Ten Things I Think I Think
1. I think these are my quick-hit thoughts of Week 11:
a. If Jerod Mayo doesn't win the Defensive Rookie of the Year, there shouldn't be an award.
b. Two thoughts on the phantom holding call against Mike Vrabel that led to a late Jets touchdown instead of a late Jets field goal: After the Pittsburgh-Seattle Super Bowl, the league office made a big deal of telling officials to call what you actually see, not what you think must have happened based on the body movements of apparently fouled players; this was a classic case of an official thinking he saw holding instead of actually seeing it. Now, if the call had been illegal contact, seeing that Vrabel's contact was on the border of the five-yard bump zone, you might have been able to live with that.
But don't moan about the call, Pats fans. Had the Jets kicked a field goal to go up 27-24 with 3:30 to play instead of scoring a touchdown there, New England would have kicked the tying field goal with eight seconds left on fourth-and-one from the Jet 16 instead of Matt Cassel throwing the incredible touchdown pass to a diving Randy Moss with a second to play. So instead of going to overtime tied at 31, the teams would have gone there tied at 27.
c. How loony was it the other night, three days before the Bengals were to play Philly, to see Chad Johnson on at halftime of Pats-Jets in a promotion for the Steelers-Bengals Thursday-nighter this week?
d. Pats: 6-0 when they win the coin toss, 0-4 when they lose it. (Thank you, Andy Friedland.)
e. Whatever happened to Devin Hester?
f. Not your fault, Joe Flacco.
g. At one point Sunday, Ahmad Bradshaw had one of the all-time weird stat lines: three carries, 77 yards. Long of 77.
h. Eagles-Bengals Fever! Catch it! Five quarters, 21 punts, 759 punting yards.
i. "The Panthers had the day off. They hosted Detroit,'' Keith Olbermann said on Football Night in America.
j. Don't you get the feeling the Jeremy Shockey experiment is going to turn out very bad for the Saints?
2. I think if you want a textbook example of how instant-replay should work, study the way referee Gene Steratore handled the Randy Moss touchdown catch Thursday night. When replay was instituted, referees were told that when they review a call, they should change it only if there's indisputable visual evidence that the call was wrong.
Now, if you watched the Moss catch, you saw the right foot come very close to dragging along the turf as Moss made the catch and fell out of bounds. Watching on TV, it looked like Moss probably dragged it, and the official on the sideline, on top of the play, ruled it a touchdown. When Steratore went under the hood, he had one job: If the call was obviously wrong, he had to change it. If the call was certainly right, or if Steratore wasn't sure, he had to confirm the call on the field.
Steratore let the play stand, correctly, because no matter how many times you watched the play, you couldn't be 100-percent sure the right shoe dragged along the FieldTurf -- but you also couldn't be sure it didn't. So Steratore did the right thing. Too often in replay a call is reversed when there isn't 100-percent clarity that it was wrong on the field.
3. I think the NFL landscape is about to be affected by the suspension of the eight players who tested positive for a diet pill. When the Saints left Kansas City to fly home after beating the Chiefs, implicated players Deuce McAllister and Will Smith flew instead to New York for a Monday meeting with their attorney, David Cornwell, in advance of their Tuesday appeal at the NFL offices in Manhattan.
I believe the Saints are preparing to lose those two players (Charles Grant, who is on injured-reserve with a triceps injury, would also be suspended, and his suspension would be served while on IR) for games 12 through 15. The league likely would allow them to play against Green Bay next Monday night because it traditionally doesn't suspend players once their practice week begins.
4. I think Terrell Owens needs to look at a tape of his game last night and ask himself why, in such a big game. he didn't catch the ball well. He drops the ball too much to be considered one of the all-time greats.
5. I think I simply don't believe Donovan McNabb didn't know there couldn't be ties in the NFL. What did he think? They'd play forever? "I never even knew that was in the rule book,'' he said after the 13-13 snoozer in Cincinnati. That's absurd.
6. I think if I'm Andy Reid, I'm starting to think that when the Eagles are out of it, it's time to see Kevin Kolb. McNabb looks old. He can't move. Reid's got to see what he has for the future, but only when the Eagles are out of any realistic playoff contention. That hasn't happened yet.
7. I think this is what I liked about Week 11:
a. Fred Robbins blocked a Matt Stover field goal with the facemask of his helmet. Hey, whatever it takes.
b. At long last, Martellus Bennett made a play for the Cowboys.
c. Clinton Portis made a few, too. But Marion Barber made the most, particularly in the fourth quarter.
d. Notice a pattern here? Bill Parcells had the Giants in the playoffs in his second year in New York and the Super Bowl in his fourth. He had the Pats in the Super Bowl in his fourth year there. He had the Jets in the AFC title game in his second year -- and they'd gone 4-28 in the two prior to his arrival. Dallas 5-11 three straight years prior to his arrival in 2003, and the Cowboys made the playoffs in his first year. Miami was 1-15 last year, and he arrived to be the architect, and they're 6-4.
Here's what happens with Parcells: He makes it very uncomfortable to lose, and he takes great people and players like Jason Taylor, and if he deems them non-team-guys (fairly or unfairly), they're ostracized and purged. It can be an ugly business, but winning usually solves that.
e. Tyler Thigpen's better than I thought.
f. So is Trent Cole.
g. Jeff Garcia is playing like these are the most important games of his life.
h. This isn't just because I work with his brother, but Ronde Barber is at the top of his game.
i. Aaron Ross is turning out to be a good cornerback who knows when to take a risk.
j. Green Bay's going to win the NFC North. That's one heck of a division when a 4-5 team can have one great performance and we start handing them a home-playoff game.
k. Sorry, Steve Slaton. You got lost in the wash of a bad Texan loss. But you were terrific in Indianapolis. The Texans don't have to go out and look for a back anymore. You're it.
8. I think this is what I didn't like about Week 11:
a. The Broncos were on their way to stopping Atlanta early, but DeWayne Robertson jumped offside
b. Someone please -- I IMPLORE YOU -- put that "Saved by zero'' Toyota commercial out of its misery.
c. Sage Rosenfels threw that game-deciding pick into a crowd of players that included one Texan and four Colts. Those are not good odds, Sage -- and a primary reason why you're a backup quarterback, unfortunately.
d. Whoa, Terry Bradshaw. I respect your opinion about the Packers making a stupid decision about not bringing back Favre, but to say they'd be 8-2 or whatever with him? Have you seen their defense give up 154 rushing yards a game before Sunday? Sheesh.
e. San Diego, 4-6. Wow. The Chargers were gallant in Pittsburgh, but 4-6 is 4-6. When you've wiped the field with the Jets and Patriots, it's totally bizarre to be 4-6.
f. The Eagles look like an '82 Omni.
g. How on God's green earth can Brad Childress have Adrian Peterson on the sidelines for the last series of a game that will go a long way toward deciding the Vikings playoff fate.
9. I think the Rams have to bring in a very large broom and start sweeping. You've been beaten over the head with this stat, most likely, but St. Louis has trailed by a combined 75-3 at halftime over the last two games. The offensive line is a jailbreak, and Orlando Pace -- a day does not dawn without him being hurt -- needs to move on with his life's work post-football. The next owner of the Rams will need to figure out who the architect is, who the coach will be, whether the next quarterback is on the roster or somewhere else, and what kind of program he wants to build.
10. I think these are my non-football thoughts of the week:
a. I've expressed my dissatisfaction with the increasingly imagination-stretching episodes of The Office, but one of the other two shows (along with Family Guy) I try to see every week, House, has been terrific this year. Hugh Laurie is to acting what Joshua Cribbs is to special-teaming. In other words, he can do it all.
b. Every day, I find myself saying some Seinfeld line. Sometimes three, four, five times a day.
c. Don't ask me why, but a little bit under the weather, laying in bed the other night in my Tampa hotel room, I stopped the clicker on Dog The Bounty Hunter and watched it for the first time. I guess Mr. Dog is getting the 18-year-old daughter into the family bounty-hunting business now, and the tension, along with chasing a fugitive around some Oahu neighborhood, made for a half-hour that captured me, sort of like how I'd be if passing a crumpled wreck on the Jersey Turnpike.
d. I know what that says about me. If I have time for Dog The Bounty Hunter,' I am not working hard enough.
e. Coffeenerdness: My buddy John Gault, who commutes to Wall Street every day from Jersey and works at the old NASDAQ building on Whitehall, has a great theory on the decline of Starbucks as a business giant, and it has a lot to do with cannibalization.
"When I'm outside my building,'' he said, "I can get to three Starbucks in 25 seconds. Starbucks is like so many big companies in the last 15 years. It's growth, growth, growth. If you can get money cheap, which everybody could do, you grow. They did it, even though it made no sense to have all these stores within walking distance of each other. Would you put three gas stations next to each other? Three McDonalds next to each other? It's crazy.''
f. I don't pretend to know the hardships each of you face right now with the economy being so poor. But the King family has a soft spot for the New Jersey Food Bank. (Bruce Springsteen is a major benefactor and he has lent his name to an ad campaign for food bank -- "We can't let this bank fail.'')
With Thanksgiving around the corner, and food banks everywhere in historically bad shape, if you can find it in your wallets and hearts to donate to this food bank or to another around the country, you'll be helping fill a great void in this country. I fully understand if you can't, and many of you I'm sure are overwhelmed with different obligations right now. For those of you who can, visit njfoodbank.org (for New Jersey) or feedingamerica.org (nationally). Thank you.
g. Temperature dropped 42 degrees in 42 hours between Friday and Sunday in Jersey. Gotta love this time of year.
Who I Like Tonight, and I Mean Tony Kornheiser
Buffalo 20, Cleveland 18. Sounds a little dire to say a team a half-game out of second place in its division has to win a game in Week 11 to have a decent shot at the playoffs. But it's true. Buffalo has lost three in a row, is doubting itself surely and is chasing three teams in its division playing much better right now.
The Bills have Cleveland, Kansas City and San Francisco in the next three weeks, and the only way they can hope for the playoffs is if they get on a roll against teams they should beat. A Buffalo win would give the AFC East one 7-3 team (Jets) and three 6-4 teams (Pats, Dolphins, Bills). It would also stop about 50,000 people from wanting to jump into Niagara Falls.