Posts Tagged ‘Packers’

Two Game-Changing Calls

November 30, 2007

For the record, I don’t think the Packers played well enough to win this game. But the officiating was horrendous. Here is a sampling of opinion on two key calls.

On Al Harris strip of Terrell Owens:

Greg Rosenthal, Rotoworld.com: “Al Harris, one of the quietest guys in the NFL, gets a delay of game penalty after spiking the ball. He stole a catch from T.O., but the ref called it dead because of forward progress. Tough call for Green Bay…”

Greg Bedard, JS Online: “Not sure what the officials saw but it sure looked like Harris had an INT.”

Mike Lucas, Capital Times: “Dallas matinee idol, Tony Romo, the transplanted Cheesehead, completed his first pass of the night to Owens, a 12-yard out. But he appeared to have lost the ball to Harris before stepping out of bounds. Harris was convinced that he had possession, but nobody else saw it that way and Harris wound up getting penalized for delay of game. That could have been huge since the Packers were already leading 3-0 and the turnover (that wasn’t) would have given them the ball at midfield.”

Drew Olsen, Onmilwaukee.com: “As was often the case back in the ’90s, the key calls went against Green Bay. Al Harris did strip the ball from Terrell Owens on the Cowboys’ first drive, but the refs had blown the whistle.”

On the Tramon Williams pass interference call:

Greg Rosenthal, Rotoworld.com: “The [pass interference call] on this drive looks shaky in retrospect.”

Greg Bedard, JS Online: There was a “ridiculous 42-yard pass interference penalty on Tramon Williams. Anybody could see that the receiver slowed down there. Well, I guess not everybody.”

Mike Lucas, Capital Times: “There were some other comical moments with this officiating crew, which included a questionable pass interference call on Tramon Williams, who got tangled up with Cowboys receiver Miles Austin. That looked like incidental contact, although you could make a case for Williams putting his right hand on Austin before they crossed paths and feet. Williams tripped Austin but the official closest to the play didn’t throw the flag. It was a delayed call and it was the equivalent of a 42-yard penalty on Green Bay. Three plays later, the Cowboys expanded their lead from 27-24 to 34-24.”

Drew Olsen, Onmilwaukee.com: “The key play of the game was a 42-yard pass interference call on Tramon Williams, who didn’t appear to impede Patrick Clayton. It was dicey at best.”

MJD at AOL’s Fanhouse: “I enjoyed the work of Cris Collinsworth last night. He’s pretty damn good as a game analyst. Especially with this point: after the officials incorrectly called Packer DB Tramon Williams for pass interference, Collinsworth suggested that these long interference calls be subject to replay, and that’s a fantastic idea… Maybe the biggest play in the game last night was that 42-yard pass interference call that was two things: 1) huge, and 2) horse(doo-doo).”

Wire reporter Todd Archer also thought the call was iffy: “Using Jason Witten for 37 yards on three catches and a questionable pass interference penalty on Tramon Williams, who tripped up Miles Austin, the Cowboys were at the Green Bay 5. Three plays later Romo whipped his second scoring throw of the game to Patrick Crayton, giving the Cowboys a 34-24 lead.”

Even Texas writers saw the Williams call for what it was. Tyler Smith, Herald-Democrat: “Dallas was aided by a questionable pass-interference penalty called against Tramon Williams that set the Cowboys up at the 5-yard line.”

But in the interest of balance, we include this, from Tom Pelissaro, with Packersnews.com: “The flag against Williams came really late, but it was correct. Williams actually had good position but, like many young players, didn’t trust his position and decided to grab Miles Austin instead. Though Austin probably couldn’t have caught the ball — and Williams did little to slow the receiver — the interference came early enough the officials weren’t going to declare the pass uncatchable. It’s borderline, but it’s going to be called nine times out of 10.”

Tramon Williams Subscribes to the Leslie Nielsen Theory of NFL Refs

November 30, 2007

Recall Brother Andy’s “Leslie Nielsen Theory of NFL Refs.” We laid it out this way in a post earlier this year:

Andy has a theory about NFL officiating. And once you hear it, I think it becomes hard to watch games without thinking it is true.

He says NFL refs are like Leslie Nielsen as the umpire in Naked Gun: They make calls that will generate applause from the home crowds. Someone who has more time than I do should look it up. Do home teams get more calls than away teams? I would guess that they do.

Then we got some scientific backing with this post, citing a Jason Wilde report.

“According to research done by The Dallas Morning News’ Rick Gosselin, NFL officials have been harsher on the road teams than the home teams each of the past nine weeks, assessing more penalties for more yards to the visitors.”

Well, it seems that Tramon Williams is now a believer in the Nielsen Theory.

Here is Tramon Williams on the crucial — and very questionable — 40-yard pass interference call. “Our legs got tangled up, but they’re the home team, so there ain’t much I can say about it.”

Keepin’ it Real, even though it’s not Thursday. You have to love Tramon Williams.

Bryant Gumbel likes “pretty” things

November 30, 2007

When Gumbel was talking about the incredibly ugly stadium last night, he mysteriously mentioned on two occasions how “pretty” it looked against the Dallas skyline. That would have been a nice comment: 1) if it were true 2) if he was a woman talking to other women or 3) if his audience was the Today Show.

Cause for Optimism

November 30, 2007

With the benefit of some 12 hours of hindsight, I’m more optimistic about the game last night and what it means for the Packers going forward. As we’ve pointed out, there are many reasons for concern — chiefly the play of the offensive and defensive lines, the secondary, and the kick coverage units.

But consider: We played on the road, against a team that has lost only once this year (to the Patriots). We played without our top defensive back and starting punt returner, without the NFL’s 6th leading sack producer, without an up-and-coming safety prospect who has an interception in each of his two starts, and two starting-caliber defensive tackles. Oh, and our Hall of Fame quarterback was knocked out early in the 2nd quarter. And it was our fourth game in 18 days.

Despite all of that, and officiating that will be embarassing when the NFL reviews the game tape, the Packers — did I mention that they are the youngest team in the league? — were in a position to win the game with 5 minutes to go.

We were outplayed and outcoached, the latter being a rarity this year.

But if we have an opportunity to return to Dallas on January 20, I like our chances.

Romo, Favre and…Anthony Bourdain?

November 30, 2007

Let’s give Tony Romo credit. No, not for posting 300 yards and 4 touchdowns on a battered and confused Packer secondary. But for being hilarious.

After the game he was asked by a reporter what he and Favre did in their on-field meeting before the game. “Exchanging recipes and stuff,” said Romo. “Normal guy stuff.”

Play of the Game

November 30, 2007

There are several nominees. The questionable pass interference on Tramon Williams, good for 40 yards on the Cowboys decisive drive. The botched call on Al Harris’ strip of Terrell Owens on the Cowboys first drive. Mason Crosby’s 52-yard field goal late in the game on 4th and 1, a decision that meant the Packers would rely on their defense to stop the Cowboys before getting another shot with the ball.

But for me, the clear play of the game was the Packers’ failure to stop the Cowboys on 3rd and 19 deep in Cowboys territory. At the time, the score was 27-24, and if the Packers had been able to hold them on that play, we would have gotten the ball back with good field position and a chance to have our second-string quarterback lead the team on its third touchdown drive. That would have not only changed the score, but would have likely been very demoralizing to a Cowboy team that looked out of sorts at the beginning of the second half.

But the Packers looked to be playing some kind of zone, and when three Packers followed Terrell Owens over the middle, Patrick Crayton was wide open — and I mean W I D E open — on the left sideline.

There wasn’t much written today about the Packers defensive scheme, but I hope we get some more analysis of it in the second-day stories. Maybe I’m wrong, but it sure seemed like we went away from our man-to-man press coverage (perhaps to compensate for the loss of Woodson). It would be great to know more.

Frustrating game review

November 30, 2007

I don’t like the Cowboys. Somehow, I find myself fighting not to dislike Wisconsin’s own Tony Romo even. He just seems cocky or something – I take it back, I kind of do like him, but I just hate Dallas. I don’t like Wade Phillips and his fat face. I don’t like Dallas fans, never have – what with their giant class rings and their hair parted to the side like a Ken doll. Losing to them doesn’t sit well with me and had we not staged that impressive comeback, I would have felt horrible because we might have been blown out. (About that comeback by the way, if you looked at the Cowboys sideline when they were up 27-10, they all assumed the game was over and were being quite cocky. Serves them right.)

Rodgers did do well with his opportunity. His scrambling abilities do offer a very new and different threat for our offense (considering Favre almost never runs past the line of scrimmage). I was concerned though when Rodgers got hit hard a few times – would the Rooster have come in to QB? Or Favre come back and thrown left-handed? I also think McCarthy did make some needed adjustments (though arguably too late on a few like benching Jarrett Bush). And, I’m not sure that all those deep passes in the first quarter were 100% McCarthy’s doing – I have a feeling Favre may have wanted to throw a couple of those. Favre looked bad last night, quite bad. He’s entitled to a game like that now and again – but I hope he doesn’t have another one like that until next year.

Steve and I talked last night about one thing we might have done differently while it was happening early in the second half. Though Rodgers was on a hot streak passing, it might have been a good idea to mix more run in with the pass (the Dallas run D was not impressive) during that time to help our defense have more time to rest.

But to me, one of the biggest problems I had last night was with the broadcast. The NFL Network absolutely sucks. They made the game feel weird and like brother Steve said, I wonder how in the world they settled on having Bryant Gumbel be the play-by-play guy. He may be the worst annoucer ever…seriously. Every time he opened his mouth, it sounded like he wanted to tell some heart-warming story about an athlete who had overcome adversity – like he was just doing a piece for the 90% female-viewed Today Show – or the Olympics. He also sounded so meek. Collinsworth was fine (mostly because he clearly wanted the Packers until an exec told him he also needed to talk about Dallas). To me, if you’re a network trying to assert itself as the future for NFL broadcasts, then you have to deliver a quality product and holy crap, did that not happen.

Anyway, no party today, no party.

Last Minute Updates

November 29, 2007

More from Gred Bedard in Dallas here. He reports that the feel in Dallas has gone from a “big game” atmosphere to a “playoff game” atmosphere. I must say, even here in downtown Washington, DC, there seems to be a little buzz. I overheard a guy on the street asking his buddy what he was doing for “the game” tonight. And on Sirius NFL radio just now, a guy called into the “Afternoon Blitz” and apologized for taking the show off-topic to discuss the Chiefs.

From Greg’s report, it sounds like KGB is a more likely play tonight than Chuck Wood.

I’m told that Charles Woodson is very much a game-time decision. He hasn’t run much (if at all) since the Lions game, so when he hits the turf at Texas Stadium, a lot of eyes will be on him.

Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila said “he’s ready to go.” But I wouldn’t put him in the “will play” category just yet. As with Woodson, I think coach Mike McCarthy will have final say. Obviously the players want to play, but McCarthy has to look at the respective situations long-term.

Still Silent at Profootballtalk.com

November 20, 2007

As of 4PM (EST) Tuesday, Profootballtalk.com has not updated its story from yesterday on the Packer “bounty” non-scandal. We sent this email:

Are you guys going to update the post below, as your “stay tuned” coda suggests? We’re particularly interested in the line in which you erroneously, and in our view irresponsibly, suggest that Adrian Peterson’s injury might have come as a result of these alleged financial incentives between Packer teammates. “But to the extent that limiting a player’s production can be satisfied in part by, for example,
tearing the player’s LCL, it’s probably not a good idea for incentives of this nature to be dangled in
front of NFL players.”

As the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel’s Greg Bedard has pointed out, the incentives were to have been paid
from defensive backs to defensive lineman. Cornerback Al Harris is the one who hit Peterson on the play in
question. Therefore, if the motive was in fact financial — a silly proposition given that the $500
total is a rounding error for Harris and his accountants — Harris would have had incentive NOT to
tackle Peterson.

We’ll be happy to post your answer for our very interested readers at Packergeeks.com.

A quick note on why we’re pursuing this. First, the original story zipped around the internet and even made traditional news websites like ESPN and CNN. The use of the word “bounty” in the context of prohibited (but relatively harmless) side wagers between teammates, has led to irresponsible conjecture about motives of Packer players — speculation like that found at PFT.

For those of you not famililar with the site, Profootballtalk.com is a very powerful blog covering the NFL. NFL beat writers check in several times a day to see what rumors and gossip are floating around locker rooms and board rooms across the league. How powerful? The league’s television network, NFL Network, advertises on the website. The PFT guys are often very funny and almost always very irreverent. And to their credit, the PFT guys call the newsy part of their website the “rumor mill” and poke fun of themselves as “internet hacks.”

But sometimes they try to make scandals out of nothing. (See their string about Shawne Merriman yesterday for another example.) And when someone who is forced to answer questions first raised on PFT (as Colts President Bill Polian had to do recently) refers obliquely to disreputable websites, they object strenuously. As with many blogs, when they’re good, they’re very good. But when they’re bad, they’re awful. And this is clearly a case of the latter.

A Deafening Silence…

November 19, 2007

Although they promised an update after suggesting this morning that a side-wager between Packer players may be the reason Adrian Peterson was injured last week, the guys at profootballtalk.com have gone silent. They’re liveblogging the game tonight but haven’t seen fit to mention the non-controversy or explain their obviously flawed reasoning on the issue. We’ve posted on it here and here.

Also, as far as we know, PFT never commented on this story from the New York Daily News, here.

The secret to the Giants’ devastating pass rush this season isn’t new defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo’s blitz schemes or an improved secondary. It is actually a pool in which each defensive end contributes money based on his salary, with the winner taking home the loot based on his production.
The pool has all the defensive ends talking trash and desperately trying to top one another in stats. So far, Osi Umenyiora is running away with the money.

And if the NFL “investigated,” as they are reportedly doing in this case, they did so very quietly. Is there a double-standard at work?


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