Tuesday, February 3, 2015

9 comments MMQB Review: The Greatest Super Bowl Ever Until The Next Closely Contested Super Bowl is the Greatest Super Bowl Ever Edition

Peter King gave his readers vocabulary lessons in last week's MMQB. He also gave a few thoughts about the NBA season, all while stating that he knows nothing about the NBA and doesn't really watch professional basketball much. Peter was also upset at Marshawn Lynch for grabbing his crotch (Lynch grabbed his own crotch, not Peter's crotch...though it would be interesting if Lynch did grab Peter's crotch instead of his own), while enjoying a few good jokes about balls. This week Peter talks about the exciting Super Bowl that took EVERYONE'S breath away ("we" didn't know that would happen!), talks about the Pro Football Hall of Fame inductees, and sort of screws up his "Goat of the Week" again. A little bit. He blames one person when there are probably two or more people to blame. Russell Wilson seems to be off the hook for throwing the pass in the first place, which I'm not sure should be the case. Still the play call was bad, but I blame Wilson for 25% of the interception since he threw the ball.

Pacific Northwest: What are we doing throwing at the 1 with three shots to let Marshawn Lynch win the game?!

Exactly. Just an absurd play call. I thought the Patriots were going to let the Seahawks score so they could get the ball back to Brady.

New England: Great play by a guy we never heard of!

I had heard of Butler, so I imagine Patriots fans had heard of him too. Just because Peter King had not heard of Butler doesn't mean no one else had heard of him. Though assuming because he had not heard of Butler then no one else had either, and using "we" in making this statement, is typical Peter King.

The Super Bowl That Took Our Breath Away has a good ring to it.

Actually it doesn't because it sounds like a bad 80's song.

What happened there is the essence of what Bill Belichick is as a coach.

As Belichick spoke, offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels took his blue Sharpie and wrote two things on the top of his laminated play-call sheet he’d carry with him on the sideline in Super Bowl XLIX. Whenever McDaniels looked down at the sheet, he’d see these two bold reminders:



Said McDaniels: “What Bill said was, ‘This game is no different than any other one. It’s a 60-minute football game, and whatever issues we have, let’s make sure we correct them, coach them, and fix them. That’s our job.’

John Fox doesn't understand what you are talking about. Adjust? You mean, "Do the same thing you have done all season and refuse to double or put your best corner on the other team's best wide receiver if he is killing you?"

Example two saved the game for New England. Of that there is no doubt. Adjust. Correct problems and get them fixed. Early in the third quarter, with the Patriots getting abused by the size of out-of-nowhere Seahawks rookie receiver Chris Matthews, another undrafted rookie, cornerback Malcolm Butler from the University of West Alabama began playing in the nickel. Butler got the nickname “Scrap” for being a scrappy player in mini-camp, not backing down. The coaches liked him because when they’d quiz players about assignments, they could tell he’d been studying tape and knew how to anticipate what was coming.

That's probably because undrafted players work harder than highly-drafted glory boys. Obviously.

The Seahawks spread their formation at the one, despite having an Earl Campbell type of bruising runner, Marshawn Lynch, plus one timeout, on their side. “I knew they were going to throw it,” said Butler. “From preparation, I remembered the formation they were in and I knew they were doing a pick route.”

Well, Wilson didn't have to throw the ball on the pick route, but I guess that's a discussion for later in this MMQB Review. It's amazing how film study pays off. It's nice to read about NFL players that watch film and learn from it, rather than my favorite team sometimes looking like they haven't ever seen a forward pass before, much less a forward pass with this crazy formation.

Kearse was supposed to pick the corner trying to stay with Lockette. Wilson threw. Butler burst through the poor pick and made an easy catch.

I know the Seahawks were trying to stay away from Revis, but to expect Kearse to pick a big, physical corner like Brandon Browner? I don't know, that seems like not the best strategy either. Browner makes some bone-headed plays in the secondary, but he's big and physical.

Butler was shellshocked by it all, standing by his locker after the game, and Patriots PR czar Stacey James was explaining to him how his life was about to change, and suddenly owner Robert Kraft appeared. The shock in Butler’s face was precious.

It was precious. Not precocious, but precious. Peter has replaced the word he loves to use that gives grown men child-like qualities and replaced it with a word that gives grown men cute, child-like qualities. He just can't help himself. Butler looked so precious that Peter just wanted to lick him. He's not sure why, but Peter just wanted to lick Butler's face because of the preciousness that was radiating from him. Butler was like a new mother radiating love, lying in wait for her child to be handed to her for the first time, except the baby is Robert Kraft in this situation and Butler is the mother. Precious AND precocious.

“Mr. Kraft would like a photo of you with him and the Lombardi Trophy,” someone said, and Butler, in his skivvies and game T-shirt, trying to comprehend what was happening, sheepishly stood next to Kraft and smiled for the cameras.

Oh yes, Butler was in his skivvies and looking precious. Peter noticed both because he was leering at Butler for a full five minutes, just wondering what child-like quality to assign him during this moment so that Peter could close his eyes and remember this image for the rest of his life.

Now for the sandpaper to the cheek to all you 12s, the newest and most fervent and suddenly loyal fan base in the country.
That was the dumbest big play-call in Super Bowl history.

Maybe Wilson shouldn’t have thrown it.

Maybe. Very debatable. I was initially blaming Wilson for 50% of the interception since he threw the ball. Then I saw this angle of what he was looking at...

A few things about that picture:

1. It's easy to second-guess based on a still picture hours after the play has occurred. So I feel silly analyzing a play that happened so quickly. Yet, I will continue to analyze.

2. I still think Wilson shouldn't have thrown the ball, but I completely understand why he did throw it. Please remember that Wilson is a professional quarterback. This is what he does for a living. To me, Lockette looks open, but Wilson has thrown this pass many times in practice and in games. He does know and should know how much time he has to sneak that ball in to the receiver.

3. Notice in that picture that Butler has already made a break on the ball and it's still in Wilson's hand. Butler is closer to the goal line than Lockette is and as Lockette continues his route toward the end zone, Butler will also get closer to the point where the ball is being thrown, so it's going to be a close completion.

4. Given the terribleness of the play call, as a professional quarterback I don't know if I still throw this ball with all that's at stake. If I do and given Butler is breaking on the ball, I would lead Lockette a bit less to where the ball went more into his body and he is the only person who can catch the pass. A throw more into Lockette's body could have shielded the ball from Butler. Here is another idea. See that wide open space in the middle where the Pats safety is standing at the "A" in Seahawks? Use that area to your advantage, rather than throw the slant to where it's a contested ball. This would cut the route off a bit, but Lockette probably could have straightened the route out just a bit seeing the open end zone he had in front of him, knowing there was a Pats defender right behind Browner who is supposed to have been picked. So if Lockette and Wilson get on the same page to straighten the route out a bit to avoid the traffic (and there are no linebackers in the middle of the field) or Wilson threw the ball more into Lockette's body, then it looks like a touchdown.

5. So my point is I don't blame Wilson as much as I did. But in a situation like this, that will be a close completion and Russell Wilson knows that. He's a professional, he knows how much time he has even if Butler doesn't jump the route. Given the fact the play was for a Super Bowl victory, I think Wilson had to know he would want to have Lockette straighten out his route slightly more while leading Lockette more to the left (Lockette's right) with the pass to take Butler out of the play completely (though the pass may have Lockette slightly short of the goal line and Brown could have tackled Lockette short of the goal line), throw the ball more into Lockette's body while not changing the route at all, or if there is any chance of an interception, just throw the ball away. He needed to be super-careful and he wasn't. I may have thrown the pass, but I'm also not a professional quarterback who has practiced this route repeatedly. From that picture, it's clear Wilson has a clear view of Butler and Lockette, so he knew he was throwing it into some traffic. It's 25%-30% his fault (and those are EXACT percentages).

6. Serious question. IF Wilson didn't see Butler, could it be possible that's because he's under six feet tall and had issues seeing over the linemen in that situation? 

Maybe he should have thrown it out of the end zone. But I’m not blaming Wilson for the play. It wasn’t an audible.

I wouldn't expect you to blame Wilson at all. After all, he gets the credit for great passes, why should he be blamed for a bad pass that he didn't HAVE to make? The play call was bad, but Wilson didn't have to throw the ball. If he didn't like what he saw, he could have had it in his mind to run right, scramble and make something out of nothing. He's very, very good at that type of thing.

The play came from the sidelines, from offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell. Though coach Pete Carroll took the blame afterward, it’s not his call, and it sounded very much like Carroll falling on his sword for a coach on his staff. Whatever, this was a play you simply do not call.

Look, I get it. It was a bad play call. But don't act like Wilson is a robot who has to do exactly everything he's told. He freelances all the time. I don't want Wilson to take all the blame, but at least point the finger at him a bit. Don't spare him because you like him.

New England didn’t call timeout. Belichick is brilliant, and I’m sure he had his reasons. (He said he’d have called time if the Seahawks had run the next play and not scored, but by then, with 20 seconds left, there wouldn’t have been enough time left to do anything fruitful if Seattle scored.) But I think that’s a huge mistake. If New England calls time there, and Seattle scores on the next play, the Patriots get the ball back, down 31-28, with about 50 seconds left. That’s far preferable to getting it back down 31-28 with two timeouts and, say, 18 seconds left.

I didn't understand that either. I thought the Patriots should have let the Seahawks score on first down or called timeout in that spot. It was an odd decision. If the Patriots were going to let the Seahawks score, they should have done so. If the Patriots were going to try and prevent a TD then they should have called timeout after first down just in case the Seahawks did score a TD. If they are digging in, at least give the offense more time if things go wrong.

One Patriot told me a couple of things that made sense. He thought Belichick bypassed the the timeout because the coach was comfortable defensively—as comfortable as he could be with who was on the field trying to stop Lynch—and that a timeout would have given Seattle a chance to stop and consider different plays, and why give the enemy more time to think?

I mean, yeah, that is the only reason I could think of. On the same line of thought, the Seahawks weren't exactly hurrying to the line and had plenty of time to think of different plays while the game clock ticked down.

Carroll’s explanation:

“We sent in our personnel. They sent in goal-line [defense]. It’s not the right matchup for us to run the football, so on second down we throw the ball really to kind of waste that play.

I've got so many things to say about this. It's not the right matchup to run the ball? Pete Carroll is going to let the opposing team dictate when the Seahawks run the ball? When did this start? He's never worried about it before. Also, they were going to throw the ball and waste that play? Just waste a fucking play? This just strengthens my argument Wilson should have thrown the ball away. If he knows it's a wasted play, he needs to tuck the ball down or throw it out of the end zone if he doesn't see exactly what he wants to see.

If we score we do, if we don’t, then we’ll run it in on third and fourth down. Really, with no second thoughts or no hesitation in that at all.

This is a dumbass explanation. What if the Patriots have their goal-line defense in at that point? What to do then? Why is Pete Carroll letting the defense dictate his offensive strategy and take away his best offensive weapon?

And unfortunately, with the play that we tried to execute, [Butler] makes a great play and jumps in front of the route and makes an incredible play that nobody would ever think he could do. And unfortunately that changes the whole outcome.

If Wilson knew the second down throw was a wasted play, his pass makes even less sense. If he didn't know it was a wasted play, then perhaps someone should have told him.

Of course, Bill Belichick is comfortable in close games. It’s the one thing I’ve always noticed about him.

The Seahawks played close games all the time over the past two seasons. They are used to close games, but this one just didn't turn out their way. Peter has ALWAYS noticed Belichick likes close games. "We" didn't notice, but Peter did. Now Peter is trying to push a "the Patriots and Belichick are used to close games" narrative like this isn't true for the Seahawks as well.

Check out the scores of the six New England Super Bowls in the Belichick/Brady Era:

Super Bowl 36: Patriots 20, Rams 17.  
Super Bowl 38: Patriots 32, Panthers 29. (NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!)
Super Bowl 39: Patriots 24, Eagles 21.
Super Bowl 42: Giants 17, Patriots 14.
Super Bowl 46: Giants 21, Patriots 17.
Super Bowl 49: Patriots 28, Seahawks 24.

But think about it: The Patriots are two miracle Giant passing plays—the David Tyree Velcro catch seven years ago, and the Eli Manning-to-Mario Manningham miracle completion three years ago—from a 6-0 Super Bowl record in a 14-year span … and being the greatest team since the AFL-NFL merger in 1970.

They are also a completed pass and two missed field goals away from potentially being 1-5 in the Super Bowl. What's your fucking point? It goes both ways.

“Even though we were behind in the fourth quarter,” McDaniels said, “we didn’t want to start abandoning the game plan, because you really can’t. They don’t allow you to do that. So I thought it took a lot of poise for our guys to understand, ‘Look, it’s not going to happen on four plays against these guys. We’re going to need a 12-play drive, or an 11-play drive, we’re going to have to convert some third downs and that was really the feeling on the sideline. It was stay with what we’ve talked about the last two weeks: patience and poise. We knew it was going to be an execution game. And it was! Meaning you have to catch a six-yard catch, get tackled, get up, do it again.

Then possibly skip the concussion protocol, get back in the game, try to figure out where the hell you are, and then catch the game-winning touchdown pass.

And then the Patriots agonized over the fluky but great Kearse catch while on the ground (“David Tyree on steroids,” Jonathan Kraft called it), and waited for someone to make a play, which Butler did.

If the Patriots had lost the game on that fluky catch by Jermaine Kearse I may have had to tap out reading a Bill Simmons column forever. He would have been absolutely insufferable with his whining and bitching about how the Patriots were three fluky plays (two fluky plays in reality and both of them didn't decide the game any more than the eventual game-winning touchdown really decided the game) away from being 6-0 in the Super Bowl, while forgetting John Kasay spotted the Patriots 20 yards in Super Bowl 38 by kicking the ball out of bounds. Because that wasn't fluky and happens all the time in the Super Bowl.

In the 49-season Super Bowl era, only one other coach-quarterback combination (Chuck Noll/Terry Bradshaw) has won four. Next opening night—Sept. 10, 2015, at Gillette Stadium—Belichick will be 63 and Brady 38, and the press box wags will say the Patriots are too old to repeat. “Age is a number,” Brady will say about 64 times between now and then. Sunday night in the desert, he and Belichick proved they’re not done yet.

Well, damn. Peter has that narrative all written out now doesn't he? He knows what "the press box wags" will say and he knows what Brady will say in response. What's weird is how Peter doesn't mention he is one of those "press box wags" that started to write the Patriots off earlier in the year.

I had a strange moment Saturday in an upstairs ballroom at the Phoenix Convention Center, site of the voting for the 53rd class of the Hall of Fame.

You called a grown man precocious and he punched you? You stared at someone so long in public that you forgot where you were?

The list of 10: Jerome Bettis, Tim Brown, Tony Dungy, Kevin Greene, Charles Haley, Marvin Harrison, Orlando Pace, Junior Seau, Will Shields, Kurt Warner. 

I marked an X next to Bettis, Haley, Seau and Shields. Now I was stuck. Dungy and Pace were worthy, in my mind.

It's ridiculous to me that Bettis gets a vote over Orlando Pace and Marvin Harrison on anyone's ballot. That's a benefit of Jerome Bettis being all smiles and friendly with the media. He gets an honor he possibly should have received, but received the honor before others who I believe to be more deserving.

But as I winnowed, I found myself in a three-way mental tie for the fifth X: Brown, Greene and Harrison.

Few things are more exciting than to be in the mind of an Pro Football Hall of Fame voter. I like how Peter states he doesn't want to take his readers through the play-by-play of the Super Bowl, but he doesn't mind taking his readers through the play-by-play of his Hall of Fame vote.

I'll spare you the play-by-play. Greene is underappreciated, Harrison is the better receiver with the better quarterback throwing him the ball, but he didn't have the diverse skill set that Tim Brown had. That's about it.

I really wanted Greene in. I absolutely thought Brown was deserving. I marked the X next to Harrison. I just thought he was a better receiver by the eye test. But not by much. I folded the ballot, handed it to the auditor and sat back in my chair. Felt like I’d just run three miles.

Yes, being one of 46 people to have the privilege of voting for the Pro Football Hall of Fame is such a chore. Peter's diamond shoes are too tight and his wallet can't fit all of his $50 bills in it.

Some of my takeaways from the vote:

Good. Some of Peter's thoughts. We hardly get these in MMQB every week. 

I would have voted yes on 12 of the 15 modern-era candidates had they made it to the final five. Many in the room feel the same way. So it’s not that “we don’t think player X is a Hall of Famer.” It’s that we can only put in five per season, plus the three Seniors and Contributors.

I personally think this should be changed. I know the Hall of Fame is for elite football players only, but to only be able to elect five players seems like a small number to me, especially given they can elect three Senior and Contributors every year.

This was a cleanup year to me, with four new members (Charles Haley, Tim Brown, Jerome Bettis, Will Shields) who’d waited a combined 26 years for entry … Marvin Harrison is upset about missing for the second straight year, and I get it. It’s not going to get easier, either, with Terrell Owens, Hines Ward and Randy Moss joining Isaac Bruce and Torry Holt on the waiting list in the coming years

Yet another reason why there should be more than five candidates who can make it into the Hall of Fame in a given year. Players who deserve induction are going to have to wait or end up clogged in the pipeline waiting for their induction. I can't wait for Hines Ward to make it over Marvin Harrison. Hines is so friendly with the media and is a part of the media. He'll definitely make it and I'm sure some shit about "he was a great blocker" will be mentioned repeatedly.

The leading candidates to be finalists for future Hall of Fame classes:

2016: Brett Favre, Terrell Owens, Alan Faneca, Darren Sharper. 

2017: LaDainian Tomlinson, Brian Dawkins, Donovan McNabb, Jason Taylor, Hines Ward, Matt Light, Derrick Mason, Joey Porter. 

2018: Ray Lewis, Randy Moss, Ronde Barber, Steve Hutchinson, Brian Urlacher, Donald Driver, Jeff Saturday.

2019: Tony Gonzalez, Ed Reed, Champ Bailey.

Players are going to get jammed up in the Hall of Fame pipeline. I claim to be a Hall of Fame snob, but the way the Pro Football Hall of Fame does the voting they are testing my claim. I don't think the Pro Football Hall of Fame should just elect decent players, which is what I would characterize most of these names listed as, but I think Marvin Harrison should be in. If he smiled a lot and was from Detroit maybe he would be in this year.

Armen Keteyian has an eye-opening interview with NFL executive vice president of football operations Troy Vincent on Showtime’s “60 Minutes Sports” show that airs Tuesday night.

Two things surprised me the most. Vincent admitted it was Colts GM Ryan Grigson who turned in the Patriots for the suspected underinflated football.

Ah, so Grigson was the snitch? Maybe he's still salty about spending first round picks on Trent Richardson and Bjoern Werner.

And there was this exchange with Keteyian that, quite frankly, makes Vincent look just terrible, regarding the exhaustive investigation of the Ray Rice case by former FBI director Robert Mueller:

Keteyian: “Did you read the Mueller report?” Vincent: “No sir.” 

Keteyian: “You did not?”

Vincent: “No sir.”

Keteyian: “And as the head of game operations in your position, why not?”

Vincent: “The crime had already been committed … There was a ton of public speculation at the time what we did, what we didn’t do. We acknowledge we made a mistake. We didn’t apply the proper discipline. I’m not sure how much we can continue to keep talking about that particular …”

Ah, the NFL. Why would Vincent read the Mueller Report? He knew the "exhaustive" report that was requested by the NFL was just going to say some kind of mean things about how the league handled the situation and he knew what the outcome would be. What's the purpose of reading the report when you know the ending?

The Super Bowl Awards

Peter's awards get a new name for this week. Very exciting times.

Defensive Player of the Week
Malcolm Butler, cornerback, New England. Butler spent most of the postgame in a daze. He seemed unable to comprehend what just happened.

It was sooooooooo precious.

And it was his interception at the goal line with 20 seconds left in the game and Seattle driving for the winning touchdown that gives Butler a spot in New England sports lore forever. Just as Dave Roberts’ stolen base ignited the Red Sox to four straight wins over the Yankees in the ALCS in 2004, Butler’s interception always will be remembered from Bridgeport to Bangor. 

Malcolm Butler is the new Dave Roberts. I'm sure it won't get annoying when Bill Simmons refers to Malcolm Butler repeatedly in his mailbags/columns as the new Dave Roberts.

Special Teams Player of the Week
Ryan Allen, punter, New England. There wasn’t a tremendous special teams performance on Sunday night in Super Bowl 49,

But someone HAS to win the award. It's not like Peter can just not award a Special Teams Player of the Week for the Super Bowl or anything. He HAS to name a player to win the award. Don't blame Peter, thems the rules.

Goat of the Week 
Darrell Bevell, offensive coordinator, Seattle. For years to come, fans of the Seahawks and just plain fans will ask one simple question about Super Bowl 49: What in the world was Seattle doing throwing a slant pass on second and goal from the 1, with one of the game’s best short yardage backs in the backfield?

It's so easy to name just one person as the Goat of the Week when it's not really that simple. Darrell Bevell thought Ricardo Lockette could have come stronger at the ball, I think the play call should have been something different, Lockette could have changed the route slightly to avoid Butler better, I think Wilson could have located the ball better, and I think Wilson could simply have not thrown the pass. There are three people who can be blamed, even though it was a failure by more than just three people. I know Peter HAS to name a "Goat of the Week," but to simply blame Bevell isn't necessarily fair. After all, Pete Carroll called it a "wasted play," so it's not like there were high expectations for a touchdown. Bevell deserves the most blame, but to pin it all on him doesn't seem right. He didn't throw the pass and better execution would have made the terrible play call a non-issue. 

It’s a question that will torment the Pacific Northwest for years and will make it difficult for Bevell ever to fulfill his dreams of becoming an NFL head coach. It simply was an incredibly wrong call. 

While I get that, there's nothing that was off about the execution of the play call? Again, Russell Wilson isn't a robot and is entirely capable of making decisions on his own. He's very good at making decisions on his own. Bevell made a terrible call, but it's just too complex for me to remove any blame from Russell Wilson or anyone else responsible. When Wilson made a great play, like when he led the Seahawks to their comeback over the Packers in the NFC Championship Game, I didn't read Peter talking about what a great set of play calls that Bevell called. Peter talked about Wilson being super-clutchy and coming up big when it matters. Why is it when Wilson gets good play calls the attention goes to him for executing them well, but when Wilson gets a bad play call it's just assumed Wilson is a robot and poor execution will obviously just happen? I'm not blaming Wilson, I simply find it interesting that Wilson is not really taking a ton of blame for throwing the ball. It was a bad play call (for the 100th time), but Wilson should know better about what he sees on the field than he did in this situation. 

“Yeah, I’ve seen two of them.”
—Bill Belichick, when asked if he’d ever seen a catch like Jermaine Kearse’s on-his-back sideline reception that set up Seattle, first and goal, with 70 seconds remaining. Belichick was referring to David Tyree’s helmet catch in Super Bowl XLII and Mario Manningham’s sideline snare in Super Bowl XLVI.

Come on. The Manningham catch was just a great catch and throw. That catch wasn't anything like the Kearse or Tyree catch. I don't consider them to be the same at all.

“I’m just here so I won’t get fined.”
Marshawn Lynch, at Media Day on Tuesday.
Lynch made a deal with the league: appear in media sessions (scheduled to be at least 45 minutes daily) for at least five minutes, or risk a heavy fine. So Lynch went and said silly things over and over.

What did anyone expect Lynch to say? He didn't want to be there and was forced to be there. I would probably have given better answers, but Lynch was forced to be there, so he was pissy about it.

I mean, really? Matthews was released by the Browns in 2011. That's three years ago and he worked at Foot Locker since then. He wasn't exactly on the Seahawks active roster either, he was on the practice squad. It's ridiculous to even think the Browns should in some way be ashamed for cutting Chris Matthews three years ago when he didn't do jack shit in the NFL until two days ago. No other NFL teams wanted Matthews either. Its not like the Browns missed on a great prospect. Quit with the shaming of the Browns for things they shouldn't be ashamed of. The Browns have screwed up enough things in the past decade without new things they screwed up being invented.


1. I think this is what I liked about Super Bowl week, and the game:

d. Russell Wilson rebounding from a bad start—again—to be very, very big when it mattered, except at the very end.

As I always write, what if Wilson was great in the beginning of the game, but terrible at the end? The narrative would just switch around about how Wilson is big when it matters, but his statistics would be the same. And Peter, Wilson was good "when it mattered"? It's the fucking Super Bowl. Wilson's performance matters in the first two quarters also, so don't give me that cliched shit to protect Wilson and your opinion of him. His performance mattered in the first two quarters, it just so happens he didn't turn the ball over and the Patriots weren't able to score too many points on the Seahawks' defense, so Wilson's performance during the first quarter and a half didn't put the Seahawks in a big hole. I mean, it's the Super Bowl. Every possession and quarter matters.

h. Doug Baldwin wisely using umpire Bill Schuster as an unofficial but obvious pick, rubbing off Darrelle Revis and getting open for a big third-quarter touchdown.

This is the play where Richard Sherman was so impressed with the official's pick of Revis that he started taunting Darrelle Revis by putting his hands up in a "2" and "4" so everyone knew who got beaten on that play.

k. Fifty throws by Brady. Didn’t seem that many, but he was fast and efficient, a 74 percent passer against the greatest defense of the day.

It completely felt like Brady threw the ball 50 times. At least to me.

m. Phoenix. The city and the region do a great job putting on the game. Scottsdale is one of the great areas in America.


2. I think this is what I didn’t like about Super Bowl week, and the game

c. Doug Baldwin, Stanford man, getting a 15-yard infraction in the biggest game of the year for simulating pulling down his pants in the end zone and simulating something else while the simulated pants were pulled down.

Yeah, that was gross and immature. I would expect more from an adult. Hey Peter, want me to make a few jokes about balls that you can snicker at?

d. What possesses a human being to do that? In the Super Bowl, knowing all eyes are on you—and the eyes of the officials too? Just really dumb. He’s really got to do something about this everybody-hates-me mentality he has. It’s worse than Steve Smith.

Maybe it's a self-fulfilling prophecy. Baldwin thinks everyone hates him and then takes actions that ensures everyone does end up hating him.

3. I think you can add Bill Belichick to the list of those who have not been interviewed by the Ted Wells/Jeff Pash committee, according to Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio. No Belichick. No Tom Brady. But 40-plus people have been talked to. Seems Wells and Pash and the investigators want to know as much as they can about everything before talking to the two most important people in the case.

I understand that perspective, but wouldn't they learn the most by talking to the two most important people in the case? Are Wells and Pash looking for information they can nail Brady/Belichick to the wall with or trying to catch them in a lie, so they will interview them last in an effort to not gain the most information, but to gain information that shows they are lying when they eventually do interview Brady/Belichick?

 5. I think Media Day is a ridiculous clown show that embarrasses and demeans everyone who plays even a little part of it. (And yes, I do want you to get off my lawn.)

Which is why it is silly to start questioning Marshawn Lynch's character and understanding of his responsibilities because he doesn't fully participate in Media Day (it's capitalized!) to the extent the media wants him to.

7. I think a few of us in the press box noticed something of a bitter-football justice trend in the playoffs this year:

• Part 1: Detroit gets officiating injustice against Dallas, and the Lions lose a bitter wild-card game.
• Part 2: Dallas gets a great catch overturned late against Green Bay, and the Cowboys lose a bitter divisional game.
• Part 3: Green Bay gets four interceptions but blows a 12-point lead in the final four minutes against Seattle, and the Packers lose a bitter NFC title game.
• Part 4: Seattle gets a golden chance at the 1-yard line in the last minute against New England with three plays to score, but Russell Wilson throws an interception, and the Seahawks lose a bitter Super Bowl.
• Part 5: Well, there is no part five. Yet. But New England opens the 2015 season in seven months and one week. The football gods might be on the prowl that night.

This is sort of a trend, but any time an NFL team loses a close playoff game there is going to be bitterness. So the trend isn't really the bitterness, but these games were all close, which means the team that barely lost will be bitter. The bitterness is a side effect of the close game. And also, don't turn into Gregg Easterbrook with the "football gods" crap.

9. I think this is one of the easiest smackdowns of Roger Goodell there can be. Two days after he said at his state of the NFL press conference that he was available to the press almost every day, he wasn’t available on 11 hours of Super Bowl programming to NBC. That is a ridiculous statement, for Goodell to say he is available to the press “almost every day.” 

He's going to stop saying stupid shit like this when the NFL stops making a ton of money due to tremendous fan interest or the owners make him stop saying stupid shit like this. Neither one is likely to happen before next season.

Just ridiculous. I also didn’t like his condescending tone to CNN’s Rachel Nichols, who asked a reasonable question about conflict of interest, during Friday’s press conference. Goodell has to understand he has a public perception problem

Just a problem? 

—no, a crisis—

Thank God you fixed it. 

that is not going away.

The crisis doesn't need to go away. Ratings are still through the roof, as is fan interest. Roger Goodell is just a heel in the show that is the NFL. He'll continue playing the heel for the owners if it means they can take daily baths in their profits. As soon as the ratings and fan interest goes away, the crisis will start to become an actual crisis and not just the bleating of fans who don't like Goodell, but watch the NFL anyway. 

The Adieu Haiku

This just in: Hoodies,
not business suits, are the rule
this week in Boston.

The Adieu Haiku still serves no purpose. It's the appendix of MMQB. What's the purpose of this haiku about hoodies in Boston other than to write a haiku? 


Chris said...

I love Peter lording his superiority over everyone since the hardest decision he has all day, other than what kind of coffee or beer to be pretentious about is who he will vote to put in the Hall of Fame. Yea I'm sure there are tough decisions for any of the voters but Peter goes through the play by play and writes of his agony over who to select like he's a part of a couple deciding whether to have a child or not. Geez put an x next to the name of who you think is most deserving and get it over with.

HH said...

Nice Friends reference.

HH said...

Also, Sports Science did a thing on Butler's play. Apparently he planted and cut 0.1 seconds after Lockette cut (meaning he probably jumped the route without seeing Lockette - no one can react that fast). He accelerated to 13 mph and hit Lockette with 800 lbs of force (with the ball 14 inches away). I'm mostly impressed that he was willing to gamble that this was the play he had been beaten on practice and jumped the route without even looking.

JBsptfn said...

1. I like your statement about Fox and adjusting. It's something that Panther and Bronco fans (like me) know only too well. I won't miss him. I know a Steeler fan who complained and called Cowher every name in the book, but he wasn't as bad as Fox.

2. I agree with what you said about them maybe being 1-5 in SB's if things go differently. And, if you reverse the Tuck Rule and the Lee Evans plays, they aren't even in those Super Bowls.

3. I agree with you about Simmons. He would have been saying how he can light himself on fire now because of all the "bad luck" that his Cheatriots have endured.

Well, if you factor in things like the Tuck Rule, the ball going out of bounds off of Kasay's foot, and playing in a division that is "Cupcake City, Baby" (in the words of Dick Vitale), then I would take that kind of "bad luck"

Bengoodfella said...

Chris, Peter isn't quite as bad as baseball Hall of Fame voters, who like to act like the world's largest burden has been placed upon them. It's an honor. Yeah, it's hard, but it's also an honor. Pick players you think deserve it b/c of on the field reference.

HH, thanks. I could probably do it more, but I don't want to go overboard with it. That would be too white of me.

It was a brilliant play, which is getting lost in all of this talk about whose fault the INT was. To an extent, the INT was nobody's fault. The call was bad, the throw wasn't perfect, and Butler made a perfect play. Really, I shouldn't say more than that, but I did find it interesting the guy who threw the ball isn't being criticized (except by himself, which is why I like Wilson) as much.

If that's an out route (like Edelman did earlier for a TD), then Butler is horribly out of position, but he was instinctual and it really paid off.

JB, I could do an entire essay on the brilliant frustration of having John Fox coach your team. He can win games, but then he's so stubborn. Honestly, even if Rivera ends up being a disaster over the next few seasons I won't miss Fox. He had a good run, but I couldn't handle him much longer.

I can't wait for Bears fans to see what we mean. You love him, but then he does stupid shit. For example, in the 2008 NFC Divisional Round, Anquan Boldin was injured and couldn't play. So rather than have his best cover corner on Larry Fitzgerald (that would have been Chris Gamble) for the whole game or double Fitzgerald during the game because the Cardinals didn't have many other great offensive weapons, Fox just stuck with the game plan. Long story short, Delhomme commits six turnovers and Larry Fitzgerald kills the Panthers.

Fox has a plan and if it's works, great, but if it doesn't work then he isn't deviating from it. Don't even get me started on his punting nature. Who else has Peyton Manning kneel the ball down with a timeout left to play for OT, rather than try to hit a long field goal with Matt Prater.

I can't describe to you how often Fox refused to adjust to what the other team was doing because that's not what his plan was. But then, he will adjust to win games with Tebow/Manning/Delhomme. Fox will adjust his entire offensive philosophy, he has to micromanage it all.

Exactly. Shit happened bad to the Patriots and shit happened good. So many games are just one play away from turning out completely differently. They have four Super Bowls, I think that is sufficient.

When Kearse caught that pass, I never wanted the Patriots to win more. I just wanted to avoid the whining column from Simmons. I probably would have avoided it anyway because I wouldn't have read it.

I still can't believe Kasay kicked that ball out of bounds. The Pats still may have won, but I knew then the game was over.

Murray said...

2. I agree with what you said about them maybe being 1-5 in SB's if things go differently. And, if you reverse the Tuck Rule and the Lee Evans plays, they aren't even in those Super Bowls.

And if you reverse their bad luck they win in 06 (They would beat Chi) go undefeated in 07 and win in 11 making them 7-0 in superbows

Anonymous said...

Ben, I think your comments on Russell Wilson are dead on. He is receiving about 0 percent of the blame for a Super Bowl-losing interception. I don't think he should receive the majority of the blame, but he's definitely part of the problem. He didn't have to throw the pass there, he certainly could have decided it was too risky and thrown it away. Of course Peter has nothing but praise for the kid, lauding him for "rebounding from a bad start—again—to be very, very big when it mattered, except at the very end". Uhhh...so the part that mattered was from the middle of the 2nd quarter up until the end of the 3rd quarter? Cause he was terrible in the 1st and 4th quarters. Interesting how the part of the game that matters keeps shifting around.

Also-I'm not a professional quarterback either, but the play was a pick play, right? My understanding is that Kearse was supposed to pick Butler. Well, Kearse got destroyed by Browner and couldn't get off the line, which means Butler was completely free to cover Lockette. If Wilson could see Kearse occupied and Butler free (could he see over the linemen?) then the play had already broken down and Wilson definitely shouldn't have put the ball there.

And Peter King has decided (or decided a few weeks back) that the 12th Man is the greatest fanbase in sports. Uh, weren't Seattle fans walking out of the stadium after Wilson's 4th interception against Green Bay? Everyone always mentions that Heat fans left early in Game 6, but Heat fans have the reputation of being one of the worst fanbases. I guess I should get used to Peter turning a blind eye towards his favorites (Wilson and Seahawks 12th Man in this particular case. Usually it's Jeff Fisher, of course).

JBsptfn said...

Quote Murray"And if you reverse their bad luck they win in 06 (They would beat Chi) go undefeated in 07 and win in 11 making them 7-0 in superbowls" Quote

Murray, you forgot the 2006 playoff game against San Diego. I just watched that on You-Tube. That was a fluke fest for the Patriots. SD should have had four or five INT's that day, and should have won going away.

This is why I am not high on Tom Brady. I have seen so many wins that he has had in the playoffs that were won on luck. He also benefits from the weak AFC East.

Bengoodfella said...

Murray, then throw in how good the Patriots would be if Brady had not blown out his ACL and the next thing you know they are 8-0 in the Super Bowl too. They could be, which is why I don't really worry about "what if's" like that. Every title team has a play or two go for them that went against another team in some way. It's why luck is a small part of winning titles, you know?

Anon, I don't want to blame Russell Wilson too much, but he's taken the blame himself. He knows he threw the ball that got picked. It's just part of being a QB. Taking responsibility for things that aren't 100% your fault and I respect him for that. The idea that Wilson was big "when it mattered" in the Super Bowl is dumb to me. It's the Super Bowl, everything matters.

I think the play design was for Kearse to pick Browner (and Browner is bigger than Kearse, so I have to question that part of the play design anyway. I guess they wanted to go away from Revis. So once Browner got picked it would leave Butler to try and catch up to Lockette, which he wouldn't have done if he didn't jump the route. It was a great play by Butler. Wilson led Lockette a bit much and that gave Butler a clearer shot at the ball.

I just think in that situation it's a very complicated play call and Wilson must not have seen Butler because I don't think he would have thrown the ball. So he has to take some blame. If he threw it into Lockette's hands and the ball bounced to Butler when Lockette missed it, then I wouldn't blame Wilson. I do believe maybe Wilson couldn't see very well and I think that may be where his height came into play just a little bit.

Fan bases are always rabid when their team is good. It never fails, so I'm sure Peter will pick a better fan base in a few years.