When last we left nutmeg mainliner, Peter King, he was telling us how Romeo Crennel should be telling the Army Rangers how to do their job because he won a football game the day after a player died. PK also called out the folks at AOL Fanhouse for not having editors looking over their copy, which would be funny if it weren’t so rage-inducing and hypocritical. And don’t look now, but Peter isn’t sure that Chevy Chase has made all the right career moves these last 15 years.

But what about this week? Will the Acela Quiet Car ever truly be quiet again now that Peter has sullied it with his repulsive sounds? Is anyone afraid to play Atlanta? Surely, not Kirk Cousins, who need only summon a fraction of his near-endless intellect to best them. Anyway, READ ON.

Kirk Cousins is going to write for The New Yorker someday, and maybe not about football.

Oh shit. That’s some potent coffee he’s drinking. Peter is coming out fuckin’ guns blazin’ with the horrible writing and the quasi-insane-ish hyperbole.

As for Cousins, I await with breathless anticipation his 5,000-word feature on Kathryn Bigelow. I know Kirk Cousins won’t fall for the usual facile narrative that concentrates overmuch on what she means for gender roles in Hollywood. No, Kirk Cousins will provide a rounded picture of more the great filmmakers of our time.

Like Romeo Crennel a week ago, Dallas coach Jason Garrett had to tell his team unspeakable news Saturday

“I’m afraid you ruffians have once again not been extended an invitation to the Princeton Eating Club. My condolences…”

then think of a way to make football meaningful.

“I do believe it is still your job, good sir, and that we are compensating you handsomely to do it. Now go, execute my plan!”

All of the stories of the day in due time, but this point first: Three weeks from today, the 50 voters for the annual Associated Press NFL awards have to file their ballots. Three weeks out every year, most of the races are either clear or have two or three men in the running. This year, as I see it, there’s not a single easy race.

“I’ll have to actually give it some thought this time, unless I don’t, I think. MAYBE!”

For MVP, I could make a solid case for any of the three quarterbacks with at least 20 more touchdowns than interceptions — Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers, Peyton Manning — or the aforementioned runner chasing 2,000 yards coming off knee reconstruction (Peterson), or one of the three transcendent 23-year-old defenders: Houston’s J.J. Watt, Denver’s Von Miller or San Francisco’s Aldon Smith. And what about the rookie quarterbacks, with their insane frosh seasons; Robert Griffin III leads the league in passer rating. There’s not a bad choice.

No bad choices, to be sure. But there is, after all, only one real choice. Two million free pizzas can’t be wrong.

I’ll take the quarterback with the longest winning streak (eight games) and who’s had the biggest adjustment to make of all the very good ones this year, schematically and physically, on a new team in a new city. For now, give me Peyton Manning.

Yes, Peyton has had a good year and he did it coming off his android neck implant surgery. And with a new team, albeit a new team willing to cater to his every demand, so perhaps that transition isn’t quite as difficult as, say, one of those rookie quarterbacks to the NFL. Not to mention that Denver still won a playoff game last year with a quarterback who can’t even beat out Mark Sanchez. Maybe, just MAYYYYBEEEE, it’s not all Peyton’s doing.

For Offensive Player of the Year, it’d be easy to vote for a quarterback with gaudy numbers, and justifiable. But this is one, if Peterson continues on his current pace (last seven games: 1,101 yards, 7.2 yards per rush) and hits 2,000 yards, that could be easy. For now, give me Peterson, with an asterisk, because he has to keep up his breakneck pace when the three remaining defenses he’ll face all know he’ll be getting the ball early and often.

This is why I hate the Offensive Player of the Year award. It’s like what the Oscars do with the screenwriting awards. The Academy is too chickenshit to give a legitimately ambitious movie Best Picture, so it goes to the usual obvious Oscarbait. Then the good, daring movies get fobbed off with a screenwriting award. Instead of people being caught up in industry politics, it’s Peter King publicly fawning over Peyton Manning because it’s important for media whores to be on Peyton’s good side.

For Coach of the Year, line ‘em up. Gary Kubiak has gone from firing line to best record in the league in 22 months. Mike Smith had the guts to change both coordinators on a playoff team, and the Falcons are 11-2. Greg Schiano jumped from Rutgers to playoff contender with Tampa

Cheers to Peter for having the restraint to list two other coaches before his mancrush, Greg Schiano, who would be an absurd and awful choice for Coach of the Year.

Headlines of the weekend:

Another weekend, another tragedy. Dallas nose tackle Josh Brent apparently drove drunk and, in an ensuing accident, killed his best friend and practice-squad teammate Jerry Brown. Somehow, the players union and teams have to get players who have been drinking to call for the free ride. It’s the only solution; players are going to drink on Friday nights, in every NFL city. They need to get to the point where the car services are common and acceptable. “We are going to keep pushing the education about drinking and driving, and pushing, and pushing,” NFL director of player programs Troy Vincent said Sunday. “We’re not going to stop, and we’re getting to everyone in their circle of influence.”

“We didn’t stop when Donte Stallworth killed that dude and we’re not gonna stop barely giving a shit and only paying lip service when tragedy strikes. Oh no, our commitment to doing nothing will not waver!”

RGIII must be Elastic Man. Robert Griffin III’s right knee whipped after being hit by a Ravens’ defender in the fourth quarter at FedEx Field, and it hyperextended grotesquely.

For real? Hypertensions are usually so beautiful.

Remarkably, his MRI showed a knee sprain, which is a partial ligament tear, but not major damage. The Redskins know he can’t expose himself to as many hits as he does at 218 pounds, but now’s not the time for a lecture.

D.C. area media trolls beg to differ.

The Colts take command of the AFC Wild-Card race. Pittsburgh lost, embarrassingly, to San Diego. Cincinnati got out-emotioned by the Cowboys.


And starting at quarterback for the Cardinals, from Utah State University, No. 00, Kent Somers! Week after week, just when you think it can’t get worse, Arizona’s quarterbacking does. For two weeks it was Ryan Lindley playing the fool; Sunday in a 58-0 loss at Seattle, it was John Skelton. Next week, Detroit comes to the desert with Arizona, on a nine-game losing streak and imploding like no other team in football. Kent Somers may suit up. Somers, the Arizona Republic beat man covering the team, asked Ken Whisenhunt who would play quarterback next week against the Lions. “Can you play?” Whisenhunt said. He wasn’t smiling. The Cards long for the days of Max Hall.

Max Hall? C’mon, let’s not go nuts. They would totally take Stoney Case back, though.

Eliminate the kickoff? Riiiiiiiiight. David Wilson of the Giants ran back kicks for a total of 227 yards Sunday, including an electric 97-yard touchdown return, the longest for the franchise since the LBJ Administration. Tampa coach Greg Schiano’s idea — proposed to Roger Goodell when Schiano was still the Rutgers coach — to eliminate the kickoff in favor of allowing a team to opt to go for it on 4th-and-15 from its 30-yard line (“So arbitrary it sounds like it was pulled out of a hat,” one coach said Friday) seemed like a longshot before Sunday. But after the return electricity in the Meadowlands it seems ever more unlikely.

“People cheered for that one play so FUCK YOU, CONCERN ABOUT CONCUSSIONS!”

The Adrian Peterson story.

Fifty weeks after surgery to reconstruct a battered knee, Minnesota’s Peterson’s has amazing round numbers, the best in his career after 13 games: 1,600 yards, 6.0 yards per carry, 10 rushing touchdowns.

Round, supple, SEXY numbers.

“You need 400 yards to get to 2,000,” I said to Peterson an hour after his seventh straight 100-yard game, a 21-14 win over the Bears. “Think you can do it?”

“Oh yeah,” he said. “Without a doubt. It’ll happen. Two thousand, that’s easy. I’m eying Eric.”

Dickerson?

No, he meant Eric Stotlz, you dickhead.

The forgotten rookie quarterback.

On draft weekend, Michigan State’s Kirk Cousins thought there were a lot of teams that might pick him. Washington wasn’t one of them, not after taking Robert Griffin III in the first round. But the Redskins took him at pick 102. “I was scratching my head too,” Cousins said Sunday evening, “I think like a lot of people were.”

That’s right, instead of much-needed help on the offensive line or just about anywhere on the defense, the Redskins have a promising backup quarterback. WHO’S HEAD-SCRATCHING, NOW!?

Cousins threw a perfect ball, over one corner and just before the safety came in to hit Garcon. Touchdown.

Now it was 28-26. Two-point conversion. The call was quarterback draw all the way. Cousins saw a hole and made it past the goal line before Ed Reed could blast him. Tie game. Washington got a long punt return and won on Kai Forbath’s field goal in overtime.

“One of the things I’ve learned about being a quarterback,” said Cousins, and for a minute, he sounded like a Penn professor of Football 101 with a tweed coat on

YES! Kirk Cousins is the ideal professor for First Grade In Footballology 101. After all, not only is he a contributor for the New Yorker, but he’s also a tenured professor. Kirk Cousins is the great intellectual of our age. Not sure why PK picked Penn of all schools, but we know how much Peter lusts for the Ivy League, so it must mean lofty things.

“it’s a balance between being a robot and being an artist.

If Peyton Manning is such a great quarterback, why is he far more robot than man?

On the touchdown to Garcon, that’s being an artist; you don’t really know how it’s going to look, but you’ve just got to get out of the pocket and create something. On the two-point conversion, you’re a robot. You take the play and do what’s called, because you know if it’s blocked the right way and set up the right way, it’ll work — the quarterback just executes it.”

Cousins did his first NFL spike in the end zone after the robot play. When he got to the sideline, Griffin hugged him and said, “Thank you.” A region of fans said the same thing.

/can’t resist temptation to make Domo Arigato, Mr. Roboto joke
//hangs head

Jason Garrett’s best day as a head coach.

When Garrett came off the field after one of his biggest wins as a coach — a 20-19 upset of the Bengals

Oh, how I wish I could travel back to 2010 to tell Cowboys fans that Jason Garrett’s best day in his two-plus years as head coach would be “an upset of the Bengals”.

“I need to call Jerry Brown’s mother right now,” Garrett told Cowboys PR man Rich Dalrymple, and he disappeared for a few minutes to make the call. There would be a memorial service Tuesday, and Brown’s mom will be there, and the team will present her the game ball that Garrett had with him Sunday. It all seems so empty, of course, because a service and a ball cannot bring her boy back from this awful death, from an irresponsible accident by his best friend

Oh man, I might be someone going through something emotional in a minute.

but what do you do after a senseless and awful death?

[Dramatic music swells]

You do the best you can.

“There’s no road map for this,” Garrett said quietly, 90 minutes after the game. “No script.”

Unlike the Colts’ Hollywood movie season, which has not only already been written and filmed, but is almost through post-production.

“You know how I am around the building,” Garrett said before the Cowboys boarded their charter home from Cincinnati. “I’m always asking, ‘How you doing?’ to everyone I see. Well, Jerry Brown gets here in October, and he’s beating me to it. ‘How you doing, coach!’ That’s Jerry.

The precocious ones are always the most missed.

They did. Like Kansas City last week, they found a way to win a game they had no business winning. Like Kansas City last week, when the doors to the locker room swung open 15 minutes after the game, no player rejoiced. It was quiet. Very quiet. A teammate was lost, and another, nose tackle Josh Brent, faced the loss of his football career and having to live with knowing he killed his best friend with a stupid, immature act. Life’s not fair, and neither is the NFL schedule. But when a coach leads the way Crennel did last week and the way Garrett did this week, a team at least has a chance to cope with the unthinkable the best way it can.

Wait, should Jason Garrett start lecturing Army Rangers about how to stay focused? Or is there another branch of special forces that could use his guidance? We must know. The future of the military is at stake.

Fine Fifteen

1. New England (9-3). Patriots’ scoring output in their last six games: 242 points. Seahawks’ scoring output in first 12 games of season: 242 points.

You mean the Patriots have scored more points than a team that doesn’t have a very good offense? WEIRD!

3. Denver (10-3). As the indefatigable Mike Reiss points out, Manning-Brady XIV is assured for 2013 now that Denver and New England have both clinched their divisions.

Thank GOD. I was worried we would make it through a season without having to be browbeaten by the media into caring about the annual duel of the golden boys.

CBS got Denver-New England this season. Look for it in primetime next year.

“YOU HEAR THAT, CBS!? YOU GOT LUCKY THIS YEAR, BUT WE AT NBC ARE GONNA GET OURS. YOU THINK YOU’RE HOT SHIT, DON’T YOU!? WELL, ONCE THE DUNGE, FLORIO AND RODNEY HARRISON ARE DONE WITH YOU, YOU’LL BE BEGGING THE PEACOCK TO TAKE MANNING-BRADY OFF YOUR HANDS! BEGGING!”

4. San Francisco (9-3-1). Remember when it was panicsville about Colin Kaepernick? You know, like, five days ago? The option run around left end cured that, at least for the time being.

Panicsville! The sister city of Chaosville!

7. Seattle (8-5). Average score in the last five games (Seattle 4-1): Seattle 32, Foes 14.

Is calculating the average after a huge outlier like a 58-0 victory somewhat misleading? Perhaps. But PK is taking one out of Cutler’s book: “DOOOOOOONNNNNN’TTTTT CCCCCAAAAAARRRRRREEEEEEEE!”

8. Green Bay (9-4). I love it when a quarterback takes the bull by the horns.

That’s why Peter King was never won over by Drew Bledsoe. Clearly not forceful enough of a lover.

9. Washington (7-6). Any team that sweeps the Giants and Ravens in seven days with playoff life on the line has to be in the top 10, even though neither win came with an exclamation point.

You hear that, Redskins? Yours wins are okay, I guess, but they’d really be something with unnecessary punctuation…I think? MAYBE (“!!!”)

10. Baltimore (9-4). I doubt even the return of Ray Lewis for the final three games (Peyton at home, Eli at home, then at Cincinnati) will revive the Ravens D. And that D needs a revival.

What? An old, shitty linebacker isn’t the cure-all for a terrible defense? That’s not the NFL I know!

15. Dallas (7-6). Steelers and Saints at home, before Dallas closes with Washington on the road. Cowboys could go 3-0. Cowboys could go 0-3. That you know.

Indeed. The Cowboys could also go 2-1. That I know. Dallas could go 1-2. Know that, too. They could go 0-1-2. I also know several other permutations because I attended First Grade Numbersology 101 with professor Ryan Fitzpatrick.

The Award Section

Offensive Player of the Week

Cam Newton, QB, Carolina. The 30-20 win over NFC South first-place Atlanta showcased the 2011 Cam: 23 of 35 for 287 yards and two touchdowns, plus nine carries for 116 yards, including a 72-yard touchdown run. “I think this game allows me to have a little chip on my shoulder,” said Newton. That’s what he had most of last year.

PK has been so over-the-top critical of Cam this year that people started viewing it as possible racism, so Petey has made pains to compliment Cam when he’s done good stuff the last few weeks. Oh, but it’s always phrased as a backhanded compliment so you can tell how much it annoys him.

Quote of the Week I

“Vote Ray Guy.”

– A hand-written plea, black-markered on white athletic tape and covering the 50th anniversary Pro Football Hall of Fame patch, on the front of Minnesota punter Chris Kluwe’s uniform Sunday. Kluwe has been outspoken (to put it mildly) in pushing the Hall of Fame case for the former Oakland punter.

He tossed it away after the game. That would have been a tremendous charity auction item.

Or a souvenir for a young fan that PK would wrest away on the concourse.

Factoid of the Week That May Interest Only Me II

The last time Detroit won at Lambeau Field was this week 21 years ago, Dec. 15, 1991.

That day, Brett Favre was a 248-pound third-string rookie quarterback in Atlanta, behind Chris Miller and Billy Joe Tolliver. While Favre sat on the bench, as he always did that season, Deion Sanders had two interceptions and Mike Rozier was the leading rusher for Atlanta.

I’ve been worried that, since Brett Favre has returned to his Land Barony in the South and stopped teasing NFL returns every week, Peter King would run out of excuses to shoehorn him in the column, but I’m glad to see that isn’t the case. Sorry I ever doubted you, Petey.

Mr. Starwood Preferred Member Travel Note of the Week

I was the Passenger You Don’t Want to Be Near in the Quiet Car

THAT GUY. Regulars of the Acela Quiet Car know who we’re talking about. Always disquieting the place. No manners. Probably never even stayed at the Westin.

on an Amtrak regional train, Providence to New York, Saturday afternoon. The idiot passenger. I put my phone on vibrate, and 10 minutes into the trip, it vibrated, and I answered it, bent over and whispering, not sure who it’d be. Of course the conductor came by. “Library-type atmophere, sir,” he said. “Off the phone.” I got off. Twenty minutes later, there was another call. Not urgent, but I picked it up anyway. Same deal. Conductor walked over. “Last time I’ll tell you this,” he said. “Off the phone or move.”

He was right. I was wrong. The car was half-empty, but that doesn’t matter. I was what I shake my head at on the Quiet Car often — the idiot who whispers on the phone when you’re not supposed to be on the phone. Felt like a bum. The rules of the train are not complex. If you can’t follow ‘em, walk.

OH NOES, PETER KING HAS VIOLATED THE SANCTITY OF THE QUIET CAR! THE VERY IDEALS HE SWORE TO UPHOLD WHEN HE JOINED THE RANKS OF THE RICH AND THE QUIET! He was so close to being cast out into the benighted lands of the talkers. Only by the grace of one patient conductor was PK shown clemency. Never again will a semi-peep-esque noise escape his Peyton-sucking lips.

Tweet of the Week IV

“There are medieval kings who had less job security than Mark Sanchez.”

– @StevePoliti, the columnist of the Newark Star-Ledger, who deserves royalties because of how often he is in this column.

HIS LORDSHIP KING SHITBOX THE FIFTH OF MEXIFORNIA

Ten Things I Think I Think

1. I think this is what I liked about Week 14:

f. Nice touch by Dean Spanos, giving Norv Turner the game ball after a too-little, too-late win in Pittsburgh.

“Take this. It’s your severance.”

j. The Rodney Harrison quote Sunday night: “No one’s afraid to play Atlanta.”

The most Bayless of arguments. Who gives a shit? Was anyone “afraid” to play the Giants in Week 14 last year? What does that even mean? WINS ONLY COUNT IF FEAR WAS INSTILLED BEFOREHAND!

2. I think this is what I didn’t like about Week 14:

a. Christian Ponder’s ball security. So, so lucky he got away with that incomplete pass while being thrown to the ground. Could well have been a fumble.

On the other hand, Ponder is driving Drew insane and that’s nice.

f. The.

g. Arizona.

h. Cardinals.

F. FUCK OFF

U. AND DIE

U. YOU ABUSER OF THE WRITTEN WORD, GOD I HATE YOU SO MUCH

U. Peter King

i. I like Michael Irvin. I don’t like his cackling when I am watching the highlights.

So what exactly do you like about him? That’s more or less what he does.

5. I think, with all the talk about Jon Gruden’s coaching candidacies, remember these things:

b. Gruden’s going to have to have a veteran quarterback who’s smart enough to process and execute the whims of his offense, and to be flexible. A Tony Romo, for instance, or Philip Rivers.

He needs a dumb gunslinger type who typifies the kind of stupid recklessness that Gruden adores? THIS TONY ROMO, HE’S THE OUTLAW JOSEY WALES AND I AM THE GUY WHO COACHED THE OUTLAW JOSEY WALES. I’M THAT GUY!

c. I would not be at all surprised if the Cowboys have a bad final three weeks if Jerry Jones goes after Gruden hard.

Of course. That’s a typical idiotic big-splash Cowboys hire.

6. I think Brandon Jacobs cannot hide his disgust any longer at being nothing but an insurance policy for the Niners. Via ProFootballTalk.com, Jacobs wrote on Instagram this week, asked by a fan to put up a photo of him wearing some 49ers gear: “I am on this team rotting away so why would I wanna put any pics up of anything that say niners this is by far the worst year I ever had, I’ll tell you like I told plenty others.”

I always knew Jacobs wouldn’t take the bench well. He never did in New Jersey either.

Yeah, Brandon Jacobs is a dick, but another one of those zero-sum games with the media. If Brandon Jacobs came out and was, like, “Yo, I love not playing, where my meatball sub at?”, PK would be howling for his release.

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

a. Johnny Football is a good Heisman choice, but for many reasons, I thought Manti Te’o was a better one.

Because you fellate anyone involved with Notre Dame.

b. Nothing against Manziel (how many first-year starting quarterbacks walk into Tuscaloosa and beat Nick Saban and the unbeaten Tide?), and I don’t watch a lot of college football, so I shouldn’t have a vote. But think of this: Where was Notre Dame before this season in the eyes of America? Not ranked in the AP writers’ poll, ranked 24th in the USA Today coaches’ poll.

“I don’t know anything about college football, but I do know that this guy re-elevated the profile of a constantly hyped school that I am fond of mostly because it’s a thing white guys like plus Rudy.”

e. Coffeenerdness: Nothing like the 1:16 a.m. pot of Starbucks Italian Roast to jolt you awake and make 4,000 more words seem not such a hopeless task. I’d mainline it if I could.

If only. You’ll just have to settle for injecting yourself with nutmeg for now.

f. Beernerdness: Can’t beat getting off a train in Providence Friday night and finding the Luxe Burger Bar a few steps away with the last few minutes of Celtics-Sixers, and Harpoon IPA on tap. Now that’s a quality 90 minutes before bed right there.

No one gives a shit how much you enjoy being from New England.

g. So I made my semi-annual pilgrimage to my favorite restaurant in New Jersey, Osteria Giotto in Montclair, the other night. And I thought about lots of different things to order, but I did what I do nine out of 10 times there: “Lasagna.” And our server, Marisa, told me every time I go in there and have the lasagna and then mention it in the column, they have a run on lasagna and can’t keep it in the place. Well, tell the boss to make extra this week, Marisa.

OH HO HO! Marisa must be thrilled to know she will soon be waiting on the type of clueless asshole who would take restaurant recommendations from Peter King. Maybe Greg Schiano will show up and berate her for serving the wrong pasta noodle.

i. It’s entirely possible the Red Sox are the fifth-best team in the East. Just because you spend $13 million a year on Shane Victorino doesn’t make him a $13-million-a-year player.

There seems to be a recent spike in Red Sox fan bitching. Did someone outside SAWX NATION make the mistake of appearing to give a fuck?


Re my pick for tonight — New England 27, Houston 23 — I think the Patriots will struggle protecting Tom Brady if Sebastian Vollmer is missing with his stiff back. It’s got to be all relatively healthy hands on deck if New England’s going to be able to block left end J.J. Watt and keep him from wrecking the Patriots game plan.

This game has the feel of one of the great Monday night games, with the two teams a combined 20-4 and the Patriots on fire. Neither team has lost since Oct. 14. It’s reminiscent in some ways to the Giants-49ers game on Dec. 3, 1990, when New York and San Francisco entered with twin 10-1 records. The Niners won 7-3, stopping the Giants on four shots inside the 10-yard line midway through the fourth quarter.

On paper, it’s a good game. Might wanna be a little less hasty attaching instant classic status to it before kickoff, however. Most prime times games this year have been total ass.

The Adieu Haiku

Yo! Adrian! And
I don’t mean Talia Shire.
You smell a record.

Rocky reference?
It’s like I’m reading Simmons
It’s death either way