The brutal bottom-line life of the NFL inevitably delivers Epic Failures every Sunday.
Here’s a look at the worst failures, flubs and meltdowns from Week 3 of the 2012 NFL season, low-lighted by a lifeless QB sneak to lose an overtime game for the Lions; the NFL-made disaster in New Orleans; and the amazing Philadelphia turnover machine known as Michael Vick.
Epic Fail: Detroit Lions coach Jim Schwartz
So here’s the deal: your team just pulled out something of a miracle to send a game against a supposedly inferior opponent into overtime.
Detroit scored two touchdowns in the final 20 seconds of regulation to tie the game at 41-41, highlighted by a 46-yard Hail Mary from Shaun Hill to Titus Young as time expired.
Now you’re trailing 44-41 in the extra session and thanks to the NFL’s new overtime rules, you live to fight for another series.
And now you have a choice: it’s 4th and 1 at the Tennessee 7 and you have a near 100 percent chance to extend overtime with a 24-yard field goal, or you have about a 50-50 chance of either extending overtime or losing the game on a single play.
Lions coach Jim Schwartz went for the second option, in what proved to be an Epic Fail of mismanagement by the team we accurately pegged last week as the talented but undisciplined Lions.
Instead of a creative, aggressive play to win the game and match the aggressiveness of the decision to go for the win, back-up QB Hill, put in the game for the injured Matt Stafford, lamely fell into the middle of the defensive line for a loss of 1.
It only got worse for the Lions in the post-game presser. Coach Jim Schwartz admitted it was worse than we originally imagined: his offense was trying to draw the Titans offsides.
Yet in a Epic Failure so grandiose it’s hard to conceive of the paradox, but his team failed to execute a non play.
Instead, the center unexpectedly snapped the ball to Hill. The game ended with an anti-climactic measurement by the chain gang to confirm what we already knew: the Detroit Lions had blown the game.
“It’s the coach’s fault. It’s my fault,” Schwartz admitted after the game.
Epic Fail: The coach-less New Orleans Saints and NFL leadership
The 2011 New Orleans Saints lost three games in 16 weeks. The 2012 Saints have lost three games in three weeks, after their 27-24 overtime defeat at the handsof the Kansas City Chiefs.
The Saints are even 0-2 at home, after a 9-0 home record in 2011.
The difference between the two teams?
Well, the 2011 Saints had a head coach. The 2012 Saints do not. Sean Payton, of course, was suspended back in March for his role in the Bounty-Gate scandal.
The struggles of 2012 were all but inevitable. As we reported back in March, “the reality of the situation is that the NFL did a fairly good job of screwing the Saints hard in 2012 … The loss of Payton for the season may prove truly devastating.”
The Saints now are bad at everything. Even quarterback Drew Brees looks ordinary in 2012. He was extraordinary in 2011, setting NFL records for both passing yards and passing accuracy.
The loss to the Chiefs was the worst yet. The Saints led 24-6 in the third quarter, then surrendered a 91-yard touchdown run by Kansas City’s explosive Jamaal Charles and failed to score another point on offense.
But don’t just blame the Saints for the failure. Blame the NFL and Gridiron Godfather Roger Goodell for his wave of vengeance in the wake of the Bounty-Gate scandal.
His over-the-top "don't f*ck with me I'm the boss" suspensions and penalties did more than punish the guilty, such as (apparently) head coach Payton.
He also put the New Orleans Saints at a massive competitive disadvantage this year. And, if the present trends continue, it appears he all but ruined the season of an entire NFL franchise and the dozens of players and coaches who ply their craft for that team.
Oh, next stop for the lame train they call the Saints of New Orleans? Green Bay, Wisconsin.
Epic Fail: Michael Vick and the Philadelphia Turnover Machine
If you know anything about the dietary habits of the Cold, Hard Football Facts, you know we love turnovers when they’re stuffed with cherries, apples and Buffalo chicken. (Hey, why not?)
The distasteful turnovers that cost teams football games on Sundays are a different story.
The Eagles miraculously survived nine turnovers in the first two weeks to eke out 1-point wins over the Browns and Ravens.
But that statistically implausible scenario came to an abrupt end when Michael Vick and the Eagles ran into a buzz-saw of team with a little swagger, a bad attitude and an undervalued defense.
Vick did not throw an interception in Philadelphia’s 27-6 home loss to Arizona. But he did lose two of the team’s three fumbles.
That’s nine turnovers for Vick alone through three games (6 INT, 3 lost fumbles).
That’s three turnovers per game for those of you keeping score at home, easily the most of any quarterback.
The third straight turnover-filled day turned into an Epic Fail for the Eagles at the end of the first half.
Philadelphia was trailing 17-0 and had the ball at the Arizona 1 yard line. All Vick and the Eagles needed was 1 yard to enter the half with a little momentum.
Instead, Vick was blind-sided by Kerry Rhodes and fumbled. James Sanders picked up the ball and raced 93 yards for a score with no time left in the half.
The touchdown gave the Cardinals a 24-0 lead and essentially ended the game by intermission.
The fumbles were part of a completely ineffective day by Vick: 17 of 37, 45.9%, 217 yards, 5.86 YPA, 0 TD. Vick was also sacked five times for a loss of 35 yards, a total of 4.33 Real Passing YPA.
Clearly, the quarterback is not solely to blame. He was helpless on the Rhodes sack, most notably. The Eagles were overwhelmed all day by a tough and aggressive Arizona defense.
The Cardinals were a leader in almost all of our defensive Quality Stats entering the game. They did nothing to hurt those rankings in the statement win over the Eagles.
But the Cold, Hard reality of life in the NFL is that you can pull out a win here and there with a turnover-prone quarterback, but you simply can’t win consistently. The quarterback, first and foremost, must protect the football at all costs.
Philadelphia will wake up in the morning near the bottom of the list in Real Quarterback Rating. They were No. 26 entering the Arizona game. It helps to know that teams that win the Real QB Rating battle win about 90 percent of all NFL games.
Teams and quarterbacks that don't protect the football and don't win that battle? They end up with a long list of Epic Failures on Sunday.