention how Presidents talked to them. It's like a pilot bragging that he talked to air traffic control.

JeremyMartinM
JeremyMartinM

Agreed about Andy Reid's dumb time management. Real dumb. 

MartinPStockdale
MartinPStockdale

Hey, PK. Here's your coffee nerd answer. I just cleaned my K-Cup machine for the third time following the same process.

Fill the reservoir with water until nearly full. Leave enough room for a cup of white vinegar. After adding vinegar fill to top with water.

Now just run the water through continuously, continuing to add water for 15 or 20 times.

After the 20th time or so, change out the cup you have been using and run it one more time. Take a big sniff of the hot water. If you still smell vinegar, run some more water through it. If no vinegar smell make a cup of coffee and do the taste test. It should be fine.

Like I said, used this method three times with great success.

usurper
usurper

Gushing about Kapernick when he was pedestrian passing wise against one of the worst D's in the league and lost the game for his team with an egregious pick on the final drive...except the Packer dropped it.  He had a couple nice throws and some fine runs in an otherwise poor game.

TimLynch1978
TimLynch1978

It's funny, every opponent for the 49ers now is a revenge game for them...but the Broncos ain't getting past the Chargers.  lol  The Broncos are 1-1 against Chargers...the 49ers are 0-1 against the Panthers.


Way to spread the love dillhole.

psychsports
psychsports

The Saint-Eagles game reinforces the old cliché –that is why they play the games!

Few gave the Saints a chance in this game and actually I had my doubts (see below). But I did think that Sean Peyton, Drew Brees and the crew were going to find a way to give Kelly’s group a hard time.

I also felt that Rob Ryan who is underrated in my opinion was going to do just enough to take the edge off the Eagles game and he did that and more.

Sean Payton and crew outfoxed Kelly no one gave the Saints a chance that is why they play the games.

Read more…..

-http://psychologyofsports.com/2014/01/05/saints-eagles-brees-payton-and-ryan-sink-eagles-updated-picks/

.

psychsports
psychsports

Andy Dalton is going to be stuck with the stigma that he cannot win in the playoffs until he does so. He had another horrendous game and his team joined him. The Bengals are going home left to figure out what went wrong after a great regular season and perhaps to ponder what to do with Dalton.

You can bet that there will be a ton of stories speculating if the Chargers are a team of destiny.

http://psychologyofsports.com/2014/01/05/dalton-and-bengals-fail-again-and-fall-to-chargers-denver-charger-preview/

jooo83
jooo83

Peter king should drop political views from his column. Not sure why he or others (Michael Wilbon, Bob Costas, etc) think we are interested in the marriage between political commentary and sports commentary. 

big55ed
big55ed

Would love to see the Chargers win the SB since they got in on the Steelers dime the same way the Steelres usually get in, bad officiating.

bbc
bbc

Would be fun to watch where Chargers end up on these rankings if they manage to win the SB. I'm guessing they might be able to nudge Saints and get as high as 5.

EmmittDale
EmmittDale

Fine fifteen is stupid once the playoffs start. Just make fine whatever amount of teams are still in the playoffs.

AlainLapointe
AlainLapointe

Predictions for next weekend , home teams will lose in the AFC and win in the NFC .

liquidmuse3
liquidmuse3

sooo...Peter King just told everybody about Aaron Rodgers probable social life, admomishing you to "leave it alone"...the exact opposite of what Peter King did by bringing it up.

wwwcash
wwwcash

correction:

andrew luck dug himself a hole and andy reid dug him out of it.

onemoremile
onemoremile

The Vikings took Christian Ponder with the 12th pick the same year that Dalton and Kaepernick were drafter 35 and 26.  Yeouch!

George
George

king actually DID make one decent point this week


I was amused and slightly aggravated by some of the "muggings" of receivers by dbs - that were ignored by zebras, with enabler-commentators providing the same old lame excuse:  "it's the playoffs - let 'em play." 


I hate cheap ticky-tack chicken-yet-game-impacting  PI calls as much as the next person -

but the refs need to at least try to call *flagrant* examples of pass interference and defensive holding the same way they do during the regular season.


Or hey, just remove defensive holding and pass interference rules during the playoffs altogether.  

Equip all defensive backs & receivers with sharp close-in-fighting hand daggers and pepper spray too while we're at it - fun to watch for the whole family!!  Let 'em "play!"

:D


Starstruck
Starstruck

Good photo in this piece of the Chargers contacting Dalton as he fumbled hitting the ground. He had full control of the ball before he hit the ground. Why doesn't the rule ' The ground cannot cause a fumble' apply here? Why does the NFL make an exception for a QB vs. any other position? This is a rule that needs to be changed. Once a QB starts running, he loses the protection that is normally afforded a QB under NFL rules. So why isn't he judged under the rules of a runner and protected against a fumble clearly caused by the ground?  

canadianox
canadianox

@Serena W despite 3 picks, 4 TDs passing, one rushing TD (in one of most heads up plays I have ever seen) and 443 yds helped the glow.

KevinB2014
KevinB2014

@Serena Seriously?  Luck's 3 turnovers were balanced by an incredible comeback effort. After his first two interceptions, his next two possessions resulted in TDs. Then the third interception, followed by three more TDs.  Dalton's 3 turnovers were balanced by.....nothing.

Luck's playing next weekend.

Dalton's looking into disguises so he won't be harassed by everyone in southwestern Ohio over the next 8 months.

Anyone who knows anything about football favors Luck over Dalton. Don't blame the messenger.

blynder
blynder

@Serena 

If Dalton had won; that might be different.  That's is a pretty big IF tho

GregAtkin
GregAtkin

@usurperNot an easy pick at all but i agree with your sentiments. Lots of blatant favouritsm with PK. But i still like the guy.

MartinPStockdale
MartinPStockdale

At least Dalton leads his team to the playoffs. Chokey Romo -- not so much.

MartinPStockdale
MartinPStockdale

It's Peter King's column. If you don't like to read what he wants to write, read someone else's column.

WCoastPro
WCoastPro

@jooo83 You might be the millionth person with that view. Don't think he cares if you still you read his column.

#31DShell
#31DShell

@big55ed You MUST be from Seattle. Believe it or not, the Steelers get their full share of bad calls too. I'll take Big Ben over Jerramy Stevens any day.

jj55
jj55

@bbcWell, maybe. Do you think Peter and the rest of the East Coast media would actually mention the Chargers by name if they won, or would they simply focus on why the other team lost? 

MartinPStockdale
MartinPStockdale

Yeah, that's a pretty valid point. Maybe he should rename it each week to something like Top O'the Heap of Who's Left.

#31DShell
#31DShell

@liquidmuse3 I hadn't heard about it until he mentioned it. Resisted the momentary urge to Google it. Continuing to do so.

canadianox
canadianox

@wwwcash Andrew Luck is filthy money.......he is more money than the US prints every month. I just drank a gallon of the koolaid on Saturday and think he will put up another 40+ points on the Pats. That being said, D may give up  over 50, seems like DBs for Indy don't mind letting receivers behind them.

canadianox
canadianox

@onemoremile Brady was a 6th rounder, Alfred Morris was too, so was Antonio Brown, Terrel Davis was 6th rounder for Broncos (Elway was pleased to see him). Ponder may be better than Dalton. Arian Foster wasn't drafted. Kijana Carter went first overall. Drafting is not an exact science, if it were, parity would be insane.

canadianox
canadianox

@George I have an even better idea than King's....IMHO....call the regular season PI penalties the same as they did this weekend. There is far too much throwing it up for grabs on long passes with  sole intention of looking for P.I. penalties.....specifically Brady, P Manning and Rodgers. It is so nice when players decide the game, not the officials.

Devilsreject97
Devilsreject97

@MartinPStockdaleHad Romo not gotten hurt, I say they make the playoffs....and playing with a messed up back like he did and winning the game he played....is pretty darn impressive. I'd rather have Romo than Dalton..

George
George

@canadianox @George True - up to a point.  I get sick of (e.g.) Broncos receivers going palms up and whining after every incomplete pass where a db had the gaul to try to cover them.


But there HAS to be limits.  Otherwise I just tell my dbs "mug the $#*t out of 'em and sit on 'em" right at the line of scrimmage, or hold / smother them if they get by you.   It's a complex issue with 2 sides to it.

Starstruck
Starstruck

@UBERTAXTHERICH Looks like a touch to me, but regardless, does a RB or receiver have to be touched to negate a fumble caused by the ground? 

pmk1790
pmk1790

@Starstruck @UBERTAXTHERICH The ball was already out before he was touched and the rule doesn't apply to any runners. Its mean so if a player in the air gets hit and loses the ball upon contact with the ground. Any time a ball carrier (RB, QB, TE, WR, etc) simply loses the ball after full possession without being hit (unless he gives himself up, which a headfirst dive is not) it is going to be called a fumble. 

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