Shutdown Corner - NFL

The Sunday Evening Spongebath is a collection of random observations, notes, complaints, and joy-filled remembrances from a Sunday in the NFL. 

I thought Herm might take a beating in the media after he decided to go for two at the end of regulation against the Chargers, playing for the win, as opposed to playing for overtime. 

In the hour after the game, I got one e-mail congratulating me for having Herm Edwards in my division, and another text message calling Herm a name that rhymes with "she-lard." But that was it. Everyone else seems to be leaving him alone, or even supporting the decision, and this makes me happy. I've got a soft spot for Herm.

Soft spot aside, though, it was the right call. The Chiefs were on the road, their offense played the second half like their heads were wrapped in duct tape, and the Chargers had scored their only touchdowns of the game in the second half. Momentum was with the Chargers. Not just with the Chargers, but giving the Chargers a hot oil rubdown with one hand, and flicking boogers on the Chiefs with the other. 

Consider all that, and ask yourself this: If you're the Chiefs, in that situation, is it better to roll your dice on one three-yard play, or line everything back up and engage in a real contest of professional football? 

I'll take my chances on the three-yarder. Earlier in the year, when Mike Shanahan did the exact same thing, he was hailed as a brilliant riverboat gambler (as a tangent, weren't most riverboat gamblers probably scumbags?). It happened to work for Shanny. 

It happened to not work for Herm, in part because Shaun Phillips made a great individual play on defense. I don't think that means it was a bad call.

While we're on the subject on the Chargers, after their first quarter against the Chiefs, I was ready to call it quits on their season and accept fate as a non-playoff team. They came out, they still couldn't run the ball effectively, and Ron Rivera's first drive as a defensive coordinator was a 95-yard Tyler Thigpen effort that resulted in a touchdown.

But then the second half happened, The Chiefs didn't have a drive longer than five plays until the last one, LaDainian Tomlinson found some running room, and Philip Rivers was slinging the ball all over the field like the perfectly nice gentleman he is. I dunno. I changed my mind, and decided not to accept fate as a non-playoff team.

I'm on the brink, though. But I'm not doing it just quite yet.

By the way, Tyler Thigpen? He doesn't suck. Scratch his name off the list of guys you can use as an example of a terrible quarterback.

Before the Bears/Titans game, one of the pregame shows had a little feature on Rex Grossman and the boos he's taken in his career as a Bear. Turns out, Rex was even booed on Family Night earlier this year in Chicago. Booed on Family Night. What are you, Eagles fans? Do you show up at local elementary school science fairs and heckle the dork kids?

I hope it wasn't you, Leibovitz Family. I'd be so disappointed.

And then Rex came out and scored against the Titans in the first drive of the game. I hope he was thinking that there are a lot of people at Family Night who can stuff their sorries in a sack.

This might be my imagination, but I think the month of November makes Jeff Fisher's mustache/goatee/beard grayer. It just looks more wintry. If I were to somehow learn that Jeff Fisher stopped using Just For Men or Grecian Formula past the day of November 1st, I'd be so incredibly impressed.

By the way, what are we calling the thing Tony Sparano is wearing on the sidelines? It's kind of like a windbreaker, except the sleeves stop just below the elbow, and it's not banded on bottom. It's kind of like a pullover rainslicker that zips down to the chest and is a little longer than a traditional jacket, but not as long as a rainjacket ... it's an unusual garment. I don't know if I've ever seen anyone else wearing one.

Basically, it's a short nightgown that repels wind and rain. If it's not too late, I'd like to call it a man-gown. 

Good news for the Lions? Their throwback uniforms, as always, look fantastic. Bad news for the Lions? Daunte Culpepper's throwback uniform probably had to be cut a little larger than they'd have liked. Good news for the Lions? The signing of Daunte brought new hope and promise that the Lions might not go winless. Bad news for the Lions? Daunte's second pass as a Lion was intercepted.

Bad news for the Lions? They're still the Lions.

Of course, the Lions may have been up against an immovable force this week. Jack Del Rio banned dominoes in the Jags locker room, and it's evidently brought about a new focus. I can't wait to see how good the Jags get when Jack Del Rio bans Hungry Hungry Hippos.

Joe Flacco is a magnificent stallion of a quarterback. I was completely wrong on him. Earlier in the year, I looked at him and thought, "Ah, chalk Baltimore up this year, this guy's not taking them anywhere as a rookie." But he was everything you'd want a quarterback to be this week against the Texans. 

He's not a dink/dunk game manager, either. He makes throws. He goes downfield. John Harbaugh put the big boy pants on him, and he's grown into them quickly. Color me impressed.

Crazy Fish Guy's magnificent resurgence continued on Sunday. He was back in the house for the second week in a row, and this week, he latched onto some poor young fellow and shared a table with him.

Two things about this make me happy. One, he's back, and still alive. Two, he's sitting with someone who isn't me. There wasn't a lot of conversation coming from that table. There was a visible awkwardness clouded over the table. You could actually see it. It was yellow.

The Fish Guy did make contact with me after the game, though. I congratulated him on the Dolphins victory, and he said, "I was getting nervous, I thought they were going to lose!" Yes, if you want your team to win, the possibility of them losing is something that might make you nervous.

I asked how he's been, but not where, because whatever exists in my imagination (tied up in the basement of a bookie, for example) is certainly better than reality. The bad news is that next week, there's a strong chance that he'll attempt to sit with me. Stay tuned.

While we're on the subject of people in the bar ... you know who I hate? The guy who has to yell the loudest so people know that he cares the most. There's one in every bar.

Run off-tackle for a gain of four? "YEAH, ATTA WAY, BABY, YEAH!"

Getting some pressure on the quarterback? "GET 'EM, GET 'EM, GET 'EM! AWWWWWW."


There are times when I feel like approaching this guy and asking him, "Hey, buddy... if we all acknowledge that you're the biggest fan here and that you're very very special, do you think you might shut the filth flarn up?"

This might sound crazy to say, given the standings and the impending softening of the Bills schedule, but ... the loss that the Bills suffered at the hands of the Patriots today didn't feel like a case where they got knocked down, and could get back up next week. It felt like the Patriots shoved them down a well.

In a division where everyone else is trending upwards (the Patriots getting more comfortable with Matt Cassell, the Jets getting more comfortable with Favre, the Dolphins improving every week), Buffalo's just stuck in neutral and getting banged around.

Right now, it feels like they're in the bumper cars at the amusement park, and they got the car that doesn't work.

When things go bad for Sage Rosenfels ... they really go bad, don't they? After one or two interceptions, it might be time to consider pulling him. Not because Craig Nall is better, or because Sage won't be the guy next week, but because he just doesn't respond well to interceptions.

It's like he throws one, and instead of getting angry with himself, he thinks, "Hey, that was fun!  Let's do it seven more times!"

It's like in hockey, if a goalie just loses his mind on a given day and gives up four goals in about five minutes (HANRAHAN! SUZANNE SUCKS -- ah, never mind), he gets pulled. Not because his job's in trouble, but to save him further embarrassment. I felt like Gary Kubiak should've given Sage Rosenfels that courtesy today.

My favorite stat of the day:

The Raiders held Jake Delhomme to a passer rating of 12.3. And lost by double digits.

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