Help me understand the play selection by coaches in Kansas City and New England. Both teams have displayed impact running games in recent weeks and yet the offensive play callers for both virtually abandoned the run in losses this weekend.
On Friday, I suggested that the KC coaches would likely choose to ride running back Jamaal Charles against Tampa Bay, seeing as back up quarterback Brady Quinn was getting the start in place of injured starter Matt Cassell. This, I opined, was the Chiefs only hope for a win. What did the Chiefs do instead? Have Quinn, who hasn't played regularly in three years, put the ball in the air 38 times (he competed 22 for 180 and two picks) while limiting Charles to just 12 carries for 40 yards.
Now, I didn't see the game so maybe Charles got injured but, if not, how does Kansas City turn its back on the league's leading rusher and rely on a rusty, mediocre passer like Brady Quinn? I don't care that the Bucs started running away with the game (winning 38-10): the Chiefs' only shot was to run Charles, eat up clock and work their way back into it.
And what's up with Billy B in New England? The Pats have been running over teams with the backfield trio of Stevan Ridley, Brandon Bolden and Danny Woodhead, racking up more then 250 yards on the ground in each of their previous two outings. So what does Belichick choose to do against Seattle's stout defense? Would the fact that Patriot Tom Brady threw the ball 58 times in the game give you any hint? Sure, Brady went 36-58 for 395 and two TDs in the Patriot loss but... when you've got a strong running game, you've got to use it.
Ridley actually did get 16 carries but was limited to 34 yards. Bolden went 6 for 28 and Woodhead added 4 carries for 25 yards.
But the Patriots actually led 23-10 in the fourth quarter and should have been using their running attack to eat up the clock and deny the 'Hawks any chance of staging a comeback.
Let's look, however, at the Patriots' play calling when they got the ball back after Seattle's first fourth quarter touchdown. New England used passes and runs to move the ball to their own 47, first and ten. They're leading 23-17 now with 4:57 to play. Gong with three runs either forces Seattle to use up timeouts or allow precious time to run off the clock.
What do the Patriots do? Pass, pass, pass, punt. First pass, incomplete. Second pass, intentional grounding as Brady had to throw it away to avoid a sack. Third pass, just nine yards to Wes Welker, well short of the first down. Only 49 seconds burned from the clock. New England gives the ball back to Russell Wilson and the Seahawks with a full four minutes left to play.
Do I have to remind you that Wilson led Seattle to the game winning touchdown in that four minute span? All the Patriots had to do was run the ball and bleed the clock.
Other questions I asked on Sunday:
Which team will continue its upward swing, St. Louis or Miami? The Dolphins beat the Rams 17-14 despite giving up 315 yards passing to Sam Bradford and 162 yards on the ground. How did that happen? Especially with Reggie Bush being held to just 17 yards on 12 carries? Looks like the Dolphins are carrying some horse shoes in their pockets.
Speaking of horse shoes, I asked if the Colts were really for real after beating Green Bay in week five. Turns out, they're not. Complete fluke, that win over the Packers. Indianapolis lost 35-9 to New York, allowing Shonn Greene to run wild to the tune of 32 carries for 161 yards. Joe McKnight rolled to an additional 71 yards on just three carries. And, on offense, Indy gave up four turnovers (including two picks by Andrew Luck) in making the Jests look like world beaters.
And finally, I wondered if that porous Arizona offensive line would help the Bills' defensive line snap out of its season-long funk. The answer: maybe a little bit. Buffalo did win the game and post five quarterback sacks but two of those five came from linebacker Nick Barnett. Mario Williams, however, picked up two to bring his season total to 3.5 while Chris Kelsay posted his first sack of the season. It was Buffalo's run game that won this one: C.J. Spiller ran 12 times for 88 yards and a TD while Fred Jackson carried the ball 16 times for 53 and a touch.
KC and New England should have learned from the Bills' win: run the ball, win the game.