What We Learned in Week 3 In the NFL:
- Shockingly, the replacement refs still suck
- Tennessee outlasts Detroit in the weirdest game of the week
- More NFL fans familiar with new OT rule as 3 games finish in extra time
- The Ravens pull out win over Patriots with last second field goal
- The Steelers blow 10 point 4th quarter lead to the Raiders in a disappointing loss
Here’s a shocker, another week’s worth of NFL games and another week we are left complaining about the state of the officiating in the NFL. NFL games are becoming almost painful to watch, having to sit through extra minutes of shots of the players on the sidelines while the officiating crew conferences to determine which one of them know what rule they are using to justify the flag that was just thrown. There was a period of time during the Steelers game where the Raiders attempted a surprise onside kick that went out of bounds. It took the refs approximately 7 hours to determine that the ball went out of bounds and the Steelers would gain possession at the point where the ball went out of bounds. I might be exaggerating on the time just a bit, but you get the idea. Jim Harbaugh and the 49ers were awarded an extra timeout and challenge in their game, a challengeable play wasn’t allowed to be challenged in Cleveland, and a host of other mishaps involving the refs occurred all across the league on Sunday.
While Roger Goodell spends his days continuing his public pissing contest with Jonathan Vilma of the Saints, his shield sure is being tarnished. It couldn’t be clearer to everyone including the beer man in the stands that Rogeez could give a crap about player safety and the integrity of the game since he’s allowing this to continue. The argument that the regular refs make mistakes all the time and the fact that the television ratings aren’t going down at all are the only thing the league is holding onto. That only makes Rogeez look even more like a bad combination of Ebenezer Scrooge, Mr. Burns, and Darth Vader. Rogeez sent out a notice to NFL coaches and owners last week warning them not to berate the officials and any behavior like that is unacceptable. What is really unacceptable is the NFL allowing the safety and integrity of games to be left in the hands of unqualified and unprepared officials. But hey, we’re all Goodell’s accomplices while he ruins the league. Because we’re all junkies and need our NFL fix, we’re part of the problem too. Goodell isn’t concerned with our complaints in the least bit; he isn’t concerned about the fact that these refs are obviously intimidated by the players, coaches, and the crowds. He certainly isn’t going to concern himself with doing anything about this unless it’s affecting the bottom line.
In one of the most bizarre endings of the weekend, the Titans and Lions score a combined 85 points, including two touchdowns scored by the Lions within 18 seconds and then the Lions screw up their final play with a 4th and 1 in OT. According to Lions head coach Jim Schwartz, the Lions intended on trying to draw the Titans offside before attempting a game-tying field goal. Apparently everyone except for the Lions Center got the message and the ball was snapped and the Lions failed to advance, ending the game with a Titans win. Seems like those Detroit Lions are having the same discipline issues they had last season.
Everyone got themselves more familiar with the new overtime rules, in which if the first team to possess the ball in OT scores only a field goal, the other team gets the ball with a chance to tie or win. Three games were decided in extra minutes on Sunday, with the Saints being on the short end of the stick and falling to 0-3. Seems as though they could use the help of a head coach to get them off the schnide. The Jets won in OT against the Dolphins, but may have lost Darrell Revis in the process with a possible season ending knee injury.
After the Steelers disappointing loss to the Raiders nothing would have made me happier than to see the Patriots take the Ratbirds to the woodshed. Unfortunately, the Ratbirds get their revenge on their playoff loss and squeak one through the uprights (possibly) for the win. Belichick didn’t think the kick was good and actually tried to grab and official running off the field to see if he too could get away with challenging an unchallengeable play. Seems as though Belichick tackles about as well as the Steelers did in the second half of their game and the official got away. Much was made about Ravens WR Torrey Smith playing in the game, and playing very well, after losing his 19 year old brother in a motorcycle crash early that morning. After having just lost my father a little over 2 months ago, I can’t even wrap my head around how he was able to focus on the game and play. I still find medial tasks difficult to accomplish at times. What I won’t do is call him a hero or courageous for playing because I’d hate to think that him not being able to play would be thought of as cowardly. Everyone grieves and deals with loss in different ways. I’m not judging him either way, he played in the game because he wanted to play, that’s what he felt he needed to do to get through what for most people would be one of the worst day of their lives.
The Steelers dominated the Raiders on Sunday in damn near every category, including penalties and yards. They held the ball almost a quarter longer, had over 100 yards more offense, and ran over ten more offensive plays but still managed to blow a 10 point lead in the fourth quarter to set up a Sebastian Janikowski game winning field goal. The game started with Ryan Clark intercepting Carson Palmer and aside from the Raiders answering with a 64 yard touchdown run by Darren McFadden, the Steelers maintained control of the first half. Ben Roethlisberger had another outstanding passing game, hitting 10 different receivers again and accumulating 384 yards. The running game, however, not so successful. The Steelers rushed the ball for just 54 yards at 2.7 yards per carry.
The penalties were beyond frustrating. I don’t know what was more frustrating, the fact that the Steelers were committing so many stupid penalties, or the fact that the Raiders weren’t being called for anything. It took a fight breaking out in the third quarter for the Raiders to actually be flagged for anything. I realize it’s extreme to join in the “The NFL hates the Steelers” conspiracy theory, but it’s very hard to believe that the Raiders failed to commit a single infraction of the rules the entire first half. One play that wasn’t penalized but will sure be fined was Ryan Mundy’s hit on Darrius Heyward-Bey in the endzone that left Heyward-Bey motionless for a while and eventually carted off of the field. This is the ugly side of football. I’m not quite sure what Mundy could have done differently in that situation, he didn’t appear to lead with his helmet, and although there was contact with Heyward-Bey’s helmet, it seemed incidental. Nevertheless, Mundy will be fined for the hit and the good news is that Heyward-Bey’s condition was reported as stable and he’ll undergo more tests on his neck today.
The Steelers defense looked like a shell of themselves in the fourth quarter. The tackling was atrocious, the coverage was sloppy, and the Raiders benefitted off of it. The Raiders entered the game being 1 for 12 on 3rd down conversions and was damn near perfect on 3rd down in the second half against the Steelers. Many players took responsibility for the loss following the game, but there are some real issues that need to be addressed during this bye week. The Steelers defense just doesn’t look like they used to and aren’t intimidating anyone. The Raiders were not that good of a team, the Steelers just made them look that good. Gotta get better, only one way to do that…Bring on the Bye Week!
Ps. Dan Fouts can suck it
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