Monday, October 31, 2022

Mike Fanning—Rest in Peace

 By John Turney 
Sunday, October 30, 2022, in Tulsa, OK, former Norte Dame and Los Angeles Rams defensive tackle Mike Fanning passed away. He was 69. The cause of death has not been released.

Fanning was from Tulsa and attended Edison High School and was an All-State wrestler and a Parade All-American football player.

He had worked in the athletics department and The University of Tulsa for the last 13 years and Sunday night they confirmed his passing. 

Tulsa athletic director Rick Dickson said in a statement Monday, "We are saddened by the news of Mike's passing. He was a tremendous football player at Notre Dame and in the NFL and carried that competitiveness and work ethic into everyday life. He was such a likable person who worked to help TU athletics achieve success."

Rams teammate Jack Youngblood added, "Mike was a really good guy, talented teammate…he made us laugh in the locker room with his dry humor. He was also my wingman in the fight!" Fred Dryer concurred, "Mike made everything and everyone around him better. Mike was a great teammate and had a great sense of humor."

Fanning was drafted by the Rams in 1975 ostensively to be Merlin Olsen's replacement. Olsen was going into his fourteenth season and the Rams front office wanted to get a young, talented player to groom so he'd be ready when the future Hall of Fame retired. 

But the 'replacement for Olsen' plan didn't quite work out as planned but nonetheless Fanning had a fine NFL career and was a contributor to the excellent Rams defenses of that era.

The Rams took Fanning with the ninth overall pick in the 1975 draft. Fanning had been an All-American tackle at Notre Dame and also had experience as a defensive end. He broke an ankle as a rookie and didn't see much playing time. In his second year, Olsen who had decided to hang 'em up after the season and Fanning got some experience spelling him and recorded four sacks.

The following season fellow Rams defensive lineman Cody Jones won the left defensive tackle position, earning him the title as Olsen's replacement and Fanning was a backup but nursed a shoulder injury for much of the season. Fanning kept the same role in 1978 backing up Jones and Larry Brooks, the right defensive tackle and a couple of starts late in the season, filling in for Brooks.

In 1979 Fanning got his chance to start. Jones tore his Achilles and Fanning stepped in starting all 16 games plus the three playoff games, including Super Bowl XIV, recorded seven sacks and 51 tackles.

The following season Jones was the starter (Ray Malavasi had a policy that a player who got injured didn't lose his starting spot) but Fanning got 'starter's snaps' being part of a three-man rotation, stepping in for Jones and sometimes for Brooks as well. He had a career-high ten sacks that year and also forced a pair of fumbles.

In 1981 and '82 Fanning was again the starter since Jones changed positions and Fanning performed well—getting good pressure on the passer from the interior (leading Rams in sacks in 1982) and excelling against trap plays, which was his forte. He just was able to see and play those blocks well.

In 1983 Fanning, not being a fit for the Rams new 3-4 defense, was traded to the Lions, and he started some for them. His final season was in Seattle and he was their designated pass rusher, coming in as an interior rusher on passing downs and recording seven sacks, and forcing two fumbles.

He ended his ten-year career playing 137 games and made 244 tackles, 43½ sacks, and eight forced fumbles.
As a freshman at Notre Dame, Fanning was 25-1-1 with a then-school record 23 consecutive wins as a heavyweight wrestler and was a finalist in the NCAA tournament, and was a Freshman/Sophomore All-American.

With the Irish football team, he played defensive end as a sophomore and was a starting left defensive tackle his final two years totaling 164 tackles. He was and was a part of the first-ranked defense in 1974 and the second-ranked 1973 defense that led the school to the 1973 National championship. 

His All-America honors included First-team selections by Sporting News, Time, the Walter Camp Football Foundation, and a Second-team selection by the Associated Press.

In 2001 Ara Parseghian said that Fanning was as fine an inside pass rusher as he had in his time at Notre Dame. 

Career stats—

Running Behind, Packers Fall Short in Buffalo

 By Eric Goska

Aaron Jones rushed for 143 yards against the Bills.
(screen capture from NFL Game Pass)

Those pundits who believe the Packers tend to abandon the run too early or too often must have been pleasantly surprised by what unfolded in Buffalo Sunday night.

Not by the final score, mind you, although Green Bay did avoid a blowout. Rather, those who prefer an earth-moving type of approach must have taken some satisfaction in the Green and Gold’s decision to continue to run the ball regardless of the score.

Propelled by Aaron Jones and AJ Dillon, Green Bay amassed a season-high 208 rushing yards in the team’s 27-17 loss to the Bills in prime time. Only once previously have the two running backs combined for more real estate than what they amassed at Highmark Stadium in Orchard Park.

Dillon and Jones have been sharing carries since 2020. The two have combined for 100 or more rushing yards 14 times in the regular season.

They topped the century mark again in Buffalo. Jones piled up 143 yards on 20 trips and Dillon added 54 on 10.

That’s 197 yards worth of togetherness, second behind only the 218 they snapped off against the Titans in December 2020.

The difference Sunday night? Just about everything they earned came with the Packers behind on the scoreboard.

The Bills, owners of an AFC-best 6-1 record, average 29 points a game. They pulled ahead 7-0 late in the first quarter and never lost the lead.

The Packers had the ball for only one possession before falling behind. They gained 34 yards on nine plays to reach the Buffalo 38 before losing the ball on downs.

On that drive, Jones carried twice for eight yards. Dillon lugged the leather once for two yards.

Those three attempts for 10 yards occurred with the score 0-0. Everything else Green Bay rushed for came with the team in arrears.

Despite being behind for the final 48 minutes, 34 seconds, the Pack stayed grounded. They gained 198 yards on 28 attempts (7.1 per carry).

Jones and Dillon accounted for it all, with the exception of an 11-yard scramble by Aaron Rodgers in the fourth quarter.

In the second quarter, Green Bay ran 12 times (73 yards) against four pass plays. In the third, it ran 12 times (108 yards) against four pass plays.

Staying with the run, of course, is easier when it is producing dividends. Twelve of those 20 runs in the middle quarters yielded seven yards or more.

Yet even with this windfall, the Packers fell further behind. Down 7-0 at the end of the first quarter, the team lagged behind 27-10 heading into the fourth.

And so in the final 15 minutes, Green Bay threw 15 times against four runs.

AJ Dillon rushed 10 times for 54 yards.

Amassing 198 yards on the ground when trailing is no small feat. Only twice before in the regular-season (since 1923) has the team gained more.

On Oct. 8, 1950, Gene Ronzani’s team compiled 312 soil yards in a 44-31 loss to the Yanks. Approximately 274 were produced with the team in arrears.

Five years later, Lisle Blackbourn’s club overran the 49ers 27-21 while staking out 251 yards on the ground. Most (233) were earned while rallying to pull ahead of San Francisco.

Historically, getting to 200 usually spells victory. Since 1923, the Packers are 115-10-5 (.904) in the regular season when doing so.

In today’s game, of course, reaching that plateau is not often done. For Green Bay this century, it happens about once a year.

That makes getting there and coming away with a loss that much more frustrating. What it doesn’t mean is shying away from pounding the ball in the second half of 2022.

Running from Behind

Since 1923, the eight regular-season games in which the Packers gained more than 180 yards rushing while behind on the scoreboard. Yardage totals for the games prior to 1985 are unofficial.






Oct. 8, 1950


GB lost, 31-44


Nov. 20, 1955


GB won, 27-21


Oct. 30, 2022


GB lost, 17-27


Nov. 3, 1957


GB lost, 17-31


Sept. 29, 1985


GB lost, 28-43


Dec. 6, 1987


GB lost, 12-23


Nov. 6, 1949


GB lost, 3-24


Oct. 23, 1949


GB lost, 7-35

Sunday, October 30, 2022

Judgements VIII

 By Clark Judge 
Dak Prescott
Credit: Fox Sports/NFL Game Pass
The Philadelphia Eagles are the NFL’s only unbeaten team, but we all know that. What we don’t know is this: With no speed bumps on the horizon until December, is there anyone in the NFC that can … or will … challenge them?

Yes. The Dallas Cowboys.

I know, I know, they already lost to Philadelphia. In fact, they lost a couple of weeks ago. But that was with Cooper Rush at quarterback, not Dak Prescott. And while Rush is 5-1 as an emergency starter, the difference between the two was apparent in Sunday’s 49-29 beat down of Chicago.

Prescott was back to being Dak, running and throwing with confidence, and the Cowboys were back to being a team that can bury you a myriad of ways. They ran for 200 yards. They threw for another 242. They converted nine of 11 third downs, scored a defensive touchdown and sacked Chicago’s Justin Fields four times.

In short, they looked a lot like … well, a lot like the Philadelphia Eagles.

Now, keep in mind, this was on an afternoon when running back Zeke Elliott didn’t suit up. So the Cowboys had to rely on backup Tony Pollard, and all he did was shred the Bears’ defense for 147 scrimmage yards and three TDs.

Yet Pollard was the sidebar. Dak was the story.

In rhythm throughout, he led the Cowboys to four successive scoring drives to open the game and catapult them to a 28-7 lead. The rest you know: Dallas wound up scoring more points than any game this season. Its third-down conversion rate of 81.8 was its best in at least 30 years. And things went so smoothly that even the Cowboys’ punter made news. Bryan Anger nailed an 83-yard punt, with a 63-yard net after the touchback.

See what I mean? All its bases were covered.

Now, where the Eagles and Cowboys diverge is the schedule. The Cowboys’ next three games are vs. Green Bay, Minnesota and the New York Giants. The Eagles’ next three are vs. Houston, Washington and Indianapolis. Nevertheless, at some point, someone will emerge to push Philadelphia.

It may be Minnesota. It may be San Francisco. It may even be a longshot like the Giants who, at 6-2, are tied with Dallas, or Seattle. But if you ask me which team I’d choose to push the Eagles to the finish line … give me the Cowboys, and not just because they can beat you with the run and pass; but because they have a Top-5 defense, too.

The last time that happened with a Mike McCarthy-coached team was 2010. And that team (Green Bay) won the Super Bowl.


1.       Jalen Hurts is making an MVP case. He just threw four TD passes of 25 or more yards, the first time in 53 years of Eagles’ history that happened. But here’s the clincher: The guy’s thrown 10 TD passes, run for six more scores and has only two turnovers all year. Two. And no lost fumbles. Then there’s this: Hurts quarterbacks the league’s only unbeaten team and won his last 10 regular-season starts. Look in your rear-view mirror, Josh Allen: That image that’s larger than it appears? It’s Jalen Hurts.

2.       Mike Tomlin is doomed. He hasn’t had a losing season in 15 years as the Steelers’ head coach, but that streak ends this season. The Steelers are 2-6 and going nowhere with a rookie quarterback learning on the fly. Hard to believe, but the Steelers might be sellers this week.

3.       We were wrong about Seattle. When the Seahawks traded away Russell Wilson, it seemed to signal they were in a tear-down mode. Not true, said Pete Carroll. He insisted they were good enough to make a run at a division title with … Geno Smith? We don’t make ‘em up. Critics scoffed, but look where we are eight weeks into the season: The Seahawks … with Geno Smith as their quarterback … are in first place in the NFC West, for Pete’s sake, ahead of the defending Super Bowl-champion L.A. Rams.

4.       Green Bay is in deep doo-doo. A week ago, Aaron Rodgers said that going to Buffalo “might be the best thing for us.” Wrong. The Packers didn’t just lose. They were flattened. Rodgers couldn’t make plays. The offensive line couldn’t protect. The defense couldn’t make stops. There were injuries, an ejection, too much Josh Allen, too little Aaron Rodgers … I think you get the picture. The Packers got drilled. Again. Now 3-5, they’re 3-1/2 games behind front-running Minnesota in the NFC North and looking less and less like a team that will … or can … make a playoff run.

5.       Beware Miami. The Dolphins don’t play an opponent with a winning record until Dec. 11 (the Chargers), and you can look it up. Their next three opponents are a combined 6-15-1.


1.       Let’s be honest: Atlanta didn’t win that game. Carolina lost it. Attention, D.J. Moore and Eddy Pineiro: Pick up your game balls in the Falcons’ locker room. Atlanta couldn’t have survived without you.

2.       Another reason to like what’s going on in Buffalo: The Bills have beaten four opponents that were 2021 division winners (Kansas City, Green Bay, Tennessee and the L.A. Rams).

3.       It doesn’t matter where you go in the NFL East. You can’t lose. The NFC East is 23-8. The AFC East is 20-7. Put them together, and you have eight clubs at 43-15, a 74.1 winning percentage. Better yet, there isn’t anyone in either division with a losing record. By contrast, four other divisions have no more than one team above .500, while the NFC South has none.

4.       Fright Night came early to L.A. Bad enough that the Rams dropped their eighth straight regular-season game to arch-rival San Francisco. What’s worse is that they lost All-World wide receiver Cooper Kupp to an ankle injury late in the game. Stay tuned.

5.       How much do the Jets miss rookie Breece Hall? We just found out. Zach Wilson can’t carry this team. He was 1 for 14 when pressured, with three interceptions. Halfway through the season, the Jets still have a quarterback problem.

6.       It’s time to worry about Trevor Lawrence. In 25 starts, the guy has 22 TD passes, 23 interceptions and a 5-20 record. Once upon a time,  you could blame his shortcomings on Urban Meyer. Not anymore.

7.       More evidence that it’s not so much parity as it is mediocrity that rules today’s NFL: The Seattle-N.Y. Giants game was the only one Sunday involving two teams with winning records.

8.       Forget accuracy. Justin Fields needs to work on tackling, too. Rewind Micah Parsons’ fumble return for a TD, and you’ll see what I mean.

9.       Philadelphia isn’t going 16-0. We know that. But who’s going to beat the Eagles? They don’t face an opponent with a winning record until Dec. 4 when Tennessee comes to town.

10.   Derrick Henry owns the Texans.  In his last four starts vs. Houston, King Henry has 892 yards rushing (an average of 223 per), nine rushing TDs and over 200 yards rushing in each contest. No need to remind rookie quarterback Malik Willis. Making his first NFL start, he won by throwing just 10 times. How? Easy: Derrick Henry had 32 carries.

11.   If you’re shopping in New Orleans, the price for Alvin Kamara just went up. He put up 158 scrimmage yards and scored three times.

12.   That didn’t take long. Christian McCaffrey just demonstrated why he’s the difference maker that could (should?) make San Francisco – not the Rams or Seattle -- the team to beat in the NFC West. With 183 yards, he was responsible for 51 percent of the 49ers’ 362. He also became the first player since Hall-of-Famer LaDainian Tomlinson in 2005 to score a touchdown by running, another by receiving and a third by passing. “The guy can just do it all,” said NBC analyst Jason Garrett. Bingo.

13.   Miami is 5-0 when Tua starts and finishes a game this season. Just sayin.’

14.   Just a hunch but … no talk this week about a quarterback controversy in Foxboro.

15.   Sorry, but I still don’t get why coaches line up in shotgun with a yard or less to go. Case in point: It’s third-and-goal at the Washington three-inch line, and Frank Reich has rookie quarterback Sam Ehlinger in -- what else? – the shotgun. Why? Beats me. Result: A run up the middle gains nothing, the Colts kick a field goal and lose by one.

16.   The more I see Kenneth Walker III, the more I see a young Derrick Henry.

17.   No surprise that Indianapolis lost. The Colts started a rookie quarterback. Since 1970, Colts’ quarterbacks making their first career starts are 1-16.

18.   Buffalo should demand more Sunday Night exposure. Since Sean McDermott took over in 2017, the Bills are 4-0 on Sunday Night Football, the only team with multiple victories and no defeats on Sunday Night the past six years.

19.   Just when you think it can’t get worse for Vegas and Josh McDaniels, it does. Sunday’s 24-0 loss was the 22nd defeat in McDaniels last 29 games as a head coach. A year ago the Raiders went to the playoffs with Rich Bisaccia. They’re going nowhere now with McDaniels. Draw your own conclusions.

20.   Coming soon to Pay Per View” Jaire Alexander vs. Stefon Diggs.


Courtesy of NFL Research: The Broncos’ Latavius Murray is the first player in league history to score a rushing TD for two different teams in London in the same season.

Geno Smith has six games this season with multiple touchdown passes. He had seven in his first nine NFL seasons.

Tyreek Hill’s four games with 150 or more receiving yards tie him with Mark Duper (1984) for the most in one season in Miami history.

Stefon Diggs has at least one touchdown in his last eight games vs. Green Bay. That’s the longest such streak by any opponent in Packers’ history, bettering Randy Moss (7) by one game.


“We never can allow somebody to score that many points on us. That’s embarrassing.” -- Chicago linebacker Roquan Smith.

“I need to play better.” – N.Y. Jets’ quarterback Zach Wilson.

“Obviously, that wasn’t good enough in any way, shape or form.” – Denver coach Josh McDaniels.

“We don’t have to do anything, but if it’s right we’ll do something.” – Dallas owner Jerry Jones on a possible trade this week.

“It hurts. I know this is not going to define me as a kicker. Everybody misses kicks. Unfortunately, my time was today” – Carolina kicker Eddy Pineiro on his misses.

Christian McCaffrey—'One Bourbon, One Scotch, and One Beer'

 By John Turney 
Christian McCaffrey
Credit: NFL Replay
Christian McCaffrey became the eleventh player in NFL history to have a rushing touchdown, a passing touchdown, and a receiving touchdown.

We think we were among the first to report it. In fact, just after McCaffrey caught his touchdown pass we Tweeted that he could get the touchdown trifecta. 

When he accomplished the feat we posted this Tweet with the research, of course, done via Pro Football Reference's search engine - Stathead.

Four of the previous ten are Hall of Famers—Gifford, Johnson, Payton, and Tomlinson. Pretty good company for McCaffrey.

Now, with a hat tip to Quirky Research, there is an oddity within an oddity. On October 29th, 1944 the Philadelphia Eagles were visiting the New York Giants and Roy Zimmerman ran for a touchdown but also threw a touchdown—to himself, meaning a caught one as well.

Here is the boxscore of the game from the New York Daily News
It lists the 12-yard run after the lateral from Tom Miller. The thing is he threw the ball to Miller in the first place. Here is a newspaper clip describing the play—
Since there were only two total touchdowns it is hard to say he should be the twelfth player on this list. But, then again, why not? 
Roy Zimmerman
We love it when oddities happen and today's was pretty interesting, getting a touchdown three different ways. 

As George Thorogood might sing, "One rushing, one passing, and one receiving."

Friday, October 28, 2022

Fran Tarkenton, Still All-time Leader in Being Sacked

By John Turney

It was everywhere. Social media, news and sports websites, sports telecasts, and so on. They all agreed that Tom Brady was "the most sacked QB in NFL history."

The details are as follows:  Brady had been sacked 555 times and which surpassed Ben Roethlisberger who had been sacked 554 times.

What if someone in NFL history had been sacked more than Roethlisberger? 

Someone was.

Frank Tarkenton was sacked 570 times in his eighteen-year career. Eighty-seven of them were prior to 1963 when the statistic became official but we are sure those two seasons are part of "all-time" as it pertains to the NFL.

Minnesota Viking Quarterback Fran Tarkington by Thomas A. Needham (18 x 12 inches) acrylic on illustration board. Source: Pinterest
As a team statistic, sacks were created by Seymour Siwoff of Elias Sports Bureau in 1963.  Prior to that only the yardage lost by a team attempting to pass was tracked, not the number of times so Siwoff corrected that incongruity. 

Six years later, in 1969, Elias and the NFL began publishing the number of times individual quarterbacks were sacked. Finding those numbers is relatively easy since they were found in the "NFL Record and Fact Books" and are now reproduced on the Pro Football Reference website.

However, by going through the play-by-plays (gamebooks) one could easily find who was sacked prior to 1969 (and 1963, even). That data was continuously recorded and though it may not be official it comes from the same source as all other NFL statistics. 

Using Pro Football Reference as a source the findings are as follows:

Tuesday, October 25, 2022


By TJ Troup 
Ken Stabler and Richard Todd
Shall we start with the standings? 

Take a look at how many teams are 3-4, or 4-3, and let's include a couple teams that are 3-3---we have half the league in this middle ground. We all know there are some playoff teams in this group; the question is who are those teams and which team or teams catch fire? 

Would relish hearing from any and all of you, and your predictions. Yesterday the Chiefs gained 529 yards on offense in their impressive victory in Santa Clara, yet that is not the most yards gained by a Chiefs team on October 23rd. Kansas City gained 614 yards on offense in the destruction of Denver on October 23rd, 1966. 

Hardman scored three times yesterday for the Chiefs, but in 1966 Bert Coan had the best game of his career—as he scored four times. Beware of playing the Chiefs on October 23rd. 
Bert Coan
We all know that the game we watch today can be dominated by a receiver who catches pass after pass, and Eckler of the Chargers latched onto 12 passes yesterday. Don Looney in 1940 and Don Hutson in 1942 both caught 14 passes in a game to set the then-league record. 

The 1948 Chicago Bears are one of the best second-place teams in league history and had high hopes in 1949. 

One of the strengths of the Bear team of 1949 was their receiving corps, and the starting right end Jim Keane had one helluva year and on October 23rd in a loss to the Giants Jim Keane snagged 14 passes for 193 yards. 
Jim Keane
Watching film of him is a delight. He was a master of finding the open area on crossing routes and was almost as effective on sideline routes, and curls (called comebacks in those days). Keane led the league in receptions in 1947, but this remains his standout game as Johnny Lujack found him open all afternoon. 

For comparison's sake, the Bears leader in receptions after five games this year is Mooney with 10 catches—Keane had 14 in one game! 

The Oakland Raiders of 1976 remain their best team, and no doubt those hard-bitten warriors in Silver & Black thought they would repeat in 1977. 

After four weeks Oakland was unbeaten at 4-0, then the disappointing loss to the upstart Orange Crush. Oakland just did not lose very often in this era, how often did they lose you ask? 

Before the Bronco game, the Raiders had won 40 of their last 45 games. The Raiders are in Shea Stadium to take on their once-hated rivals the New York Jets, but the Jets had sunk to a new low in '76, and are 2-3 so far in '77. 

Richard Todd is the first quarterback in '77 to throw for over 300 yards in a game. Todd consistently finds Barkum, Walker, and Caster open deep as he completes 11 passes to them for 352 yards, and the Jets lead 27-14 entering the 4th quarter. Many teams would have folded, but the Raiders know how to rally, as Snake Stabler throws to Siani for the winning score late in the game in a heart-stopping 28-27 victory. 

On page 81 of the 1978 "Prolog" magazine is a picture of Todd and Stabler walking off the field together, no doubt discussing reading the game plan by the light of the jukebox and discussing how to fire that pigskin...Roll tide".

Sunday, October 23, 2022

Judgements VII

 By Clark Judge 
Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers
What is going on with Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers? Answer: Nothing. And that’s the problem.

A year ago, they finished 1-2 in the league MVP voting, with Rodgers winning it and Brady a distant second. But now? Well, now each is in the midst of a miserable season that has conversations taking an unexpected turn.

Instead of their successes, we’re talking about their failures.

Each is 3-4, with Brady dropping four of his last five and Rodgers his last three. But that’s just the beginning, people. One week Brady and the Bucs lose to Mitch Trubisky. The next, they can’t find the end zone with a Sherpa and lose to P.J.Walker.

Not to be outdone, Rodgers just lost to Taylor Heinicke and the Washington Commanders. Worse, they failed to convert a third down. The last time that happened in Green Bay? Try Week 6 in 1999 when Rodgers was 15.

So there’s concern, and there should be. This just doesn’t happen to two of the most accomplished and decorated quarterbacks in NFL history. But it has, and, suddenly and unexpectedly, we’re left to ask: What’s going on? Or, more to the point: Is this the beginning of the end?

They look old, and they are. Brady is 45, and Rodgers is 38. But they’re coming off two of their best seasons ever, so we can cut them some slack. Plus, let’s be honest: This isn’t just about age or Brady and Rodgers making all the wrong moves. There have been dropped passes, offensive-line issues, a lack of intensity, questionable play calling and defensive failures.

But Rodgers and Brady are captains of their ships, and where they could cover for shortcomings in the past they can’t now.

Maybe it’s a lack of confidence in their supporting cast. Maybe it’s a change in coaching (Rodgers has a new offensive coordinator; Brady a new head coach). Maybe it’s the loss of Davante Adams in Green Bay and Gronk in Tampa. Or maybe it’s just time catching up to two guys who seemed ageless. Whatever it is, it bears watching.

Neither admits concern, and maybe they’ll be proven right. After all, Kansas City was sitting at 3-4 at this time a year ago and wound up one win from the Super Bowl. But the Chiefs had a pulse. Tampa Bay and Green Bay don’t. Not now, they don’t. Both look broken and lifeless, but both have quarterbacks who can make fixes.

They’ve done it before. I just know that they can do it again.


1. Cincinnati is back. The Bengals just won for the fourth time in five tries, and, OK, it was Atlanta. But look closer: Joe Burrow threw for three TDs, scored a fourth and had 481 yards passing, including 325 in the first half. He also had nine completions of 20 or more yards. So what’s happening now that wasn’t before? Protection, that’s what. After he was sacked 13 times in the first two games this season (both losses), Burrow has been dropped 11 times the past five games. He’s thrown 12 TDs and one interception in those starts. Connect the dots.

2. Seattle is exceeding expectations. No Russell Wilson, no chance. That was the word on this year’s Seahawks. Then the season started, Gino Smith stepped in under center and the Seahawks took off. Granted, until Sunday they hadn’t beaten an opponent with a winning record. But then they went to L.A., embarrassed the Chargers and, suddenly, they’re where they aren’t supposed to be: On top of the NFC West. You can look it up.

3. Ron Rivera was right about Taylor Heinicke. He said he chose Henicke over rookie Sam Howell because he gave the Commanders their best chance to be successful. Smart move. In his first start this season, Heinicke knocked off Green Bay and Aaron Rodgers. Memo to Carson Wentz: Take your time recuperating from finger surgery.

4. It’s Tennessee and everyone else in the AFC South. Indianapolis was supposed to be the Titans’ only concern in the division, but it’s not. The Titans are playing solitaire. They just beat the Colts for the fifth straight time and are the only team with a winning record in the South.

5. The Chiefs don’t miss Tyreek Hill. Three times they’ve scored 40 or more points. Three times Patrick Mahomes put up 300 or more yards passing, including a season-best 423 vs. San Francisco on Sunday Twice they’ve had two receivers each produce 100 or more yards in catches. A year ago, the Chefs were 3-4 with 188 points. This season they’re 5-2 with 223. “I know this sounds crazy,” said NBC analyst Chris Simms, “but they’re a better offense without Tyreek Hill.:” I don’t know that I’d go that far. But I do know they don’t seem to miss him.


1.       The 49ers don’t need Christian McCaffrey as much as they need Aaron Donald. Or Micah Parson, Trevon Diggs or Xavien Howard. Maybe all of them. Their defense was supposed to be one of the backbones of this team. Then Kansas City came to town and shredded it for 529 yards, 44 points and eight gains of 20 yards or more.  Consider that a wake-up call.

2.       There’s no place like home for Tua Tagovailoa. That was his seventh straight victory in Miami.

3.       I’m with Cris Collinsworth. I winced every time Tua put his head down and took on tacklers. Memo to Tua: There’s a reason the league allows quarterbacks like you to slide. So do it.

4.       I thought Carolina was supposed to be in Full-Tank mode. Apparently, Tampa Bay did, too. Add Carolina’s Steve Wilks to the Coach of the Year cast.

5.       When can a victory be a crushing defeat? When it’s the New York Jets losing rookie Breece Hall to an injured knee in a 16-9 win over Denver. The early diagnosis is “not good,” said coach Robert Saleh – for Hall or the Jets. Signs point to a torn ACL, and that could be a crippling blow to one of the league’s feel-good stories. As’s Rich Cimini described him, Hall was the Jets’ “identity.” \

6.       Now America knows what those in and around the Steelers have for months: Rookie wide receiver George Pickens is a star waiting to happen.

7.       More evidence that the NFC East is the NFC Beast. All three teams in action Sunday won, running the division record to 20-7. No other NFC division has fewer than 14 losses.

8.       Headline from last week’s San Francisco Chronicle: “Trading for McCaffrey, 49ers’ brain trust bets on its own genius.” Genius? Under Kyle Shanahan, the 49ers are 46-48, including 42-46 in the regular season. Granted, they reached Super Bowl LIV, but they also have two winning seasons in Shanahan’s six years there.

9.       How in the world does Austin Ekeler go undrafted? Someone? Anyone?

10.   I knew I should have started Mecole Hardman at running back.

11.   Wait a minute: The Raiders didn’t pick up the fifth-year option on Josh Jacobs? Lovie Smith would like an explanation, and he’s not alone. In his last three games, Jacobs has 523 scrimmage yards and six TDs.

12.   Dan Campbell is wrong. His Lions aren’t better than their record, as he claimed last week. “You are what your record says you are,” Bill Parcells once said, and the record says the Lions are 1-5 this year and 4-18-1 under Campbell. They’ve also been outscored 53-6 the past two losses.

13.   This was the 10th time that Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers lost on the same weekend. The last time was last week.

14.   P.S. -- The last time Tom Terrific was under .500 this late in a season was 2002, or the last time he failed to reach the playoffs when he finished a season.

15.   I swear, the more I see Denver coach Nathaniel Hackett the more I think I’m looking at Major League third baseman Matt Williams. At this point, Broncos’ fans might settle for Williams.

16.   To those who predicted that the Broncos would be hamstrung by Russell Wilson: Pick up your check at the door.

17.   Aaron Rodgers after Green Bay’s latest loss: “Nobody’s going to give us a chance going to Buffalo on Sunday Night Football with a chance to be exposed. Shoot, this might be the best thing going for us.” No, it won’t. Trust me.

18.   Two reasons I can’t see the Chargers as a serious playoff factor: 1) The analytics of coach Brandon Staley and 2) a defense that’s sprung too many holes and just lost cornerback J.C. Jackson. Look, they play in the same division as Patrick Mahomes, right? They’ve been torched for 38 by Trevor Lawrence and 37 by Geno Smith. Check, please.

19.   When the World Series is over, maybe the Houston Texans can hire the Astros’ Jose Altuve and Alex Bregman as defensive consultants. They should. Their defense was so atrocious vs. Las Vegas that CBS analyst Adam Archuleta said, “It really doesn’t matter what play is called. To say they’re on their heels is an understatement.”

20.   Critics say refs protect Tom Brady. Officials say they don’t. Now we have another RTP penalty to support the refs. It didn’t involve Brady. It was Jacksonville’s Trevor Lawrence, whose jersey was tugged by the Giants’ Dexter Lawrence as he reached for him. Yes, tugged. Result: Roughing the passer. Reality: You gotta be kidding. “That’s roughing the jersey,” said FOX broadcaster Chris Myers. “Not roughing the quarterback.”


Per ESPNStatsInfo, the Packers failed to convert a third down for the first time since 1999 vs. Denver. Aaron Rodgers was 15 years old.

Dallas Cowboys’ coach Mike McCarthy has had only one Top Five defense in his career. It was 2010 with Green Bay, or the last time the Packers won a Super Bowl.

Denver hasn’t scored a single point in the last two minutes or overtime of any game this season.

According to NFL Research, the Jets are the first team since the 2011 Tim Tebow-led Denver Broncos to win consecutive games with 105 or fewer net yards passing.


“We got to work hard to try to fix it.” – Tampa Bay quarterback Tom Brady.

“You’re G—damn right.” – Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers when asked if it’s plausible for the Packers to make a playoff run as in past years.

“It’s about as dark as it can be right now.” – Tampa Bay coach Todd Bowles.

Packers Offense Goes AWOL in Loss to Commanders

 By Eric Goska

Green Bay's offense did little in the second and third quarters
of a 23-21 loss to the Commanders Sunday.
(screen capture from NFL Game Pass)

Perhaps one day the Packers will click offensively for a full 60 minutes.

But judging by what transpired in the nation’s capital, it could be a long time coming.

Green Bay took the middle quarters off in its match-up with the Commanders at FedExField. And while the Pack snoozed, Washington seized control, turning an 11-point deficit into a six-point lead heading into the final stanza.

Absent without leave? Playing hooky? The Packers’ offense has all but checked out for major stretches this season.

Up 14-3 at Tampa, Aaron Rodgers and Co. failed to score in the second half. Leading the Giants 20-10 in London, Green Bay’s only score after the break came on a meaningless safety.

Sunday, the Packers took this dereliction of duty to new heights. For two quarters – the second and the third – Green Bay ran aground while the Commanders set sail.

During those 30 minutes of play, the Green and Gold ran 15 plays, gained 42 yards and tallied three first downs. They failed to gain more than a single yard eight times, never reached midfield, and held the ball for all of six minutes, 42 seconds.

With the Packers missing in action, Washington reeled off 44 plays, gained 252 yards and piled up 16 first downs. They gained more than a single yard 32 times, ran 26 plays in Green Bay territory, and held the ball for 23:18.

Talk about losing one’s grip. Up 14-3 in the first 17 minutes of play, the Packers found themselves behind 20-14 heading into the fourth quarter.

So dominant were the Commanders over this span that they bettered Green Bay’s mid-game output with a single drive. Taylor Heinicke engineered a 15-play, 72-yard advance in the third quarter that took 8:48 off the clock and resulted in a 31-yard Joey Slye field goal.

That score finally awakened the Pack. The Green and Gold came away with 117 yards and a touchdown in the final 15 minutes.

Too little, too late.

Mid-game slumps to the extent of what befell Green Bay have been rare. With just 15 offensive plays in the second and third quarters combined, the Packers tied the team low over the last 68 years.

Such was the length and breadth of the drought that Green Bay totaled a meager 232 yards on 47 plays (4.9 average) for the afternoon. It’s just the sixth time in the regular season since Matt LaFleur became head coach in 2019 that the team has been held below 250.

And that’s far too few. The Packers are 1-5 when so limited. Their only win came in LaFleur’s debut when Green Bay (213 yards) beat the Bears (254) by a score of 10-3.

Easing In and Out of Halftime

Since 1954, the fewest offensive plays run by the Packers in the second and third quarters combined of a regular-season game.






Nov. 17, 1957


GB lost, 27-31


Nov. 23, 1958


GB lost, 12-33


Dec. 3, 2017


GB won, 26-20


Oct. 23, 2022


GB lost, 21-23


Oct. 23, 1955


GB lost, 10-41


Oct. 19, 1969


GB lost, 21-34


Oct. 22, 1972


GB lost, 9-10


Oct. 31, 1993


GB won, 17-3

Daniel Jones—100-yards Rushing, A Rarity for a Quarterback

 By John Turney 
Frank Filchock (L) and Steve Owen (R)
Today, against the Jacksonville Jaguars, Jones ran the ball eleven times for 107 yards and a touchdown and according to the Elias Sports BureauDaniel Jones became the first Giants quarterback since Frank Filchock in 1946 to rush for 100 yards in a game.

We're glad Elias considered Filchock a quarterback because he was. 

And wasn't. 

He certainly was the team's passer but for the game, he ran for 108 yards he was listed as the starting halfback in the papers the day after the game—

However, that does not mean the paper got it right and Pete Gorgone was the starting quarterback. It's possible, we suppose, but we doubt it.

In 1946 the Giants were still running Steve Owen's "A formation" and variation of the single-wing that moved the offensive backs closer to the center of the formation and that looked kind of formed a letter "A". It allowed Hall of Fame center Mel Hein to snap the ball to any of the three backs—the blocking back, the quarterback or the fullback. 

In the A, Filchock played both quarterback and fullback. And though that was the scheme they used most, the Giants also used some single wing (called "B formation" by Owen). When the Giants ran that Filchock was the tailback.

In almost all cases, he was the primary passer. Yes, others could throw, but in general, the fullback in the A and the tailback in the B. As a quarterback in the A, Filchock was closer to the line and was usually involved in handing off to a back or to a wing-back in motion or running the ball himself.

From observing the film of the 1946 title game it looked as though when the Giants wanted to run Filchouck was a quarterback and when they wanted to pass he was further back, in a de facto shotgun as a fullback or tailback depending on if he was in the "A" or the single-wing (B). Also, he could easily punt from the fullback or tailback spot so it was useful to be in that on longer yardage plays.

No matter what, at least some of the time he was a quarterback. We are not sure Elias considered all these caveats when they released their information but it was the correct call.

Also, along those lines, Harry Newman and Ed Danowski were the passers for the Giants in their single-wing days (the A-Formation was not introduced until 1937) meaning they were tailbacks and would be essentially doing the same things as Filchock in spirit and deed. 
Steve Owen (L) and Harry Newman (R)

Ed Danowski
Here is a list of Giants passers that surpassed the century mark in rushing yards in a single game—
Chart information credit: Pro Football Reference