The best thing about attending NFL games is getting to feel the atmosphere. It’s just different than it is on television.
When the atmosphere is raucous — like it was in the San Francisco 49ers’ 48-46 win over the New Orleans Saints on Sunday in the Superdome — you can get a true sense for how challenging the environment can be for a road team.
That game was one of the single-best environments I’ve ever been in live. Seriously, the place was so loud that the press box tables, located high above the Superdome near the ponderous roof, were shaking.
So for the 49ers to do what they did, and mount a last-minute drive — down one — to secure the victory, tells me they have a Super Bowl-caliber team, one with the grit and fortitude to overcome an environment like that.
The other item that caught my eye for “Things I Noticed” is George Kittle’s dominance, and how good coach Kyle Shanahan is at calling plays. Without either of them, the 49ers don’t win that game, and in this week’s Terez’s Tape video — finely stitched together above by my man Ron Schiltz — three 49ers running backs (Matt Breida, Kyle Juszczyk and Raheem Mostert) joined me to help breakdown four plays that explain why.
I hope you’ll check it out; if you want to learn more about football, I think it will be worth your time.
Yes, Hayden Hurst has juice
I loved how, in the midst of Hayden Hurst’s dynamic 61-yard catch and run, CBS announcer Ian Eagle openly doubted whether the 26-year-old — who I heard was available at the trade deadline — had the speed to take it the distance.
Turns out he did.
Hurst ran a 4.67 40-yard dash before the 2018 NFL draft. He apparently reached 20.50 miles per hour against Buffalo, which NFL Next Gen Stats said was the fastest a Ravens offensive player has run this year.
How a Coach of the Year case nearly vanished
Words cannot describe how much I hated the Steelers’ blown fake punt against the Cardinals.
Our fake punt > Their fake punt pic.twitter.com/yY0gxkFGHN— Arizona Cardinals ⋈ (@AZCardinals) December 8, 2019
Yes, I understand it was botched — the Steelers apparently called it off, but the punter, Jordan Berry, never got the message. But with Pittsburgh up 20-10 with eight minutes left in the game against a team that struggles to move the football, maybe a fake punt shouldn’t even have been an option.
Predictably, the Cardinals proceeded to score a touchdown three plays later to cut the deficit to three, and it took the Steelers’ awesome defense — which intercepted a Kyler Murray pass on the Cardinals’ last drive — to close it out.
Had the Steelers gone on to lose this game, their fans would have been irate. And Tomlin would have had a black mark on his burgeoning Coach of the Year case.
Mike Williams breaking one of the NFL’s most absurd streaks
Los Angeles Chargers receiver Mike Williams stands 6 feet 4 and 220 pounds, and he has some of the strongest hands in football. He presents an immense target and is a contested-catch nightmare:
So why the hell was this absurd 44-yard touchdown catch in a 45-10 win over the completely checked-out Jaguars his first touchdown of the season? On the surface, it doesn’t make a ton of sense.
Williams has played 79 percent of the Chargers’ offensive snaps this year, second at receiver only to No. 1 wideout Keenan Allen (119 targets). Then you see that running back Austin Ekeler is actually second to Allen in targets (84), with Williams (72) third, and it makes more sense.
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