LITTLE ROCK — Based on the remarkable revival of teams written off by TV commentators, the NFL will investigate the sideline concoctions available to players from Baltimore and Seattle during the playoff games.
Co-conspirators in the snap judgment department, CBS and Fox announcers embraced convenient theories to explain the demise of the Ravens and the Seahawks. In light of that, I can say with tongue firmly in cheek that the networks agreed that stars from “CSI” and “Bones” would analyze all liquids obtained from containers and sideline stains.
Once Peyton Manning’s 17-yard touchdown pass put Denver in front 35-28 with 7:11 to play, the announcers told us the Ravens were done in by too many years in the league and too little air in the Mile-High city. Almost 17 minutes after regulation ended, Baltimore won.
The next day, with a quarter to play and Seattle trailing by 20, we learned that cross-country flights in consecutive weeks had drained the Seahawks. I’m pretty sure there are business people who make such trips on commercial airlines weekly and do their job and I am positive the Seahawks travel first-class on a charter.
Anyway, in light of Baltimore’s victory and Seattle taking a one-point lead with less than a minute to play, let the investigation begin.
I don’t watch much NFL, but when I do, it’s the postseason. Some recollections from the weekend, mostly from the closest contests:
—I was surprised that Denver coach John Fox ordered Manning to take a knee at the Denver 20 with 31 seconds to play and the score tied at 35. A couple of completions and Matt Prater would have had an opportunity to kick a long field goal in the thin air. Smart and patient, Manning would not have taken any chances.
That said, he made an awful decision to throw across his body in overtime. Manning’s arm strength is not what it once was and, on the move, he got nothing on the throw that was intercepted.
Justin Tucker’s practice kick before his 47-yard game winner was a first. There is no penalty for on-field practice, but officials are told not to allow it. They saw Tucker kick out of the hold of kicking coach Randy Brown and did nothing.
Growing up, Denver safety Rahim Moore never played flies and grounders. Otherwise, he would not have misjudged Joe Flacco’s heave in the final minute.
—Not taking sides prior to any of the four games, I came around to the Russell Wilson-led Seahawks. Wilson, Robert Griffin III, Colin Kapernick, Cam Newton, and others are expanding NFL offenses with their mobility and the ability to read the option. With so many college teams integrating some option into the passing game, more and more quarterbacks will possess those skills. Seattle coach Pete Carroll said recently he might replace back-up quarterback Matt Flynn with one who can run the option.
—Carroll asking the officials who called timeout prior to Matt Bryant’s game-winning field goal was downright funny when TV followed up with Carroll in an official’s ear, waiting for the right moment for a T.O. Icing the kicker has become such a regular part of strategy that everybody expects it, including the kicker who might be more out of sync if there was no timeout.
The Seahawks got a bad break when an official review went their way and Marshawn Lynch’s touchdown was upheld. If the TD had been overturned, they would have used another few seconds to get into the end zone. As it was, Lynch scored with 31 seconds left — exactly the time remaining when Manning took a knee on Saturday.
—Kapernick is fast. He says he once ran 4.43. I’m not sure I believe that, but the defensive back chasing him didn’t gain a step on his 56-yard run off the option.
Harry King is sports columnist for Stephens Media’s Arkansas News Bureau. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.