When last we left globby nut goblin, Peter King, he explained how anything is possible if you have enough Dustin Pedroias on your side. PK also attributed the “Factory of Sadness” joke to Mike Florio because, when in doubt, credit your fellow media trolls. But what about this week? Well, rather ’round, my children and you shall hear the collected tales of Peyton Manning and his horsekateers. Strap in, it’s gonna be a while. READ ON.
On a beautiful day in Denver, it was hard to imagine Peyton Manning being better.
And believe me, Peter King has spent a lot of time fantasizing about Peyton Manning.
We’ve been saying that for a month now, since the seven-touchdown-pass extravaganza on a stormy opening Thursday night rout of the Ravens. But Sunday, the 37-year-old quarterback living out his wildest dreams continued this run of greatness that is unprecedented even to him.
Hard to tell, but I think Peyton Manning might be off to a good start this season.
On Manning’s final four touchdown drives of the day against Philadelphia, Denver never ran a third-down play.
Denver had 12 second downs on the four drives. Manning converted all of them into first downs.
Eleven plays, 80 yards. Ten plays, 80 yards. Eight plays, 80 yards. Seven plays, 65 yards.
That’s 36 plays, 28 points, 305 yards. And no third downs.
In PK’s dream, a DeLorean hovers into a view, driven by a naked Peyton. The door flies open. Peyton beckons, “C’mon, Peter. Where we’re going, we don’t need third downs.”
Ninety minutes after the 52-20 victory over Philadelphia, I told one of the four musketeers Manning uses as his weapons, wide receiver Eric Decker, about the no-third-down thing.
And here we thought Chip Kelly was going to change the sport. Peyton flipped on it on everyone by using 17th century French infantry as his receiving corps. He’s just old school like that.
I hear this on Twitter and email all the time: Enough of Peyton Manning! Not today.
“NICE TRY, H8RZ. YOU MIGHT SHAME ME INTO STOPPING MY PEY-PEY GUSHING ONCE IN A WHILE, BUT TODAY IS NOT ONE OF THOSE DAYS. I HAVE FULL LICENSE TO OVERGUSH UNTIL I CAN GUSH NO MORE. I’LL BE EJACULATING DUST BY THE TIME THIS THING IS DONE!”
Sunday was Manning’s 228th regular season game, and would you believe me if I told you that, at an age two years past when Terry Bradshaw retired, he has in the midst of the best playing stretch of his career?
Would you believe heaping praise through rhetorical questions gives you cancer?
You can look it up.
“I know. I had an intern do it.”
“I’ll tell you what’s scary,’’ said Tony Dungy
“GAY PEOPLE GETTING MARRIED AND DEFILING EVERY SACRED INSTITUTION! Also clowns.”
Manning’s coach in that 2004 season, in the NBC Football Night in America green room Sunday night. “Peyton will be better in November. He’s still getting used to his receivers, I can tell you, the longer he works with guys, the better they’ll all be.’’
/waits breathlessly for the team to implode in first playoff game in January
“I think a big part of it is we all want to win for this guy,’’ said Decker.
There’s a good musketeer.
“The line plays like, ‘Don’t let Peyton get hit.’ The receivers are like, ‘Run that route exactly the way it should be run.’ It goes to defense and special teams too. It’s a sign of unselfishness. I also think it has to do with our expectations. Even after a game like this, the attitude in the locker room was, ‘That was good, not great.’ That’s Peyton.’’
Name five things more cultish than the Broncos locker room. You can’t!
This afternoon, after a brief workout and some weightlifting, all of the Denver offensive players will gather in a Broncos meeting room.
Kool Aid will be served.
No coaches, just players.
A few robes. Some fire. A pentagram. Possibly a goat.
For one to two hours (the time varies; when they’re finished they’re finished), the players will look at the tape of Sunday’s games. They started this in Manning’s first year last fall. Anyone can speak up about anything.
So long as it’s Peyton’s will.
In the first game of the season, against Baltimore, Julius Thomas caught a pass on a seam route and took a big hit from a Baltimore safety. Said Thomas: “When we came in and reviewed the game film, he’s like, ‘Do you understand that seam route?’ I’m like, ‘Yeah, yeah.’ He texted me a couple of days while we were practicing for the New York Giants and he said, ‘You know, I’m really liking the way you’re running these seam routes—they’re a lot better.’ I just texted him back and said, ‘Your mom only has to tell you one time that the stove is hot.’
Holy shit, that’s really creepy.
“PEYTON LOVES ME, THIS I KNOW, FOR HE ALWAYS TELLS ME SO”
The Dot-Dot-Dot Section
Having blown his load, PK crams observations and notes from the other 12 games from Sunday into a paragraph roughly a fifth as long as his Pey-Pey encomium.
Looking ahead to the 9-0 Bowl.
It is ridiculously early.
But in seven weeks, on Nov. 17, there could be a beautiful game in Denver: The 9-0 Broncos hosting 9-0 Kansas City.
30 years of perspective, folks
Postscript: Denver travels to New England in Week 12. Imagine Denver playing a 9-0 bowl against Kansas City one week, then a 10-0 bowl against the Patriots the next.
Funny thing. Lots of NFL things that look so intriguing in September usually get blown up in October.
Like Peyton’s neck?
The 2014 Hall of Fame conundrum
Oh goodie, another installment in how wrenching it is to be a privileged Hall of Fame voter.
I’ve said for a long time that the wide receiver logjam, particularly with five or six more receivers likely to cross the 1,000-catch plateau in the next five years, is going to be the most vexing problem for the 46 Pro Football Hall of Fame voters in the next few years. Marvin Harrison (1,102 catches) hits the ballot this year. Do voters put him in right away because of his importance to the Colts’ long run of excellence? Do they stack him behind Andre Reed and Tim Brown, who have been waiting nine and five years respectively?
Do they hold against him the fact that he might have killed a dude?
Do they wait to see if Reggie Wayne, 34, who wants to play multiple more years and is only 117 catches behind Harrison this morning, passes him, and by how much?
Wait, he’s actually not going to mention the murder thing? Is there an NBC-wide policy against acknowledging that?
But the logjam problem for 2014 could be a coaching one, for a couple of reasons.
Let’s get to the newest coach up for election in 2014, and the leader in the clubhouse among all coaches for enshrinement: Tony Dungy.
Oooooooh boy. Here we go.
Tony Dungy. In 13 years as a head coach in Tampa Bay and Indianapolis, Dungy had one losing season. He had an amazing six-year run beginning in 2003—wining 12, 12, 14, 12, 13 and 12 games—one of which led to his lone Super Bowl title, following the 2006 season. But he does have downsides: Dungy is only 21st on the NFL’s all-time coaching wins list, and he is 9-10 in the playoffs. And though he has steadfastly said he is happy in his TV job and normal family life, he is 57, and the Hall of Fame selection committee (of which I am a member) has sometimes factored in the possibility of a coach returning to the sidelines if he’s still a relatively young man, which Dungy is. Why’s that significant? Because you want to be able to consider a coach’s full career, not a potentially incomplete one.
Do we judge him by his resume or the fantasy resume in my mind where he returns next year and wins the next eight Super Bowls?
For the record, and in fairness to this section of the column, a disclaimer:
Only certain sections of the column require fairness, mind you.
I have worked with Dungy on the NBC Football Night in America set for five years.
That right? Not sure you’ve ever mentioned that.
I believe he will not return to coaching—but as Bill Parcells used to say, they don’t sell insurance for these kinds of things.
IF THEY DID, I’D HAVE BOUGHT JAP INSURANCE EONS AGO.
So does racial pioneering matter, and should it count toward election? The bylaws of the Hall say, “The only criteria for election to the Pro Football Hall of Fame are a nominee’s achievements and contributions as a player, coach, or contributor in professional football in the United States of America.” Nothing is said about being a pioneer. So it will be left to the interpretation of the voters. But my interpretation will be that the pioneer aspect of the job should matter.
Should we consider heartthrob factor? WELL I AM, AND YOU CAN SUCK IT IF YOU DISAGREE!
Inspiring, encouraging and being a role model for African-American coaches (and, quite frankly, coaches in general and football coaches in particular) is part of Dungy’s contribution to the game
As is virulent gay-bashing, but he’s hardly a pioneer on that score.
1. Denver (4-0). Four games, 179 points. Everything is working. Everything.
And when I say everything… I mean…
[Finishes, climaxes on laptop]
5. Indianapolis (3-1). Going West Coast/East Coast (Niners/Jags) was supposed to be harder than this: Colts 64, Foes 10.
Pretty sure you could fly to the moon and back and beat Jacksonville the next day.
6. New England (4-0). Tell me who could have forecast the Pats starting 4-0, including a win over a desperate Falcons team on the road, without their four biggest pass catchers from last year. Incredible accomplishment. By the way: The two teams I picked to make the Super Bowl—Pats, ‘Hawks—are 8-0. Not that I’m bragging or anything.
8. Detroit (3-1). Sunday’s 40-32 win over the Bears was the first time I’ve watched the Lions in a long time and thought, “That’s a complete team.” Detroit’s still leaky on defense, but the pressure packages used by defensive coordinator Gunther Cunningham really affected Jay Cutler Sunday.
Totally complete, especially the huge void in the defense. It almost makes them more complete in a way.
10. Chicago (3-1). Not the end of the world, losing at amped Detroit. But Sloppy Jay Cutler’s not going to win championships.
Sloppy Jay Cutler: the next hot Tumblr meme
15. Houston (2-2). Texans-Niners at Candlestick Sunday night. Combined record: 4-4.
Damn fine job adding their records together. That’s why you make the UBER BUCKS.
Offensive Players of the Week
Philip Rivers, QB, San Diego. Maybe its Rivers’ turn.
To ask somebodddddddddaaaaaayyyyyyyyy
Maybe in his 10th year he’s seen his fellow 2004 draftees, Ben Roethlisberger and Eli Manning, with their shiny Super Bowl rings, and now he’s saying enough. The Chargers beat NFC East frontrunner Dallas to go 2-2 Sunday (and they’re still two games behind two teams in the AFC West), and Rivers completed 35 of 42 passes for 401 yards and three touchdowns.
Oh man, is Peter half-heartedly implying the Chargers might win a Super Bowl this year? That’s tremendous.
Coach of the Week
Rob Chudzinski, head coach, Cleveland. “You’re 2-0 since you gave up on the season,’’ I told Chudzinski Sunday night. He said: “Good thing nobody told that to our players.”
MORE LIKE CHUD-ZING-SKI
Goat of the Week
Joe Flacco, QB, Baltimore. He threw five interceptions at Buffalo, leading to 13 Buffalo points, and the Ravens lost by three. Not good.
Not even ELITE?
Quotes of the Week
“May have to give ol’ Thunder an IV after that one.”
—Peyton Manning, on the Broncos’ Arabian horse mascot, who sprints the length of the field after every Denver scoring drive. The Broncos set a franchise record Sunday with 52 points.
“Or maybe we make Thunder watch a special game tape of what happens to horses that doesn’t wanna run after the Broncos run up the score. Maybe we show him the glue gun.”
“Undrafted free agent. If you look at my Wikipedia page, it’s there. It’s a stamp. Might as well put it on my friggin’ forehead.”
—Detroit tight end Joseph Fauria, the Lions’ undrafted and very productive rookie tight end.
In any case, Gregg Easterbrook would be glad to slather it in edible lube on your buttcheeks.
Factoids of the Week That May Interest Only Me
Only In America With Jerry Dept.:
This is the fifth year the Dallas Cowboys and the Texas Lottery have teamed up to create a scratch-off lottery game. In the first four years that the tickets were on sale throughout the state, Texans have bought a mind-boggling $184 million worth of the Cowboys’ scratch-off, instant-win tickets.
YEEEEEEE HAWWWWWWW I AM FUCKIN’ EXPLOITIN’ POOR STUPID PEOPLE
(The majority of the proceeds, almost $40 million, has gone to public education in Texas, according to Texas Lottery director Gary Grief.)
YEEEEEEEE HAWWWWWW I HAVE A HANDY WAY TO JUSTIFY EXPLOITIN’ THE POOR AND STUPID
One of the prizes in the scratch-off game: access for two inside the Cowboys’ draft room the day of the first round of the 2014 NFL draft, and a briefing with Jones about the Cowboys’ draft strategy.
“They would get to see the board,’’ Jones said at a press conference the other day. “I guess that’s not good.
But they do see the board early, get an idea of where we might go. And we really spend a lot of time talking with them about that.”
“But on the other hand, FUGGIN’ MONNNNNEEEEYYYYYY”
The Pittsburgh Pirates will play their first home playoff game since 1992 Tuesday night.
Oh yeah, only you care about that out of place baseball nugget.
The Pirates’ last home postseason game, in the National League Championship Series, was played on the night of Oct. 11, 1992, at Three Rivers Stadium. Earlier that day, rookie head man Bill Cowher coached his fifth NFL game, losing to quarterback Mike Tomczak and the Browns, 17-9, in Cleveland.
The previous day, William & Mary sophomore wide receiver Michael Tomlin (not “Mike,” according to a Philadelphia Inquirer report of the game) had a 51-yard touchdown catch called back due to a holding penalty in W&M’s 21-19 victory over Penn in Philadelphia.
All well and good, but how old was RGIII? What grade was he in. I thought that’s how we bring the past into perspective.
Mr. Starwood Preferred Member Travel Note of the Week
After Barack Obama and Iranian president Hassan Rouhani talked Thursday, Rouhani tweeted out some details of their conversation before Iran’s leader departed for home, including Obama saying words to this effect: “I wish you a safe and pleasant journey, and apologize if you’re experiencing the traffic in NYC.”
Since moving to the East Side of Manhattan a couple of years ago, United Nations Week (the early-fall week when the General Assembly is in session, and the most famous politicians in the world flood into the east side of the city) has been a revelation. The cops bring steel barricades to all the East Side avenues, and two to four cops spend five days on each corner, directing traffic so a U.N. business-only lane, to the far left on these streets, with barricades to the left and orange cones to the right, stays clear. This way, when a motorcade of Iraqi diplomats or God knows who comes speeding down the streets, the road is clear for them.
So: As a two-year resident of Manhattan, I’ve gotten used to walking when the walk signs say walk, and most other times, staying out of the street. It’s for my own good; stories of pedestrians getting plowed over by cabs and cars pop up daily. On Wednesday, I was trying to cross Second Avenue 10 blocks north of the U.N., I saw the white “walk’’ sign lit, and I took a couple of steps into the street.
“SIRSIRSIR!!!!” yelled a cop about 10 feet away from me, and I looked up, and here was a motorcade with a New York City cop car driving maybe 30 miles an hour being waved through the intersection …
I know! Sometimes traffic cop instructions supersede street signs! Prettay CRAZZZZAY!
So I jumped back onto the sidewalk.
It wasn’t that close, really.
Shhhh, you’re ruining the drama of this pointless story.
But as I stood there and the motorcade got waved through, I saw three black Escalades following very, very close to the police car (which didn’t have a siren on). In the third vehicle, the window of the driver’s-side passenger door was down, and a man in what appeared to be brown military fatigues with two hands on some sort of machine gun was inside.
Nice to have the city back this morning.
WE’RE RECLAIMED IT FROM THAT RECKLESS MILITARY JUNTA! ONCE AGAIN THE WALKERS WILL RULE!
Tweets of the Week
“Monte Kiffin on facing Peyton Manning after getting torched by Philip Rivers: ‘That’s not good.’ ”
—@clarencehilljr, longtime Dallas Cowboys beat man, on the Dallas defensive coordinator anticipating next week’s batting against Denver.
Monte Kiffin on how he plans to deal with Peyton Manning: “Think he’ll want some ribbon candy? I got lots of ribbon candy.”
“This is the 113th year that both Cleveland and Pittsburgh have had major league baseball. Up to now, never been in postseason same year.”
—@DannyKnoblerCBS, the longtime baseball writer, now of CBS.com, on the novelty of the 2013 Wild Card round.
Good to know the fans of shitty AFC North teams have common distractions.
Ten Things I Think I Think
a. Brian Hoyer. Outplayed Andy Dalton. Nothing fluky about the 17-6 Cleveland win. That job is Hoyer’s until further notice, maybe until draft day.
What, you don’t think Doopy Pantz can take the job back from someone who has actually displayed competence?
c. The unpredictability of football: The Super Bowl MVP quarterback goes to Buffalo to play a run-of-the-mill team with both starting cornerbacks out injured. And Joe Flacco throws five interceptions, and the Bills win.
That can’t be! Once you win a Super Bowl MVP you never struggle again. It’s guaranteed elite-itude for life!
e. The Kansas City defense, which has allowed 41 points in four games. It doesn’t let you breathe. The Giants ran zero plays inside the KC red zone Sunday.
f. As a means of comparison, the Philadelphia defense allowed 42 points in three quarters Sunday.
Maybe they just wanted to see the horse run.
k. Larry Fitzgerald beating Darrelle Revis for a touchdown in a battle of titans.
RELEASE THE FITTY KRAKEN!
2. I think this is what I didn’t like about Week 4:
a. The games at Wembley have this one TV problem: No enough lights in the stadium. Every one of those games looks dark.
“That’s just what I told the Dunge in the NBC Viewing Room. ‘Imagine you were coaching that game. I’d have a hard time making out your rugged handsomeness. Can you hold my hand? It’ll get you a Hall of Fame vote.’”
c. Left wondering what happened to one of the best legs in the game, Billy Cundiff.
He missed two more field goals Sunday, and it won’t surprise me to see the Browns have a kicking competition this week.
Just a guess: a minor case of Vanderjagtitis after shanking that kick in the AFC Title Game.
j. Re the Rashad Johnson lost-fingertip coverage: He lost half an inch of a fingertip. Nobody wants to lose a centimeter of a body part, obviously. But the coverage was a bit over the top. Excessive.
Tell me about it. People stopped talking about Peyton Manning for a minute or two. The gall of these lower media types and their salacious focus on things outside the Fetushead.
4. I think if I’m Roger Goodell
“I’d be hard pressed not to be in the shower groping myself for days”
I’m walking down the hall at NFL headquarters sometime very soon to the new-owner-vetting office and asking, “Uh, did we know anything about the looming jillion-dollar judgment against the Wilf family? Or anything about Jimmy Haslam?’’
Useful to know commissioner PK would be as laughably incompetent at his job as columnist PK.
5. I think the Bucs need to cut Josh Freeman. Today.
STRONG TAKES A-COMIN’
6. I think these things are always tricky.
You don’t want to be giving in to players who are trying to shoot their way out of your franchise. But the Bucs are in a delicate time. They’re in a poisonous relationship with Freeman. They owe him $6.4 million, guaranteed, for the final three months of a lost season, and every day he spends on campus with the team is an ugly one. It’d be one thing if there was a team out there dying to trade for him. I was in touch with the Jags and Browns on Sunday about their prospective interest. Each has more than $17 million in salary cap money to spend now if they choose, and could afford to take on a new Freeman contract. (It’s assumed he’d try to go somewhere and get a new contract, because he’s due to be a free agent after the season, and it seems stupid to trade something of substance for Freeman just as a three-month rental if he’d hit the market after the season.) Each team told me the same thing: No interest. The Bucs should give Greg Schiano a chance to save his job and save the 2013 season, and the only way to do that is to cut Freeman loose now.
I don’t really give a shit if they elect to cut or trade Freeman or not, but if it’s done solely for the sake of shitheel Schiano’s career then they deserve to lose 12 games a year from now until the end of days.
10. I think these are my non-football thoughts of the week:
a. Was that the Minnesota Twins on the field in the last couple of weeks, or the New Britain Rock Cats?
I thought we went over this rhetorical question thing.
b. What if Henderson Alvarez threw a no-hitter and nobody noticed?
What if Peter King died in a fire and everyone cheered?
e. When you finish third instead of second in your rotisserie league because Washington pitcher Tanner Roark left the last game of the year, a totally meaningless game in Arizona Sunday to everyone in America but me, with a 2-1 lead after seven innings and had the bullpen blow it and thus not get a win you needed, and when the guy you’re chasing gets one meaningless (but not to us) final strikeout from Kenley Jansen, allowing him to move up one slot in strikeouts … well, you’re probably in rotisserie baseball a little too deep.
When you lay out in detail the scenario that determined whether you finished second or third in your fantasy baseball league like anyone could possibly give a shit… you might a little too deep up your own asshole.
g. Coffeenerdness: Nobody likes a coffee nerd
and so when I started to tell the barista at Starbucks the other day that she was making the macchiato wrong (espresso on the bottom of the cup, with milk on top, which it shouldn’t be), I caught myself and shut up.
“Then proceeded to still bitch about it in my national football column. LOFTY RESTRAINT, ME!”
h. Beernerdness: Happiness is having six Flower Power IPAs in the refrigerator for use sometime in the next week or so.
That’s cute. PK will be making another beer run at halftime tonight.
Who I Like Tonight
New Orleans 24, Miami 12. Honest comment from Sean Payton Saturday, asked if he has to counteract all the positive attention his defense has gotten this month. The Saints, 32nd and last in team defense last year, are fourth this season in their 3-0 start. “Honestly you’re always kind of paying attention to [it],’’ Payton said. “You guys [reporters] have a difficult job. What sells in your industry is something to either extreme, but the 85 percent in the middle is typically what we deal with on a weekly basis. Bill [Parcells] was really good at this. When it’s all [favorable], you’re making sure [to tell players] we have a lot that we have to improve on, and you show them the tape and emphasize that. I think just eliminating the outside distractions and eliminating what we call ‘the noise’ is more difficult today than it ever has been because of the amount of coverage and the amount of exposure to the game.’’
That is actually a pretty insightful comment from Payton.
But facts are facts: The Saints are 3-0 largely because of the giant steps they’ve made on the less-famous side of the ball.
Aaaaand there’s PK obliviously looking past it to confirm everything Payton just said.
The Adieu Haiku
Chip’s balloon has burst.
What a difference a month makes.
DeSean: Play DeD.
Peyton on a horse
Galloping through a meadow
PK cock in hand
I want more like this!
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