Let’s start with a story that took place two weeks ago. It was the first week of the 2012 NFL season and I found myself in quite the dilemma.
Do I spend $55 on the NFL Redzone or do I suck it up and stream it online for free? Now keep in mind I’m a recent graduate of college, who is currently working in a retail store to pay rent for a tiny studio apartment that is being shared with my girlfriend. It was the classic need vs. want debate.
Want never wins.
I decided that I would just take the chance and stream the Redzone channel online, along with the rest of the games that I wanted to see this season. If I really wanted to see the out of market games in HD (I live in central jersey in the NY market) I could make my way 500 yards to a bar. Thing is I actually like hearing what the commentators have to say (and that includes Brian Billick). I don’t like listening to bar referees for three hours.
Fast forward to this morning, I clicked onto the Redzone channel by accident and instead of seeing the $55/yr screen I saw a countdown screen. It read 1:30 until Redzone beings…
Can I send someone a thank you card? Is this Rodger Goodell making up for how bad the replacement officials were last week?
I yelled over to my girlfriend that someone had ordered the Redzone upstairs, or Verizon changed what monthly package is required in order to get the best alternative to Sunday Ticket. (She could’ve cared less (and has to think I’m some type of nut (hopefully a cashew), but to me it was like a really early Christmas gift.)
Santa couldn’t have picked a better day to deliver that early gift.
Without Scott Hanson directing me from game to game I would have missed three overtime games, three major upsets, one of those being a definite game of the year candidate, a hail mary, Sanchez throwing a ball off of Tebow’s head (actually didn’t need the Redzone for that, but I had to mention it), Kevin Olgetree slipping on an official’s hat in the end zone during a play, and Schiano once again deploying his victory formation defense.
And that was just in the early afternoon games.
It’s going to be really difficult to top all of the action that took place somewhere around an hour and a half of real time, but that’s why millions (and millions!) of fans are addicted to this sport.
Here are my thoughts on week 3 of the 2012 NFL season:
The Kids Are Alright. Before this season started, one stat that really jumped off of the page at me was the amount of starting quarterbacks at the age of 25 and under. Thirteen of the thirty-two NFL starters fall into this category.
Week three was a coming out party for some of the sophomores that were once overlooked due to the super rookie class of 2012.
Christian Ponder – The passing stats won’t overwhelm you (21-35, 198 yds, 2 TDs), but that’s why stats only tell part of the story. Ponder led the Vikings to a win in a game that only Rob Riggle on FOX predicted correctly.
The Vikings’ first round draft choice from a year ago scored his first career rushing touchdown against a defense that last year didn’t allow a rushing touchdown until week 16. You would think that would be the highlight of the day and it was, but it doesn’t tell the story of the game.
Ponder’s confidence and poise against a team that many (including myself in this same column last week) regarded as the best in all of professional football was off the charts. Sometimes you can just tell by body language that a person believes that they belong in this league and on Sunday Ponder proved that maybe the Vikings weren’t crazy for taking him with their 12th overall pick last April.
Will this win stop the Matt Barkley to Minnesota train?
Andrew Luck – What is there more to say about this kid? He’s going to be really, really, good. It’s impossible to say that any young prospect is going to be great, but I think Luck could be great. Did that make any sense?
Luck has already registered two 300+ yard games and one game winning drive this season. He led what looked like another game winning drive today before another young quarterback intervined…
Blane Gabbert – Yes Maurice Jones-Drew deserves the game ball for his performance in the third game since his summer long holdout (28 carries, 177 yds, 1 touchdown), but this is the second out of three games in which the 2nd year quarterback out of Missouri has looked like a different person than the happy feet player we saw last season.
For the second time this season he found his favorite late game target, Cecil Shorts III. In week one against the Vikings Gabbert fired a beautiful pass to Shorts with under a minute remaining, this time Gabbert found Shorts on a 10 yard slant route and Cecil did the rest taking it 70 more yards to the house, ball game 22-17.
If you took the name and number off of his jersey and showed it to someone who hasn’t seen a Jaguars game this season, I think 8 out of 10 of those people would guess that someone besides Gabbert is playing under center for Jacksonville.
Jake Locker – Here’s another flashback to last week’s column just to prove how much can change in the NFL in seven days. I stated that the Titans were the worst team in football. Period.
Throughout the week I asked a couple of my friends a rhetorical question of why Jake Locker was still starting for the Titans. I know understand why.
Sure the Lions secondary will give every QB including Brandon Weeden confidence, but it was Locker’s much talked about, but never seen athletic ability that was most striking.
For the second straight week Locker out gained Chris “the enigma without an engine” Johnson (Locker 35yds, Johnson 24) and almost threw for more yards (378) than he did in weeks one and two combined (408).
This game will forever be remembered as the Shawn Hill hail mary game and the game in which Nate Washington had the best catch of his life (and of the year), but don’t be surprised if Locker uses this game as a springboard for the rest of the season.
If only Chris Johnson could say the same.
Andy Dalton – In a game that once looked like it was going to be a rout (score in the 2nd quarter 24-7), Andy Dalton found himself in a tied game with the most dangerous rookie in the history of the league with all of the momentum. How did Dalton respond?
Two scoring drives that resulted with touchdowns (the second one was all Andrew Hawkins) and those 14 points ended up being enough of a cushion for the Bengals to spoil RGIII’s home opener.
Holy Overtime Batman! Someone owes a drink to the producer of the NFL’s Redzone channel after how well he/she (or they, could be an alien) handled switching back and forth between not one, not two, one shot ain’t enough Jack you better make it three overtime games from the nine 1 0’clock games.
Each game told very different stories:
The battle of two teams that know just how deadly an 0-3 start can be. How deadly is it you ask?
After blowing a 24-6 lead, in the third quarter, at home! The Saints now have a whopping 2.8 percent chance of making the playoffs. Only five teams since the 1970 season have made the playoffs after starting 0-3.
The Saints offense can legitimately point their collective middle finger at the defense for attempting to and ultimately failing at tackling Jamaal Charles (for all we know they could still be searching for him in the Superdome). Charles finished with numbers that even a person who knows how to run an unstoppable play in Madden with him won’t be able to recreate:
33 carries, 233 yds, 1 TD and 6 catches for 55 yards.
That’s over 31 points in a standard fantasy scoring league (in mine it was 70 which has to be a record).
In a league that has become more and more tilted towards the areal game, Charles single handily won this game with his legs.
What didn’t happen in this game? In 60 game minutes and more than half of a 15 minute overtime period there was:
- A music city miracle like lateral, only ran on the reverse side of the field.
- A kickoff return by the same player who threw the lateral pass (Darius Reynaud)
- A perfectly executed onside kick.
- A successful hail mary thrown by a backup quarterback.
- A do or die fourth and one play call that apparently wasn’t supposed to be a play at all.
After the game Lions coach Jim Schwartz said that he only brought out his offense to try and draw the Titans offsides, but the center Dominic Raiola didn’t realize that the ball wasn’t supposed to be snapped. Backup QB Shawn Hill fumbled the ball and recovered it short of the first down line.
This ridiculous catch from Nate Washington also happened, it doubles as my Play Of The Day:
Here’s a random story that somehow found significance on Sunday. Last Friday I was over at a friends’ house drinking a couple beers with the NFL Network on in the background. Their AFC Playbook show was previewing all of the upcoming games for week three and the New York-Miami game was selected as the EA Sports simulation of the week.
The score of the simulation was Dolphins 23-20 in overtime.
The score of the real game was Jets 23-20 in overtime and that was after Dan Carpenter missed a 41 yard field goal to win the game in the extra frame.
If the simulation included a Marc Sanchez pass off of Tim Tebow’s head we should just stop playing the games on Sundays and simulate the season using Madden 13.
Tweet/stat of the week
“Bengals WR Mohamed Sanu tossed a TD today. Romo, Vick, and Rivers failed to do the same.”
Here’s the play Mr.Sticks was talking about:
You know what time it is,
No Huddle Time!
- If the Bears had played any one else besides the Rams would they have lost today?
- I agree with what Cris Carter said on Sunday Countdown about the Bears, you can’t be successful if the locker room is blaming each other. It’s a recipe for disaster.
- How did the Eagles manage to scrape Michael Vick up off of the turf?
- Did the same crew come to Baltimore and scrape up Deion Branch off of M&T Bank Field?
- It’s a shame that the two leading rushers going into today (CJ Spiller and Reggie Bush) both went down with injuries in the matter of five minutes of each other.
- Did anyone notice the triple parenthesis I used in the opening section?
- What a weekend for Rutgers.
- Beat Arkansas on the road.
- Ranked for the first time in six years (23 in the AP poll).
- All week Greg Schiano has been in the center of a huge debate.
- A Yahoo! Sports article stating that he was a bully to NFL scouts was printed.
- That article was then validated to me by a friend who used to work on the RU football team.
- The same friend told me last year that Sanu had the best arm on the team.
- He threw a perfect 48 yard spiral to AJ Green for a touchdown on the opening play.
- I’d say that’s a reliable friend.
- How much is Joe Mays going to get fined for his hit on Matt Schuab?
- Isn’t it crazy that the hit was probably the third most violent of the day.
- I was seriously worried about Darius Heyward-Bay.
- Hey remember when the Panthers were a trendy wild card pick?
- Remember when Cam Newton wanted to be in post game press conferences?
- Thank you Andre Brown.
- Thanks to you I’m no longer winless in my fantasy football league.
- I toasted my Bud Lights to you on Thursday.
- Are the Chargers the Eagles of the West?
Time for a new section in the column thanks to a comment on facebook by my friend Marc.
What We Learned Today.
1.) We learned that Matt Schuab still has the ability to throw the ball and throw it a long ways. He found Andre Johnson for 60 yards in the first quarter (how could you leave Andre open Denver?) and then found Kevin Walter for a 52 yard touchdown in the second (I understand how you could leave Walter open). Schuab finished with 290 yards and four touchdowns on 17 completions.
2.) We learned that Peyton Manning can still throw the ball over 20 yards. Manning did all he could to bring the Broncos back from a 20 point deficit in the fourth quarter and in the process proved that he can still throw the ball in a spiral down the field. He found his old Indianapolis buddy Brandon Stokley for a 38 yard touchdown.
After watching that throw I wondered to myself, was the thin air of Mile High Stadium a selling point in Manning choosing Denver?
3.) We learned that with these replacement officials you can play an old school NFL game like the Patriots-Ravens did on Sunday night. The physicality of the game was something that you would typically find when the Steelers are in town. What a game, even with the bad calls it was fantastic to watch.
We also learned that Baltimore knows how to chant the word Bullshit in perfect unison.
4.) We learned that the Cardinals defense is for real and the Eagles offensive line is not. Karl Malone Jr. was beat throughout the day and was a big reason why Vick took such a pounding. Arizona took away every deep route that the Eagles receivers tried to run causing Vick to stand in the pocket for way to long. He was a piece of meat that the Cardinals pecked at all day (Do Cardinals eat meat?). The Cards are who we thought they were!
We also learned that the Eagles may never run the ball in the first half again. LeSean McCoy touched the ball just four times in the first half. Did Marty Mornhinwig learn nothing from week two against Baltimore? When you establish the run, or at least try to, your passing lanes open up.
5.) We learned that the Cowboys defense is legit. If you were to put the 2011 ‘boys defense in Sunday’s game against the Bucs, Tampa would have left Dallas with a W. Instead the Cowboys held Josh Freeman to 10 completions for 110 yards and a touchdown that occurred on the first drive of the game.
We also learned that coach Schiano will continue to deploy his victory formation defense throughout the season.
6.) We learned that Vikings head coach Leslie Frazer wasn’t kidding when he said that Adrian Peterson was going to get more carries. All-Day finished the day with 25 carries for 86 tough yards against the best run defense in the league.
I couldn’t end the column without mentioning the passing of NFL Films founder Steve Sabol. What he did for the way that we watch and hear not only football, but all sports is something that will never be forgotten.
Back about 12 years ago my Dad was setting up to do an antique toy convention in Atlantic City. On the Friday before the show a smaller man came up to his table and said he was interested in a table football game from the 70s. My Dad looked over and couldn’t put his name to his face, but it was sitting on the tip of his tongue.
“Do you know who I am?” the man asked my father.
“I do, but I can’t remember your name. You’re the host of NFL Films.” My Dad said.
“So you do know who I am.” The man said.
The smaller man was indeed Steve Sabol. He asked my dad how much for the vintage football game, my Dad responded that instead of selling it he would give it to Mr. Sabol on one condition.
“Put it in the background during one of your opening segments.”
“I promise I will.”
My Dad and I watched NFL Films on ESPN for the next couple of years hoping that we would see the game in the background, we never did, but after hearing the outpouring of respect for the man Steve Sabol was, I know that he put that game in the background of an opening segment.
BALTIMORE DOESN’T MISS BILLY CUNDIFF!