NFL Football Column: Scott's NFL Shots
Week 14: Comebacks? Or Collapses?
Last weekend, during Week 13 of the 2012 NFL season, football fans watched five teams mount remarkable comebacks: the Indianapolis Colts, Seattle Seahawks, Pittsburgh Steelers, St. Louis Rams and Dallas Cowboys.
For followers of those teams, it was an exciting week. Indy put up 14 points in the final 2:39 to win 35-33 over Detroit. Dallas scored 21 points in the fourth quarter to come back and beat Philly. The Seahawks scored a late touchdown to tie the Bears in Chicago and won with a field goal in overtime. St. Louis did the same to San Francisco and Pittsburgh scored 10 late points to come back and beat Baltimore at home. Wonderful stuff.
Unless of course, you care deeply about the play of the Lions, Ravens, 49ers, Eagles and Bears. Those fans weren’t talking about great comebacks on Monday, they were grousing about dreadful collapses.
Talk all you like about Andrew Luck’s brilliance down the stretch or the Rams ability to shut down San Francisco’s latest belled cow, Colin Kaepernick, but the fact is when five teams come back, five other teams go directly into the tank. And it wasn’t a pretty sight.
Detroit, for instance, fell apart because the Lions head coach Jim Schwartz chickened out. With the score 33-28, the Lions had a third-down and five at their own 35. Now, make no mistake, with Matt Stafford at quarterback, the Lions are a passing team. However, with a minute and a half to go, Schwartz played it safe. He ran one of his two stiff-legged runningbacks off tackle for no gain. A first down and the Lions win, but by failing, it gave Luck and the Colts a chance to come back.
It was a chicken play for the coach of a 4-7 team and you knew it was going to cost the Lions. However, Schwartz made things even worse by agreeing to allow defensive coordinator Gunther Cunningham to go into prevent. Luck walked down the field with no timeouts and scored the winning touchdown with no time left.
It was a coaching disaster – just as it was in those four other games, albeit for different reasons – and Schwartz should have to answer for it. If the Lions had been in a legitimate playoff race and blew it the way they did, Schwartz would be on the chopping block.
Lions fans can only hope.
This week, a handful teams that haven’t collapsed this season have a chance to not only wrap up playoff berths, but also home field advantage in the process. The Houston Texans (11-1) are already in the post-season and can clinch the division and home field throughout the AFC playoffs with a win at New England in the Monday Nighter. Meanwhile, the Atlanta Falcons (11-1) go to Charlotte to face the Carolina Panthers. A win for Atlanta and the Falcons wrap up the NFC South and home field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs.
However, the Texans and Falcons are examples of good teams that don’t choke. That’s not the Lions, Bears, Eagles, Niners or Ravens, five teams that collapsed last week and four of which have very tough road assignments this Sunday.
While the 49ers get to return home and throttle the sad-sack Miami Dolphins – Colin Kaepernick gets a relatively easy week to put a halt to “quarterback controversy” talk in San Francisco – Detroit goes on the road to Green Bay, Chicago is off to Minnesota, Baltimore takes the bus to Washington and Philadelphia heads to Tampa Bay. Only Chicago looks relatively safe and, by that I mean “only relatively.”
The Lions lost any chance of qualifying for the playoffs with that collapse last week and will get drilled by the Packers, a team that hasn’t played all that well, but can still pretty much clinch a playoff berth with their ninth win this week. The Packers have won 11 straight games against Division rivals. Detroit will need a miracle.
Philadelphia is done like a roast. This week, Andy Reid fired defensive line coach Jim Washburn, because what the hell, it MUST be somebody else’s fault. The final days of the Nixon White House weren’t is as much disarray as the final days of Andy Reid’s coaching career in Philly. The Eagles will get blasted by the playoff-contending Buccaneers.
Baltimore might have its biggest game of the year against a surging Washington team in the Redskins’ house. If that shaky Baltimore defense couldn’t shut down Charlie Batch late in a game, it won’t be able to find its butt with both hands against Robert Griffin III. Baltimore can clinch a playoff berth with a win. Sounds obvious, but it won’t be easy for a team that had that playoff berth locked up last week.
And then there’s Chicago. The Bears head into the loud and proud Dome where Adrian Peterson awaits. Granted, Minnesota quarterback Christian Ponder has a wet noodle for a right arm, but Peterson’s 210-yard rushing performance last week could be a sign of things to come. Percy Harvin is done for the season – and might be done forever in Minnesota – and that will mean Ponder might have to give AP the ball more than 25 times in a game. Brian Urlacher won’t play for Chicago and the Vikings are 5-1 in the Metrodome this year. This could be the end of the Bears season if they let this one get as ugly as last week’s home loss to Seattle.
For Baltimore, Chicago and San Francisco, this is a huge week. The bitter taste of last week’s choke jobs has to be spit out and forgotten.
However, in fairness to last week’s comeback teams, there have been 43 games this season in which the game-winning points were scored in the final two minutes of the fourth quarter or overtime. According to the NFL’s stats mavens, that’s the second-most through Week 13 since the 1970 merger (46 in 2003). It’s kind of been the story of the 2012 NFL season.
So maybe it is about comebacks and all the glory that surrounds them. But if you ask the fans of the Bears, Lions, Ravens, Niners and Eagles this week, it’s more about the shame that comes with the collapse. And it better not happen again.
Previous Scott's NFL Shots column Recent NFL columns
NFL Player News
Pernell McPhee DE - BAL: May 23, 10:38PM: Pernell McPhee...
Jared Allen DE - MIN: May 23, 10:23PM: Jared Allen...
Mike Williams WR - (N/A): May 23, 9:01PM: 'Big' Mike...
Richard Seymour DT - (N/A): May 23, 8:29PM: Report: Falcons...
Clint Boling G - CIN: May 23, 8:27PM: Bengals LG Boling...
Roy Miller DT - JAX: May 23, 8:12PM: Jaguars DT Roy...
Bryan Braman LB - HOU: May 23, 7:35PM: Braman running...
View All Games
Classic Draft Lobby
Mock Draft Lobby
- MLB Commissioner (FREE)
- NHL Playoff Commissioner
- NBA Playoff Commissioner
- NFL Commissioner (FREE)
- NCAAF Commissioner (FREE)
- PGA Commissioner (FREE)
- NASCAR Commissioner (FREE)
- NHL Commissioner (FREE)
- NBA Commissioner (FREE)
- Premier League Commissioner (FREE) (Beta)
- Bundesliga Commissioner (FREE) (Beta)
- La Liga Commissioner (FREE) (Beta)
- Serie A Commissioner (FREE) (Beta)
- Ligue 1 Commissioner (FREE) (Beta)
- MLS Commissioner (FREE) (Beta)
Join League (FREE!)