Wednesday, September 12, 2007

KingWatch: Keystone Korrespondent

Extremely busy with work, so we'll have to be quick about the latest edition of Monday Morning Quarterback. Herewith, The 5 Dumbest Things Peter King Said This Week:

1. King referred to the Broncos' last-second dash to get the kicking unit onto the field and hit the winning kick as a "keystone-cops field goal." First of all, you have to capitalize Keystone Cops, because it's a reference to the series of slapstick films produced by Mack Sennett back in the 1910s. There is no generic "keystone cop" walking a beat somewhere. More important, the defining characteristic of the Keystone Cops was that they were incompetent buffoons who couldn't do anything right. What Denver pulled off in the closing seconds Sunday in Buffalo was anything but bumbling. Just because people are running around madly doesn't mean they don't know what they're doing. Call it a fire-drill field goal, if you must, but "keystone-cops" field goal is just wrong. And stupid.

2. King went on to say about the Denver-Buffalo game: "Amazing finish. I don't remember the last time I saw a finish of a game decided by a field goal that I'd call exciting." Gee. How about Adam Vinatieri beating the Panthers as time ran out in Super Bowl XXXVIII? Or Vinatieri beating the Rams as time ran out in Super Bowl XXXVI? Or Vinatieri beating the Raiders as time ran out in the snow in the playoffs two weeks before that? Those are just three off the top of my head, I'm not even an NFL insider! More proof to back up my wife's suspicion that King has interns write most of this column.

3. In placing Denver at No. 8 in his weekly ranking of "The Fine Fifteen," King declares that Jay Culter "had a nice opener ... but he'll be challenged more with the physical D's of Oakland and Jacksonville coming up." Well, Oakland just gave up 36 points and 400 yards to the Detroit Lions. As for Jacksonville, just five spots lower in King's rankings, he notes that the Jaguars defensive front was "pushed around and surrender[ed] 282 rushing yards" to the Titans. If you're going to hold up a team's defense as dangerous, it helps if they don't prove themselves so toothless in game action that you yourself are forced to point it out.

4. Reacting to Ellis Hobbs's 108-yard kickoff return, Kings asks of the Jets: "How do you let someone take a ball eight yards deep in the end zone and let him run it back for a touchdown -- without any real challenges along the way?" He seems far more surprised than he should be. If anyone is going to catch a kickoff coverage team by surprise, it's the guy who's bringing out a ball that he has no business trying to return -- like a kickoff eight yards deep in the end zone.

Hobbs's return tied the record for the longest touchdown in NFL history. That record is shared by two Bears, Devin Hester and Nathan Vasher, both of whom brought back missed field goals 108 yards. They were able to do so because they caught the kicking team with its pants down. Usually a team doesn't even try to return missed field goals, so as Vasher (in 2005) and Hester (in 2006) were heading upfield, the other teams were heading to the sidelines. It isn't just kick returns, either. When Vasher scored his touchdown, he broke the old longest-TD record of 106 yards, which was set by Baltimore's Ed Reed on an interception return against Cleveland in 2004. With less than an minute to go and the Ravens leading 20-13, the Browns were driving for the tying score when Reed intercepted Jeff Garcia six yards deep in the end zone. The Browns assumed that Reed would just take a knee for the touchback, and then the Ravens would run out the clock. As the Cleveland players walked dejectedly off the field, Reed took off and scored, untouched.

So when Hobbs got the ball eight yards deep, it's not exactly unbelievable that the Jets let their guard down, however momentarily. In the NFL, a couple seconds of indecision is the difference between a routine tackle and a game-breaking play. I'm not excusing the Jets coverage team for letting Hobbs run wild. They didn't do their jobs, and I'm sure they'll be running laps all week. But King asked "How do you let that happen?" And I respond: The same way the 49ers let it happen with Vasher, the Giants let it happen with Hester and the Browns let it happen with Reed. I understand him not remembering that Super Bowl four long years ago. But Hester's return just happened last November. Once again, it falls to me to offer the analysis that King can't or won't provide.

5. Finally, one of King's non-football thoughts of the week is ... "I don't understand Fashion Week." Well, I'd venture to guess that Tim Gunn might not understand why people camp outside stores all night to get the latest edition of Madden. Big fucking deal. I can imagine 80% of King's readers don't even know what Fashion Week is, and that's totally cool. Different strokes for different folks. What King is doing is tiptoeing terribly close to the habitat of Elitist ignoramus. You know the species: They're the ones who look at any culture-type assemblage (such as Fashion Week), and sneer that the people involved in it "think they're better" because they're so cultured and highfalutin'. And in fact it is these observers who think they're better because they aren't highfalutin'. It's a depressing but very real streak in society. If someone says to you, "You think you're better because you're X," always respond, "No, I don't, but clearly you think you're better because you're not X."

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