It's amazing what you'd know before anyone else if you got all your football news from the Cold, Hard Football Facts.
You read it here first: If Tony Romo played soccer for Colombia, he wouldn't live through the end of the week
The Gridiron Gods certainly have a keen sense of humor. A few weeks ago, Romo was the NFL's "It" boy, lauded as the greatest thing to take a snap in Dallas since Roger Staubach. Today, he's on a suicide watch, following the Cowboys' excruciating 21-20 loss at Seattle.
If we had emotions, we'd feel bad for Romo. The folks behind the side-splitting blog TonyHomo.com
, meanwhile, will have a field day with this.
The irony is that we were watching the game's decisive drive wondering "WWDBD?" – what would Drew Bledsoe do to blow the game at this key juncture had he been the quarterback? Even he never orchestrated such an artful way to kick his team and its fans in the gridiron gonads, muffing the placement for what would have been a game-winning field goal in the final minutes. Of course, Bledsoe's not really coordinated enough to pull off that kind of move.
Irony of ironies: Romo looked and
sounded a lot like Bledsoe in the postgame press conference. The lifeless brown
eyes, the low, gravelly voice, the shuffling feet, the thousand-mile stare out across the press room.
The worst part for Romo? His muff came after on-field officials ruled that Dallas had picked up a first down at the Seattle 1-yard line, only to have the officials in the booth overrule it on replay.
The best part for Romo? While we're on the topic of muffs, maybe he can work the disaster for a few extra sympathy beaners from smokin' hot country chanteuse Carrie Underwood. But after last night, it might be better for her career to be seen around Texas with Colt McCoy.
She's less likely to get caught in the crossfire that way, too.
You read it here first: Peyton Manning is a shitty postseason QB
We've been saying this literally since the day we launched the site
, much to the annoyance of our critics and the chagrin of our friends in Indianapolis, who consider the Cold, Hard Football Facts about as enjoyable as a chipotle pepper enema.
Even our friend Allen Barra at the Wall Street Journal
attempted last week to refute this maxim. You can't. "Peyton Manning is a shitty postseason QB" is so solid that we consider it gridiron gravity – an irrefutable law of the game.
We got further evidence that's its true yesterday, in Indy's 23-8 win over Kansas City.
- Manning hasn't thrown three INTs in a regular-season game since Dec. 8, 2002, a period of 68 games.
- He's thrown three or more INTs twice in his past five playoff games.
He tossed four INTs against New England in a 2003 loss in the AFC title game, and three in yesterday's wild-card win against Kansas City, a team that averaged less than 1 INT per game in the regular season.
Ty Law has personally grabbed 5 of those 7 INTs.
It was amazing how gun-shy Manning got after his third interception, most of them of the "who the f*ck was he throwing to?" variety. Every single pass attempt he made after his third pick, early in the third quarter, was a dump-off over the middle or to the left flat. All but two went to running backs or tight ends. There's nothing wrong with that strategy if it wins you the game ... but the sudden change in the passing attack after the third pick was pretty remarkable.
Here, take a look at how the NFL gamebook
describes every Manning pass attempt after the third INT. You might notice the word "short" appears a few times:
- Manning pass short middle to Addai for 7 yards
- Manning pass short left to Clark for 7 yards
- Manning pass short middle to Clark for 10 yards
- Manning pass short middle to Addai for 9 yards
- Manning pass short left to Moorehead for 10 yards
- Manning pass short middle to Rhodes for 9 yards
- Manning pass short left to Rhodes for 15 yards
- Manning pass short middle to Clark for 18 yards
- Manning pass short middle to Wayne for 5 yards, TOUCHDOWN
You read it here first: Herm Edwards is the Peyton Manning of postseason coaching
- Kansas City ranked first in yards and sixth in points last year.
- Kansas City tumbled to 15th in both categories this year under the Herminator.
The un-electric slide down the offensive rankings culminated yesterday in one of the most offensive examples of offensive leadership we've seen since Gen. Montgomery in Holland back in '44.
If you missed the game, this is all you need to know: Kansas City did not gain a first down – NO FIRST DOWNS – until 3:33 left in the third quarter.
From unimaginative game-planning to uninspired players, overly conservative play-calling to poor personnel decisions, nobody does offense quite as bad as Edwards.
The quarterbacking situation is the most obvious example: Edwards stubbornly stuck with Trent Green when it was obvious weeks ago to every Kansas City schoolchild that Damon Huard was the better option at quarterback.
- Kansas City was 5-3 this year under Huard.
- Kansas City was 4-5 this year under Green (including playoffs).
- Huard posted a 98.0 passer rating.
- Green posted a 71.3 passer rating.
- Huard tossed 11 TDs and 1 INT.
- Green tossed 8 TDs and 11 INTs.
- KC scored 22.9 PPG under Huard.
- KC scored 17.3 PPG under Green.
- Kansas City won two games this year against playoff teams (San Diego and Seattle), both under Huard.
- Kansas City embarrassed itself in the playoffs under Green.
Given a choice between a Clydesdale and a drunken mule, Edwards hitched his horse to the drunken mule.
You read it here first: Marvin Harrison is the Invisible Postseason Man
It was perfect on the NFL Network postgame (great show, by the way): Rich Eisen & Co. talked about Law's INTs and attributed it to "miscommunication" between Manning and Harrison.
It's funny how Manning and Harrison move in perfect lockstep throughout the regular season, to the point that they've combined for more TDs than any QB-WR tandem in the history of football.
Put them in the playoffs, though, and suddenly they're talking through Dixie Cups and yarn.
Marvin Harrison has caught just 2 TD passes in 11 postseason games, 10 of which he played with Manning. Both TDs came in the very same game, a 41-10 wild-card rout of the Broncos.
Remember the play when the Denver defense completely stopped as Harrison lay on the ground with the ball, but forget to touch him – and he got up and ran in for the TD? That was the game.
Besides that, he's been kept out of the end zone in the other 10 games of his postseason career.
Yesterday was classic Harrison postseason: two catches, 48 yards.
This isn't some chump. This is one of the most prolific wideouts in the history of the NFL. But he simply can't find the end zone in the playoffs.
Funny ... Bob Neumeier, an old friend of the Cold, Hard Football Facts, was on the sideline for NBC's broadcast of the KC-Indy game. Suddenly, Cris Collinsworth, up in the booth, was quoting our material left and right. He talked up this Harrison data, which we reported for the first time long ago, and the historic futility of the Indy run defense, which we also broke before anybody else.
You read it here first: the Deion Branch debate is officially over
Deion Branch had a perfectly nondescript Deion Branch season with Seattle this year.
He caught 53 passes for 725 yards and 4 TDs. Had he played the first two games, he might have equaled his career high with 5 TD receptions, which he set last year with New England.
Branch did, however, set one personal record in Seattle: He caught 2 TDs in a game for the first and only time in his career.
Up in Boston, a city which includes some of the least knowledgeable sportswriters and personalities in the history of post-Neanderthalic man, Branch has been made out to be some sort of gridiron centaur – half Don Hutson, half Jerry Rice – a receiving god who instantly makes a team better the moment he steps on the field. They insist that the Patriots should have broken the bank for a guy who held out and refused to honor the last year of his contract.
These people are morons.
In Seattle, meanwhile, fans have a different view of things. They're wondering how their team got hosed so bad for a decent mid-tier receiver. The Seahawks handed Branch a $13 million signing bonus and six-year, $40 million deal – and traded away their No. 1 draft pick in April – for a guy who's now caught 18 TDs in five NFL seasons.
When you look at the numbers and the dollars, it's clear that Seattle wildly overpaid for Branch.
He's certainly been a bit better in the playoffs: Branch has surpassed the 100-yard mark four times in nine postseason games. This includes an 11-catch, 133-yard MVP effort in Super Bowl XXXIX with New England.
But even in the playoffs, he's reached the end zone just twice through the air: once in Super Bowl XXXVIII against Carolina and once in the 2004 AFC title game against Pittsburgh (he scored a second TD that day on a reverse). Otherwise, he's been shut out.
He was shut out again yesterday, in Seattle's improbable 21-20 win over Dallas. Branch caught four passes for a pedestrian 48 yards and 0 TDs.
He may yet light it up in the postseason, carry Seattle to the Super Bowl and otherwise justify the resources the Seahawks expended to get him.
But we're not counting on it.
For the record:
- The Patriots went 10-6 last year with Branch and scored 23.7 PPG.
- The Patriots went 12-4 this year without Branch and scored 24.1 PPG.
- The Seahawks went 13-3 last year without Branch and scored 28.2 PPG.
- The Seahawks went 9-7 this year with Branch and scored 20.9 PPG.
Branch seems like a good guy who did what any of us would do: He parlayed a Super Bowl MVP award into big-time money. More power to him. We're effin' jealous.
But the only other party to make out on the deal was the one who refused to pay him – let alone trade away their first pick in the draft to get him.
The Seattle organization will wish it had that pick once April rolls around. Most fans already do.