What I Saw, Wk 16 2012

Blair Miller > WHAT I SAW – WEEK 16, 2012

One Legendary Coach Bill Parcells-ism: “I go by what I see.”

Yogi Berra once said, “You can observe a lot by watching.”

This is What I Saw from the past week’s NFL action.

(A list of TFQ’s PROPS from this column will be posted monthly.)

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Happy HoHo & Holidays everyone!  I know most of you are still busy shoveling tryptophan leftovers into your gullets, so this week’s version is a bit more streamlined so you can go back to passing out on the couch to avoid your families and/or dishwashing duty.  For example, only playoff-relevant games have been covered because after all, no one wants to spoil the end of the season by thinking about the Jets – not even New Yorkers.  I’m looking forward to an action-packed and dense edition of What I Saw next week to close out 2012 and kick off the New Year!

Away from the game(s)

I SAW the Year Of The Records continue its crazy run.

Several more marks were either matched or surpassed in Week 16, making the NFL season look more and more like a chapter from the Guinness Book Of Records.  It seems like eye-popping milestones keep happening each week, many of which have set the table for even more significant tallies now that the season is winding to a close.

Numerous performances will be touched on below, but the two most monumental moments could come next week, since we could see two 2,000-yard seasons in 2012 – by Vikings RB Adrian Peterson and Lions WR Calvin Johnson.  Both players need solid days to reach two thousand, but that’s exactly what they’ve been doing week in, week out, so a truly historical year is likely on the way.  Peterson also needs 208 yards to break Eric Dickerson’s single-season rushing yardage record; Johnson passed Jerry Rice in the same category for receiving yards Saturday night.

Another less-ballyhooed milestone is also within danger: Michael Strahan’s single-season sack record of 22.5.  (Though many continue to consider that record with an asterisk, because of how QB Brett Favre – Strahan’s friend – slid to the ground and essentially gave Strahan the record.)  Texans DE J.J. Watt heads into Week 17 sitting at 20.5 sacks, and Niners LB Aldon Smith is at 19.5.

While the playoff race isn’t terribly suspenseful at this point (see below), the statistical achievements still make for an interesting final week of the regular season.  It’s like the NFL itself knows how to stay exciting.

I SAW the playoff picture get ever closer to being finalized.  The only two berths left undecided are in the NFC, but much remains to be seen in terms of how the postseason seeding will play out.

One blow against the parity monster: Since 1995, the NFL has not had less then five new teams making the playoffs in a season – until now.  Eight of last year’s postseason contestants have returned this time around, ensuring a possible maximum of just four newbies.

The AFC rankings look like this heading into the final Sunday:

  1. Houston-z (12-3)
  2. Denver-z (12-3)
  3. New England-z (11-4)
  4. Baltimore-z (10-5)
  5. Indianapolis-y (10-5)
  6. Cincinnati-y (9-6)

z- clinched division

y- clinched Wild Card

The one team that has fallen short that surprises many: The Steelers.  Given their myriad of injuries, though, maybe it shouldn’t come as a shock at this point.  I’ll say one thing: Offensive coordinator Todd Haley and QN Ben Roethlisberger need to the lab and work on their chemistry, and Haley had better learn to maximize the talent he has on the field or else his abrasive could once again plat too prominent a role, alienate his team, and have him looking for a job.

If you’re like me, you’re still rubbing your eyes when you see Indy up there.  Hopefully the Colts won’t let up after their unimaginable playoff run and end up being first round doormats.  Before that, Indy is entwined within some delicious irony in Week 17.  Both Broncos QB Peyton Manning – a recent cast off from Indy – and his biggest rival, Pats QB Tom Brady – who must consider Indy his best opponent over the years, granted it was due in large part to Manning – will be cheering for the Colts to win against Houston so that either team might wrest the home field advantage from the Texans.

And the NFC, where things are a bit dicier:

  1. Atlanta-* (13-2)
  2. Green Bay-z (11-4)
  3. San Francisco-y (10-4-1)
  4. Washington (9-6)
  5. Seattle-y (10-5)
  6. Minnesota (9-6)

*- clinched division & home field advantage

z- clinched division

y- clinched Wild Card

Still Alive:

            Chicago (9-6)

Dallas (8-7)

New York Giants (8-7)

The Giants?  Awww, the defending champs… We hardly knew ye – except for two of the last 5 years when you shat the bad and missed the playoffs.  New York needs to win against Philly, and have Chicago, Dallas, and Minnesota  all lose.  I’ll say this: If the G-Men get in, be afraid.  It would amount to divine intervention.

The Bears need to handle the Lions in Detroit and have the Vikings lose in order for Chicago to go through.  Minny can live on simply by winning in Green Bay – which might not be that simple, considering that the Packers could still be playing for the second seed in the NFC (and thus a bye, but if I was G-Bay, I wouldn’t want it – see: 4-game playoff run to SB two years ago, and last year’s 1-game curtsey after a week off).

In what feels like an endless repeat loop, the NFC title comes down to a head-to-head playoff.  This time it’s on Sunday night in D.C. when the ’Skins host the ’Boys.  Winner takes the NFC East and the fourth seed.  If Dallas loses, they’re done for the season.  If Chicago and Minnesota lose earlier in the day, then Washington will have clinched a playoff berth.  Interesting…If those teams lose, will the Redskins go balls-out in the night game against Dallas to ensure themselves a home game in the first round, or will they play it safe?  If I were head coach Mike Shanahan (which I’m not; my blood pressure is much lower – my face doesn’t look like a cooked red beet in the middle of the fourth quarter), I’d take the balls-out route.  It’s better to ride momentum….

I SAW myself believe, as mentioned last week, believe that this season’s Super Bowl champ will be one of the teams that peaks at the right time.  I know – this leaves out the Patriots, Niners, Texans, Ravens (ugh)  – and maybe Falcons, Colts.

But here’s my Ascension List, in other words, the hottest teams (in order of hotness):

Seattle (Monica Belluci – wow.  Really?  It can’t be.  No.  Right?  Argh.)

Green Bay (Kate Upton – hot.  You know it, you keep looking for flaws.)

Denver (Mila Kunis – always feels different, but there’s something steady…)

Washington (Jennifer Lawrence – performs at higher level than age should allow.)

SO what I’ve tried to do this week is just extract what I think are the most important and/or most entertaining few points from each game.  One week of full-league betting to go!

Saturday Night Live:

Atlanta (13-2) wins @ Detroit (4-11), 31-18

I SAW that one thing that must be on the mind of the Falcons – however much they deny it – is that they’ve been here before during the Mike Smith-Matt Ryan regime.  The head coach and QB, respectively, helped their team secure home field advantage throughout the playoffs two years ago (2010).  The result: A one-and-done showing, when they got throttled by the eventual Super Bowl champs, Green Bay.

Sure, Ryan equaled a career-high with four touchdown passes, but Atlanta once again failed to put their boot in the throats of their opponent Sunday, letting Detroit get within five point during the fourth quarter.

I’ve mentioned it numerous times this season, but it bears repeating: The better – and worse – the  Falcons have played, the more pressure they might be putting on that first playoff game.  They already know that they’ll have a week off to think about that.  Let’s see how they handle this week.  Do they sit their starters early, or play it safe?  Last year, the Packers ended opting for the former, and QB Aaron Rodgers and the rest of the team looked rusty after almost three weeks off.  In other years, teams have taken the extra time and marched to a title.  Though neither Smith’s nor Ryan’s jobs are in jeopardy, there’s a lot riding on the next month in Hot-lanta.

I SAW that the Lions kinda suck.  Really.  They’re the most disappoint team in the league after an 11-win season last year, and they’re riding the NFL’s longest active losing streak at seven games.

I SAW that defensive backs everywhere must feel like pleading Starscream’s line from the old Transformers TV series:

Starscream-Megatron

“Megatron, please!”

Scream all you want, bitches.  Lions WR Calvin Johnson, aka Megatron, broke Jerry Rice’s NFL record for receiving yards in a season.

Most Receiving Yards in a Season, NFL History

PLAYER YEAR REC YARDS
Calvin Johnson 2012 1,892
Jerry Rice 1995 1,848
Isaac Bruce 1995 1,781
Charley Hennigan 1961 1,746
Marvin Harrison 2002 1,722

It had escaped my memory that Rice and Bruce both broke the previous record in the same year.  Bruce is hugely underrated.  He’s a system receiver?  Look at Rice.  Don’t let the system take away from a player.  After all, what is a successful receiver if not a product of the system?

With that in mind, some have argued – including ESPN’s Jon Gruden and SI.com’s Peter King – that Johnson has caught a lot of “meaningless” yards late in games.  (Gruden’s quote.)  What would they have the wideout do?  Loaf it?  To come within 2,000 yards a player needs to excel in multiple situations.  Let’s not look for reasons to take away from the accomplishment.

However, one last thought:

I don’t want to take anything away from a robot that can turn into a revolver, but he truly is the only desirable offensive option on the Lions.  The fact that Stafford is an exceptional strong-armed QB that can work the intermediate in/out cuts that suit the manimal-esque game that Johnson plays doesn’t hurt either.  That’s what makes Rice so impressive – he wasn’t the only option on a perennially stacked Niners team but still set the statistical standard.

On the other hand, it’s not like Johnson has been free of double teams at all this year….He’s a beast.  He’s Megatron.

Trivia Bomb:

Calvin Johnson has caught at least 10 passes in four straight games, the longest streak in NFL history. (STATS LLC)

I SAW that Detroit has a lot of problems, but finding the end zone might be the biggest one.  QB Matthew Stafford is a good pivot, but needs to work better with a shorter field.  He has had no problem finding his primary receiver, Calvin Johnson, when the throws are deep – Johnson has 39 receptions on throws at least 15 yards downfield this season (a career high – ESPN Stats & Information) – but the end zone is a chimera for the fourth-year pivot.  He is on pace for a second straight 5,000-yard passing season, but he has only 17 TD passes.  Last Sunday was a microcosm of Stafford’s season: He threw for 443 yards – the most passing yards in NFL history in a single game without any TDs.  (ESPN Stats & Information)

Washington (9-6) wins @ Philadelphia (4-11), 27-20

I SAW two teams that have headed in completely opposite directions since their first game against one another earlier in the season.

The Redskins and Eagles were 3-6 coming into their last meeting.  Washington hasn’t lost since, and the Eagles have sunk ever deeper into a despair that will likely lose head coach Andy Reid his job.

The ’Skins haven’t won the NFC East since 1999.  All Hail RG3!!!

I SAW that all eyes will be on Sunday Night’s game: Dallas at Washington, for the NFC East title.  Perhaps just as important is the ongoing recovery of the sprained knee of  Redskins QB Robert Griffin III….

I SAW a nice message for anyone still pushing the “black quarterbacks aren’t mentally competent enough to play in the pros”, with their Cro-Magnon selves, via Thom Brenneman:  Washington’s first delay of game penalty of the season came in the fourth quarter of Sunday’s game.  That’s a black rookie playing quarterback for all of five quarters, by the way.

I SAW Eagles head coach Andy Reid receive a polite farewell in the stadium he helped build.  (Well, metaphorically at least.  Even with his trademark utility belt strapped at his equator, the spherical Reid likely isn’t building any structures anytime soon, let alone Lincoln Field.)

Anyone wishing to gloss over Philly’s season should consider this: The Eagles have the same win-loss record as the Raiders.

But the drama that seems to follow Reid around like a virus isn’t over yet.  QB Nick Foles has a broken hand and will have to miss the last game of the season.  In his place, the deposed Michael Vick will start – he was a begrudged healthy scratch from the lineup Sunday.  Awwkwaaaaaaard….

Indianapolis (10-5) wins @ Kansas City (2-13), 20-13

I SAW the Colts become just he second team in league history to win at least 10 games after losing at least 14 the previous season.  (STATS LLC)

I SAW the Colts clinch a trip to the playoffs, and they did it in the clutch, thanks to their rookie quarterback – again.  In fact, Colts QB Andrew Luck pulled off his seventh game-winning drive in the fourth quarter or overtime this season.  That’s tied for the most in a season during the Super Bowl era.

QBs With Seven Game-Winning Drives in 4th Quarter, OT in a season – Most, NFL History

YEAR PLAYER
2012 Andrew Luck
2009 Peyton Manning
2003 Jake Delhomme
1999 Peyton Manning
1998 Jake Plummer
1989 Don Majkowski
1979 Brian Sipe

(Elias Sport Bureau)

Shout-out to Majik hour, back in the day in Green Bay!

I SAW PROPS to Colts QB Andrew Luck for breaking Cam Newton’s rookie record for passing yards.  (Newton had 4,051 yards last season; Luck sits at 4,183 with one more game to go.)

I SAW the Chiefs rush for 352 yards as a team Sunday – the most this season, and the highest total ever by a team in a losing cause.

Don’t think that Indy’s playoff opponents won’t notice that.

And, thanks to Vikings RB Adrian Peterson and Broncos QB Peyton Manning, many of us aren’t noticing another amazing comeback from injury….

I SAW Chiefs RB Jamaal Charles equal a record that was also matched by Titan Chris Johnson earlier this season.  On Sunday Charles joined CJ2K and the great Barry Sanders as the only three running backs to have three runs of at least 80 yards in a season.

Charles ran for 165 yards on Sunday – in the third quarter.  Wow.  His 226 total yards also gave him three 200-yard rushing games in his career (two of which happened this season), which ties Larry Johnson for the franchise record.

Charles isn’t getting as much publicity as Adrian Peterson, but his performance after his knee injury last season ins only slightly less incredible than that of Adrian Peterson’s.

I SAW that thought they may not end up “winning” it, but is there a team more deserving of the first pick in next year’s draft than the Chiefs?  Alas, this is the least top-heavy draft in recent memory..

Green Bay (11-4) wins vs. Tennessee, (5-10), 55-7

I SAW the Packers continue their torrid pace – they’ve won nine of their last ten games – by taking it up another notch in hanging a fitty burger on the Titans.  Actually, the 55 points Green Bay put up on Sunday is the third highest in a game in franchise history – and we’re not exactly talking about a team with average offenses over the years.  The Super Bowl champs from two years ago scored on nine of their first 11 drives, not counting one that ended the first half.  In other words, the Pack rolled over Tennessee like a steamroller over Otto in A Fish Called Wanda.

steam roller-fish called wanda

(MGM Entertainment)

“I’m sorry I ate your fish!

I SAW one huge development for Green Bay that has gone unnoticed: Sunday marked the sixth time in the last seven weeks that the Packers have rushed for over 100 yards.  They missed that facet of their offense dearly in their playoff upset loss to the Giants last season, and it’s the last thing opposing defenses want to hear.

I SAW PROPS to Packers WR/KR Randall Cobb for breaking RB Ahman Green’s franchise record for total net yardage.  Cobb sits at 2,342 total yard on the season – 92 more than Green did in 2003.

I know – total yardage isn’t the sexiest record.  But I bring it up because it’s a reminder of Green’s hugely under-recognized 2003 season, during which he rushed for 1,883 yards.  The reason no one ever remembers Green’s remarkable season is because Ravens RB Jamal Lewis gained 2,066 that year.

Minnesota (9-6) wins @ Houston (12-3), 23-6

I SAW the Texans drop another game, putting themselves in a must-win situation next week if they are to secure home field advantage.  The game marked the first time since 2006 that Houston failed to score a TD on offense.

Two things that must be worrisome for Houston after Sunday:

Their running game fell flat on its face.  RB Arian Foster ran for 15 yards on 10 rushes, and was hit behind the line of scrimmage on 6 of those.  (ESPN Stats & Information)

QB Matt Schaub proved ineffective – nay, brutal – with the ground game taken away.  His line from Sunday: 18-for-32, 178 yards, 0 TD, 0 INT, 72.1 rating.  Head coach Gary Kubiak can’t be impressed that, after dominating the conference for most of the season,  his team is giving playoff opponents a blueprint to beating them.

I SAW the Vikings on a three-game winning streak.  Their star tailback, Adrian Peterson, crept closer to the single-season rushing record (he needs 208 yards to pass Eric Dickerson’s 2,105) with one of the most hard-to-tackle 86-yard performances I’ve seen in a long time.  It’s still so hard to fathom how powerful Peterson is.  He occupies space in a more predatorial way than any non-defensive player in the league.

I SAW that a win next Sunday for Houston isn’t a gimme by any means.  The Colts get their cancer-surviving head coach, Chuck Pagano, back – and the Texans are 0-10 all-time in Indianapolis.  Whoops.

Trivia bomb: If Peterson gets the rushing record he’ll have rushed for 200 yards against the Packers twice this season.  But two other players have also danced all over a team twice in one season for the double-century rushing mark, and both also did it en route to 2,000 yards: Jamal Lewis in 2003 against the Browns, and O.J. Simpson in 1973 against the Patriots.  Simpson actually has three 200-yard games that year.  What a killer.

I SAW that, in my mind, the Vikings’ Leslie Frasier deserves consideration for Coach Of the Year.  I thought Minny would contend with Jacksonville for the worst record in the league, but with one week to go in the regular season this this team has one foot in the postseason.   Mind you, it doesn’t hurt to have arguably the an inspiring hard worker on the roster….

I SAW Vikings rookie K Blair Walsh boot a 56-yarder in the second quarter that tied the franchise record for longest field goal.  Walsh is now 9-for-9 this season in 50+-yard field goals, an NFL record.  No one has hit that many, let alone with an unblemished record.  Talk about getting top value out of a sixth round draft pick.

Cincinnati (9-6) wins @ Pittsburgh (7-8), 13-10

I SAW the Steelers bow out of playoff contention, thanks to another interception in clutch time by QB Ben Roethlisberger.  (He threw on in OT last week against Dallas.)  Don’t just blame Big Ben, though.  This is an old team, and one that seemed gassed on Sunday after all the things they’ve been through this season.

Now, instead of making the playoffs Pittsburgh needs to beat Cleveland next Sunday to avoid their first losing record in head coach Mike Tomlin’s tenure.

I SAW the Bengals overcome the perennial doubters and make the playoffs in consecutive seasons for just the second time in franchise history.  The other time was in 1981-82.  They did it in style, too, snapping a five-game losing skid to the Steelers.

I SAW a tough end to the season for Steelers TE Heath Miller, who tore his ACL, which will require surgery.  I thought Miller had the best season of his career.  He was by far the most dependable member of the offense, and bailed out his quarterbacks on numerous big third downs all year.

Miller’s moment provided a telling indication of how injury-riddled the Steelers roster has been this season.  When he went down in the fourth quarter, and already-hurt DE Brett Kiesel had to come out and help Miller off the field: Miller and Kiesel hurt

(CBS)

You know your team is banged up when you have guys coming out in sweatpants to help other guys off the field.

New Orleans (7-8) wins @ Dallas (8-7), 34-31 OT

I SAW the Cowboys lose the game, setting up a winner-takes-all game for the NFC East next Sunday night.  If Dallas loses, they can’t win a Wild Card spot.  It won’t help that their Pro Bowl DE DeMarcus Ware will go into the game with a bad shoulder.

I SAW that Cowboys WR Dez Bryant is no longer figuring out the pro game – he’s on a tear that only a tuned-in player could rip off.  On Sunday Bryant had a career-high 224 yards receiving.   In his last 8 games: 800 yards and 10 TDs.

His second TD was a great show of raw power when he ran right through an attempted head-on tackle near the goal line, but he never tucked the ball away, so the kid still has to

I SAW yet another maddening press conference by Cowboys QB Tony Romo following a loss.  I’ve read blank notepads that dispense more useful comments than Romo.

I SAW Saints CB Johnny Patrick provide a snapshot of New Orleans’ season on defense, which has been historically awful.

Patrick had sickeningly bad coverage on Dallas WR Miles Austin on the game-tying TD with 15 seconds left in regulation.  Austin was open enough when the TV camera panned over that I assumed he had pushed off.  But there was no contact at all.  Instead, Patrick couldn’t have defended a back shoulder throw worse.  I’m pretty sure his coaches didn’t instruct him to spin around 360 degrees while (not) forcing a receiver to the corner.

Denver (12-3) wins vs. Cleveland (5-10), 34-12

I SAW the Broncos match the franchise’s second-longest win streak, at 10 games.  What’s especially impressive is that each win during the streak has been by at least seven points.  Only four other teams in NFL history have done so.

Longest Win Streak In A Season With Each Win By 7+ Points, NFL History

Team Year Length Of Streak
Colts 2005 13
Bears 1942 11
Broncos 2012 10
Niners 1997 10

(Elias Sports Bureau)

I SAW Broncos QB Peyton Manning raise his passing TD total this season to 34, passing Warren Moon and Brett Favre for the third-most passing touchdowns in a season by a QB at age 36 or older.  Only Y.A. Tittle and Steve Young have more, at 36 apiece.  (ESPN Stats & Information)

Baltimore (10-5) wins vs. New York Giants (8-7), 33-14

I SAW that we can almost put the defending champs to bed.  Entering Week 15, the Giants were in first place in the NFC East.  Now they need a win against the Eagles on Sunday and a TON of help to make the playoffs.

If there’s an efficient way for a Super Bowl-winning team to bow out without making the postseason the following year, I’m pretty getting outgained 533 yards to 186 on offense is the way to do it.  This after losing 34-0 to the Falcons the week before.  The G-Men are now 2-5 in their last seven games, and truly do have no one to blame but themselves for their sorry season.

To me, New York has shit the bed.  DE Jason Pierre-Paul disagreed, via the New York Daily News, when asked about making the playoffs: “Do we deserve it by the way we played?  Do we?  I don’t think so, man.  We went out there and pissed on our legs.”

Do tell, JPP.

Sometimes when you get into a habit of “flicking the switch” you get caught with it in the “OFF” position too much.  Many are asking, “what’s happened to the Giants?”  But all that’s happening is history repeating itself — 2008 season after winning SB.  This isn’t so much a clutch team as it is an inconsistent one.  Winning the Super Bowl doesn’t absolve a team of being inconsistent.

I SAW the Ravens clinch the AFC North – finally!  Baltimore is now assured of a home game during the first round of the playoffs.

I SAW Torrey Smith wake up in a big way.  After a stretch of bad games, the second-year wideout came out of the gates in a flurry, with a 6-yard TD catch, then he had to fight through tight coverage deep by CB Corey Webster at the last minute to make a tough over-the-shoulder reception to the Giants’ 1-yard line.

New England (11-4) wins @ Jacksonville (2-13), 23-16

I SAW the Patriots avoid consecutive losses in December for the fist time since 2002.  (STATS LLC)

I SAW frustration.  What the hell are we supposed to gloss from this game?  One can’t even truly say that it was good for the Patriots’ confidence that they puled out a tough game.  It’s not any given Sunday against the Jaguars.  One wins against the Jaguars.

I SAW Pats WR Wes Welker pass Jerry Rice and Andre Johnson for the most 10-catch games in NFL history, with 18.

I SAW Patriots QB Tom Brady throw a TD pass in 47 straight games, tying that Johnny Unitas record that was so hallowed when Saints QB Drew Brees passed it earlier this season.

Chicago (9-6) wins @ Arizona (5-10), 28-13

I SAW the Bears snap a disastrous three-game losing streak.  Big deal.

Chicago looked good, but so might the 2007 winless Lions against that Arizona team.  Against one of the worst teams in the league the Bears had some special team hiccups for a squad known for its execution in that department.  What’s more, RB Matt Forte is banged up after re-aggravating an ankle injury.  Ironically, the Bears need to beat the Lions next week, and cheer for their archrivals, the Packers, to beat the Vikings in order for them to make the playoffs.

I SAW the Cardinals continue to set the passing game back decades.  Arizona has not thrown a TD pass in six games.  In the last five games ’Zona QBs have thrown 12 interceptions – four of which have been turned for touchdowns.  In the Christmas spirit, Jesus Christ!

Brian Hoyer is next up at the position, making him the fourth quarterback to start for the Cardinals this season – each of which have sucked beyond belief.

What’s next in the search for a competent quarterback in Arizona?  YouTube?

SNF- Seattle (10-5) wins vs. San Francisco, (10-4-1), 42-13

I SAW the Seahawks suck.  Really, guys – you can’t score fifty again?  Buh-mer.

But let’s give the guys some slack.  After all, Seattle has outscored its last three opponents 150-30, making the scoreboard look more like one from a game at USC when head coach Pete Carroll was there.  According to SI.com, that’s the NFL’s best three-game offensive tear since 1950, when the Rams put up 163.

Again, like above with the Packers, this is how Seahawks’ opponents have felt the last three weeks:

steam roller-fish called wanda

(MGM Entertainment)

Seattle’s first 10-win season since 2007 came thanks to the team snapping a three-game losing streak to Jim Harbaugh’s Niners.

You could tell the crowd wanted this win badly too.  The always-raucous 12th man in Seattle was even louder than usual, as the frustration on the face of Niners QB Colin Kaepernick while calling a few time outs to prevent delay of game penalties indicated.  Kudos to NBC and reporter Michelle Tafoya for a cool in-game demonstration with an on-field microphone during the game.  Tafoya clearly had to scream into the mike simply to be heard, and when she backed up just two steps away from it, she was inaudible.

I SAW that it would be hard to avoid hand wringing in San Francisco.  A divisional foe that they may have to face again in January just pasted the Niners.  What’s worse, DL Justin Smith is rumored to have a slight tear in his triceps and his status for the playoffs is unclear.  Add the season-ending injury to WR Mario Manningham and it’s borderline scary how quickly San Fran’s fortunes seem to have turned….

I SAW Seahawks LT Russell Okung allow zero sacks and zero QB pressures against the Niners’ sack machine, DE Aldon Smith.  That’s the kind of play Seattle will need going forward – solid protection for their rookie QB….

I SAW Seahawks QB Russell Wilson throw a career-high 4 TDs against arguably the best defense in the NFL.  Wilson needs just two more touchdowns through the air to break Peyton Manning’s rookie record of 26.

Maybe some of Wilson’s scores shouldn’t count towards that milestone….A rookie’s not supposed to put up numbers like this over his last seven games:  6 wins, 1 loss, 15 TDs, 2 INTs, 65.9 percent of his passes completed and 8.5 yards per attempt.  (ESPN Stats & Information)  Wow.

Not  many rookies take aside the rest of his team’s first-year players in the locker room after a huge win like Sundays’ and tell them, “We got work to do tomorrow.  Come in and get your lift in” either.  That next day was Christmas Eve, by the way.  That’s a leader beyond his years.  That’s a soldier.  In fact, Russell Wilson looks like an all-growed-up version of Michael from The Wire:

Michael-The Wire

HBO)

Russell Wilson

(© NFL)

I SAW Seahawks QB Russell Wilson’s wife in the stands….she’s white.

Please, Rob Parker.  When you get back from your suspension for making racist comments about Robert Griffin III and his white spouse, speak out on this.  Wilson’s clearly a “cornball brother”, right? Poor Parker.  He comes straight from the streets, surrounded by sellouts.  Please, Parker.  You took graduate studies at Columbia.  A private school!  You’re not a journalist – you’re the Papa Doc of sports media.  (See: 8 Mile)

Who’s the cornball brother, again?

STAY TUNED NEXT WEEK FOR WHAT I SAW, WEEK 17 – HERE AT TFQ. 

IN THE MEANTIME, FOLLOW US ON FACEBOOK.

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