Sound Bite of the Week

“It would be as satisfying a victory as we’ve ever had to go into Denver and win this game.”

—New England quarterback Tom Brady, to WEEI in Boston.

Player You Need to Know This Weekend

Byron Maxwell, cornerback, Seattle (No. 41). The last time the Niners traveled to CenturyLink Field last September (for their second straight Pacific Northwest rout by Seattle), Colin Kaepernick was discombobulated by not having his favorite target, wideout Michael Crabtree, who was rehabbing his torn Achilles. Kaepernick threw three interceptions, no touchdowns, and had one drive all day longer than 50 yards. Now the Seahawks are down to their fourth corner, Maxwell, a sixth-round pick from Clemson who has been playing credibly since entering the lineup in early December. And San Francisco has a healthy Crabtree, so the Seahawks, as they did in the first meeting back in September, won’t be able to erase Anquan Boldin with Richard Sherman and not worry about the other wideout. Boldin and Crabtree together are as formidable a wideout duo as remain in the playoffs, and certainly more challenging, along with Vernon Davis at tight end, than Seattle faced last week in the 23-15 win over the Saints.

Richard Sherman explains why he has faith in Maxwell in his In This Corner column.

Ten Things I’ll Be Watching For This Weekend

The Seahawks will be bringing the heat to Kaepernick again in Seattle. (Robert Beck/SI)
The Seahawks will be bringing the heat to Kaepernick again in Seattle. (Robert Beck/SI)

1. Clash of styles. The old quarterbacks, Peyton Manning (37) and Tom Brady (36), playing the game the old-fashioned way—in the pocket—for the AFC title. The young quarterbacks, Colin Kaepernick (26) and Russell Wilson (25), running around for the NFC title. Strange positioning of the games. The AFC goes first. Feels like the JV game. And it might be the last big one Brady and Manning ever play.

2. Percy Harvin. After suffering a concussion last Saturday in the divisional playoff win over the Saints, Harvin hadn’t been cleared as of late Thursday to return to practice. Seattle needs a lightning-bug difference-maker against the Niners D. Stay tuned. Even if he plays, Harvin’s been so fragile you have no idea how long he’ll last.

3. Auditioners for Cleveland. One head-coaching job left, and the Browns will have their pick of the interviews whenever these games are done. (Cleveland brass can talk to the losers anytime after Sunday’s games, and the winners during the week after the games, in the winner’s town.) The hot names: Denver offensive coordinator Adam Gase and his San Francisco counterpart, Greg Roman.

4. The weather. A total non-factor from the forecasts early this morning. Denver at 1 p.m. Mountain Time: 59 degrees, 9 mph winds, zero percent chance of rain. Seattle at 3:30 p.m. Pacific Time: 50 degrees, 3 mph winds, 20 percent chance of rain. Now, about that long-range Super Bowl forecast …

More on Title Game Weekend

Richard Sherman on Seattle’s 13th Man, Byron Maxwell.


Greg Bedard on the pick play that’s become a prominent weapon for the playoff teams.


Bedard on the Patriots’ newfound run game.


Andy Benoit on how the Patriots and Broncos are turning back to man-to-man coverage.


Benoit on whether Colin Kaepernick is too eager to improvise.


Bucs quarterback Mike Glennon on how to cope with the noise at CenturyLink.


5. Legacies. I am not one to say Peyton Manning will be the 14th-best quarterback of all time if he loses this game, although there are some talk-show hosts, including one with a canine nickname with a canine-named radio channel, who would. I will watch the game first, then judge.

6. No Gronk. Seven receptions for 90 yards in the first meeting between Denver and New England for tight end Rob Gronkowski. And the possibility of no Kenbrell Thompkins or Aaron Dobson either; both played in the first meeting.

7. GM stuff. Take your time, Miami. Relax, Tampa. No hurry. No consensus on the top personnel guys this postseason.

8. The concussion lawsuit. The judge in the case, Anita Brody, is skeptical that $765 million is going to be enough to cover 65 future years of damages from players who claim the NFL was careless in warning them about the dangers of head trauma. Scores of players agree with her. Look for the plaintiffs’ side to get out its best arguments and best actuarials this weekend to prove the money’s going to be enough.

9. Johnny Manziel buzz. The draft is three months and three weeks away, but in the past week, both Gil “The Godfather of the Draft” Brandt and Mel “The Godfather of Hair” Kiper have put the 6-foot, 202-pound Texas A&M quarterback No. 1 in their first mock drafts of the season. Could it be? Could the kid who has so much in common with Brett Favre, on and off the field, shock the world and go No. 1?

10. The Nickname. A prominent Washington player, cornerback DeAngelo Hall, said this week to Mike Hill of FOX that the team “probably should” change the nickname “Redskins.” Either Hall knows he’s not going to be around long (he is a free agent in March), he doesn’t care if he’s going to be around long, or he’s very brave.

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100 comments
MoAbdula
MoAbdula

"Personally, I hope Steratore enforces what I’ve just described. On Sunday night, we should be talking football, not bush-league ranting and cheap shots ignored by the officials."

Partly right, it wasn't what was ignored, just flat out missed, or miscalled.

benoldtoys
benoldtoys

None of the numerous referee miscalls and problems this season would have occurred if the regular refs had been in there. This is what happens when you use replacement officials. Can't wait til the strike is over and the regular, wonderful NFL refs are back. 

RickHendrick
RickHendrick

I would be surprised if the refs make a single taunting call in the Seattle-S.F. game. The Niners had one taunting penalty in the 2013 season, the Seahawks none, though the players on both teams trash talk from the moment they get to the stadium. The problem is the NFL's narrow definition of what a taunting penalty is. The league needs to redefine what a taunt is, then enforce the penalty early and often in the 2014 season.

TruthSeeker12
TruthSeeker12

PK your love for the refs is only exceeded by your bias towards for the prima donna, NFL anointed teams.  How will the head ump and refs do in todays game, in a word lousy regardless of what they say.  My prediction is that they will make all calls in favor of the 49ers regardless of how fair they say they are.  NFL officials seem to have it in for Seattle for some unknown reason and that bias will show up again today.  I would be completely and pleasantly surprised if they called the game fairly and honestly and according to the rules.  Watch out Seattle you are going to get home towned by officials who "claim" to evenly and ethically apply the same rules to both teams. 

BobVanderPloeg
BobVanderPloeg

How convenient for PK to omit Tom Brady's stats from the chart.  Here they are with brackets to indicate TB's rank compared to the other qbs selected:


Playoff win/loss: 18-7 (first)

Super Bowl win/loss:  3-2 (first)

Playoff completion %age:  62 (second)

Playoff TD-Int:  45-22 (first)

Playoff QB Rating:  87.2 (second)


So "you can't tell the story of Manning in the postseason without context," but you leave out Tom Brady, the one comparative player who provides the most relevant context because they're careers are completely contemporaneous, and who provides the ultimate context of head-to-head play where he has been dominant overall (10-4), and leads in playoff contests (2-1).


Just lost so much respect for Mr. King....



Ken14
Ken14

If the OFFICIALS had done their job "right" during the regular season, Donte Whitner would have 3 less 15 yard personal fouls, (which were all reversed by the NFL) and the Seahawks would be playing in Candlestick Park, since the the Navarro Bollman hit in Drew Brees (with 3:16 left in the game) WAS a legal hit.  (The NFL "decided" to reverse Bollman's fine, but wouldn't admit is was a clean hit).  


And Mr. King is worried about a few "face to face" meetings during the game?  Cheap shots indeed.  I'm sick of hearing the game announcers say "the refs are letting them play" while the wide receivers are getting mugged in the end zones.  Throw the flags when you see an obvious penalty, otherwise stay out of the way.  BTW, Mr. King, I'm sure the Seahawks can take care of themselves without you lobbying the refs to throw some more stupid penalty flags.  Yes, this game will be "heated" and there's no love lost----it's called a RIVALRY.  Let the game be won or lost on the field of play---by the players---not a by a referee who's practicing disciplinary tactics in a high school game.  It's the Championships---let the Champion emerge by the team that plays the best on the field, and not by a questionable call by a referee.

MoeLarryAndJesus
MoeLarryAndJesus

Yes, the Washington Racialslurs should change their name.  Damn right.

Rickapolis
Rickapolis

Warn the coaches and players ahead of time. Strict calls. Ejections. This is supposed to be a sport not a rumble. If the officials do their jobs (a very BIG 'if' these days) there will be no problem.

unitcaptain11
unitcaptain11

Steratore struts around the field like a peacock. 

UnishowponyWherebeef
UnishowponyWherebeef

"Now, about that long-range Super Bowl forecast …"


Foolishness. There's no such thing as a long range weather forecast. Seven days. That's it. After seven days, forecasts are statistically worse than just using a historical average.


It's pathetic that uneducated football personae are quoting "long-range" weather forecasts.

ragnarsworld
ragnarsworld

Stop being such a limpwrist, Peter.  Let the guys play football.

kcsh18
kcsh18

PK you are a world class flipflopper:  "and called a silly unnecessary roughness penalty on Carolina safety Mike Mitchell that enabled San Francisco to kick a field goal."    Why was that a silly call?  There was zero chance Vernon Davis was going to be involved in that play, Mike Mitchell easily could have pulled up, but instead he decked an unprotected and not-looking Vernon Davis.  Don't you think allowing this hit to go unpunished would have escalated the chippiness and the thought that those unwarranted late hits on unprotected receivers were OK in that game?  Don't you preach about doing away with this conduct in the new NFL?  But you call the refs calling that penalty "silly" but also being silly for not calling a woofing and head butting penalty?  Which way do you want it PK?  How about Edelman's soccer-type pratfalls against the Ravens and the Browns and the Colts?  That conduct is deplorable and cheapens the football experience..yet who condones it and teaches it, and scouts the refs' tendencies to call it..your boy, Belichek!

Mark20
Mark20

Thanks for pointing out that the refs are important Peter. I'm sure no one who watches football understood that until you revealed it. And thanks for glorifying them, so that they will make an effort to get their mugs on TV by making more calls. Thanks.

stratdoc
stratdoc

What King missed when making the point about officials is the tripping penalty that was not called on the Pats as, on third down and four, Andrew Luck was breaking the pocket with an open field in front of him.  Obvious, but these were the Patriots at home and officials do not make that call.  If they had, the Colts were within four points of the Pats.  Punting because they foul was not called, the Pats drove for a touchdown and Luck was trying to play catchup.  So, it might be argued that the officials failure to make the call directly contributed to the Colts loss.

Jon8
Jon8

"Ever hear of Bill Schuster? Insurance man from just outside Rochester, N.Y. "


And therein lies the problem.


Not Bill Shuster the NFL Official, as he would be referred to if the NFL had full-time, dedicated, in-season Officials like the NBA, MLB and NHL.


No we have an Insurance Man, a weekend warrior, officiating NFL games.


Pathetic!

gary7
gary7

 "Either Hall knows he’s not going to be around long (he is a free agent in March), he doesn't care if he’s going to be around long, or he’s very brave"  you left out...or very stupid......idiot has a REDSKIN tat on his leg, okay everybody all at once: REDSKINS!!!!!!!!! F The Team they suck but the name is gold REDSKINS!!!!!!!

theerichoward
theerichoward

Anybody else see the irony in last year the Replacements were terrible and now the regular officials are having a horrible year? I think it's a hard job and credit the people that do it but there needs to be some minor tweaks across the board.

Puppy
Puppy

nobody  watches  the  NFL  for  the  officials , but  people  are  stopping  because  of  the  officials..(sounded  good  until  I  realized  34  out  of  the  top  35  shows  this  fall  were  NFL  games)

PhillyPenn
PhillyPenn

Ranking of QB's remaining in the playoffs:


1. Brady

2. Manning

3. Wilson

4. Kap

nuss25
nuss25

"Could the kid...shock the world and go No. 1?


There are at least 6 billion people in this world who could care less about the NFL draft so let's not get too carried away...

mjt424
mjt424

Coming from someone who follows the Broncos. No Gronkowski is a big difference from the first game to this one. He's a beast. He hurt Denver last time. No Dobson or Thompkins. I hardly think New England is lacking weapons. They have Edelman and Amendola and Blount and Ridley are looking dominant behind an offensive line that is crushing people. And that guy Brady, well, he's an animal competitor, passing surgeon, excellent leader and Hall of Fame player. The Patriots are not lacking for offfense. Can Denver slow them down and find a way to score enough points to give themselves a chance to win by a point. Going to be rough. Belichick and the Patriots have the advantage.

x72
x72

Fun Yuns & Dr Pepper

blaughead
blaughead

"Both crews are in tough spots Sunday, because there’s been far too much chatter in the press and public about the subpar year for the zebras."

Peter


NO the chatter has NOT been enough in regards to pointing out the officials incompetence, as to many games have been blatantly, poorly and inconsistently called by these officials. Perfect example of the season was the 49er TD play at the end of the first half where the official missed the hole in the turf and made the wrong call.  This was just one call, of a number of wrong, missed or ignored calls, on the day (and for the year) for both teams that never should happen.  Next question one has to ask is, did any of that crew make it to this weeks game or been placed on the SB crew when they should have been all left out after that performance last week.

.  

Since the NFL shields the officials, allows them to hide in a rabbit hole after games and not require giving complete answers, and the NFL does not publicly hold individual officials accountable, the chatter is well warranted.  When one considers how much documentation (such as your SI piece) has been provided on prep, training, scrutiny and review that is done by these officials, one is left to wonder why such poor performances with the continual officiating blunders that have cost teams games and jobs.

The officiating job is a tough, demanding, never win, and thankless position in which all involved are extremely dedicated to the Nth degree to do right, but all is lost when much larger than life egotistical attitude comes from a six figure paycheck official making poor calls that come into play weekly, rather than the integrity of the game or getting the call right.   The NBA (to me the worst of all pro other than Friday night wrestling) has seemed to somewhat address and clean up their consistency and mechanics and the NFL, while not as bad as the NBA, needs to follow in the same light of making calls that are right, better and in a consistently called format that all adherer to.


This year to many NFL fans in stadiums, living rooms, sports books or local pups were left with a lost feeling that officiating wasn't fair and that someone somewhere has it in for their team, which sad to say has been the only consistent call from the NFL and the officiating crews. 


It's an old but true line - The best officiated game, is one that talks about the game and no officiating is discussed - hard to find these days.

zonkeriah
zonkeriah

@TruthSeeker12  There is a conspiratorial bias against the team you happen to like, and everyone is on it - The NFL, the referees, Peter King, etc. Uh huh.

Merv
Merv

@BobVanderPloeg Who cares about these Dinosaurs.  The only important game tomorrow is in Seattle

lelandsaxe
lelandsaxe

@BobVanderPloeg I'm a little confused.  Wouldn't showing that Manning has had a higher completion % and QB rating than Brady in the playoffs support the case King was making?  Also, head-to-head is probably the most useless out of all possible stats you could utilize to compare QB performance.  This isn't tennis.

Ken14
Ken14

Correction:  I meant the Ahmad Brooks hit on Brees, not Bollman.

Merv
Merv

@Ken14 Don't forget that the 49ers would have lost to the Seahawks at Candlestick because of a very obvious and uncalled tackle on the Seattle linebacker during Frank Gore's 51 yard run.

ragnarsworld
ragnarsworld

@MoeLarryAndJesusAs a native american, I'm not offended by the name.  I'm offended by a government that spends money it doesn't have, spies on its citizens without cause, and continues to make war in countries where we have no hope of succeeding.

zonkeriah
zonkeriah

@Mark20 Yep, PK has completely destroyed the integrity of the games this week with this article. Might as well just cancel them and call it a season. 

Charles38
Charles38

The NBA  82 games..NHL 82 games .. MLB  162 games  NFL 16(sixteen).  games.  What are the NFL men going to do in their spare time,write books??  MLB had one of the biggest blunders in sports history on the Galarragas blown call at first base costing him a perfect game  How much would you pay these"full time officials", by the games, by the week, by the year for 16 days regular season games


MoeLarryAndJesus
MoeLarryAndJesus

@gary7The name is gold to vapid, worthless bigots.


Decent people would toss it in the trash in a heartbeat.

Merv
Merv

@theerichoward Full time officials.  Let's make it a career instead of a hobby.

FranklinMint
FranklinMint

@Puppy Exactly. All those claiming they're not watching due to the officials must mean they're just closing their eyes with the TV still on, because it's certainly not being reflected in the numbers in any way.

Merv
Merv

@theerichoward Someone on FOX,  I don't listen so don't have a clue.  I hate it when people try to tell you some gossip but then try and be obtuse about it so the name can't be pinned to them.

BY
BY

@blaughead I would argue that your quote about the best officiated game is the result of two teams that play cleanly. I personally hate the "let the players decide it" when teams foul the snot out of each other....the referees ARE deciding that game by not calling penalties.

tonym
tonym

Yeah, and remember, the niners should be going to the Super Bowl, because of all the no call on the obvious holds the Seahawks were getting away with. The refs were so into giving this game to the hawks, that on the second intentional grounding by Russell, because they didn't call the first one, it took everyone in the niner sideline to show the refs how obvious it was, that they finally threw the flag for it. The refs played as the 12th man for the cheaphawks. Go broncos. The cheaphawks won't have "their" refs in the Super Bowl.

Ken14
Ken14

@Merv @Ken14 I must have missed this "very obvious" play, along with the part time referees.

Jon8
Jon8

@Charles38


Typical myopic view!


They do what every single team in the NFL does during the week, PREPARE!


How do you pay them? By salary, just like every coach, player and front office person is paid in the NFL!

luvfoozball
luvfoozball

@FranklinMint @Puppy Either ways. The officials doing a crappy job consistently is not good for the long term health of the game. Do you really expect that ratings will immediately start going down like they have fallen of the cliff?

Sportsfan18
Sportsfan18

@BargainTuesday @PhillyPenn   I'm NOT a fan of either Wilson or Kap but here is some info on Wilson in his two seasons so far.


A 100 or higher QB rating each of his two seasons with a career rating of 100.6 right now.


Kap's career rating right now is 93.8


Wilson career completion % is 63.6  Kap's is 59.8


Wilson 52 TD's to 19 INT's so far in his career


Kap 31 TD's to 11 INT's so far (fewer games yes)


Kap's lead in rushing isn't by much.  Kap 6.0 average per rush and Wilson is at 5.4 yards per rush


They are BOTH very good young QB's and they were both lucky to come into the league on good teams.


I'm NOT saying Wilson is better than Kap but it is certainly possible to make a case or justify putting him above Kap.



blaughead
blaughead

@BY@blaugheadBY it's not the point of letting the player decide the game or refs not calling the penalties, its that the game is called right for both side no matter who's affected by the call and both teams can't say a call changed the game undeservedly and gave one team an advantage.  

If the first thing talked about after a game is over is the players/game plan/plays/coaching, not the officiating, that to me means it was a well officiated game, as no calls stand out as being controversial.  

Human error will always be a factor and calls will get missed or are wrong, just never want to see it be the major difference in a game when it should be play of both teams.

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