When last we left sportsman undecider, Peter King, he was spewing ice-hot hockey takes while in the same breath admitting he knows nothing about the sport. Wish he had the same candor with football. PK also poked fun at a senator’s staffer for sending out a press release with a thoughtless error, meanwhile his own work was riddled with them. Most notable of those errors was BANG BAG PLAYS. Don’t let your plays end up in the bang bag, friends!
But about this week? BIG NEWS: Peter King’s e-mail was hacked and NO I DON’T DIDN’T DO IT YOU CAN’T PROVE ANYTHING. Lucky for us, other than that, it was an uneventful week free of traveling so it’s just the usual assortment of equivocating and infuriating sports takes and pretending like he isn’t Peyton Manning’s lapdog. Sounds fun, so READ ON.
No, Week 15 didn’t top Week 14, because you don’t top five lead changes in the last three minutes of a game (Baltimore-Minnesota) and a back (LeSean McCoy) running for 100 yards in eight inches of snow in the first three minutes of the fourth quarter at Philadelphia.
But the stories in Week 15 … priceless.
Just priced slightly less priceless than Week 14.
Also, don’t worry, Darren Rovell is busy assigning monetary value to every NFL story whether you like it or not.
You just have to read the one, just six paragraphs south of here, about the man who was awakened in his California apartment a week ago today by the continual buzzing of his cell phone and a text from his agent imploring, “WAKE UP!” or he’d blow the chance of a lifetime
If I’m reading this, it means I’ve already clicked on your stupid fucking content. Just get to the point and stop selling me your shit.
Michael Thomas, come on down! And there will be other stories.
Stories of danger! And intrigue! And mystery! and hahaha j/k just gonna be 30 pages of travel itineraries.
But here’s what you should know about the NFL pennant race with 33 games left in the regular season:
Stop calling it a pennant race. That’s loser baseball talk. Goddammit, everything you do pisses me off.
Five of the top six playoff seeds in the league lost over the weekend—by an average of 10 points. Anyone want to win the AFC? The Broncos ceded top seed in the AFC to New England by losing Thursday night. The Patriots gave it right back by losing Sunday afternoon and plummeting down to the third seed. The Bengals then lost Sunday night, going from second to third. End result: Nothing happened at the top of the AFC race. Absolutely nothing.
Totally nothing, except the Chiefs are now tied with the Broncos atop the AFC West. While Kansas City loses out to Denver on the tiebreaker, all the Broncos have to do is lose one more game and they’re only a Wild Card team.
A lot happened in the NFC. Seattle looked like the ’76 Steelers shutting out the ’76 Bucs in the 23-0 whipping of the Giants, who were stunningly non-competitive.
The ’76 Steelers lost in the conference championship game. FORESHADOWING!?
Nah, just shitty writing.
The Saints have bristled against the they-stink-on-the-road label, but let’s face it: They stink on the road.
At 3-4, the Saints have the same record on the road that the Eagles have at home, so I look forward to the “DOES PHILLY ACTUALLY REALLY WANT A HOME PLAYOFF GAME?” narrative.
They were crushed by the weirdo Rams in the Ed Jones Dome, and now they face an uphill battle to win the NFC South.
WEIRDO RAMS! Usually I bristle at PK’s tendency to call even the most mundane things weird, but I think the Rams should really henceforth be known as the Weirdo Rams. Here’s the new logo:
PK follows this with, I will admit, a not terrible story of Michael Thomas’ week going from the 49ers practice squad to the Dolphins secondary. Seeeeee? I can be nice.
The players he barely knew now were jumping on him, slapping him, celebrating. “Mama, I did it! I did it!” Thomas yelled over and over, but no one could hear him.
No one could hear anything, because the stadium was so loud. And after the game, he cried. In his post-game press conference, Joe Philbin seemed not to remember the name of the hero who broke up one touchdown pass in the end zone and then intercepted another. “We had a player in there that I think got into the building on Tuesday,” Philbin said. That just added to the lore.
Yes. The lore of Joe Philbin being the embodiment of every boring middle management type.
Next time you hear some coach say, “It takes all 53 to win,” think of Michael Thomas.
An NFL coach says that just about every week, so I guess I’ll be doing a lot of thinking about Michael Thomas.
Five points from the games that hit me Sunday.
How do the Dallas Cowboys run the ball seven times on 30 second-half plays when the back, DeMarco Murray, is knocking it out of the park (seven carries, 41 second-half yards, 5.8-yard average)?
Because Bill Callahan.
Greg A. Bedard will write more on this game, and on the play-calling, later today at The MMQB.
Did you really need to namecheck your website in a piece ON YOUR WEBSITE?
The Rams are 6-8. They’ve lost five games by double-digits. They’ve won five games by double-digits.
Julian Edelman in the fourth quarter Sunday: 10 targets, eight catches, 93 yards. His numbers in that quarter and in the last four games (37 catches, 414 yards) say he’s going to be the Welker-type crutch for Tom Brady.
And that’s back-to-back weeks of PK making sure the world knows how great Julian Edelman is. Guessing the Bear Jew’s penis length is gonna be the “factoid of the week that only tantalizes me” sooner or later.
If Matt Asiata was precocious enough to score three touchdowns in the absence of Adrian Peterson and Toby Gerhart Sunday, I wonder what our good friend Zach Line would have done were he not placed on IR early in the year?
Oh man, the precociousness he would have put on display. If he showed the off-the-charts precociousness to let The MMQB write about it, it’s a wonder what he would do on the field. I bet he would have scored eight touchdowns on five carries.
Tony Romo helped, but Matt Flynn’s second half saved the Packers.
Via commenter Mike Wallace and Gromit:
When the strangest game of his life was over, the 37-36 win over Dallas in Texas on Sunday, Matt Flynn jumped around the locker room with his teammates — yes, they really jumped around
Did they really jump around? That’s hardly behavior I would expect from a bunch of athletes who just pulled off an improbable victory. I figured they’d all just start playing cribbage.
I am still trying to figure out what happened at the end of regulation in the Arizona-Tennessee game. To recap: The Titans, down 34-24 with three minutes to go, kicked a field goal, recovered an onside kick and drove to a touchdown with 10 seconds left. So it was 34-33, Arizona, with 10 seconds left, and Tennessee coach Mike Munchak chose to kick the extra point to send the game to overtime. Rob Bironas kicked the PAT. But there was a flag on the play. Offside, Arizona. Munchak had a choice: take the five-yard penalty on the ensuing kickoff, or go half the distance to the goal line and go for two—and the win—from the Arizona 1-yard line.
Munchak chose to keep the point, and the tie, and play for overtime. In overtime, Arizona kicked the winning field goal and beat Tennessee, 37-34.
My problem is twofold. Tennessee had Arizona reeling. In the final minutes the Titans drove 87 yards to a field goal and 54 yards to a touchdown. That’s 141 yards, in about three minutes. And they had a chance to get one yard to win the game, with no overtime. Of course, if they didn’t make the yard, the game would be over, and they’d lose bitterly.
Like Mike Shanahan did on Sunday?
Bigger than capitalizing on the flow of the game (I’ve never been convinced that momentum is that big a deal, but 141 yards in 15 plays—now that’s a big deal)
“The idea of capitalizing on momentum is just one of those myths that fans like to beliWHOOOOOAAHHH LOOGIT THOSE BIG NUMBERS!”
What, exactly, was Munchak saying to his team and fan base after building a team in the offseason that was supposed to be able to grind out a tough yard when needed? The Titans made Andy Levitre the highest-paid guard in football in free agency last March. They drafted Chance Warmack, another guard, with their first-round pick in April. Levitre and left tackle Kevin Roos
That’s Michael Roos.
would be one of the premier guard-tackle combinations in football.
And so Mike Munchak, a steely baron of the run game himself, had this choice: one play for the win from the 1-yard line; or overtime, where his chance would be, at best, 50-50, and a little less if he lost the coin flip before OT. Ask yourself this question: If the Titans had 10 shots from the 1-yard line behind Levitre and Roos, with Chris Johnson running behind them, isn’t the team Mike Munchak created in the offseason built to succeed there a majority of the time?
C’mon, PK, don’t hold back. Why is Mike Munchak a coward and a traitor to himself and the franchise? Why is Mike Munchak the face of weakness and what’s wrong with America today? Why did Mike Munchak spit on the Baby Jesus and give those secrets to Edward Snowden?
That’s a terrible decision. And when it comes time for new club czar Tommy Smith to pass judgment on Munchak after the season, we’d be naïve to think he’s not going to wonder the same thing I just did.
“That’s right! NFL GMs are thinking MYYYYYYY thoughts! Or at least they better unless they want me openly campaigning for their jobs!”
Can’t believe he didn’t even mention that Shanahan made that exact decision and it failed.
The Sportsman of the Year decision.
Apologies to all of you in advance: I am not the one who decides Sportsman of the Year.
Well, it’s not in advance since the cover athlete was already announced.
I did announce it on NBC’s Football Night in America Sunday night, but that was a marriage of convenience because I work for NBC too.
Which is exactly why it doesn’t matter that PK himself wasn’t the one to choose Peyton Manning as the SI Sportperson of Whatever. Because it was done with PK’s property in mind. If it’s an NFL player on the cover, it gives SI a nice plug for their magazine on the most watched show on television. Plus it’s an opportunity to plug TheMMQB, a site SI has poured a bunch of money into over the past year. It’s a disgusting, cynical, business-driven decision and Peter King is a weaselly shithead to guilelessly try to distance himself from it.
I was in Denver last month. I asked Manning a year-and-a-half after his free-agency foray, Was there one moment in that process when you said, It’s not going to happen?
“Peyton – the world needs to know you’re humble. TELL US HOW YOU’RE HUMBLE!”
“Yeah,” he said, sitting in the Broncos’ cafeteria. “Ashley [his wife] and I actually had those conversations. More than one. Because, you know, you don’t want to embarrass yourself. Because, they’re signing you and people are thinking they’re getting the player they had always seen before. And so, Ashley was the one that was saying, ‘Peyton, you’ve got to try. You’ve got to try.’ With this injury, nothing was happening. Nothing. For weeks. There was no progress. It was so frustrating. And really, I had a peace about it. I had a peace. Because, I had this unbelievable string of health for 20 years—since I was 15 years old as a sophomore in high school. So who was I to complain now that I’m injured? I’ve given it as good a run as I can give it. I’ve got kids now. I had a peace about it. So I didn’t feel like I had to play to get another win or a touchdown. But she’s like, ‘You’ve got to try.’ So I was glad that she pushed me to do it. Once I did it, I was going at it, and then I started seeing a little bit of light there. So, yeah, she was the one who kind of pushed me through it.”
Peyton Manning spends 100 hours a week watching game tape and obsessing over football but his wife had to press him to play? “No, no, I was totally ready to give it all up and live my quiet boring life devoid of this thing I love but she demanded otherwise.” Fuck off.
I’ll write some in my Tuesday column about Jamaal Charles and his amazing Sunday in Oakland. But I wondered last night if he had some disappointment in not at least tying the NFL record for touchdowns in a game. He scored his fifth touchdown with 18 minutes to play.
“No, no,” he said. “I’m not upset about that at all. That’s crazy. What a great day I had. There’s no way I can be upset after scoring five touchdowns in a game.”
God, media people are just the fucking worst. “Hey, you just had an incredible game in which you scored five touchdowns. But aren’t you ad you didn’t score MORE touchdowns?”
1. Seattle (12-2).
Yeah, sure. And then?
MASSIVE LINE OF DEMARCATION
Ooh, I don’t know. I would have put them fourth, unless it was a precocious line of demarcation.
2. San Francisco (10-4). Colin Kaepernick’s last four games: seven touchdowns, one interception, 104.6 rating, 29 carries, 111 yards … and totally in control.
Don’t like how he matches up with that line of demarcation though.
5. New Orleans (10-4). Saints at Panthers Sunday. I do not trust the Saints on the road. Who does, other than Mrs. Drew Brees?
“Ha ha, Drew Brees, your wife is an idiot.”
8. Cincinnati (9-5). This is the kind of year it’s been in the NFL: I woke up Sunday thinking the Bengals would beat New England and maybe Denver on neutral fields. Then there was an egg-laying of the highest degree in Pittsburgh. So now, you ask me about the Bengals, who have lost at Cleveland, Baltimore and Pittsburgh this season, and I’m throwing darts.
The Bengals have beaten the Patriots, a team that needed a highly suspect critical call to beat Cleveland. That doesn’t mean Cincinnati is a lock to beat the Pats in a rematch (EVEN IF IT’S NOT IN WICHITA!), but for the purposes of your stupid arbitrary rankings, it might clarify things
9. Indianapolis (9-5). America’s (Psycho) Team checks in:
Patrick Bateman for Colts coach.
In the last six, Colts have lost by 30, won by three, lost by 29, won by eight, lost by 14, won by 22. Football is a funny game.
15. (tie) Detroit (7-6). No turnovers, and the Lions are sixth or seventh here.
That’s actually a huge condemnation of the Lions. You know how great an NFL team would be if it never turned the ball over? Even if that were possible, PK says they’d only be the sixth or seventh best team in the NFL.
Offensive Players of the Week
Jamaal Charles, running back, Kansas City. When’s the last time a running back caught three touchdown passes in the first 25 minutes of a game? And four for the game? (Okay, Elias: Go scurrying for that one. You know what? Elias will find it. Guaranteed.)
Because, unlike 99 percent of sports media, they’re actually good at their job and serve a useful function to fans? WEIRD!
Kirk Cousins, quarterback, Washington.
Funny, I thought he was a New Yorker writer.
Can’t imagine a player feeling more pressure entering the game Sunday, with the focus of the Robert Griffin III benching and the spotlight on what Washington might be able to get in trade for Cousins after the season. Knowing that his every move would be watched on tape by the Clevelands and Jacksonvilles of the league, Cousins completed 29 of 45 passes for 381 yards, three touchdowns and two picks (94.8 rating), and drove Washington 80 yards in 13 plays for what appeared to be the tying touchdown at the end of the fourth quarter … but coach Mike Shanahan chose to go for the two-point conversion and the win, and Cousins threw incomplete.
So he turned the ball over twice and missed the critical throw at the end of the game and this merits him player of the week status in a losing effort. You’d be calling RGIII dogshit for that.
Defensive Players of the Week
Michael Thomas, cornerback, Miami. They write TV pilots about the week Thomas just had (see the lead to this column)
I ALREADY FUCKING READ IT! STOP REFERRING ME TO OTHER PARTS OF THIS SHIT HEAP!
and people watch them.
You hear that? The Michael Thomas TV series no only got picked up by a network, but it’s closing in on the 100-episode threshold. That means syndication $$$$$$$
Coach of the Week
Joe Philbin, head coach, Miami. Might not just be Coach of the Week. Might be Coach of the Year.
No fucking way.
Since Jonathan Martin threw his tray of pasta down in the Dolphins cafeteria and stalked off the team, followed soon by the suspension of Richie Incognito, sending the team into mayhem, Miami is 5-2
One of those losses being to a previously winless team.
Philbin’s done a good enough job, but if he wins Coach of the Year over Andy Reid, that’s some serious bullshit.
Goats of the Week
Tony Romo, quarterback, Dallas. In the annals of blown ends of games in Tony Romo history, this one has to ascend to No. 1.
You shouldn’t rank Romobyls. Each is a beautiful work of art that must be cherished on its own.
Eli Manning, quarterback, New York Giants. Hate to pile on, but
Why would you hate piling on Eli? Mass mockery of Eli Manning is one of the few wonderful unifying forces in our society. Embrace it.
Quotes of the Week
“I got the funniest email last night. Did you get it too? Come on, Peter. If you think you’re going to hit me up for $2,500, you’ve got the wrong guy.”
—Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson, to The MMQB’s Jenny Vrentas, in the Seahawks’ locker room after the 23-0 win over the Giants.
My email account got hacked, and so I guess all the people I’ve emailed pretty much my whole adult life got an email saying that I was in Spain currently, with a cousin who needs $2,500 for emergency kidney surgery, and could they please send it in a hurry.
And I was so counting on Russell Wilson to help.
If you don’t think PK hasn’t lowered his option of the Charmslinger because he knows Wilson wouldn’t spot him $2,500 if he really needed it, you don’t know our Petey.
“A hundred and 66 thousand dollars a week to do nothing.”
—ProFootballTalk.com’s Mike Florio, on the luckiest man in the NFL, Josh Freeman, who is making $2 million for 12 weeks of mostly sitting out games, inactive, with Minnesota. Freeman has played in one game since being signed to great fanfare by the Vikings after he was cut by Tampa Bay. And his average pay per week, as Florio said, is $166,667.
Two grossly overpaid media dipshits trying to foment outrage that an athlete is earning more money than he’s worth. Never mind that Matt Flynn had made tens of millions for years of doing nothing prior to Sunday. Josh Freeman is a non-white quarterback who made PK’s precious Schiano Factor look bad, so he gets the scorn.
Mr. Starwood Preferred Member Travel Note of the Week
I went nowhere this week. Could I have a week off from this item in the column?
Yes. Take all the weeks off.
No? Well then
let’s dig into the vault of good travel notes. How about this one, from July 26, 2010. It’s the note that was responsible for changing the name of this specific part of the column:
A recycled nugget. Wonderful. A cut and paste job in a section of irrelevant bullshit you force on readers. And Josh Freeman getting money is the problem.
Tweets of the Week
“‘It’s so unlike Tony Romo to throw an interception at the end of the game.’
—@FrankCaliendo, the professional funnyman.
Great, now I miss when PK just copied jokes from terrible Twitter parody accounts.
Ten Things I Think I Think
1. I think this is what I liked about Week 15:
a. Philip Rivers’ bolo tie.
I’m partial to the rattlesnake boots, but that’s just me.
e. The FOX graphic before the Atlanta-Washington kickoff. “Recent Washington Shutdowns” was the headline, and Stephen Strasburg, the government closure and Robert Griffin III were in three boxes beneath. Loved it.
Of course you did. It was even hackier than Caliendo’s joke.
f. Jay Glazer’s video of the illegal coach on the field in Pittsburgh-Miami. Uh, that’s not supposed to happen. Especially in a game involving the Steelers.
Especially in any game because it’s a rule.
2. I think this is what I didn’t like about Week 15:
b. Time of possession for Denver: 21 minutes. At home? The best offense in football went three-and-out three straight series for the first time this season against a previously 6-7 team.
SPORTSMAN OF THE YEAR, YOU GUYS.
c. Madness of Being a Chargers Fan Dept.: San Diego’s 32-32 in its last 64.
Well that’s pessimistic.
/glass half loser
h. Catch the ball in the fourth quarter, when the game is big, Greg Little.
Nice that this section is a weekly unironic version of Colbert’s wag of the finger.
k. I love Drew Brees, but in the red zone throwing into triple-coverage for Jimmy Graham? I mean, you don’t throw into triple-coverage for Jerry Rice.
Yeah, because Jerry Rice couldn’t outjump everyone on the planet. It was still a decidedly risky throw, but Jimmy Graham has turned a lot of those into catches.
3. I think the Rams can cross off one more positional need off their 2014 draft to-do list: running back. Zac Stacy (133 yards) was tremendous against the formerly formidable New Orleans, and he’s just the kind of back Jeff Fisher likes: some speed, but enough power to make people bounce off.
Stacy’s been good most of this year. This is a tell that PK watched them play for the first time in 2013.
5. I think I’m hearing some crazy things about the quarterback race at the top of the draft. Namely: I know one team that, as of now, thinks it’s no sure thing Teddy Bridgewater will be the top quarterback on its board (and this is a team that could take a quarterback in the first round). Moreover, this team believes Central Florida’s Blake Bortles or Johnny Manziel could be the top quarterback on the board. That’s right. Blake Bortles. We don’t even know if Bortles, a redshirt junior, will return for his fifth season at UCF. He will reportedly make his decision after Central Florida’s Fiesta Bowl game against Baylor.
Time for everyone’s favorite game: Cleveland or Jacksonville? I say it’s the Jags.
c. Wouldn’t be surprised to see Washington owner Dan Snyder sniff around Art Briles, to see if he could re-create the Baylor magic Briles and Griffin made. But I can’t see it happening. I get the sense there’s already enough feeling in the Washington locker room that Griffin gets special treatment. Why feed into that more by importing a special coach for him?
Just before this section, he was speculating on what the ‘Skins could get in a trade for Kirk Cousins. Now, if you’re worried that giving preferential treatment to RGIII, why reflexively trade away the man who could challenge for his job?
d. Not that he’d ask me for advice, but what I’d say to Griffin is: Tell your father not to give interviews with his opinion about the team’s offense, and tell your father you’ll meet him after the game, outside the locker room. I just don’t think the NFL is the place for helicopter parents.
Cool, now tell that to the Mannings.
f. I’d love to see David Shaw get a shot at RG3. I doubt he’d consider it, because I think the only place the well-satisfied Stanford coach would go in the NFL is an absolutely ideal one, and that’s not Washington right now. Wouldn’t mind Jay or Jon Gruden as the Shanahan heir either.
Ha. Jay Gruden. It’d be like Kyle Shanahan, pt. 2.
8. I think I say this every year around the middle of December, but the ballot for the Hall of Fame is on my desk (I have been looking at it nearly every day, puzzling over my last three or four spots), and this is such a tough year for the cut from 25 semifinalists to the 15 finalists the committee of 46 will consider in for election on Feb. 1 in New York. I think it’s because there are so many of the so-called marginal men I feel strongly about—Aeneas Williams, Jimmy Johnson, Kevin Greene, Jerome Bettis—and so many of those on the ballot I believe are long overdue.
What was the point of that other than to remind everyone that you’re a HOF voter?
10. I think these are my non-NFL thoughts of the week:
a. Newtown, a year later. Nothing substantive done about gun control in Washington, and at the state level 37 states increasing mental-health budgets in 2013 and five beefing up background checks. Not nearly enough. Overall, a sin.
You mean to tell me those clowns in Congress didn’t heed Peter King’s cry to DO SOMETHING? The system is broken for sure.
e. I like some of the things I read from Josh Yohe of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review on the Shawn Thornton assault of Brooks Orpik last week, so I asked him to weigh in on the future of fighting in hockey.
Monday Morning Zamboni Driver
h. It is very hard to walk by a television with The Big Lebowski on and not just sit there until the end of it. Saturday was one of those times, and if this were the offseason, I would have succumbed.
“Don’t worry, Donny, these men aren’t precocious. They won’t hurt us.”
i. For Tyler Tettleton’s sake, go Bobcats. Beat East Carolina.
Die die die die die die die die.
j. Coffeenerdness: Ground Central, the East 52nd Street coffee haven in Manhattan I recently praised, now gets more of it: Not only is the espresso heavenly, but there’s a library-like reading and computing den, very cozy, in back. It’s an oasis of sanity in Midtown. And when Midtown is full of tourists, it’s almost useless to go to Starbucks. At least half the time, they get anything but “grande black coffee” wrong.
Oh, the drawback to being a millionaire who lives in Manhattan is that the nearby chain coffee locations aren’t as good as they would be elsewhere? Good thing there are superior alternatives close by! Finally, I know the true struggles of the other half.
k. Beernerdness: Will stock up on a couple of Christmas beers this week. Suggestions?
Spice up that Drano by adding a pinch of two of nutmeg. Gives it a holiday kick and goes down smooth.
Who I Like Tonight
Detroit 23, Baltimore 20. Remember a couple of weeks ago, when we were promised a Game of the Year on Monday, New Orleans at Seattle, and it fizzled, 27-7 by halftime? Tonight’s going to be different.
/Ravens lead by 30 at the end of the first
The Adieu Haiku
One simple question
in the Hall of Fame cutdown:
Where is Joe Klecko?
Did he buy you food?
He got you food, didn’t he?
How much was the food?
I want more like this!
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