Home > Sublime and Ridiculous > The Sublime and the Ridiculous: Week 6 in the NFL

The Sublime and the Ridiculous: Week 6 in the NFL

A coach complaining about a poorly executed handshake, and another coach getting his leg broken by his own tight end… there were plenty of ridiculous moments in week 6 of the NFL, and we’ll get to those after looking at what caught the eye on the actual playing field this past weekend.

From the sublime…

Just over two minutes remaining at Gillette Stadium on Sunday and the Cowboys are leading the Patriots by three points. Tom Brady has the ball in his hand at the New England 20 yard line. What do you think happens next? That’s right, Brady leads his side up the field and ends up throwing an 8 yard touchdown pass to Aaron Hernandez. Not only that, but the cold-blooded Brady only leaves 22 seconds on the clock for the Cowboys to respond (they couldn’t). This was another brilliant example of the style, control and efficiency of one of the greatest QBs the game has ever seen.

Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler can’t believe that people kick the ball to Devin Hester. Those of us unaccustomed to punting an oval shaped object on an American football field can only assume that eleven 6ft 4, 250lb men trying their level best to break you in half, can only disrupt your ability to kick the ball into the perfect spot on the field. Maybe that explains why Hester receives the ball so often in punting situations. But there is little excuse for kickers during kickoffs. On Sunday night against the Vikings, Hester returned a career-long 98 yard kickoff return for a touchdown, as the Bears cruised to a 39-10 victory. Electric stuff.

Probably only fair to give the Philadelphia Eagles credit when it’s due. After a four-game losing streak they finally got their second win of the season at Washington following a 20-13 victory over the Redskins. The Eagles went back to basics, concentrating on tackling and controlling the clock for over 38 minutes. Star of the show however was safety Kurt Coleman who claimed three interceptions, putting Redskins’ QB Rex Grossman on the fasttrack to the bench.

To the ridiculous…

Now this… this was ridiculous. Easily the most talked-about moment of the weekend’s football, and possibly the most controversial event of the season so far. No prizes for guessing, it’s the already infamous post-match dust up between 49ers’ coach Jim Harbaugh and his Lions’ counterpart Jim Schwartz, following San Francisco’s late victory at Ford Field on Sunday. AKA “handshake-gate”. If you’re reading a blog about the NFL, then you’ll know what’s being discussed here.

The handshake/backslap/aggressive run/shouting and ensuing faux melee isn’t what’s most ridiculous here, but rather the subsequent reaction to it over in the US. It’s like the whole morality of the country has been thrown into disrepute by the behaviour of these teams. Calls for bans and fines. Basically the US media has gone into overdrive on this one. Predictably so.

Let’s break this thing down. Two coaches running down the field – barely staying on their feet – followed by a few guys from the opposing teams rushing into a corner before, em… looking at each other? That’s not a fight, or a brawl. That’s nothing to warrant long-term bans or fines (and the NFL themselves appear to agree, having refused to dish out any punishments). What it is, is good comedy – especially Harbaugh’s post-match interview in which he effectively workshopped the handshake – but little else.

Most of us here in Ireland have probably seen worse at under-14 hurling games, where mass brawls break out at the mere awarding of a sideline puc. Where lumps of ash are cracked off the nearest bone. Referees have been known to be locked in the boots of cars; and when they’re lucky enough to leave the ground in one piece they’re likely to be ran off the road. What happened in Detroit is an insult. An insult even to the concept of ‘handbags’. Imagine if the 49ers players came out of the changing rooms with sticks!

It would be interesting to see the American media reaction if a proper fight broke out in the NFL. Hopefully some day we’ll get the chance to find out.

Moving on… one coach that suffered a real bad break on Sunday was the Saints’ Sean Payton. Not only did his side lose in Tampa Bay, but he also got knocked sideroads as he stood along the touchdown during the first half of the game. Doing the damage was his tight end, Jimmy Graham. Payton tore an MCL and fractured the tibia in his left leg. He has subsequently had surgery on his knee and leg and is expected to call the plays against the Colts this Sunday from the press box.

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