Biggest Meltdowns of NFL Week 13
Week 13 is nearly in the books, and the playoff picture is starting to form up. Green Bay and San Francisco each clinched their divisions and now will play on hoping to secure home field advantage in the playoffs. Meanwhile, the rest of the NFC playoff picture (Dallas, Detroit, Chicago, Atlanta, New York) all did their very best to lose their way out of the playoffs, but everyone kept pace by losing, some more spectacularly than others (more on that later). However, the game of football is not scored by style points (sorry Mark Sanchez), so even though the Giants have lost four straight and the Cowboys, Falcons, Lions, Bears and Bengals in the AFC all lost on Sunday, they all still have a shot at making the playoffs. It’s a crazy game. This week in Biggest Meltdowns, the Vikings relied a little too much on Tim Tebow’s inaccuracy, Caleb Hanie may be killing his “quarterback of the future” prospects in Chicago, the Eagles can’t tackle a man eating candy, the Raiders forgot to bring any of their talents to South Beach, and Jason Garrett takes over screwing the Cowboys out of wins from Tony Romo.
5. The Vikings may have overestimated Tim Tebow’s accuracy problems…
Tim Tebow entered Sunday without throwing for more than 200 yards or completing more than 50% of his passes this season. Despite the Broncos turnaround and Tebow-fueled winning streak, there were still questions about the quarterbacks’ accuracy. Minnesota seems to have bought into that criticism whole-heartedly as they chose to defend the pass by letting wide receiver Demaryius Thomas run wide open down the sideline after about 15 yards. Thomas finished with four catches for 144 yards and two touchdowns, making the best of nobody being anywhere near him on passing plays. Tebow finished 10-of-15 (a career best) for 202 yards, his highest totals of the season. Vikings quarterback Christian Ponder had his 381-yard career day ruined by a late interception after the Broncos rushed for a late touchdown and 2-point conversion to tie. The interception, deep in his own territory with under two minutes to play, allowed the Broncos to run down the clock and kick an extra-point length field goal as time expired to give the Broncos the win and a tie for first place in the AFC West. So watch the skies out there today, because I’m pretty sure the Broncos being in a position to make the playoffs was only supposed to happen when pigs figured out how to fly.
4. The Bears are quickly running out of starters
Poor Chicago. The Bears started out the season pretty slow, and it looked like the defending NFC North champions would be dead in the water and lucky to finish ahead of the Vikings for last in the division. Then they got themselves together, went on a bit of a run, intercepted Matt Stafford about 100 times, and found themselves back in the hunt for a playoff spot. So of course, Jay Cutler breaks his thumb and could be out for the rest of the year, leaving backup Caleb Hanie to carry the Bears hopes of returning to the playoffs and in his first game last week at Oakland…he fell a little short, throwing three interceptions in a 25-20 loss. No worries, though, because this week the Bears returned home to face a flailing Kansas City squad where Hanie was able to use the extra week of practice…to throw three more interceptions and Chicago lost 10-3. On top of that, Mr. Everything Matt Forte left the game after only five carries with a knee injury that could keep him out anywhere from 2 to 6 weeks. At this point, the Bears better pray somebody kicks to Devin Hester or they may not score another touchdown this season.
3. Eagles learn the hard way that Beast Mode runs entirely on sugar
The Eagles entered Week 13 with little to no chance of making the playoffs, but they are professionals with a lot of pride who are now playing just to save their coach’s job (much to the chagrin of Eagles fans if they do), so you expected them to come out and compete on Thursday night against a Seahawks squad that has been all over the place this season. Instead, we had DeSean Jackson running routes without looking back for a pass and sitting by himself tuning out his teammates while Marshawn Lynch went Beast Mode on the Eagles defense and ate Skittles on the sideline, literally. Lynch finished with 148 yards and two touchdowns as the Eagles set the tone for the NFC East for the week (they all lost) coming in disinterested and lackadaisical to say the least. Entering the 4th quarter, trailing 24-7, the Eagles started a drive that ended up finding the endzone…after bleeding ten minutes off the clock while still trailing by two touchdowns. During that drive, the moment that may epitomize why Andy Reid gets fired at the end of the season: Reid on the sideline frantically waving at his offense to pick up the pace while his offense stands in the huddle looking at him completely slack-jawed. If you needed an example of a coach whose message wasn’t getting through, you can have that one for free.
2. The Raiders seem to be really into this Tim Tebow phenomenon, helping out any way they can
The Oakland Raiders went 6-0 last year in the division, but couldn’t beat teams outside the division and ended up missing the playoffs. This year was supposed to be different and for the most part has been, with Oakland entering Sunday in control of their own destiny for the AFC West division title and a playoff spot. However, destiny clearly frightens this Oakland team and they dropped control of the division like a hot potato into the waiting and penitent hands of Tim Tebow and the Denver Broncos. Oakland was man-handled in nearly every aspect of the game, most surprisingly in the running game. A team that is built to run the ball, Oakland finished with less than 50 yards rushing for the game, while giving up over 200 yards to the Dolphins, including 100 to the suddenly effective Reggie Bush. The Dolphins exploded in the third quarter, scoring 21 points to push their lead to 34-0 heading into the fourth quarter where Carson Palmer connected on a couple touchdowns to make the final score slightly less embarrassing. Still, it won’t be nearly as bad as when they let the division slip away from them…for the second straight year. Too much more of this and the mantra could be changed from “Just win, baby” to “Maybe next year.”
1. Jason Garrett takes the burden off his quarterback, Romo’d the team himself
It may seem like the Cowboys top this list a lot, but it’s important to note: THEY ARE LEADING THE NFC EAST, despite the epic implosions they’ve provided us this season. They found a brand new way to make number one this week, as their soul-crushing collapse had nothing to do with their quarterback, Tony Romo, who got the week off from being the scapegoat. Jumping up and filling that role for him: Head coach Jason Garrett! With the game tied and time winding down, the Cowboys moved just inside of kicker Dan Bailey’s range for the game-winning field goal attempt and two timeouts remaining. Instead of using a timeout to try and run another play or two to get closer and make it an easier kick for Bailey, the Cowboys let the clock run down to set up one last play to decide the contest. Right before Bailey kicked the game-winning field goal through the uprights, however, play was stopped as is common when a team is trying to make the kicker over-think and miss a field goal, or “icing the kicker.” What made this unusual was that it was Garrett calling the timeout, which means that he made his own kicker kick a long field goal twice and he missed the second one, so Jason Garrett effectively ICED HIS OWN KICKER. Princeton grad, everyone. This man is a graduate of the Ivy League. Not a ringing endorsement for the highest academic institutions in our country. The missed field goal forced the game into overtime where the Cardinals took their first play of offense the distance, beating the still-somehow-playoff-bound Cowboys 19-13. Tune in next week when Jason Garrett decides to start a drive late in the game trailing by 3 with an intentional fumble out the back of the endzone resulting in a safety and kicking to the other team…they’ll never see it coming.
(all pics via)