Week 12 Recap: Get Your Concussion Tests Here
With the last of the daylight fading away, I arrived in East Meadowlands, NJ. As the wind whipped through the parking lot, I was unsure of what to expect from the evening. After dropping two in a row, the Giants took a week off to reset and prepare for the home stretch. After the game was began, it seems like the week off was just what the doctor ordered. It was such a beat down that I watched two brothers (one Packers fan, one Giants) get into a fight (semi-legitimate one) during the game. No serious injuries occurred. No concussion tests administered. However, lots of these tests were administered this week, and generally, this season. They hand these out like Pittsburgh hands out towels. While it’s great the league is taking this precaution, the results of how many concussions there are begs the question: how many of these went unreported for years? How many still do? What other things are happening in this league that get glossed over, or goes unnoticed? Food for thought! What else is worth digesting from this weekend?
Three NFL players are facing (or starting) 4-game suspensions today for performance enhancing drugs. Likely you think of players shooting up some HGH together, but this isn’t so dramatic… or is it? It’s all for amphetamines (Adderall). While prescription use of Adderall is allowed under the leagues substance policies as long as the player has a prescription and a waiver from the league, recreational use of it is forbidden. Eric Wright of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers has just begun his ban after former-teammate Aqib Talib was suspended for the same thing. Apparently it’s a cornerback’s drug of choice, because both Seattle Seahawks starting cornerbacks (Richard Sherman and Brandon Browner) face this same suspension. While they’ve stated that “all will be resolved” in their appeal, it seems to be a growing issue. More and more players are using this stimulant. It’s not even an NFL specific issue; it is one of the most commonly abused drugs. Perhaps the NFL should up the suspension to 6 or 8 games and see if it halts use.
What’s the Better Play: Ray Rice’s or Mark Sanchez’s?
There were two season-defining plays this weekend that come to mind. Firstly, during the stalemate-turned-blowout
Patriots vs. Jets game on Thanksgiving, on a second down Mark Sanchez made a season defining play. He tucked the ball, surveyed the field, and decided the best path was to run straight into the butt of right guard Brandon Moore. To Mark’s credit, once he decided this was his plan, he put in his all. He ran into him with such force that it crushed Sanchez (probably received a concussion test, from the look of it), who dropped the ball. Steve Gregory picked it up, dusted it off, and ran it back for a Pats TD. If that doesn’t sum up the Jets season I’m not sure what does.
Ray Rice’s play is of the better variety (unless you’re a Charger). On 4th and 29, Flacco dropped back with good protection and could not find a receiver down field. Fortunately for him, his check down option is one of the best in the NFL. He threw a 5-yard dump to Ray Rice. After getting about 10 yards up field, Rice runs into three defenders, who take awful routes to tackle him. He makes a cross-field turn, eludes the three would-be tacklers, and proceeds to narrowly split two defenders and drive forward for the first down. Making it work has been the philosophy for this team, especially defensively. It isn’t always the prettiest win, but they do win. For the Chargers, not living up to expectation has been theirs.
It seems that Matt Ryan has fallen out of the MVP race. The last three weeks he has thrown 4 TDs and been intercepted 7 times. Who has stepped up in his place? Tom Brady (shocker, I know) has to be that guy. He hasn’t thrown an interception since October 14th, since then he’s thrown 14 TDs in five games. The Pats have not played a very tough schedule of late, but with Houston on the horizon, it could be a statement game for Tom. On the other hand, Peyton Manning has only thrown for 300 yards twice since October 14th, and seems to have cooled off a bit from his fiery start. The next few weeks are crucial for the MVP race, with teams solidifying postseason positions and potentially pulling some starters the last two weeks.
Ray Lewis Returns
While he doesn’t quite have the same power, speed, and overall game that he used to, Ray Lewis is still one passionate football player. The Ravens defense struggled early in his absence but has since found a way to pull it together and challenge offenses in the way they always have. Of course, Ray is going to play when he can. He has the leadership that no other defensive player in the NFL has. That can never be underestimated.
The Pats Offensive Explosion(s)
St. Louis, Buffalo, Indy, New York: the Pats last four games. While only Indy is over .500 of this group, the Pats have been thrashing teams offensively. They’ve scored 190 points in their last 4 games, never scoring less than 37. With Miami, Houston, and San Francisco on the horizon, we’ll see if they can keep this pace up.
Giants Beat Up On Pack
This was the first time I had been back to the Meadowlands since the Giants took it to the Falcons in the first round of the playoffs last year. The vibe was no different against the packers. On the first cold night of this season everything came together for the Giants. The last time they played this way was in San Francisco against the 49ers, a statement win. The issue this year and in previous years, has been their consistency. Their play fluctuates with games like this, then losses to the Bengals. Hopefully it gets consistent when it counts, because in this league, that’s all that matters.