Sunday, September 18, 2005

The Little Things

"The little things, the little things mean everything"-Matthew Ryan

Quick thoughts about the Wolverines game before I get on to the Packers:

--It's hard to tell too much based on the competition, but I really like the way Max Martin runs when he's not fumbling. I also like how Manningham looks, and I liked the Antonio Bass at QB sets. It was nice to see Breaston almost take one to the house.

--I didn't like Michigan putting Leon Hall back returning punts when we had a 45+ point lead. If there's one player on this team that we cannot afford to lose, it's Hall. So why expose him back there in garbage time?

I don't have a whole lot else to say about that game. Henne wasn't great again, and I could've done with a couple more deep balls to try and work out his timing with Breaston, but apart from that they did what they needed to do. Won big, played good defense, got a lot of guys some significant PT. As long as the injured offensive linemen are good to go next week, I can't complain about that game.

And I whole heartedly agree with Mgoblog. That was by far the best halftime show I have ever seen. Whoever came up with that should be very proud of themselves, because it was frickin hilarious. And pretty much everyone I overheard thought the same thing.

Onto the Packers game:

My biggest pet peeve in football that in the NFL, there's no way to review a play in which the runner is ruled down by contact. This goes back to Jerry Rice's fumble in the 1999 Wild Card game against the Packers, which was ruled down by contact. If it was called correctly, the game is over. Instead the 49ers win on the last play. Now back then, instant replay didn't exist so it didn't matter so much. But six years later, that particular call continues to irritate the hell out of me.

I can't tell you how many times I've seen it, where a player is ruled down by contact and on the replay shown, it turns out that the ball came out. What's irritating is that on almost every other turnover, replay can be used to determine if a change of possession should take place. Did the guy actually intercept the pass? Did he get a foot (or two) in bounds? Was the QB's arm coming forward? Did the running back's knee hit the ground before he fumbled? All of those things can be reviewed and overturned. Except for "did the player fumble before his knee hit the ground". The only idea I have to fix that is for the ref to let the play play out, then issue his ruling on the field. If he thinks the guy was down, let the fumble play out, then blow the whistle and say "the ruling on the field is that the player was down by contact" and let the coach challenge if he thinks otherwise. That way, there's at least still an option to review it.

I thought my team finally caught a break with that rule in the Notre Dame game. Much to my chagrin, in college that play is apparently reviewable, provided that the fumble is recovered before the whistle blew. If I'm not mistaken, if Henne's fumble occurred in an NFL game, it would not have been reviewable.

Today, it made a difference in the Packers/Browns game. Cleveland fumbled, GB recovered. It was ruled down by contact. The Browns got a free field goal out of it, and the difference in the game was two points. Now, I'm not stupid enough to think that if Cleveland turns it over, Green Bay automatically wins by one. So much happened from that point on, that it's impossible to say how the game would have played out (it's not like the 49ers/Packers playoff game where the game was over if the right call was made). But that brings me to the title of this post. The Little Things.

Basically what it comes down to is that Green Bay is not a good enough team to have things like that go against them. They're not good enough to have a team be given three free points. They're not good enough to overcome a red-zone interception of Favre, taking away 3 if not 7 points. They're not good enough to continually give teams free first downs on illegal contact calls (legit or not). They're not good enough to have their rare forced-turnovers taken away (either by penalty (Al Harris) or by a quick whistle (the fumble).

The margin for error is so slim with that team, that these little things just add up. When you combine the 3 free points Cleveland got with the 3 points Favre threw away when he tossed that jump ball up (not to mention the 7 points Cleveland scored on the ensuing play), and add it to 4 potential points that were taken away when Driver was clearly interfered with on a third down pass that he didn't miss by much, you're talking about 1o points (or 17). Some teams can overcome that. Unfortunately, mine is not one of them. And it's too bad because that's a game that could've been won. Better teams don't make mistakes like that, and better teams don't need a perfectly officiated game.

That said, barring a tie in either game tomorrow, there will be only 3 teams in the NFC sitting at 2-0. And they're still only 1 game out of first in a bad, bad division. 7-8 wins may end up taking the NFC North, as all four teams are pretty bad. Especially the Vikings, holy crap. But as much as I want GB to rebound and win the division for the 4th straight year in a row, it might be best if they just hit rock bottom for a year. They'll have 30-40 million in cap space for next season, and adding an impact player or two through the draft might be just what the doctor ordered.

The other thing that really bugs me (and this goes for any sport) is consistency with the officials. I don't care if you want to call it illegal contact every time there's contact after 5 yards. I don't care if you let it go unless it makes a difference in the play. But for Crissakes, call it both ways. It's not that hard. There's no excuse to let things go like Driver getting pushed off his route 15 yards downfield when you've been calling penalties on the defenders the entire day. It's just stupid. Oh, and it bugs me when coaches can't figure out whether to go for 1 or 2. It's not that hard, and you're paid hundreds of thousands--if not millions of dollars. It's just math and common sense.

Random fact about the Packers game: Favre now has the record for most TD passes in a single stadium with 181 at Lambeau. He passed Elway's 180 at Mile High today. And he joined the 50,000 passing yard club. That's roughly 28.4 miles. Yikes.

Hockey SID Matt Trevor is putting up "Getting to Know You" profiles of all 11 hockey freshmen. Some of the quotes in there are just hilarious. The best part of the feature is at the end of each one, he tests them on how quickly they can name the other 10 freshmen.

Datsyuk still hasn't made up his mind, but the silence out of Russia leads me to believe he ain't coming back.

Nascar is cracking down on people wrecking other drivers intentionally 3 weeks too late. They parked Kasey Kahne for the entire race today, after he wrecked Kyle Busch. I'm sure Kevin Harvick is saying "Thanks a lot" after Dale Jarrett ruined his season at Bristol and only faced a 2 lap penalty. Junior, Harvick, and Gordon got a nice jump on next season...all finishing in the top 15.

No comments: