- Frank Schwab at Shutdown Corner3 hrs ago
The Saints are truly a different team at the Superdome, almost unbeatable with the combination of Sean Payton calling plays and Drew Brees executing them.
And after Sunday, the Saints are a big step closer to ensuring a game at the Superdome on the second weekend of the NFL playoffs.
Carolina came into Sunday night's game as the upstart in the NFC South, riding an eight-game winning streak behind a tough defense and Cam Newton. The Saints tore apart that defense and made Newton a non-factor in an impressive 31-13 win.
New Orleans is now 10-3 and a game ahead of 9-4 Carolina in the NFC South. There will be a rematch in Carolina in two weeks, but the Panthers need help to win the division. If the Panthers win out, the Saints still win the tiebreaker by winning two of their last three due to a better conference record.
The Saints, who are now 7-0 at home and 3-3 on the road this season, left little doubt that they should be considered the top dog in the division.
- Frank Schwab at Shutdown Corner4 hrs ago
The Patriots can't really complain much about the officials anymore this season.
New England was ticked about a non-call on Luke Kuechly on the last play of Carolina's victory a few weeks ago. The Patriots got away with a clear holding on their game-winning touchdown against New Orleans early in the season, but they did have a point with the non-call on the Panthers.
But now, it has more than evened out.
For some reason, the officials at the end of the Browns-Patriots game decided to give New England the win. That's effectively what happened when they decided to call a pass interference on Browns cornerback Leon McFadden, even though McFadden didn't do anything to Patriots receiver Josh Boyce to deserve a penalty.
- Frank Schwab at Shutdown Corner5 hrs ago
Darnell Dockett can expect to hear from the NFL offices this week.
The Arizona defensive lineman, a heck of a player who is also well known for his stream-of-consciousness thoughts on Twitter, won't get away with purposely stepping on the hand of a Rams offensive lineman during Sunday's game.
At the end of a run by Rams back Zac Stacy in the third quarter of Sunday's game, Dockett came in a bit late, then Rams offensive lineman Chris Williams knocked Dockett off of Stacy. No big deal if it ends there. But Dockett got up and as Williams was on the ground, Dockett went out of his way to lunge forward and stomp on Williams' hand. Dockett's teammates immediately led him away from Williams.
When Lions defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh stomped on Packers offensive lineman Evan Dietrich-Smith's arm in 2011, he was suspended two games. Dockett doesn't have the history with the NFL that Suh does, but the league isn't going to let this go without at least a hefty fine.
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- Frank Schwab at Shutdown Corner7 hrs ago
Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning has not been thrilled to get questions about his struggles in cold weather.
It'll be a while before he fields any more.
The official temperature for kickoff in Denver was 18 degrees, and it dipped after that as the sun set behind the mountains. And Manning looked like he was playing in the middle of summer.
Manning set a Broncos record with 39 completions, and had 397 yards and four touchdowns as Denver beat Tennessee 51-28. The Broncos had never scored more than 50 points in a game before this season. They've scored at least 50 points three times this season, the first NFL team to do that since the 1969 Vikings.
Manning let it know that he wasn't thrilled with the criticism of his cold-weather performance.
"Whoever wrote that narrative can shove it where the sun don't shine," Manning told Denver radio station 850 KOA after the game, according to the Denver Post.
- Frank Schwab at Shutdown Corner8 hrs ago
Steelers receiver Antonio Brown almost scored what would have gone down as one of the greatest plays in NFL history.
Almost being the key word.
The Steelers almost pulled off the modern version of the Cal-Stanford "The band is on the field!" play. We've seen plenty of teams try the end-game play with multiple laterals, but it almost never works. New Orleans pulled it off against Jacksonville in 2003, and then missed the extra point to tie the game. But it usually just ends up with the team moving further and further back before fumbling or being tackled.
The Steelers sprung this one to the end zone and for a moment it looked like they had pulled off a miraculous win.
On the final play of the game against Miami, quarterback Ben Roethlisberger threw a pass to Emmanuel Sanders, who ran around for a bit before lateraling back to Jerricho Cotchery. Cotchery lateraled it back to Le’Veon Bell, who threw it back to offensive lineman Marcus Gilbert.
Gilbert smartly threw it right away to Roethlisberger, who threw a sidearm lateral to Brown as he was being tackled. Brown, on a snowy and slippery field, cut between two Dolphins defenders and was inexplicably in the open field.
- Frank Schwab at Shutdown Corner8 hrs ago
The NFL has been playing football since 1920, and nobody had ever hit a field goal longer than 63 yards, until Denver's Matt Prater got a shot at the end of the first half on Sunday.
Prater hit a 64-yard field goal to set the NFL record. He barely got the kick over the crossbar, but that won't matter in the record book. Take a look at the flight path of the field goal.
The record was set in 1970 by Saints kicker Tom Dempsey, when he hit a 63-yard game winner. He stood alone until Denver's Jason Elam tied it with a 63-yarder in 1998. Oakland's Sebastian Janikowski, kicking in Denver, hit a 63-yard field goal in 2011, and San Francisco's David Akers hit a 63-yard field goal last year.
- Frank Schwab at Shutdown Corner9 hrs ago
Questionable calls happen all the time in the NFL. You usually don't see many controversial calls happen as a result of a replay reversal.
But in Cincinnati, a call that seemed to be right on the field was changed after a replay review, giving the Bengals a touchdown even though running back BenJarvus Green-Ellis appeared to be just short of the goal line.
With less than two minutes remaining in the second quarter and the Bengals holding on to a 7-0 lead, they went for it on fourth and goal. Andy Dalton handed to Green-Ellis off right tackle. Green-Ellis was tripped up in the backfield and dove forward. He lunged the ball towards the goal line but officials on the field ruled his knee was down when the ball was still at the 1-yard line. That appeared to be the right call.
Then the play went to the replay booth for a review, and it was ruled a touchdown.
That ruling gave the Bengals a 14-0 lead. It was questionable, especially since the ruling on the field was that he was short.
- Frank Schwab at Shutdown Corner9 hrs ago
A miracle saved the New England Patriots on Sunday.
They needed everything to go right after the Browns took a 26-14 lead with 2:39 left in the fourth. And everything went right, allowing them to rally for a 27-26 win, one of the most improbable late comeback wins of the entire NFL season.
The Patriots went on a long touchdown drive, without injured tight end Rob Gronkowski. That made the score 26-21, but the Patriots still had no timeouts left and needed to recover an onside kick.
New England hadn't recovered an onside kick since 1995, against the Cleveland Browns before they moved to Baltimore and became the Ravens, and were coached by a young Bill Belichick. And the Patriots got that onside kick.
New England still needed to go a long way in a short time, but the officials helped. A brutal pass interference call on Browns cornerback Leon McFadden gave the Patriots the ball at the 1-yard line. It was a questionable call on a deep pass into the end zone to rookie Josh Boyce, and official knew that throwing the flag practically gave the Patriots the win, and he threw it anyway. New England then scored on a 1-yard pass from Tom Brady to Danny Amendola.
- Frank Schwab at Shutdown Corner10 hrs ago
Gary Kubiak was Mike Shanahan's offensive coordinator for many years in Denver.
This week, Kubiak became the first NFL coach fired. His longtime boss might be second.
The Redskins melted down in a terrible and embarrassing loss to the Chiefs. They were down 31-0 in the second quarter. When they finally scored, they gave up a kickoff return for a touchdown on the next play.
The Chiefs took their foot off the gas in the second half, after taking a 38-10 lead into halftime, and allowed the Redskins to escape with just a 45-10 loss. It could have been much worse.
The Redskins could at least take comfort in knowing that their terrible record, now 3-10, will result in a great draft pick. But their first-round draft pick is owned by St. Louis as a part of the Robert Griffin III trade.
So all that's left is to clean house, and it seems almost inevitable that Shanahan will go.
- Frank Schwab at Shutdown Corner11 hrs ago
The Washington Redskins had resisted benching quarterback Robert Griffin III all season, regardless of the circumstance.
But, with Washington trailing 45-10 in the fourth quarter to the Chiefs, it was finally time.
Kirk Cousins relieved Griffin, who was 12-of-26 for 164 yards, one touchdown and one interception. It's not that unusual to see a quarterback get pulled when their team is down 35 points, but it's the first time a healthy Griffin has been pulled all season. The only other time Cousins had gotten into the game was at Denver, after Griffin suffered a minor knee injury in the fourth quarter.
Griffin didn't play great on Sunday, and he hasn't played all that well the entire season. It's hard to imagine his benching will last past the Chiefs game. But with everything going wrong for the Redskins on Sunday, it didn't make any sense to keep him in.
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