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Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

30 Bye-Week Observations

The Rams’ gutsy fake punt alone was worth the price of admission on Sunday, but there was plenty more worth noting, from deleted pick-sixes to predictions that had no chance to succeed


  • On an action-packed NFL Sunday, the Rams' bold fake punt was the most impressive play
  • The Giants and Cowboys don't like each other much
  • Even the best commercials are sometimes a bit misleading on second glance

    I surfed the couch for about seven hours on Sunday, and the best thing I saw all day was a pass by a punter.

Oh, there was plenty to enjoy on this particular Sunday, as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers took their bye weekend and I used the free afternoon to keep an eye on what was going on around the rest of the NFL. There were losses by all three of the Bucs' NFC South foes (that's good!) and 8,000 cell-phone commercials (that's bad, mostly). There were surprise contributors and blazing stadium lights. There was even an accurate and interesting pregame-show prediction. No, seriously!

So, what struck me as interesting on this very enjoyable day on the couch? Well, that incredibly brave call by the St. Louis Rams to throw on a fake punt deep in their own territory near the end of their upset win over Seattle heads the list. The Rams also scored on a really tricky punt return, and I've got to believe nobody's NFL stock went up more on Sunday than St. Louis Special Teams Coordinator John Fassel.

And here are some other items of note:

  1. If I haven't made it clear in the past, I'm not a fan of pregame shows, and that goes for any sport. Just tell me when kickoff/first pitch/puck drop is and I'm there; until then, it's catch-up-on-Game-of-Thrones time. That said, once again I'll give it a try, for you. It will be a lot like the game we used to play when I was a kid at the local pool, seeing who could hold their breath underwater the longest. I say that not because they are both tests of endurance but because, like oxygen deprivation, I think watching a pregame show could cause me serious cognitive difficulties in the long run.
  1. Okay, so then the next question is, do we go with the CBS pregame show or the FOX pregame show? Tough choice. Brutal. Well, after some quick flipping back and forth, I see that FOX has some kind of comedian in orange overalls and a movie tie-in with their robot animation, so I'll give it to them for sheer effort. If you can't tell the two shows apart, this is the one with the big desk full of men that goes, from left to right: host, old ex-player, younger ex-player, morning show guy, old coach.
  1. Also, FOX has Jay Glazer, whose scoops are never wrong. If he says Percy Harvin bad-attituded his way out of Seattle, believe it. I'm not kidding. As for the aforementioned "old player" on the pregame show, I like how Terry Bradshaw told us a "don't-panic" story that all of us regular folk can identify with: Being late for your ride on a private jet.
  1. Some dude whose name I didn't catch because I wasn't paying any attention at all just said Joe Flacco would throw five touchdown passes today. That part did catch my attention. You see, I have it on good authority that Flacco had five TD passes last Sunday, so this dude is predicting that Flacco will have two consecutive games with five or more scoring tosses. You know how many times Peyton Manning has done that? I'll give you a hint – it's the same number of times Aaron Rodgers, Dan Marino, Brett Favre, Joe Montana, Steve Young, Troy Aikman and Johnny Unitas have done it. None. I didn't include Tom Brady, because he has done it, one of the three times IN NFL HISTORY it has been accomplished. (Can you guess the other two quarterbacks on the list? No, you can't. Scroll to the bottom for the answer). So, what I'm saying is, great prediction! I think Cincinnati and Carolina are both going to end in ties again today, too.
  1. My 11-year-old just asked me when the games are starting. Amen, son, amen.
  1. It's 16 minutes later and that same young man is now dancing around the room like a little maniac. Something tells me he has Jordy Nelson on his fantasy team.
  1. I think Ryan Tannehill just tripped over the computer-imposed first-down line. I only bring that up as an excuse to repeat what I said last year: Nobody does the October breast cancer awareness pink accents better than the Dolphins. They should incorporate it into their unis permanently.
  1. The guy in the Aleve P.M. commercial doesn't seem to care very much that his wife has such horrific back pain that she can't sleep. He's like, "Good night!" clicks off the light and happily rolls over while she writhes in pain next to him. She'd be better off married to Super Creepy Rob Lowe. Although I think Painfully Awkward Rob Lowe would treat her better.
  1. Carolina's Thomas DeCoud looked like he tried to spear a prone Randall Cobb with his helmet, but it turned into a pretty textbook Olympic somersault instead. DeCoud still got a personal-foul call even though he barely made any contact with Cobb – based on intent, I guess? – but the Russian judge gave him a 9.5 for his form.
  1. Is there a worse feeling for an NFL defender than to pick off a pass, high-step for 15 yards down the sideline, score a rare touchdown, conduct six or seven flying chest-bumps with teammates…and then turn around to see a flag 30 yards back up the field? It's like rain on your wedding day, right Clay Matthews? Alanis Morissette would inaccurately describe that as "ironic."
  1. The last time I did one of these observational thingies was Week Three. Serious question: Has there been another new iPhone released since then?
  1. Quick highlight just shown from the Saints-Lions game, and it's Drew Brees throwing a touchdown pass to a being named "Austin Johnson." Who is Austin Johnson, you ask? Well, he played linebacker at Tennessee; he's still listed as an "LB" over on Pro Football Reference but he's apparently converted back to fullback (his first position as a Vol); he had never caught a pass before today; he has a really robust beard. If you want a briefer description: Austin Johnson is the man thousands of fantasy football players are cursing right now for stealing points from Graham, Robinson, Thomas, et al.
  1. After Aaron Rodgers induces a third offsides flag by the Panthers, Buccaneer great John Lynch invokes Buccaneer great Rod Marinelli to give Carolina some advice: "Watch the football. Football don't hard count." John Lynch is the best. I feel like I'm going to be saying, "Football don't hard count," for at least a couple weeks.
  1. There is literally no new iteration of the cheese hat that I am going to find amusing anymore, Green Bay fans. Not even you, Cheese Sombrero guy, or you, cheese overalls dude. Totally played out.
  1. Counterpoint from the Chicago game: It's 2014, and people are still bring "D-[SHAPE OF FENCE]" signs to NFL games. And I approve. It's a classic, unlike cheeseheads. Simple and to the point. So I wondered if anyone knew when and where this classic sign was originated. A two-second Google search and we have Seahawks fan Lorin "Big Lo" Sandretzky taking the credit for an act of creative genius in 1984. I love you, internet.
  1. They're down an official in Green Bay because one of them is on the sideline, shaken up. I hope he's okay, but I think we can all agree it won't be a gigantic tragedy if that results in fewer flags being thrown in an NFL game.
  1. Joe Flacco update: one touchdown pass at halftime. Gonna have to pick up the pace in the second half, buddy.
  1. Alright, since I've repeatedly bashed pregame shows, I have to at least give credit where credit is due. Someone on one of the two shows predicted that Ryan Tannehill would hurt Chicago with his running ability. That's a pretty specific prediction and boy is it proving to be on the money. Of course, I feel a little bad that I can't remember which show or which person said this…but not that bad. They spent an hour talking; somebody was bound to get something right.
  1. So FOX has switched from Green Bay to St. Louis (good call) and just in time for us to see QB Russell Wilson break off a 52-yard scramble. The announcer can't stop talking about what he considers LB Alec Ogletree's inexplicable decision to slide away from the sideline just as Wilson hit the corner. He's baffled. It's a total mystery, on which he must comment repeatedly for two or three minutes. Let me just throw something out there, announcer guy: It's called a "pump fake."

Rams RB Benny Cunningham was on the receiving end of the boldest pass attempt of Week Seven in the NFL

20. O.M.G. No matter what else happens in every other game, it was worth sitting on this couch for six hours to see the Rams successfully run a fake punt from their own 18-yard line, with a two-point lead. Punter Johnny Hekker converted the surprise attempt with a perfect out pass to RB Benny Cunningham. That is the gutsiest call I've seen in years, and Rams Head Coach Jeff Fisher was destined to be judged solely on how well it worked. If it had failed, it was a stupid risk. Since it worked, he's a genius. I'm glad it worked. More coaches willing to make a call that could get them lambasted upon failure would be a great thing for the league.

  1. Detroit has a great defense. Carolina is giving up 40 points a week. Dallas has a great defense. Chicago has to win on offense. This season is playing out exactly as we all expected.
  1. I only played football at the lowest levels, so my opinion on this matter is wildly uninformed, but I've never understood why players prefer to have somebody else squirt the water bottle into their mouths rather than doing it themselves.
  1. Thank goodness there's an app for ordering Domino's now. I was at my wit's end trying to figure that one out, and it's not like Peyton Manning was going to help. And while we're discussing pizza commercials, I don't think I'm as impressed by the idea of "vine-ripened tomatoes" as they think I am.
  1. Andre Williams is not exactly what you would call a "dynamic" runner.
  1. If you're the quarterback and you suddenly realize there are 12 men in your huddle, it probably isn't going to help for you to sprint suddenly out of the huddle and backward 10 yards. That's like stealing a car and then driving with your emergency flashers on; always a good idea to call attention to your crime as it's being committed.
  1. What's the official tally between "Cowboys games Troy Aikman played in" and "Cowboys games Troy Aikman has broadcast?" Gotta be getting close at this point.
  1. Thom Brennaman is talking A LOT, and yet somehow he has yet to say, "These two teams just don't like each other." Isn't he required by law to say that at some point during this game? I mean, there was a fight after the opening kickoff. I'll be ready to record when it happens, because it WILL happen. [Editor's note: It never happened. What a massive disappointment. I feel cheated. Brennaman must have lost the script.]
  1. John Wick is back. Just an FYI.
  1. In the old Cowboys Stadium, they used to say the hole in the roof was so that, "God can watch his favorite team play." Yes, that's insufferable, but in the current stadium it looks like God is trying to kill ants with a magnifying glass through the West end zone windows. Doesn't seem optimal. The lights glinting off the helmets are very artistic on television, but the shots of all the fans in the stands shading their eyes are pretty telling. You probably don't want the quarterback staring into a 1,000-watt spotlight as he runs his offense, if at all possible.
  1. Last time I did this, I pointed out how much I liked that Audi "Life is Scripted" commercial. But I just watched it again and now I wonder if I haven't been as blind as pre-red pill Neo all along. In the climactic scene, the Audi approaches with an attractive woman driver to take the protagonist away from his scripted life…but as the car approaches he reads this from the script, "Stunning car approaches as music swells…" Or something to that effect. In other words, this apparent savior from his scripted life is actually part of the Matrix-like system. This scene is scripted, too. There is no escape for racquetball guy. He's probably being taken to some room with 1,000 TV monitors as we speak.


(The three quarterbacks who have thrown at least five consecutive TD passes in two consecutive games are Tom Brady, on Oct. 14 and Oct. 21, 2007, vs. Dallas and Miami; Daunte Culpepper, on Oct. 10 and Oct. 17, 2004, vs. Houston and New Orleans; and Tom Flores, on Dec. 15 and Dec. 22, 1963, vs. Denver and Houston. But you knew that, right?)

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