Even when all is normal and well, a safety is still a pretty rare way to put meaningful points on an NFL scoreboard. It doesn’t feel that way, and instead it feels as though they happen often enough. But consider that 12 safeties have been recorded over 242 total games played thus far in the 2013 NFL season. That means right now, a safety is occurring roughly once every 20 games, a rate that was far lower in 2012 (only 13 safeties all season, for a pace of one every 39 games).
So while it’s seemingly a common enough way to score, a safety remains elusive, and simply difficult. Yet that’s how an overtime game ended last night.
Of course it did. A Thursday Night Football game — games now notorious for their horribleness and sloppiness, and there was plenty of those things too between the Miami Dolphins and Cincinnati Bengals — by law could only end in either a safety, or a pickoff at first if it went to overtime.
The anomaly went down about halfway through the free football period, when it was beginning to look like there was a very real chance the game could end in a tie. There had been three possessions at that point, and both teams flirted with field goal range, taunting themselves it would seem. Both times, the percentages of making a long, +50 yard field goal lost to the more positive outlook provided by better field position.
That back and forth volley led to the Bengals lining up deep in their own territory, with Andy Dalton taking the snap from his eight-yard line. He had already been sacked four times at that point, and twice by Cameron Wake, one of which resulted in a fumble. So although there was a clear sense of urgency in overtime and on third down, perhaps having Dalton do anything but a quick drop while firing the ball out almost immediately was a poor idea.
But there he was, dropping back to his own goal-line. And there Wake was too, making history, or at least adding to sparse history.
Third game in NFL history decided by OT safety (1989 Rams/Vikings, 2004 Titans/Bears).
— Scott Kacsmar (@FO_ScottKacsmar) November 1, 2013
Of the 502 overtime games in NFL history, that’s only 0.6 percent that have ended in a safety. It was all just so…Thursday night.
There was comedy in the errors which led to that point, of course. Mostly, they were provided to us graciously by Dalton, who threw three interceptions, two of which came on poorly thrown balls (both on out routes behind receivers). His timing was clearly off on those throws crushing mistakes, particularly the interception that was returned 94 yards by Brent Grimes for a touchdown, the first of his career.
That was the heart of the slop, and more stink prior to the unique conclusion was added when both teams generated exactly zero points after forcing fumbles in the first half, and jittery Caleb Sturgis missed a 34-yard field, which is nearly in chip shot territory for most competent kickers. Not even A.J. Green was safe, as despite his overall brilliance with 128 receiving yards on a career single-game high 11 catches, he dropped a key first-down reception that may have led to points. Marvin Jones also had a fine game after his breakout performance with 66 yards on four receptions, while on the other side it was nice to know that Ryan Tannehill is aware of Mike Wallace’s existence. Wallace finished with 82 yards on six catches.
For the Dolphins, the stench of their second half demises continued when they couldn’t protect a 17-3 lead in the second half for the second straight week, giving up 17 straight points. Making the win on a defensive play even more remarkable was the utter exhaustion of the Dolphins’ defense, as after all the turnovers and the extra overtime period Cincy ran 93 plays (the Dolphins ran only 61), while possessing the ball for a just stupid 40:02 of the game clock.
It was all simultaneously odd, and wildly entertaining, which is also shockingly rare given the night of the week. More of this, please.
More notes, stray thoughts, and other such randomness
Giovani Bernard isn’t fair
The fantasy circuit last night was dominated by two young running backs who should be getting more carries. That undeniable fact was finally recognized by the Dolphins coaching staff, as Lamar Miller was given 20 touches, and he turned that into 129 total yards while creating many missed tackles in the open field.
But man, Gio Bernard. Just…man.
Sort of a little bit sadly, that run is now wasted in a loss. Not at all sadly, it will exist in our memories forever and ever. And then not even a little bit sadly, Bernard finished with 79 rushing yards and two touchdowns on just nine carries — an average of 8.8 yards per carry — while adding 24 yards through the air. Meanwhile, BenJarvus Green-Ellis needed 21 carries to get 72 yards.
Hmmm, something doesn’t add up there. Maybe — and I know I’m reaching — it’s the fact that one Bengals running back received 12 more carries, and yet he finished with seven fewer yards.
It wasn’t all good for Bernard, though, as he left with an injury and was seen grimacing on the sideline in the fourth quarter and overtime. Early indications are that he has a minor rib problem, and it likely won’t keep him out for Week 10, especially with the extra rest following a Thursday game now helping his cause.
Geno Atkins is likely ripped, and gone
Elsewhere in early indications, Geno Atkins likely tore his right ACL. Losing him for the year is a brutally crushing injury for even a deep Bengals front seven, because replacing arguably the best defensive tackle in the league isn’t something any team can do. Atkins already had six sacks this season, giving him 18.5 over his last 25 games.
With top corner Leon hall gone for the year too and Rey Maualuga out for up to a month, the Bengals’ defense is significantly less scary.
But hey, C.J. Spiller is all good
Turning to other none Thursday night zaniness matters, these are wonderful words for C.J. Spiller fantasy owners…
Marrone on C.J. Spiller and Manny Lawson: “Should be good to go” #Bills
— Buffalo Bills (@buffalobills) November 1, 2013
Now, if he could manage to not suck for one week, that would be good too.
Percy Harvin = more sadness
The waiting will continue with Harvin after Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll said yesterday that his stud wide receiver is close, just not quite close enough, and now we won’t be graced with his return until at least Week 10.
Without both Harvin and Sidney Rice, the Seahawks’ offense could be pretty ugly again this week. For those in deep fantasy leagues, Jermaine Kearse might be a nice little pickup to plug into a flex role.
Behold, the Andy Reid pumpkin
Andy Reid pumpkin >>>> Andy Reid baby.
Chris Johnson has the longest average length of touchdown
Nothing is even a little bit surprising about this, because if maddening Chris Johnson fantasy ownership has taught us anything, it’s that he’ll plod and bounce for two and three yards all game, before popping off for 60 yards. That’s who he is, and who he’ll always be.
Still, it’s interesting to see the average length of individual rushing touchdowns measured. Through data compiled by Chase Stuart over at Football Perspective — a place where he measures many interesting things — we see that Johnson checks in as the all-time leader with an average length of 27.2 yards per touchdown. Which is…wow.