With the lack of Twins news since the Tsuyoshi Nishioka press conference, I’m turning towards some recent happenings in the NFL.
Don’t Kick To Connolly!
In perhaps one of the most improbable, hilarious, amazing plays ever, right guard Dan Connolly of the New England Patriots returned a squib kick 71 yards to the Green Bay Packers’ 4-yard line in New England’s 31-27 victory. However, the Patriots should have been penalized for an illegal block in the back by Sammy Harris on kicker Mason Crosby (of all people, why the kicker?) that occurred at the Packers’ 14-yard line, but I suppose I wouldn’t blame the referees if they didn’t want to negate such a good return by Connolly. This return set the NFL record for longest kick return by an offensive lineman, but it’s too bad that he wasn’t able to top it off with scoring a touchdown.
Why Be Humble?
Another improbable and amazing play ended the Eagles – Giants game, as Eagles punt returner/wide receiver DeSean Jackson returned a punt 65 yards as time expired to beat the Giants 38-31. Jackson did a good job with regaining his composure after he initially fumbled the ball, but running across the 1-yard line, parallel to the goal line, was completely unnecessary. His Wikipedia page claims that he did this to run out the clock, but if you look at the clock in the video, it hit :00 while Jackson was still at the Giants’ 24-yard line. He was clearly showboating at the end of the return, and it’s annoying to see him act so cocky. He already had made a mistake on Sept. 15, 2008 when he was running towards the end zone for his first career touchdown, but he flipped the ball away before crossing the goal line. The Eagles did recover the ball and still scored a touchdown, but Jackson should learn to get into the end zone first, then celebrate scoring.
On a related note, it’s wrong to blame Giants punter Matt Dodge for the loss. Sure, he should have kicked the ball out of bounds, but there were still 10 other guys that should have been able to tackle Jackson. As one guy on ESPN said, the Giants swarmed for the ball instead of staying in their respective lanes, and that allowed Jackson to run straight down the middle of the field until he got turned to the right by Dodge.
Favre Steals The Spotlight. As Usual.
This is probably the most maddening thing from the past week. On Saturday, Favre is out. Then on Monday morning, he decides that he’ll give it a shot, and he showed enough to the coaching staff that Leslie Frazier allowed him to start the game against the Chicago Bears. Now, of course I believe that a healthy Favre would have given the Vikings a better chance to win on Monday night than starting rookie Joe Webb, but Favre was not healthy. His shoulder was bothering him so much that he couldn’t practice all week, then without warning he decided he could play. The way that he handled this was maddening to me. If he had at least practiced a little during the previous week, or had been listed as “doubtful” for the game, then I wouldn’t be so upset about it. However, Favre is a legend, and I think he’s garnered a little too much respect from the Vikings coaching staff. For next week’s game against the Eagles, I do not want him starting unless he manages to practice at least once during the week. Otherwise, this is just a repeat of him skipping part of training camp.
As for Joe Webb, it took a while but he finally got into a bit of a rhythm. The first few snaps he took were rather rough, as it appeared as though he looked for one receiver, then instantly starting running when he realized that his primary receiver was covered. At least towards the end of the game, Webb was more confident with looking at multiple receivers before taking off, and he even managed to complete a pass to Greg Camarillo after evading several potential sacks from the Bears pass rush.
Kluwe Calms Down
Finally, there’s punter Chris Kluwe. After spending most of the week being critical about the field at TCF Bank Stadium, he received many boos from fans during the Monday night game. Perhaps it was for punting out of bounds and avoiding Devin Hester, but I’m sure part of it had to do with his tweets… and yet he was partially right. The game wasn’t necessarily a “train wreck,” but perhaps the most notable player in the game (Favre) suffered a concussion from hitting his head on the frozen field, which was one of Kluwe’s concerns. He did tweet after the game that the field looked much better than he expected and that the grounds crew did an excellent job, but I have a feeling that this comment was probably encouraged by either Vikings or NFL personnel in an attempt to save face for Kluwe.