It was a fairly uneventful Saturday in the Bears world, but that doesn’t mean it was a quiet one for the NFL.
Seahawks 23, Saints 15
The Saints and Seahawks played a great game that ended on a weird play; Saints receiver Marques Colston catching a pass on the sideline with time remaining, only to throw the ball across the field. (GIF can be found at this link; it was too big to upload here.) If it was a called play it was incredibly poor execution, as the pass clearly went forwards, resulting in an incompletion and a game-ending ten second runoff. It it wasn’t a called play, it was one of the worst mental errors I’ve seen. Which was it? Sean Payton isn’t saying:
Payton on the Colston lateral: "We'll look at the tape. Next question."
— Larry Holder (@LarryHolder) January 12, 2014
It shouldn’t have gotten that far; Marshawn Lynch scored a touchdown that ended up putting Seattle on top by 15 with 2:40 remaining in the fourth quarter, but that wasn’t necessarily the smart move. The Saints were out of timeouts, meaning Seattle could have knelt three times and kicked a field goal to go up two scores with very little time remaining. Instead, he scored (which is obviously incredibly instinctual for players; he scored from the 31, so I doubt Lynch had considered all the scenarios at that point in the drive) but the Saints scored a touchdown and recovered an onside kick, making things very interesting until Colston’s game-ending play. The Seahawks win means they’ll host the winner of the San Francisco-Carolina game next week.
New England 43, Indianapolis 22
The Colts hung around, trailing 29-22 at the beginning of the fourth quarter. A safety recorded on this spectacularly botched punt certainly helped:
Look at him dance around! Like he’s going to take off for 98 yards from there. And then he tries to throw it! You’d think punters would be more prepared for plays breaking down; there are only two things that can happen on a punt. Either you get it off cleanly, or something goes terribly wrong, in a fashion normally similar to the one above. Yet he had absolutely no idea what to do there.
Despite that break, the Colts were unable to run an efficient offense; Andrew Luck threw four interceptions, including what was essentially a pick-six on the Colts first drive of the game. (Luck prevented the touchdown, making the tackle on the two, but New England scored easily on the next play.) I said yesterday that I felt the Colts needed a near-perfect game from Luck, and he didn’t deliver that. He did make some spectacular throws, however. Luck’s a fascinating case for the “can’t do it in the postseason” narrative. He threw nine interceptions for the entirety of the regular season, then threw seven in two playoff games. My point of view should be apparent to you by now: postseason appearances are a small subset of an already-small sample size. Nothing about these two games should serve as a referendum on Luck’s potential. But if he takes the Colts to the playoffs next year, and has another sub-par game, the “playoffs are when it counts” crowd is going to come out in force. (Despite the fact that these Colts teams are actually quite undermanned; the fact they’re in the playoffs at all is a testament to both Luck’s ability and the weakness of the AFC South.)
As for New England, they handled things at home, rushing for 234 yards and 6 touchdowns. (It was probably the exact gameplan you’d have seen had they played the Bears.) They’ll play the winner of the Broncos-Chargers game next weekend. (I’m neutral, obviously, but getting the chance to see Manning vs. Brady again would be something special.
I’ll have a quick preview for today’s games up shortly, for anyone who’s interested.