When Real Life Imitates a Video Game

By Blaidd Drwg

Back in late November, Fresno State was on a roll – they were undefeated and there was talk of a BCS birth. They had just 2 games left, against the then 5-6 San Jose State Spartans, and then the Mountain West Championship game. In case you are not familiar with Fresno State, they run a very high octane offense, finishing 2013 ranked #1 in FBS Passing Yards (at almost 400 a game) and #6 in points scored (at 43 a game). Defense, however was not their strong point and they gave up about 30 points a game.

Rewind back to November 29th and the San Jose State game. San Jose State is another high-powered offense; ranking #6 is Passing and averaging 32 points a game, coupled with a terrible defense (giving up 35). The game had the making of a video game shootout, which it ended up being. Here are the HALFTIME stats for the game:


1st Downs



3rd down efficiency



4th down efficiency



Total Yards









Yards per pass






Rushing Attempts



Yards per rush









Fumbles lost



Interceptions thrown







The score at the half was 42-41 San Jose State. Combined, both teams managed to rack up just over 1000 yards total offense in just 30 minutes of play. Amazingly, every score in the first half was a touchdown and they were all scored by the offense, so that means that Fresno managed to put up 41 points and 469 yards in just 11 and half minutes of holding the ball. SJSU eventually pulled away and won the game 62-52, ruining Fresno’s BCS hopes, and the teams managed “just” 376 yards of combined offense the rest of the way.

Some other game tidbits:

  • Three of the 4 punts in the game occurred in the first half
  • Neither team started any drive in their opponent’s territory until the last drive of the game when SJSU recovered an onside kick at the Fresno 46 and ran the clock out.
  • The first half had only one drive lasting more than 3 minutes – a 7 play, 77 yard drive by SJSU that took 3:27.
  • Fresno State only had 1 receiver reach 100 yards despite having 516 team passing yards (SJSU had 3 guys reach that total)

It is fun when an actual football game plays out like a video game one.

The 1987 NFL Rushing Leaders

By Blaidd Drwg

One of the cool things about being a sports card collector is that the cards remind you of things that you have long forgotten. I recently came across a 1988 Topps Rushing Leaders card, highlighting the 1987 season. Did you know that there were only 2 running backs that ran for 1000 yards that year (it was only a 15 game season due to a strike and most players only appeared in 12 games since 3 of them were played with mostly replacement players – about 15 % of the league did cross the picket lines)?

The card that inspired the post - the great Eric Dickerson and the forgotten Charles White.
The card that inspired the post – the great Eric Dickerson and the forgotten Charles White.

The 2 running backs? Eric Dickerson and Charles White.  Charles White led the NFL with just under 1400 yards and Dickerson was second with just under 1300.

The story gets a bit more bizarre – White was actually Dickerson’s backup. Here is how that happened. Dickerson started the season as the Rams #1 RB, with White as his backup. After the 2nd week of the season, most of the players went on strike, but some crossed the picket lines to keep playing. Dickerson stayed away, White crossed the picket line. White became the starter. After an inauspicious debut of 9 carries for 18 yards, White busted out in week 4 with 166 yards vs. the Steelers. Charles White had, up until that point, managed 1 – 100 yard game and just 1400 yards in his 6+ year NFL career. He tore off another 100 yard game in Week 5 and then the strike ended. Dickerson was back for week 6, had about half as many carries as White in the game and then was summarily traded to the Colts. In case you don’t remember 1987, Eric Dickerson was the best RB on the planet, having just run for 1800 yards in 1986 and he was just 27 years old. With Dickerson gone, White retained the starting role and reeled off 5 more 100 yard games. Dickerson in the meantime, got off to a slow start with the Colts, but then managed to average 122 yards a game for the rest of the season to not only finish second in the league in total rushing yards, but to lead the AFC in rushing yards despite having played 3 games less than Curt Warner.

Dickerson would have just 2 more great seasons before turning into a pumpkin at age 30. Charles White would manage just 323 more yards in the NFL, getting hurt early in 1988 and losing his starting job to Greg Bell before retiring.

The Least Exciting Play in Football

By Blaidd Drwg

The extra point try is probably the most useless scoring play in professional football. Heck, as a stat, it ranks up there with the save in baseball as the least useful measure of a player’s ability. Kickers have gotten so good at it that there were exactly 5 misses in 1267 attempts last year (seriously, those are the numbers). That translates into a 99.61% success rate. Nobody watches the PAT thinking, “I think we are gonna block this one.” Heck, most teams don’t even put in an effort to block it, which is why you have a whopping 5 unsuccessful attempts last season. How much better have kickers gotten on the PAT? In 1993, the success rate was 96.8%. In 1983 it was 95.2%. In 1973, it was 96.8%. In 1963, it was 95%. You get the idea. It has never exactly been a tough kick, but at least historically there was about a 5% chance of missing it; not so much anymore.

The NFL is toying with the idea of changing how the PAT works. The latest proposal is to move the attempt from the 2 yard line back to the 25, which would make it essentially a 42-43 yard FG attempt. I looked at the success rate for FGs over 40 yards last season and that was only about 83%, so moving the kick back 20 yards will make a difference and probably make the play more exciting.

Kickers however, aren’t so convinced. From espn.com:

Adam Vinatieri: “I don’t understand the logic: Will it make the game safer for people by moving the extra point back to a 43-yarder?” Vinatieri said. “If anything, players are going to rush harder because they’re thinking, ‘That far of a field goal-type try, we have to go after blocking it more.’

Justin Tucker: “People are trying to phase kickers out of the game. That’s as blunt as I can be about it,”

Jay Feely: “You don’t penalize a baseball closer for being great, you celebrate that,” Feely, 37, told USA Today. “You should do the same thing with kickers. If you’re going to change the extra point rule, I’d rather see you change it and still have it as part of the game than eliminate it.”

I don’t see this as tying to phase kickers out of the game, it is more like the NBA changing the 3 point line and lane rules.  I personally would love to see them just eliminate the PAT kick and only allow a conversion try if a team wants to go for 2. It would probably chop several minutes off the unbearably long snooze fest that I most NFL games. It might make me more likely to pay a bit more attention to the game if they weren’t mostly just guys standing around doing nothing for long stretches between plays.

The Super Bowl Winner Will Be…

By Blaidd Drwg

…the Denver Broncos.

Sorry Seahawks fans, you won’t win because of one simple factor – you lack a player from Boston College on your roster. Denver has 1.

Think I am joking? Looking at Super Bowls that have occurred in this century, the team with more former BC Eagles on their roster has won 7 times and lost 4 (there were 2 years in which no BC players appeared on either team’s roster). This is actually how I determine who I root for in the Super Bowl (and the playoffs in general) if the Steelers aren’t playing or the Patriots are playing (can’t root for them as a Steelers fan). It has served me pretty well.

What, you expected some deep statistical analysis?

Useless Super Bowl Trivia

By Blaidd Drwg

Interesting but useless: The top 3 passing games by yardage in Super Bowl history all belong to Kurt Warner, with games of 414 yds (SB 34), 377 yds (SB 43) and 365 yds (SB 36). No one else has topped 360 yards in the history of the game.

Even more interesting is that Warner and Craig Morton are the only 2 QB’s to ever start the SB for 2 different teams (Peyton Manning will be #3). They managed to combine to go 1-4 in those starts (Warner 1-1 with the Rams and o-1 with the Cardinals and Morton 0-1 with both the Cowboys and Broncos). Raise you hand if you had any idea that Craig Morton was the starter for any Cowboys Super Bowl (he started SB 5).

The Stupidity of the Pro Bowl

By Blaidd Drwg

The Pro Bowl is an idiotic game that vaguely resembles football that no one actually cares about – the players, the coaches, the fans, no one. So many players back out of the game that it is usually a bunch of marginally good players playing what amounts to pick up football.

For some reason, the NFL wants to try to make the annual Hawaii vacation game relevant again so they have tried a number of things. Move it to the same city as the Super Bowl – fail (they tried it one year in Miami). Move it before the Super Bowl (instead of after it) – fail. The latest gimmick is to eliminate the conferences and have 2 team captains – Deion Sanders and Jerry Rice, pick the teams. What just looked like schoolyard football now really is just a schoolyard football game.

To make the stupid game even more of a joke, Deion Sanders tweeted this on Monday:

Ladies and Gentlemen I am officially announcing “I WILL SUIT UP IN HAWAII” Please let @JerryRice know that a real captain leads by example!

The game moves to a complete joke if the NFL lets a guy who has not worn a uniform in almost 10 years even set foot on the field during the game. Either way, I won’t be watching it.

The Road to the Super Bowl Runs Through…

By Blaidd Drwg

You hear all about home field advantage in the NFL, and there is definitely an advantage to playing at home, in the regular season. Come playoff time, momentum seems to be more important than playing in your front. I think it becomes exaggerated because the #1 and #2 seeds end up sitting around, doing nothing for a week and lose some of their competitive edge. I decided to take a look at just what kind of impact the bye week had on the top 2 seeds since the NFL went to the 8 team playoff in 2002.

#1 Seed

Game Wins Losses
Divisional Playoff 13 9
Conference Championship 9 4
Super Bowl 2 7


#2 Seed

Game Wins Losses
Divisional Playoff 15 7
Conference Championship 5 10
Super Bowl 3 2


The results are definitely surprising. The #1 seed has won just 59% of the time in the Divisional Playoff game. Considering that is a team that generally has won better than 75% of its games at home during the season, I would have expected better. The #2 seed wins about 68% of it Divisional Playoff games, which seems about right considering that they get the highest remaining seed for that game (usually the 3 or 4 seed). I suspect that the #1 seed ends up getting the tougher team for their matchup since it seems, especially over the last few seasons, that there is at least one Wild Card team who ends up with a better record than a couple of the division winners.

When you get to the Conference Championship game, it gets a bit interesting. There have been 8 times in the 22 instances that #1 and #2 have squared off in that game, with the #1 seed holding a 5-3 advantage in those games. That makes the results look a bit weird against the other seeds:

  #1 Seed #2 Seed
Vs. 1 or 2 seed 5-3 3-5 (On The Road)
Vs. any other seed 4-1 2-5 (At Home)


Basically, if you are the #1 seed and you survive the Divisional Playoff game, you really would rather face anyone other than the #2 seed.

Either way, I would almost be willing to bet that you won’t be seeing a Seattle – Denver (this year’s #1 seeds from their respective conferences) Super Bowl matchup. A battle of #1’s has only happened once in the last 10 seasons – in 2009 when Indy and New Orleans squared off.

What’s in a Name?

By Blaidd Drwg

As if one Wonderful Monds wasn't enough (love the afro)
As if one Wonderful Monds wasn’t enough (love the afro)
There were actually 2 of them.
There were actually 2 of them.

Ha Ha Clinton-Dix.I think this gets my vote for the worst name in sports. His actual first name is Ha’Sean, according to Wikipedia, which is bad enough, but why the hell would you go by ‘Ha Ha’? I am not even going to touch his last name.

Oh, and he is apparently an NFL prospect. Could you see Roger Goodell going up to the podium and announcing, “With the 23rd pick in the 2015 NFL draft, the Green Bay Packers select Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, saftey,  from the Alabama Crimson Tide,” with a straight face?

Wonderful Terrific Monds (either I or II) he is not. I bet you had no idea that there were 2 guys named Wonderful Terriffic Monds (The father played football and the son baseball).

Edit – I stand corrected, there were actually 3 Wonderful Terriffic Monds. It appears that the football Monds was actually WTM II and the baseball Monds is WTM III.

The Best QB in the NFL is…

By Blaidd Drwg

In a league where you have Drew Brees, Tom Brady, Peyton Manning and Aaron Rodgers, would you consider Alex Smith the best QB in the league?

Well apparently Chief’s Offensive Coordinator Doug Pederson does:

“Ultimately, every team has to have a quarterback,” Pederson told The Kansas City Star. “I think we have the best in the league.”

“There are a lot of great ones, but over time, Alex has proven he can get it done,” Pederson told the newspaper. “He’s a sharp guy, he brings a wealth of knowledge, he’s experienced, he’s a proven winner the last couple of years, and he needs a team to embrace him.”

Alex Smith has proven he can “get it done”? Really? The same Alex Smith who has only two seasons in 8 years in the league where he started more than 10 games? The same Alex Smith who proved so inept at running an offense earlier in his career that he has managed to compile a 38-36-1 career record? The same Alex Smith who last season couldn’t win back his job after he got hurt from a guy whom, up until that point had thrown 14 passes in the NFL?

Must be a different Alex Smith we are talking about.

The whole story is here on ESPN.com.