Sorry for the late posting, the Professor has – scratch, scratch – poison ivy and could barely touch a keyboard yesterday. Have you ever had – scratch, scratch – poison ivy? It’s the WORST. Imagine watching this year’s Colts and Rams play against each other for 48 straight hours, and you have an idea of how miserable it is having – scratch, scratch – poison ivy. But now that I’m covered in bandages and ointment, I’m back and I’m ready to talk football, so let’s get down to all the action from Week 14.
FIRST AND GOAL
The four biggest stories in football this weekend. As always, use the comments section below to answer my questions!
HOUSTON, WE HAVE LIFT-OFF
I think all football fans realized that if the Houston Texans were ever going to make the playoffs, it’d have to be with a super star quarterback like Matt Schaub playing lights-out football…wait, WHAT!? T.J. Yates is the first Texans QB ever to win a playoff-appearance-clinching game? Welcome to bizarro world, where even offensive superstar Arian Foster didn’t factor as heavily into the Texans win as Yates, the rookie out of UNC. In any case, props to the Texans. It’s been a remarkable turnaround on defense and I’m almost starting to believe in the playoff chances of the defense-first Texans.What do you think: can the injury-plagued Texans actually win once they get to the playoffs or will they be one and done?
HAVE YOU HEARD ABOUT THIS QB THAT KEEPS WORKING 4TH QUARTER MIRACLES?
Look, there’s no denying Tim Tebow has done some great things for Denver, but he wouldn’t have won half of his games without kicker Matt Prater repeatedly cranking 50-plus yarders in overtime. On the other hand, you have Eli Manning in New York, who’s directing multipletouchdown drives to win big games for the Giants and no one’s talking about him. Sure, the G-Men hit a rough stretch, but it was mainly because of their brutal schedule (the four teams the Giants suffered their four-game losing streak to are a combined 38-14). The Giants don’t have the crazy winning streak that Denver does, but they do have a QB with a 117 fourth quarter QB rating and sole possession of first place in the NFC East. What do you think: is Eli Manning’s fourth quarter play against tougher competition more impressive than what Tim Tebow is doing in Denver?
THERE WAS A HUGE SHIFT IN THE NFC PLAYOFF PICTURE THIS WEEKEND
Lost in another magical Tim Tebow win were the two fourth quarter nail-biters that might drastically re-shape the NFC playoff picture. The New Orleans Saints squeaked out a tough road win in Tennessee, while the San Francisco 49ers lost a VERY winnable game on the road in Arizona to John Skelton and the Cards. Up next for the Niners is a very tough match-up in primetime against the Pittsburgh Steelers, while the Saints have a cakewalk against the Vikings. If the Niners aren’t careful, the Saints could leapfrog into the second seed and a bye week. What do you think: who will grab the second seed behind the Packers in the NFC, the Saints or the Niners?
THROWING A FLAG ON THE OFFICIALS
The Vikings had one shot to win the game on the Lions two-yard line when one of the most violent facemask penalties I’ve ever seen took place…too bad none of the official assigned to watch for just that type of game-changing cheating saw DeAndre Levy yank Joe Webb’s head around to help force the game-ending fumble. Lions win. If you’ve ever seen Tom Brady and the Patriots offense play, you know they don’t need any more help moving the ball, but that’s just what they got when London Fletcher was called for a 15-yard unsportsmanlike penalty for hitting a still scrambling Tom Brady in the shoulder. And don’t even get me started on all of the holding penalties that were going uncalled on Julius Peppers in the Broncos comeback win over the Bears. (Then again, I’m a die-hard Bears fan, so maybe that one was just sour grapes). What do you think: should officials be held more accountable or are they doing the best they can in such a high-speed sport?
HEROES AND ZEROES
Who excelled and who came up short this week. Nominate your own in the comments below!
Maurice Jones-Drew, RB, JAX: 136 total yards, 4 TDs
Rob Gronkowski, TE, NE: 6 catches, 160 yards, 2 TDs (single-season record for TE TD catches)
Jason Pierre-Paul, DE, NYG: 6 tackles, 2 sacks, 1 forced fumble
Christian Ponder, QB, MIN: 11-for-21, 115 yards, 2 TDs, 3 INTs
Carson Palmer, QB, OAK: 24-for-42, 245 yards, 1 TD, 4 INTs
Marion Barber, RB, CHI: he went over 100 yards, but he had the two most costly plays of the game, including running out of bounds when the Bears were trying to run out the clock and fumbling the ball in field goal range in overtime (more sour grapes?)