Prime Cuts

Slices of great NFL content from around the web

Ravens-Broncos good, but not great

Does Ravens-Broncos Rank as One of the Best Playoff Games?
fifthdown.blogs.nytimes.com

This one belongs in the discussion of “greatest playoff games of all time.” It’s hard to give it the nod, though, because the most dramatic play and the most dramatic decision were more about one team’s mistakes than about another team’s greatness. The mistakes came from the Broncos. One was safety Rahim Moore’s failure to recognize his deep-half zone responsibilities on Jacoby Jones’ 70-yard touchdown. Another was John Fox telling Peyton Manning to take a knee with half a minute to go in regulation when the Broncos had acceptable field position (own 20 yard-line) and two timeouts. Why are you paying Manning more than $1 million a game if you’re not going to lean on him in that situation?

Somewhat lost in the aftermath of this instant classic’s drama is the epic performance of Joe Flacco…On Saturday, Flacco kept the Ravens in it early with a pair of first-half touchdown strikes to Torrey Smith. No one who watched the film on Denver’s Week 15 thrashing of Baltimore would have ever imagined the young wideout beating the future Hall of Famer’s press coverage…Flacco is the reason Baltimore pulled off one of the bigger divisional round upsets in N.F.L. history.

Now that I've had time to review some tape from Saturday and Week 15, I absolutely agree with Benoit.  In Week 15, Champ was able to keep Smith at the line of scrimmage much longer and with much more force.  It's hard to blame Del Rio for employing press man with Champ in the first half of Saturday's game based on what Bailey had done to Smith previously.

I'm not as quick to reward Flacco, though.  He made some decent throws, but it's not as if he didn't just throw the ball up and hope for the best on more than one occasion.  Of course, I'm also pissed off still, so I might be slightly biased.

Go Patriots?

Bailey already watched the tape and he didn’t like what he saw

Day after, Broncos lament chance that slipped away vs. Ravens
www.denverpost.com

Bailey, who was burned for two touchdowns by the Ravens’ Torrey Smith, said he had already reviewed the game.
“It’s tough because I know I’m better than what I put on that tape yesterday,” he said. “There are a couple of plays I would love to have back. But if you haven’t been beaten as a corner, you really haven’t played.”

I was listening to SiriusXM NFL Radio earlier in the evening when a caller (I assume from Denver, although I wasn't paying attention) seriously suggested that after yesterday's game Champ Bailey should consider retirement.

We're all feeling a little punch drunk about now.  Even so, let's not get too carried away.  The Bailey-to-safety talk I can somewhat understand after a tough loss, although that's at least a year or two premature.  But retirement?  

Someone's been tappin' grandpa's moonshine. 

Former Ref: I think the refs did great yesterday

Refs make best of frigid conditions
msn.foxsports.com

There were 18 penalties called in the game and you could say the officiating crew got a frigid review from my Twitter followers, many indicating that the game was not called very well.

I disagree.

Baltimore-Denver was a tough game to officiate. There were a lot of points scored (73), a lot of passes thrown (77) and as I mentioned, it was cold. In fact, it was so cold where I was, I’m surprised my fingers didn’t go numb typing this sentence. But I have a good idea why so many people felt that way about the officials. Because the announcers weren’t always in agreement with what was ruled on the field. Which doesn’t necessarily mean that the officials were wrong.

The officials did not call a poor game. If you think otherwise, that’s just cold.

Hey Mike Pereira, I think I can speak for all Broncos fans when I say: go f#$@ yourself.

And another thing: your mother wears combat boots.  

(h/t: AldenBrown)

John Fox: Coward of the county

RAMSEY: Fox's cowardice dooms Broncos
www.gazette.com

Bad stuff did happen, largely because of Fox’s cowardice. He doomed his Broncos to a 38-35 overtime loss to the Baltimore Ravens. Against all odds, the Broncos found a way to lose to an inferior team.

With 31 seconds left in regulation, Fox was blessed with two timeouts, one of the top five quarterbacks to ever walk our earth and a field-goal kicker capable of launching the NFL’s first 65-yard field goal through the middle of the uprights. Fox commanded Peyton Manning to kneel, running out the clock. He surrendered to his fears, and deserved to walk off the field as a loser. He should have told his players to attack. If Manning had moved his teammates 50 yards, Matt Prater would have been asked to kick a 50-yard field goal to win the game.

A 50-yarder is a chip shot for Prater.

And if the Broncos had moved the ball approximately 35 yards, Fox could have asked Prater to attempt a walk-off 65-yarder. Would Prater have made this kick? Probably not. But there would have been little danger in the attempt.

Dave Ramsey decided to bring out the brass knuckles on this one, but there's never a wrong time for a Kenny Rogers reference.

Coach Fox, we love you. We love your easygoing manner. We love your gruff voice.  Hell, we even laughed at your "cook" joke last year.

You're good with players and you're likeable as the day is long.

But, as Kenny Rogers says, "Sometimes you got to pass when you're a man."

Nobody understands John Fox, except John Fox

Denver Broncos' John Fox coached not to lose game
www.nfl.com

“The reality is, we had a good season. We got to the elite eight,” coach John Fox said after the game. “I’d like to have been that team to hoist the trophy, but we’re not.”

The most inexcusable reason the Broncos lost: Fox played not to lose. He played like his quarterback was Jake Delhomme or Tim Tebow. He coached to his defense, which was not having a good day.

None of this comes a surprise to folks that have watched Fox coach a long time. But it’s a shame to not even try to win with Manning on his side. The Broncos didn’t go out swinging. They went out hoping not to lose.

Let the John Fox beatings begin.  As long as they don't kill coach, we're okay with it.  

How else is he gonna learn?  Coaches, like dogs, need behavior modification, and they need it immediately.

At least one Tebow is feeling great about football tonight

Tim Tebow’s brother happy to see Peyton Manning lose
profootballtalk.nbcsports.com

And after the Broncos lost, Peter Tebow called himself “the only one in Denver who’s happy right now.”

Peter Tebow’s Twitter account (which gives his bio as “You can have this whole world, just give me Jesus”) is not verified. But Tim Tebow has made clear on his own verified Twitter account that the @PeterTebow account does belong to his brother.

Tim Tebow usually goes out of his way to portray himself as a nice guy who always says the right thing. His big brother, however, is not above a little gloating.

I have to admit this one made me smile.  It's hard to slam the guy for feeling like he has to stick up for the little guy Tim.

Hold your tweets, Broncos fans.  Hit him up when the CFL starts.

FO: Ravens not positioned well to take advantage of Denver’s few weaknesses

AFC Divisional Round Preview
www.footballoutsiders.com

But when they really, really need to run for just a yard or two, the Broncos get it more often than not. The Broncos converted 67 percent of runs in “power” situations (i.e. third down, fourth down, or goal line with 1-2 to go), which ranks ninth in the league. Meanwhile, the Baltimore defense, which has been great against the run for over a decade, slipped badly in 2012 and ranked just 26th in our rankings. The Ravens were also awful in those short-yardage situations, allowing opponents to convert 76 percent of the time.

It's single-elimination time, which means fourth-down decisions matter more than ever. We hope tomorrow's outcome won't hinge upon such a call, but if it does, know that the Broncos are actually very good in short yardage, and the Ravens are not.

Memo to John Fox: punts and field goals are for losers.

Cutcliffe: When Peyton says “whatever it takes,” he means it

David Cutcliffe: Peyton Manning’s recovery a tribute to hard work
profootballtalk.nbcsports.com

And in a feature that will air Saturday on NFL Network’s NFL GameDay Morning, Cutcliffe details just how hard Manning worked to get to this point. The NFL Network feature includes footage from a simulated game Manning ran at Duke’s football facility in which he made every single throw the same way he had made them in a 2010 playoff win over the Jets, and that’s a “game” Cutcliffe says he remains very proud of “winning.”

“I don’t think I ever won a game that I felt better about what we accomplished than this ballgame that nobody watched,” Cutcliffe said. “It is really a story worth telling about hard work. Everybody says, ‘I’ll do whatever it takes.’ That’s whatever it takes right there.”

While it's incredibly frustrating waiting for these pieces to actually air, as the host teases them fifteen times an hour, but at least we won't be forced to watch Chris Berman and Frank Caliendo for this one.

John Elway for NFL Executive of Every Year

Save The Black Quarterback
deadspin.com

Broncos (-9) 28, Ravens 27: I think John Elway should be granted the next 15 NFL Executive of the Year awards for what he did this year alone. If I were Elway, I’d just walk around all day with my balls hanging out of my pants. Who’s gonna argue? He made the Broncos better AND ruined Tim Tebow’s career all in one offseason. I take back all the mean things I said about his horsey face.

Of the eight teams left, I’m pretty sure I want the Broncos to win it all. Denver Peyton still remains far more likeable to me than Indianapolis Peyton, and a Broncos ring would come at the expense of either Jim Harbaugh, Green Bay fans, Bill Simmons’s pet pick, or the Falcons. Shit, I hope he wins the Super Bowl 97-0.

Undoubtedly, Denver Peyton > Indy Peyton.

Since the HOF voters forgot: Terrell Davis dominated the postseason like no other

Playoffs Leaderboards Added
www.sports-reference.com

Did you know that Emmitt Smith has the most career playoff rushing yards? How about Aaron Rodgers owning the highest career playoff passer rating? What about Larry Fitzgerald with the most receiving yards in a single playoffs? You can find out all these & more at our new list of NFL playoffs leaders!

On the day that TD gets snubbed by the HOF votes for the sixth straight time, it's rather appropriate to remind everyone that Davis was the greatest postseason runner in history, and the only eligible player not in the HOF who was the best player on two SB-winning teams.