The Lard

A comprehensive daily examination of NFL happenings and analysis

D.J. to learn of extended ban soon Lard

Happy Friday, Broncos fans! As expected, the first group of real officials were welcomed back heartily last night, as Gene Steratore's crew was given a standing ovation before the game.

Steratore even got hugs from Ravens coach John Harbaugh and linebacker Ray Lewis, and safety Bernard Pollard says the players have a new appreciation for the skill of the regular refs.

Before the game, Roger Goodell apologized to the fans, but framed the lockout as something that had to happen, and even summoned up the nerve to call the craptastic officiating as part of the "beauty of sports."

Judy Battista reports that indeed, progress in negotiations had been made prior to Monday, so there was actually a possibility of a deal before the game-deciding blown call. But according to her sources, owners Jerry Richardson of the Panthers and Woody Johnson of the Jets were among the owners digging their heels in on Tuesday, while the Patriots' Robert Kraft and Giants owner John Mara - often described as key moderates during last year's player lockout - were more concerned with the impact of using scab officials.

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Was it worth it, owners? Lard

Good Morning, Broncos fans! Well, it's thankfully, finally over. Many hours after Chris Mortensen reported the NFL and NFLRA had come to an agreement on a new contract, they actually agreed to a fresh deal.

To get there, it only took three weeks of craptastic officiating and a call so bad that a Vegas sportsbook is refunding losing bets.

Some questions:

What if the tipping point Packers/Seahawks call had occurred instead in the Jacksonville/Indy Sunday game that was probably seen live by fifty people who aren't Jags or Colts fans? Would we still be celebrating a return of the regular officials today? Or would the resulting uproar not be enough to sway ownership?

Was it worth it, NFL owners? You've cost yourselves and your sport a good chunk of credibility. The fans who sided with you during the 2011 player lockout, and for two weeks of this officiating lockout? Even they finally realize now how little you truly care about the integrity of the game. We're curious to see if this affects the public opinion of player lawsuits regarding your handling of head injuries.

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Ginger is Hammerless in ref dispute Lard

Good Morning, Broncos fans! It's appearing as if the officiating lockout will continue into the forseeable future, as if Jerry Jones's comments yesterday didn't establish that already.

The two sides met on Tuesday for the fourth consecutive day, but reportedly made little or no progress toward a deal. Incredibly, the NFL still has the nerve to spin this dispute as being about raising the quality of officiating, rather than about taking away pensions of the refs who are now so sorely missed.

Mike Freeman hears that Roger Goodell would have settled this dispute months ago were he anything more than a lapdog for the league's owners, but he also suggests that Ginger's lack of assertion may cost him his legacy as Commish. Freeman says an end to the impasse could come this week - and he's betting on a deal coming this weekend - but he hears the prideful owners don't want to appear to have been swayed by what happened on Monday.

But these owners aren't just prideful; they're a lovely mix of Lucky Sperm Club members and hardened business bullies who simply aren't used to hearing no as an answer.

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What we’ve all been dreading Lard

Good Morning, Broncos fans! There are plenty of reasons to be a fan of the NFL over other sports.

It's an exciting game with supreme athleticism, choreographical beauty, and intellectual strategy. At turns, a football game can be won by the strongest men, while at others, its smartest can rule the day. It is played by nimble 330-pound men and brutally strong 230-pounders alike.

For the most part, it is a fair game.

Never before have I thought about why I love the NFL and considered officiating. But I have often viewed soccer matches and boxing bouts, noted the notoriously inconsistent officiating, and found myself grateful to not be a fan of either sport.

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Last-place tie Lard

Good Morning, Broncos fans! Rumors of the demise of Peyton Manning's arm strength were shown yesterday to be greatly exaggerated. No surprise there.

Unfortunately, the quality of Denver's defense was also proven overstated, and Peyton & Co. again ran out of time attempting a furious comeback from a 20-point fourth-quarter deficit.

Denver scored two touchdowns in the final stanza, but it wasn't enough, as the Broncos dropped to 1-2 with a 31-25 loss (Gamebook) to Gary Kubiak and Wade Phillips's Texans.

Jack Del Rio's guys got tuned up for three Matt Schaub touchdown passes within a twelve-minute, four-second span, in a nightmarish first half that netted the Texans a staggering 285 yards of offense.

Were it not for a timely Wesley Woodyard interception near the end of the first half - a swing of six or ten points, after Matt Prater's third FG - the game may have been over before Rod Smith took his rightful place among the Broncos' greats in the Ring of Fame.

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Scabs love home cooking Lard

Good Morning, Broncos fans! Make sure you've cleared more than three hours from your afternoon for today's game. If you're recording it, set the DVR to go longer than you normally might.

If the season so far is any indication, a potential overtime game could approach four hours.

As we all learned in painful fashion Monday night, one of the many negative outcomes of the officiating lockout is that games are stretching even longer than normal. Broncos/Falcons went 3 hours 27 minutes, while the average game in Week 2 lasted for 3 hours 14 minutes - tied for third longest in the past 20 years. Brutal.

There is one bright spot here for the Broncos - at least for the next two weeks. Home teams have been faring much better in terms of winning games (an unprecedented 14 of 16 were victorious last week), penalty counts (road teams have faced 23% more flags than have home teams), and an unheard of 61.3% of them have apparently covered the point spread.

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Pick play sealed Monday’s game Lard

Good Morning, Broncos fans! Chris Harris says he's ready to play tomorrow; including Harris and Quinton Carter, who were both limited in practice, Denver has listed six players as probable for tomorrow.

Chris Kuper remains out, as he recovers from his forearm injury, and is the only other Bronco on the injury report.

Jack Del Rio says LB Keith Brooking's role will continue to grow; after playing nine snaps against Pittsburgh, Brooking was in for 36 of Denver's 69 defensive snaps on Monday night.

LB Tim Dobbins is questionable for Houston, while eleven others are probable.

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Tim Tebow = Superman, apparently Lard

Happy Friday, Broncos fans! Finally, there's some good news regarding the health status of Chris Harris (ankle).

The nickel corner returned to practice yesterday, albeit in a limited fashion; Mike Klis thinks Tony Carter is likely to see more action again on Sunday. Quinton Carter was also limited (knee). Von Miller, Joel Dreessen, Tracy Porter, and Brandon Stokley were all on yesterday's injury report, but all were full participants.

Because the defense started Monday night's game on their own one-yard line, Champ Bailey's string of having started all of his NFL games was broken.

The league fined Falcons DE Ray Edwards $8K for a late hit, but still nothing for contacting an official, which should have gotten him ejected from the game after Knowshon Moreno's fumble. Let's see, it should have been Denver ball at the Atlanta 32 with the score 10-0, and Edwards tossed. Instead, It was Atlanta ball at the 17, and Edwards got to stick around. Of course, the statistics will show that the refs called a penalty, so everything is okay, right?

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Vince Young: the Norm Peterson of Cheesecake Factory Lard

Good Morning, Broncos fans! Peyton Manning (video) was of course asked about his arm strength yesterday, since his three interceptions on Monday were a bit floaty in nature.

But as one would expect, Peyton didn't have much to say, because what can he possibly offer? He's already told us many times that he's not 100%.

For his part, Eric Decker says Manning "hummed" the deep middle pass that sailed through the wideout's hands, and he of course says he should have caught the ball there.

Chris Harris and Chris Kuper did conditioning work, but neither practiced yesterday; Kuper is reportedly still a week away from practicing. Quinton Carter and Von Miller were limited, while Joel Dreessen and Brandon Stokley are on the injury report but were full participants.

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Why can’t Monday be the refs’ fault? Lard

Good Morning, Broncos fans! I'm not sure why I need to clarify yesterday morning's intro, because I thought it was rather clear. But here goes...

Yes, my point was indeed that the officiating played a large role in the outcome of Monday's game. Were their blown calls alone in causing Denver to lose? Of course not. The turnovers helped, as did a dropped interception or two. The pass rush could have been more impactful.

But here's what I find quite amusing regarding the allocation of blame for a loss:

Why is one person's claim that Peyton Manning's three interceptions were the main reason for the loss considered indisputable, while it would be completely invalid to blame the refs?

Both are opinions, and not based in delusion, right? Or is the latter un-American?

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