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The End Zone - Week 10


Alan
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The End Zone

Yes it’s another edition of The End Zone here for your eyes only! This week I will take a look at the position of Wide Receiver, the AFC East encounter between the New England Patriots and the Miami Dolphins, all the action from week 10 of the NFL regular season and of course a preview of week 11’s games. Jets Talkin’ rounds off the issue, but let’s kick things off with the fantastic Position Profile.

 

The Position Profile

Last time around we looked at the running backs and what they provide to the offensive unit of an NFL team, well this week we will look at the other important offensive players, the Receivers.

 

The wide receiver position in the game of American Football is that of the pass catching specialist. They are among the fastest, tallest and most agile players in the game, and are frequent highlight reel favourites. It’s also one of the more famous positions in the game, behind only the QB in terms of popularity, because they are often responsible for the biggest plays made by the offence. They don’t get all the credit though, as some will always fall to the quarterback who threw the pass.

 

First and foremost the receivers job is to catch passes from his quarterback, but it isn’t as easy at it sounds. A receiver will almost always have a defender attempting to prevent the catch, sometimes even two defenders depending on the receiver. On each play a receiver has a set pass route, and their job is to avoid, outmanoeuvre or simply outrun the defenders whilst remaining in the area of that route, allowing the QB to throw a pass towards him if open. If a pass is thrown in his direction, then obviously the receiver must first make the catch, and then attempt to run with the ball. There are normally two choices for a receiver once he has caught a pass, either attempt to run towards the end zone, or run out of bounds to conserve time, the latter normally being used in the closing stages of a half. If a bad pass is thrown though, the receiver then takes on a defensive role, doing their best to prevent an interception, or if there is a pick, using their speed to chase down and tackle the ball carrier to prevent a long return or a touchdown.

 

On running plays receivers have two potential roles; the first is used on draw plays as they would run a pass route with the intention of drawing a defender away from the rusher. Alternatively he may block normally for the running back. Speaking of running plays, sometimes wide receivers are actually used to run the ball, which can be effective as they are often faster than running backs, and the defence usually do not expect them to carry the ball. It can be an extremely successful option, just ask recently retired receiver Jerry Rice. In addition to his countless receiving records, Rice also rushed the ball 87 times for 645 yards and 10 touchdowns during his 20 NFL seasons!

 

Hold on though, there is still a lot more to come! In very rare cases receivers are called upon to pass the ball, I bet you didn’t know that did you? The receiver may have the option of passing the ball after taking a handoff, and although this is one of the rarest things a receiver will ever do, some have proven to be very good at it. One example would be one of the most controversial and talented receivers in the league Randy Moss, currently of the Oakland Raiders. In addition to his receiving prowess Moss has so far completed 4 of 8 passes for 106 yards and 2 touchdowns, with one interception.

 

Finally receivers are also used frequently as return men on kick-offs and punts. But before I close this one out, I will give you one more bit of information that many general fans do not know. As far as most people are concerned, a receiver is just a receiver, when in actual fact there are 3 types of receiver. The first is a Split End, which is a receiver on the line of scrimmage, necessary to meet the rule requiring seven such players at the snap. The second is the Flanker, which is a receiver lining up behind the line of scrimmage, whilst finally we have the Slot Receiver, which is the less formal name given to receivers in addition to Split Ends and Flankers.

 

I hope I have enlightened you to the roles of a receiver, and now I hope you realise that it’s not just about catching the ball! See you next week.

 

Game Feature

Last year the New England Patriots were dominating the AFC East, and never looked like losing the lead in the division, whilst the Miami Dolphins were struggling and rooted to the bottom. This year the Patriots have been dogged with injuries and the Dolphins were looking better than last season’s debacle. Miami did pull off a victory over New England late last year, and they were hoping to repeat that feat this past Sunday.

 

The Patriots had the first drive of the game, but after getting to the Miami 35 the Dolphins defence clammed up and forced a punt. Gus Frerotte completed two of his first three passes, but couldn’t even get close to New England territory, thus forcing the drive to end the same way that New England’s had a couple of minutes earlier. But it was not an opportunity that the Patriots could take advantage of, as Tom Brady and the guys were stopped at their own 31 yard line. The same thing happened to the Dolphins as they retook possession, managing to get to their own 30 before having to punt. New England managed to get off two plays before the scoreless first quarter came to a close.

 

The Patriots continued their drive as the second period got going, but just as it had been throughout the first quarter they were halted in their own half. New England got off the punt, and after a 6 yard return the Dolphins set up for what was to be their longest drive of the game so far. For 6 plays Miami went with a no huddle, and it proved to be a great move as they went from their own 25 through to the New England 13. Frerotte couldn’t finish the job though, and the kicking team took the field. For many kickers a 31 yard attempt would be no problem, but Miami hit a snag as the ball sailed wide right, turning the ball over to the Patriots. However New England couldn’t make a first down and turned the ball straight back over. In just 3:45 the Dolphins managed to put together a 69 yard drive that culminated with a 3 yard pass from Frerotte to Chambers for the first score of the game. The extra point gave Miami a 7-0 lead, and the Patriots looked to be in the same position as they had been for the entire season, battered and bruised. Three and outs followed for both teams, before the Patriots moved 68 yards within the last two minutes to set up a 35 yard field goal from Adam Vinatieri. The half ended with Miami up 7-3.

 

The Dolphins had not played extremely well, yet they had the lead as the second half got under way, although they immediately fell to a three and out. New England gained 13 yards on the ground before Brady threw an interception on their resulting drive, giving possession straight back to Miami. Frerotte and the Dolphins couldn’t capitalise on the turnover though, and could only creep to the New England 46 before having to punt. Lacklustre drives then followed from both teams over the next few minutes, before the Patriots took over possession at their own 34. A defensive pass interference call moved New England forward 49 yards, and they were able to take advantage of that by converting a 32 yard field goal, reducing Miami’s lead to just a single point. The Dolphins fell to a three and out on their attempt at replying, handing the Patriots back the ball at their own 47. Brady went 6 of 7 as he led New England to a touchdown, culminating the drive with a 16 yard pass to Watson. They attempted a 2 point conversion in order to make it a 7 point game, but the attempt failed and New England led 12-7 as the quarter drew to a close.

 

Gus Frerotte’s day got a hell of a lot worse three plays into the final period, as he threw an interception deep in his own half. The pick was fumbled, but the Patriots recovered the ball and began their first drive of the fourth quarter from the Miami 23. The offence was halted though and had to settle for a 33 yard Vinatieri field goal, ensuring the Dolphins would have to score at least twice to take the lead. In reply Miami put together a 57 yard drive to set up a 36 yard field goal, putting the score at 15-10. Tom Brady and the Patriots have been masters at closing out games over the past few years, but they looked shaky as Brady threw another interception with just over 5 minutes to play. Miami took full advantage of the turnover, and in just 6 plays moved 56 yards for a touchdown. A two point conversion was attempted, but it failed, leaving the Dolphins ahead by 1 at 16-15. It would have been a mistake to count the Patriots out, and Tom Brady got them right back into it with a 59 yard completion to kick off the next drive. The second play saw Brady again find Watson in the end zone for a 17 yard touchdown, to which a 2 point conversion was added to make the score 23-16. Miami had a little over 2 minutes to score a touchdown, and although they moved to the New England 10 an incomplete pass on 4th down turned the ball over with 40 seconds remaining. The Patriots took a knee and walked away with a victory.

 

Neither team were great today, although there were flashes of exciting play, and the score throughout the game was very close. Miami are not going to be as good as the Dan Marino days until they get their act together, whilst the Patriots need to put together a decent winning run if they want to make the Superbowl this year.

 

Week 10 Round Up

Sunday kicked off with the Jacksonville Jaguars (6-3) nearly shutting out the Baltimore Ravens (2-7) in a 30-3 encounter, followed by the still undefeated Indianapolis Colts (9-0) outscoring the Houston Texans (1-8) by 31 points to 17. Detroit (4-5) pulled off a 29-21 victory over Arizona (2-7), Chicago (6-3) surprised no-one as they beat San Francisco (2-7) 17-9, whilst Buffalo (4-5) pulled off a one-sided 14-3 victory over Kansas City (5-4). As you read above New England (5-4) returned to winning ways with a 23-16 victory over Miami, followed by Minnesota (4-5) grabbing a 24-21 victory over the New York Giants (6-3) and the Denver Broncos (7-2) outscored the Oakland Raiders (3-6) by 31 points to 17. The Carolina Panthers (7-2) demolished the New York Jets (2-7) in a 30-3 massacre, the Seahawks (7-2) earnt a 31-16 victory over the Rams, whilst Green Bay (2-7) earned just their second win of the season with a 33-25 victory over Atlanta (6-3). Tampa Bay (6-3) scraped a 36-35 victory over the Washington Redskins (5-4), and Pittsburgh (7-2) won their encounter with Cleveland (3-6) by 34 points to 21 to round up Sunday’s games. On Monday night Dallas (6-3) beat Philadelphia (4-5) by 21 points to 20.

 

Jets Talkin’

Well, after the optimism of Brooks starting and maybe bringing a victory to the Jets, all Jets fans are now wondering what we are going to do about our dire situation. Brooks threw four interceptions this past Sunday against the Panthers, going 11 of 21 for 98 yards, which is not what we want right now. Carolina took an early 7-0 lead, to which we replied with a 22 yard field goal from Mike Nugent. Then the Jets crumbled, falling to an eventual 30-3 loss, putting us at 2-7 on the season. We also received more bad news, as tackle Jason Fabini was lost for the season with a torn pectoral, prompting the Jets to sign Isaac Snell from the practice squad.

 

Our quarterback situation needs to be looked at, Brooks is a decent youngster but hasn’t got the consistency we need yet, Vinny is old and wont last past this season, and Chad is far too injury prone. Maybe, just maybe we can pick up a decent guy in the draft next summer? But before then we have a road game against Denver this Sunday, and its going to be extremely difficult to come away with anything in this encounter. You never know though, maybe Bollinger will show a Manning-esque ability on the day?

 

Week 11 Preview

All the teams are back in action this week, with no more byes remaining. We start things off with the Cardinals taking on the Rams, followed by Carolina facing Chicago and Dallas hosting Detroit. Jacksonville take on Tennessee, Miami travel to Cleveland, the Patriots host the Saints and Oakland face off against Washington. The Giants look to rebound from their week 10 loss as they face the Eagles, Pittsburgh take on Baltimore, Atlanta look to keep their good form as they host Tampa Bay, and Seattle will be taking on San Francisco. The final four games on Sunday are between Buffalo and San Diego, Indianapolis and Cincinnati, New York Jets and Denver, and Kansas City and Houston. Monday night will see the Minnesota Vikings take on the Green Bay Packers.

 

Wrap Up

I feel I must be saying this every week, and in actual fact I am! The Colts are still undefeated this season; however I do believe that this time next week I will not be saying that. The Bengals have been playing really well this season, and coming off a bye week may mean that they are ripe and ready to hand Indianapolis their first loss of the season. But back to this week and the Eagles struggled on Monday night. They may not make the playoffs the way they are going, and to make things worse Donovan McNabb may not play this week due to an injury! Obviously there is still a way to go, and there is a lot to play for! The pass has been thrown; will you catch it next week, in The End Zone?

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You know things are going well when I'm watching the Steelers/Browns match on Five, get hold of a yellow t-shirt, and begin swinging it around my head ala the terrible towels.

 

It was great to watch the Steelers dominate so much, even without Big Ben, and then without Batch for the second half. Maddox didn't even throw a pick! And Randle El's throw to Ward was a thing of beauty, I'd like to see him ahead of Maddox in the QB Depth Chart. And The Bus got some playing time and a TD, I wouldn't have anyone else to rush on the 1 yard line. My player of the game is Hines Ward though, not only breaking the all-time receiving record for the Steelers, but also making some awesome catches and perfectly timed runs to pick up yardage and TDs.

 

Only watched half of Dallas/Philadelphia, but I now dislike the Eagles. When their players are as egotistical as TO, as well as the players who introduce themselves on ABC's player guides as their nicknames, you just can't help but want them to lose. McNabb is a great player, but not when injury takes away one of his key skills, rushing/throwing on the run. I'm glad Dallas won, as it keeps up Drew Bledsoe's good run of form. No Division Title for the Eagles at last.

 

But my player of the week is Shaun Alexander, who now has more rushing TDs by himself than any TEAM in the NFL. The guy's just a monster, nothing seems to stop him, and he's also lightning fast. It's not a surprise that Seattle are having a good season, they just need to make sure they make him a franchise player as soon as possible with his contract running out soon.

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