Did the refs take a last-second touchdown away from the Buccaneers?

21 Oct

The most controversial call of Week 7 came in Tampa, when Mike Williams apparently caught a potential game-tying touchdown pass as time ran out, only to find that, nope, he hadn't scored after all.

The reason? Williams got shoved out of bounds just before making the catch. No touchdown, Saints win 35-28.

Wait ... WHAT?

Tampa Bay fans might be mad enough to have kittens, but this is actually the correct call. As Fox Sports ref ombudsman Mike Pereira explains, it's a three-part call:

-First, with time expiring, Tampa Bay QB Josh Freeman gets out of the pocket while scrambling to find an open man.

-Second, Saints defender Patrick Robinson shoves Williams out of the back of the end zone. Because Freeman is out of the pocket, this is a legal move by Robinson.

-Third, Williams comes back in bounds and is the first one to touch the ball. That's not allowed, and the game ends because it's the offense's penalty.

From Rule 8, Section 1, Article 8 of the NFL's official rule book:

Illegal Touching of a Forward Pass. It is a foul for illegal touching if a forward pass (legal or illegal), thrown from behind the line of scrimmage:

(a) is first touched intentionally or is caught by an ineligible offensive player; or

(b) first touches or is caught by an eligible receiver who has gone out of bounds, either of his own volition or by being legally forced out of bounds, and has re-established himself inbounds.

So, yeah, you could say the Bucs got hosed, but it was all legal. Of course, Robinson probably wasn't exactly thinking that Freeman was out of the pocket, but the refs don't throw flags based on mind-reading. (They'd be scared for their lives if they did.) Bottom line: this one just didn't break the Bucs' way.

Of course, if they hadn't allowed Drew Brees to throw for four touchdowns in the first half, this wouldn't have been an issue. Just saying.

Tags: , , , , Mike Pereira, Mike Williams, , Patrick Robinson, , , , ,
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So this is odd: Joe Gibbs fired up the Cowboys with a pregame speech

21 Oct

There are certain rivalries you just don't mess with. Michigan-Ohio State. Auburn-Alabama. Yankees-humankind. And in that mix, we'd certainly add Cowboys-Redskins. Though the rivalry has cooled somewhat with time, and the abysmal record of both participants, Dallas-Washington remains one of the NFL's iconic face-offs.

So with that in mind, what the heck was Redskins legend Joe Gibbs doing speaking to the Cowboys Saturday night in preparation for their Carolina game?

If you know Gibbs, you know the answer: he's a devout Christian, and even the Cowboys-Redskins rivalry didn't keep him from speaking at the team's chapel session. That, and he and Cowboys owner Jerry Jones are apparently friends, which is worth a reality show in itself.

As USA Today reported, Gibbs, who now lives in Charlotte to run his NASCAR team, told some of his own end-of-game misadventures to a team beset with clock-management misfires. Gibbs once called a timeout he didn't have in an attempt to ice the opposing kicker; the ensuing 15-yard penalty allowed the kicker to win the game.

"If Joe Gibbs can screw it up," several Cowboy players apparently told Jones, "anybody can screw it up," which doesn't exactly seem like the best way to defend yourself to the guy who signs your checks.

Regardless, something may have sunk in; the Cowboys beat the Panthers 19-14 in a game that included some late-game heroics by quarterback Tony Romo et. al. And clock management was not an issue, at least not for the Cowboys.

Joe Gibbs motivating the Cowboys. Somewhere, the Hogs are weeping.

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Circus time: Check out the best NFL catches of the day

21 Oct

Some Sundays, you get a full slate of defensive slogs. And some Sundays, you get a cornucopia of acrobatic theatrics. This was one of those latter Sundays. Check out the catches you'll be seeing on highlight shows all week:

First up, you've got Texans tight end Garrett Graham with the tip to himself, part of a 43-13 win over Baltimore:

Next, Greg Little sees Graham's tip and raises him a touchdown, though Little's Browns would come up short to Indianapolis, 17-13:

Then check Jordy Nelson's tap-dancing footwork to score for Green Bay, part of a 30-20 win over St. Louis:

Finally, we go back to Houston, where the defense gets in on the act as Glover Quin intercepts Joe Flacco with grace and style:

Not a bad run there. Perhaps the NFL needs to add a degree-of-difficulty component.

-Follow Jay Busbee on Twitter at @jaybusbee.-

Fantasy football advice on Yahoo! Sports:

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Video: J.J. Watt has claimed Dikembe Mutombo’s finger-wag for his own

21 Oct

You gotta love Houston's J.J. Watt. The hyperkinetic second-year defensive end has fast established himself as not just one of the best players on the far side of the ball, but one of the most colorful. He's more like a shot blocker than a pass defender when he's swatting low-flying passes out of the air, and fittingly, he's appropriated the most memorable shot-blocking move in NBA history, the Dikembe Mutombo finger-wag. Above, you can see him smacking down a Joe Flacco pass, part of Houston's 43-13 throttling of Baltimore.

Watt's Mutombo-wag is a fun signature move, which means the NFL will probably crack down on it in the next two weeks. Enjoy it while it lasts, people.

Mutombo retired a few years ago, but here's a quick recap of the best of his career. You may wish to keep small children out of the room lest Mutombo's voice terrify them:

-Follow Jay Busbee on Twitter at @jaybusbee.-

Tags: , blocker, Dikembe, Mutombo, , ,
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Video: Like most sequels, ‘The Play II’ is no match for the original

21 Oct

With time almost out and options dwindling, Carolina's Cam Newton tried to turn defeat into victory using a time-honored pull-it-out-of-your-back-pocket technique in the tradition of The Play.

You know The Play, right? Cal-Stanford, November 1982, five laterals and one flattened trombone as part of a last-second Cal victory. Here's a little refresher:

Eerie coincidence time: Panthers coach Ron Rivera was a member of that Cal team. So would history repeat itself?

Nope. Teams practice some variant of The Play, but there's a reason that it, and The Music City Miracle, and other similar freak events have their own names: they don't work very often. They tend to collapse like plays designed by ten-year-olds in the back yard, and that's exactly what happened here. The Cowboys, thanks to a fourth-quarter go-ahead drive engineered by Tony Romo — stop giggling, we're serious — beat the Panthers 19-14.

So, no luck for Newton this time. You know what would be wild? Doing one of those plays to start a game. Nobody would EVER expect that.

-Follow Jay Busbee on Twitter at @jaybusbee.-

Tags: , , , , refresher, technique,
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Happy Hour: How forthcoming should drivers be about concussions?

17 Oct

Welcome to the latest Happy Hour mailbag! You know how these work: You write us with your best rant/ joke/one-liner at or on Twitter at @jaybusbee, we respond to your messages, everyone goes away with a smile on their face. Let's get to it, shall we?

This past weekend was another fuel mileage race. Ever had a fuel mileage race in real life? I've only run out of gas once. Prom Night. Except that I miscalculated and had already dropped my date off. Shouldn't have been conserving fuel, apparently. And my buddies were more brutal on me for that than any NASCAR media member. Deservedly so.

All right, to your letters!

There was so much praise for Junior for admitting to having a concussion after Talladega. Then Jeff Gordon made his comments that he would hide a concussion if there were 2 races left and he was in contention for the Championship. So many people are commenting about Jeff Gordon's statement saying how stupid and unsafe that would be. What I don't understand is why those same people aren't trashing Junior for actually having and hiding the concussion he got at Kansas during the tire test and then drove in six races afterwards. Junior actually hides a concussion, races for six weeks, get another concussion and finally speaks up after he is out of the Championship. Junior is a HERO! Jeff makes a statement on a hypothetical question and he is scum of the earth. Are people just so willing to trash Gordon for nothing really? Or is it just a case of Dale Junior can do no wrong?

— Eric
Charlotte, NC

When you were a teenager, did you ever stay out late? Hang with that hellraiser your mother warned you about? Take a nip from your dad's liquor cabinet? Go on a prom date with a guy too stupid to check his gas gauge beforehand? And if you did do those things, did you ask your parents for permission first? Hell no, you didn't. It's that classic aphorism: it's easier to get forgiveness than permission. That's exactly what's at work here. Earnhardt was, in a sense, asking for forgiveness, while Gordon was laying out a hypothetical and, while not asking for permission, talking about something that hadn't yet been done. I don't think that there's any inherent anti-Gordon bias, any more than the usual EVERYBODY HATES MY FAVORITE DRIVER WAAAAHHH bias that every fan trots out every season. Gordon was just in a position of strength rather than weakness; kicking Earnhardt when he just got out of his car seems cruel.

Of course, you can bet your Amp that nobody's going to be too thrilled about him getting back in a car after another big wreck without a thorough exam.

Let's continue along these lines, shall we?


Do you think if NASCAR allowed points earned by substitute/fill-in drivers to count towards the championship for the regular driver, it would encourage drivers who have possibly had concussions to be more open getting checked by doctors? If the penalty wasn't as great for coming out of the car for a race or two, I would think it would foster a safer environment for the drivers and their competitors. I realize this isn't ideal for sponsors and us fans, but who really gives a damn about dollars when drivers' safety is the concern.

Levi Douglas
Music City, TN

I think you're dead-on right here. There's such a powerful disincentive to self-report injuries that it's no wonder no one does. If a quarterback gets a concussion, they don't sit the entire team the next week. The one-race mulligan could be an interesting addition, but I like the idea of not lopping points off just because the driver is out for injury. We've got precedent — the "drive-till-you-puke" case when you have a sick driver and a replacement — so why not allow this in very limited, doctor-approved circumstances?


With Dale Jr. out for two or more weeks, it's highly likely an insurance claim either by "Jr's brand" and/or HMS has been filed, that claim being worth almost equal to a Yahoo! sportswriter's weekly salary. It'll unquestionably increase premiums and knowing that insurance companies are always looking to minimize risk. Do you think they'll strongarm drivers, teams and NASCAR into "revisiting" the safety of plate tracks? Why not start with a traveling medical staff like Indy car has? Or what about slowing them down with an inner loop on the back stretch like the Glen's "bus stop"? Three wide stacked ten deep into the bus stop at 195mph. Now that's "bloodthirsty!"

Ricky Bobby

Ricky Bobby. He wakes up in the morning and pens excellence. Or at least a good question. The only way NASCAR is going to make changes here is to bow to pressures greater than itself: sponsors and public opinion. The insurance angle is an interesting one; how much more is it going to cost to run these races, from an insurance perspective? The idea of a traveling medical staff is an absolute necessity; there should be enough trained medical personnel at a track to survey every driver in every wreck, no exceptions. It's not being safety-nannies, it's protecting these guys so that they'll be able to race for many more years on end.

Also, they should slow the cars to 45 mph. Just to be safe.


Can we dispel the myth that Kurt Busch is so talented the he will make a team better just by sitting in the driver's seat? I'm not saying he is not talented, he just doesn't make teams better. Phoenix Racing hired him to improve their finishes. Before hiring Busch they were a mid- to low-twenties owner points team; when he left the team they were a mid- to low-twenties owner points team. Busch's talent is not improving bad teams' it is taking a top flight team to one championship, then in the course of one year using a bad personality to make him not worth the trouble. He and his brother need to find their Darrell Waltrip moment, the realization that all the talent in the world doesn't matter unless you follow it up by being a good person.

Keith Acquard
Bennington, NY

Well put. Kurt will continue to get chances, and it's continually up to him to prove he can handle all of the demands of modern-day NASCAR, which means putting on a good face for sponsors and fans. He'll continue to have his defenders and his detractors until that moment when he wins a championship, then saves a kitten from getting squished on the track. Hey, it could happen.


We all know why Regan Smith's engine failed Saturday night. It was an experimental engine that Hendrick wanted to test for reliability. If they didn't tell Dale Jr about the engine swap and the engine failed, that would preserve Dale Jr.'s ego in knowing that he would have been out of the Chase anyways regardless of his decision to step out of the car. I'm sure they had a very good idea that the engine would fail at
some point in the race.

Mack Wingfield

Well, it makes as much sense as the "NASCAR is biased against [my driver] and that's why they [threw/didn't throw] that yellow flag."

I'm no engineer, but I'm not thinking that the Chase is the best place to start with an experimental engine.


I've been attending five or six races and camping every year for many years. I am about to drop to one or maybe two because most of the tracks prices are getting totally outrageous and the campsites are now so small we can hardly park our tow vehicles with our RV's.

Bristol, RI

I feel for you, Don. The cost for a NASCAR weekend now is phenomenal. And there's no easy answer; NASCAR needs to be appealing to the wide base of fans over the local race attendees if it's going to survive, but it can't ignore those local fans. Tracks need to remain inventive and innovative with pricing structures, and everybody needs to go after price-gouging hotel owners with a pointed stick.

And on that note, we're out. Thanks to all our writers this week. You want in? Fire up the computer and hit us with whatever's on your mind, NASCAR-wise, at . You can find Yahoo! Sports' NASCAR coverage on Facebook right here, and you can follow me on Twitter at @jaybusbee and on Facebook here. Make sure to tell us where you're from. We'll make you famous!

Tags: , Dale Junior, Happy, , Jeff Gordon, mileage, ,
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In an otherwise magnificent game, Peyton Manning’s tackle attempt was hysterical

15 Oct

Look, we know that quarterbacks are made of fine china and tissue paper and they're not supposed to tackle anything tougher than a plate of grilled chicken. But even by the absurdly low standards we set for them, Peyton Manning's performance above in trying to bring down San Diego's Quentin Jammer is just ... well, it ain't pretty, we'll tell you that.

Midway through the second quarter, Manning had just thrown an interception and Jammer was rolling right down the sideline when Manning found himself in one of those oh crap what do I do now situations. And, like almost all of us would do when faced with a speeding cornerback bearing down on us, Manning just went fetal. Jammer's biggest concern in regards to Manning was possibly stubbing his toe on Peyton's shoulder pad.

This was, of course, the smart play; we're still not sure that Manning's neck isn't going to explode at some point this season. And in the grand scheme of things, it had exactly zero impact: Manning brought his Broncos back from a 24-point deficit to win 35-24. The comeback was Manning's 47th fourth-quarter/overtime game-winning drive, tying Dan Marino for most all time, and the 24-point comeback also tied a record for the largest by a road team in NFL history.

So yeah, the attempted tackle was ugly, but excusable in the context of the whole package ... like a Miss America winner whose talent is projectile vomiting.

-Follow Jay Busbee on Twitter at @jaybusbee.-

Tags: , , magnificent game, , paper, , , Quentin Jammer, sideline, tissue
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The Jeremy Lin revisionist history begins in New York

15 Oct

Remember Jeremy Lin? Sure you do. Good kid, impressive numbers, came from nowhere to save the New York Knicks from yet another season of irrelevancy last season.

But after a historic run at the point guard position, Lin committed the cardinal sin, in New York City terms, of looking elsewhere for employment. The Houston Rockets offered Lin an impressive contract, and New York bade him farewell. The Knicks will start the year with Raymond Felton and a wizened codger who bears a vague resemblance to Jason Kidd at the point position.

[Fantasy Basketball '12: Play the official game of NBA.com]

Still suffering from the effects of a knee injury, Lin hasn't exactly lit Houston on fire. And that has brought out the gleeful told-ya-so types in the New York media. As Tom Ziller at SB Nation notes, Mitch Lawrence of the New York Daily News is among those helping New York Knicks fans "remember" that hey, maybe Jeremy Lin wasn't all that great after all:

Lin didn't have microfracture surgery or tear his ACL, so we can now safely assume that he's one of the world's slowest healers. But let's also remember that even before his storybook career in New York effectively ended [in March], he was anything but a premier athlete. Any problem he might have because of the knee in the future is going to make the Rockets' $25 million investment look even more ridiculous than it did last July.

Lawrence also goes the "anonymous source" route in ripping Lin, a move Ziller calls "pure cowardice."

[Related: Royce White attempting to secure a bus for some Houston road games]

It's possible that Lin was a lightning-in-a-bottle, flash-in-a-pan, pick-your-cliche shooting star, and that the Rockets did indeed overpay. But Lin did what no other player since Patrick Ewing and John Starks has been able to do -- make people outside of New York care about the Knicks. Slicing him to pieces before he's even played a regular-season game for Houston smacks of spurned love. And if there's one thing that sportswriters, and particularly New York sportswriters, can't stand, it's to be left behind. Expect much more of this out of the Big Apple as the year goes on, whether or not Lin plays up to expectation.

NBA video from Yahoo! Sports:

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Obama congratulates RG3, Redskins on restoring DC sports fans’ ‘faith’

15 Oct

Look, we might as well throw this out there as fast as we can and get out of the way:


There. Can we go? Can we escape this story without getting dragged into the muck and mire of the partisan cage-match that is our presidential campaign? No? All right, then.

After Robert Griffin III led the Redskins to a stirring victory over the Vikings, Obama, according to Politico, "did comment on the restoration of faith in Washington sports teams created by RGIII's remarkable performance in the Redskins game," White House spokesman Jay Carney told reporters in a Monday press briefing.

[Also: Painfully embarrassing moment on live TV for NFL Network reporter]

Yeah, RG3 had a tall hill to climb to restore DC's respectability, what with the stunning collapse of the Washington Nationals just a few days before. Obama, a known Chicago Bears and White Sox fan, knows from disappointment, so he's got to be as pleased as anyone that the Redskins are doing as well as advertised.

After commenting on football, President Obama then apologized to the nation for actually taking one moment to behave like a normal American, and not spending 27 hours a day focused on America's problems. Mitt Romney then pledged he would spend 28 hours a day working to help the American people. (And yes, this entire paragraph is what is known as "satire.")

All right, no more politics in your sports, no more sports in your politics. For the moment.

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Tags: faith, moment, , Obama, President Obama, PresidentObamacongratulatedRG, , , , ,
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Chase Power Rankings: Have the Big Three become The Big Four?

15 Oct

The fifth race of the Chase is over, and that means it's time for Power Rankings! But we're doing things a little differently now that we're in the postseason. It's all-Chasers, all the time. Good job, good effort for those of you that didn't make it, but we've got bigger fish to focus on. We'll be judging who's running well, considering not just finishing position but quality of run, expected potential, and general gut feelings. As always, we hate your guy and are biased against him. Now, enjoy.

Oh, and as for last week's attempt at Mafia names for our favorite drivers ... let us never speak of that one again. Every race season has an Auto Club Speedway, right?

1. Denny Hamlin: This top spot is likely to rotate among the Big Three, and perhaps the Big Four, over the next few weeks. Right now, we're giving the nod to Hambone over Vader, but only by a hairsbreadth. This very easily could have been a big victory for Hamlin, and #11 fans should be pleased with the fact that he didn't seem to enjoy his second-place finish very much. Last week: 3.

2. Jimmie Johnson: Another week, another outstanding run from Johnson. Last year, we were all falling over ourselves at how amazing it was that Carl Edwards was finishing so high week after week. Now we've got three guys doing it. Johnson took the wise approach to fuel management on Saturday night; if he'd run out, he'd have a much higher hill to climb. Last week: 2.

3. Brad Keselowski: Sure, he falls out of the top spot here, but he's still running the show points-wise. This makes next week a key for Keselowski: you can afford to have an off week, but you need to be able to rebound immediately or you're going to get passed like you lost the draft. Last week: 1.

4. Clint Bowyer: Rawhide's rise is one of the more notable efforts of the season, and it'd be a shame if he doesn't get himself into the top crew here in the next couple weeks. Also: his press conferences are joys of (perhaps) Five-Hour-Energy-filled energy. Last week: 5.

5. Kasey Kahne: Decent run for Mr. Kahne at Charlotte, but we all expected a lot more out of him. Eighth place is not enough, sir! Anyway, his chances at a Cup are fading fast, but he's already turned a previously horrid season into a success. Last week: 6.

6. Martin Truex Jr.: True story: Truex wants everyone to mean HIM when they refer to "Junior." (May not be a true story.) Also a true story: this will never happen. But MTJ is establishing his good name all by himself. Last week: 9.

7. Jeff Gordon: Looks like the dream is about over for Jeff. Here's hoping that there's some kind of change in the points system (heresy!) in order to prevent one bad finish from decimating your entire season. Last week: 4.

8. Greg Biffle: All right, good to know that Biffle is starting to validate that first-place regular-season finish. Barring some lost haulers en route to a track, Biffle won't be in this hunt. Still, he's the class of the Roush squad this year. Last week: 12.

9. Matt Kenseth: Um, no offense with that "class of Roush" crack in the Biffle entry, Matt. You done good by winning Talladega, of course, but it's been a tough road these last few months. Hopefully your five-race swan song will go well for you. Last week: 10.

10. Tony Stewart: It's been a rocky Chase all the way around for Mr. Stewart, with the Talladega Monstrosity being the worst of a rough go. But he's getting sponsorship lined up for 2013, which has to be a big relief. Last week: 8.

11. Kevin Harvick: Sooner this season is over the better for Harvick fans. Nothing's working well enough, but nothing's going bad enough for a wholesale change, either. Well, at least he had himself a kid, so the year's not a total wash. Last week: 11.

12. Dale Earnhardt Jr.: Salute to Junior for taking the tough path to stepping out of the car this year. Not like he'll miss out on Vegas; the "most popular driver of the year" always ends up there anyway. Last week: 7.

Non-Chaser of the Week: Carl Edwards. Good to see Carl running strong this week. Shame he wasn't able to earlier this year, but if history is any guide, he'll be right back in the mix in 2013.

All right, you're up. Who belongs where? Have your say!

Tags: carl edwards, , , , Greg Biffle, Jimmie Johnson, , , Power Rankings, , ,
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