2DH: The Steel (Blue) Curtain

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As is about to be relevant to my complaint, here's what the NFL Rulebook says about Roughing The Passer (bold emphases mine):

(1) Roughing will be called if, in the Referee’s judgment, a pass rusher clearly should have known that the ball had already left the passer’s hand before contact was made; pass rushers are responsible for being aware of the position of the ball in passing situations; the Referee will use the release of the ball from the passer’s hand as his guideline that the passer is now fully protected; once a pass has been released by a passer, a rushing defender may make direct contact with the passer only up through the rusher’s first stepafter such release (prior to second step hitting the ground); thereafter the rusher must be making an attempt to avoid contact and must not continue to "drive through" or otherwise forcibly contact the passer; incidental or inadvertent contact by a player who is easing up or being blocked into the passer will not be considered significant.

***

(5) A rushing defender is prohibited from forcibly hitting in the knee area or below a passer who has one or both feet on the ground, even if the initial contact is above the knee. It is not a foul if the defender is blocked (or fouled) into the passer and has no opportunity to avoid him;

With those rules in mind, hit that jump and look at the pretty pictures.

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In this picture, Ben Roethlisberger has just released the football.  Steelers C Maurkice Pouncey has gotten beat by J.J. Watt, but is still trying to block Watt out of the play.

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Roughly 2/5 of a second later, as Watt extends his arms, Pouncey continues to block him (note the hands in Watt's back).

Roughing3_medium

Watt falls to the ground.  He does not attempt to wrap Roethlisberger up; instead, Watt seems to pull his arms back, trying not to hit the QB now that the ball is gone.  Unfortunately, Pouncey's final push sent Watt forward, and Watt's facemask (because he was trying not to lead with the crown of his helmet, as he's not a waste of DNA like Jared Allen) hits Roethlisberger's right leg.

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Watt has all his weight on his arms and has made no attempt to wrap up the QB.  However, because both Watt and Roethlisberger are composed of matter, they cannot simultaneously occupy the same portion of spacetime.  Stupid physics!

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And DOWN goes Roethlisberger!  Quick, throw a flag because ... uh ... that ... oh, who cares?!  Just throw it!

All of this occurred in slightly over one second.  Yes, it is much easier to see the lack of a penalty in a frame-by-frame review such as this.  Nevertheless, the official in the top left corner of the picture is the one who threw the flag.  If you go back up to the first picture, you'll see that official with a clear view of Pouncey's pushing Watt.  He also has a clear view of Watt's arms and general body language.  NOTHING, aside from the fact that Roethlisberger fell and (presumably) screamed out like a scared child, suggested that this should have been flagged.  Nothing. 

Yet, it was, and Johnathan Joseph's potentially game-clinching pick-6 was wiped off the board.

I have no beef with the flag for Danieal Manning's block in the back: Manning's left hand was Dan Sepulveda's left shoulder, but his right hand was in the small of the punter's back, and that's the type of thing that is going to be flagged every time.  But this penalty?  Absolutely ridiculous and indefensible.  Thankfully, it didn't matter in the end, but that doesn't mean it's any less irritating.

Speaking of Manning, while the block in the back was a dumb penalty inasmuch as Sepulveda couldn't have caught Joseph even if Joseph decided to do somersaults from the 20-yard line to the endzone, it was still a helluva hustle play by Manning.  He came across the front of the kicker, going from right to left, and blocked the FG.  Rather than celebrate, his very first reaction was to turn up field and, seeing Joseph had the ball, block the white jersey closest to Joseph.  That's good hustle.  The end result was a TD-killing brainfart, but the rationale behind it was perfect.

4.8.

Yards per attempt being allowed by the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2011.  They have allowed three running backs (Ray Rice, Joseph Addai, and Arian Foster) to average more than 5 yards/carry (min. 15 carries).  As a point of reference, in the Colts' other three games of the season (@Hou, v.Cle, @TB), Addai has managed only 4.36/carry; he had 5.06 against the Steelers.

Should the Steelers end the season allowing 4.8 yards/carry, it would be the worst single-season mark for the team in my lifetime (i.e., since 1978, at which point I got bored going back through pro-football-reference.com).  The current worst is the 1999 season, in which they allowed 4.3 yards/carry.

1,135; 4.

Number of rushing yards and rushing TDs, respectively, that Arian Foster needs to surpass Domanick Williams (nee Davis) for the all-time team lead in both categories (3,195; 23).

1,371.

Number of days since the Steelers last allowed a team to compile at least 180 rushing yards against them.

Apex.

Something that bothers the crap out of me (and that I can't believe I've never mentioned) starts with this (admittedly simplified) view of a football's trajectory:

Pass_arc_medium

"A," of course, is the highest point of the ball's flight.  "B" is the area that a catch is usually made in when some announcer --- usually some tit like Steve Tasker --- exclaims, "He just WENT UP and got the ball AT ITS HIGHEST POINT!!!"  

Um, no.  No, he did not.  He jumped up and got his hands slightly higher than the guy who was defending him. That's it.  I honestly cannot fathom how that becomes the ball's "highest point."  Literally, the only way you could catch the ball at its highest point would be if you were between the QB and point A, he threw the ball over your head, and you jumped and caught it while it was still on its way up.  The jacked-up part is, if a receiver did that, I have no doubt that the phrase "highest point" wouldn't even be said.

294.

Total number of NFL games started and finished between when Arian Foster rushed for 231 yards in Week 1 of 2010 and when Matt Forte cracked 200 last Sunday against the Panthers.

2.

Number of games in which Arian Foster has had more yards rushing than he did against the Steelers.  Those games are his 180-yard effort against Jacksonville last year and (of course) the 231-yard game against the Colts. 

  • Fun, random fact #1: Sunday was Foster's 10th game of 100 rushing yards or more in his career.  All but two of those (133 @ Oakland, 102 @ Indy) have come at Reliant.  
  • Fun, random fact #2: Foster has more games over 90 yards rushing (12) than under that total (10).  
  • Fun, random fact #3: Foster's 42-yard TD jaunt on Sunday was the second-longest TD run of his career behind only his 74-yarder against Oakland last year.  
  • Fun, random fact #4: Sunday's TD was the 10th time that Foster has scored a TD to give the Texans the lead.  
  • Fun, random fact #5: While the TD run against the Steelers was Foster's first TD of the 2011 season, it was his third TD of the 2011 calendar year.

Boo Pig.

Displaced Texan and Rivers sent along these pictures of Arkansas fans following the Razorbacks' win over Texas A&M.

Pig_medium

Fatarkansasfan_medium

Yeah.  That.

Those who know me or who have read much of what I've written around here know that (a) I am not from Arkansas (despite what certain fathers of certain BRB potentates might claim) and (b) I absolutely root against the Razorbacks in all sporting endeavors.  What you might not know is why.  (Spoiler alert: It's because I'm kind of a sociopath.)

From late August to late December or early January, the collective happiness of this entire state depends entirely on how the Razorbacks are playing.  It does not matter where anyone went to college (assuming they did, which is a bold assumption); if you are from Arkansas and you are a sports fan, it is far, far more likely than not that you consider yourself a Hog fan.

But here's the thing: because there are no high-level pro sports in this state --- and, no, the two Double-A baseball teams do not count --- the sum total of most Arkansans' identity as sports fans is wrapped up in the Razorback football team (and basketball, to a MUCH lesser extent).  Sports radio here is almost entirely local programming, and that local programming mentions the NFL about as often as non-Arkies mention The Natural State as a place they'd like to live.  (Worse, when they do mention the NFL, there's a 99% chance it is to talk about the Dallas Cowboys, as Jerrah is an Arkansan.)

Because they are so heavily invested in the Hogs, whenever the football gods bless me with a U of A loss, there is a palpable, all-encompassing depression that falls over the entire state.  Conversations in mournful tones fill every line you might have to wait in.  It is, in a word, glorious.

All of which is a long-winded way of saying SCREW YOU, TEXAS A&M, YOU CHOKING, SHEEP-DIDDLING JAGOFFS! 

1,875.

Number of rushing yards that Denard Robinson needs to pass Pat White as the all-time college rushing leader among QBs. Robinson has 23 possible games remaining in his career, should Michigan somehow manage to get to the Big 10 Championship game this year and next, in which case he would need 81.5 yards/game. Even if they don't make the Big 10 title game in both years, he needs 89.3 yards/game. As a frame of reference, this season, he's rushed for 110.4/game.

Ugh.

Ok, the schedule for Monday Night Football looks pretty awful for the rest of this year.  To wit:

All three of the teams who are currently winless (Miami, Minnesota, St. Louis) have MNF games left on the schedule. St. Louis has already been on once, of course, getting slaughtered by the Giants two weeks ago.  Only four games feature two teams who are both currently above .500.

Sure, aside from the Rams-Giants tilt, the scores of the MNF contests so far have been pretty close.  But the apparent closeness of the final score belies just how ugly the games were.  Oakland @ Denver was a sloppy, rainy FG fest in which the crowd booed the home team and started chanting for Tim friggin' Tebow.  Redskins @ Cowboys was a Romo slobber fest (as such things are wont to be), and it had seven fumbles and TEN attempted FGs.

Blech.

Random '90s Rap Video

All hail to the Chippewa!

Yes, I realize that it is due in large part to the new kickoff rules. That said, the fact that Brett "The Hitmann" Hartmann has already tied the Texans' single-season record for touchbacks is impressive. Only four kickers in the league have more this season, and one of them plays in Denver.

Speaking of the rookie from Directional Michigan, how gorgeous was that punt he had in the fourth quarter? Watching him purposefully drop the point of the ball to increase his odds of getting a nice hop, then seeing him do exactly what he wanted to do with the ball, Chad Stanley and Matt Turk became even more dead to me.

(Also, credit where it's due: Brice McCain's body control and patience on that play were amazing.  Far too many NFL players would have tried to jump without stopping and getting under control first.  McCain made sure he stopped short of the line, made his jump, and then made sure that he tossed a nice, easy ball to Brandon Harris.  Hey, Brandon Harris sighting!)

November 7, 2010.

That was the last time Matt Schaub did not have at least one TD pass in a game.  (That was the painfully predictable second-half loss to the San Diego Chargers in which the officials jobbed Arian Foster out of a TD reception, and Seyi Ajirotutu had 31% of his 2010 catches and 100% of his 2010 TDs.)

In case you were wondering, the record for such a streak is a whopping 47 games by the great Johnny Unitas from 1956-1960.

Awesome.

Imagine you are 8 years old and someone asks you what your future dream job would be.  I'd say that "ninja," "cowboy," and "professional football player" would all do pretty well in the survey.  It seems that Antonio Smith has somehow managed to accomplish all three:

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Again, I say: awesome.  (h/t ~Jay)

"In this house, we obey the laws of thermodynamics!"

This article about the guys who just won the Nobel Prize for physics contains the greatest nerd quote ever:

Lawrence M. Krauss, a cosmologist at Arizona State University said, "The discovery that the universe is dominated by the energy of empty space has changed everything in cosmology. Nothing could, literally, not be more exciting, because now we know nothing is almost everything!"

(h/t DisplacedTexan)

Juxtaposin'.

Arian Foster, 2011: 2 games, 40 carries for 188 yards (4.7 ypc), 1 TD

Chris Johnson, 2011: 4 games, 69 carries for 199 yards (2.9 ypc), 0 TD

4, 8, 5.

Sacks allowed by the Texans in their three previous games against the Steelers (2002, 2005, 2008).  The 2002 contest was the game where the Texans managed only 70 yards of offense, but won 24-6 thanks to three defensive TDs.  The 2005 bloodbath we shall not speak of.  And most of you should recall the 2008 season opener.

Contrast that with Matt Schaub's sack-free day on Sunday.  The Texans' offensive line, the butt of jokes and lame ESPN commercials for so many years, is playing out of their collective minds right now, and I love it.

37, 113, 75.

Texans' total rushing yards in each of the three previous Steelers games.  Sunday's total of 180 was only 45 yards short of tying this.

Conversely, the Steelers had previously rushed for 128, 135, and 183 yards, respectively, against the Texans.  Sunday's total: 118.

5:40.

Total amount of time that your Houston Texans have trailed any opponent.

70.

Total points allowed by the Texans in 2011, good for 4th in the league.  The last time the Texans held four opponents to 70 or fewer points was from Weeks 13 through 16, 2009.  Their record over that same stretch? 3-1.

17.

Total points given up by the Texans at Reliant this season.  Last year, they gave up 24 in Week 1.

113. 

Total points allowed by the Raiders in 2011, "good" for a tie for 30th in the league.

Unnecessary Archer Quote.

I don't even remember who peed on your sofa. But if I was a gambling man....

The "Marijuana Pepsi Sawyer" Inexplicable Decision Of The Week.

Much like the decision to name your daughter "Marijuana Pepsi," CBS' decision not to show a reply on the illegal-contact penalty that negated the Texans' fumble recovery early in the game was highly curious.  I mean, assuming that it was a legit penalty, even if the ref didn't give a number, it seems like that would be an easy thing to locate on the replay.  And, given that it prevented a Steelers turnover when they were already trailing, it seems like the kind of thing you would try to locate and replay.  But, no.  Baffling.

TXT MSGs Of The Week.

Lone Spot:

"Refs are wearing black, white and gold.  Just wanted to point out that fact."

Shake:

3:22pm "Watching Dallas fully implode would seal the weekend for me."

3:30pm "Felix Jones just ran out of bounds short on 4th down. Hahahahahaha!"

bigfatdrunk:

"LOLRomo"

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