OMFG, The Machine has just recovered from an epic Week 1. So many great games and storylines. Chip Kelly’s high-octane offense was a success (for now), AP takes his first run to the house, the Bills remind us that, even with a new coach and QB, they didn’t forget how to lose at the last second, and Peyton Manning reminds us all that he’s still a boss.
Likewise, there was an abundance of teabags to go around. They say football is the ultimate team sport (we’d argue beerpong too) but there are times when one individual can completely screw it up for everyone. Here’s a look at 3 players who made horrible decisions on the field, and cost their teams greatly. We’ll go in order of least offensive to most egregious.
Clay Mathews, LB – Green Bay
There was so much hype and drama leading up to this game, you knew someone was going to do something stupid (and costly). Clay was one of the biggest pre-game talkers, going on and on about wanting to hurt C-Kap and make up for that playoff beat down. Well, he made up for it alright.
With the game tied at 7-7, 3rd and 10 at the Green Bay 10 yard line, C-Kap scrambles and is clearly on his way out-of-bounds, short of a first down…until Johnny Meathead dives at Colin, wraps an arm around his neck, and takes him down, all of which occurred out-of-bounds. Clay then gets in a kerfuffle with Joe Staley (more on that in a bit) and they both get off-setting personal fouls. They replay the down. This time, C-Kaps throws a dart to Anquan Boldin for a touchdown, putting the Niners up 14-7, instead of 10-7.
When is hitting someone with a helmet on ever a good idea? Afterwards, perpetually-pissed off Coach Jim Harbaugh added more fuel to the fire, saying “I think [Clay] works very hard on being a tough guy. He’ll have some repairing to do to his image after the slap.” Come on Jim, you’re the coach, you have to act like a parent (not their friend) and let your players to the talking. Speaking of which, C-Kap chimed in with “If intimidation is your game plan, I hope you have a better one.” Now that’s more like it.
If for nothing else, those extra 4 points helped San Fran cover the spread (thanks, dick).
Ray Maualuga, LB – Cincinnati
Ray’s used to making bad decisions off the field, but this time he brought that same level of poor judgment and life skills on the field.
With Cincy down 3 late in the game, the Bengals D comes up with a big stop on third down. Chicago would be forced to punt and give Cincy a chance to win (or tie) the game…except Ray steps in and gets a personal foul for fighting after the play. First down Chicago, Cutler takes a knee to end the game.
Sure, it’s no guarantee that Cincy would score if it got the ball back, but at least they’d have a chance. Unfortunately, Ray’s reckless temper cost them that chance.
Lavonte David, LB – Tampa Bay
Now we get to the crème de la crème of idiotic linebackers. Tampa was on its way to eking out a 2 point victory in New York, after Rian Lindell nailed a 37 yard field goal with 34 seconds left to go up 15-17. All the Bucs needed to do was kick off, play some prevent D, and not do anything stupid. This time, 2 out of 3 is bad.
On the Jets ensuing drive, Geno Smith (the only undefeated QB in NY) was running out-of-bounds (with 7 seconds left) when Lavonte hits him and gets flagged for a personal foul. Had Lavonte not hit him, there would’ve been 7 seconds left, Jets with the ball at the 45, and they’d be forced to throw a hail mary. Instead, Jets get the ball at the 30, and Nick Folk drills a 47 yarder. Game over. Don’t believe me, here’s the video proof:
Lavonte’s hit made absolutely no sense. Geno was running out-of-bounds, there was no need to even touch him. And make no mistake: this cost them the game. But for this penalty, the Jets are not in field goal range. Universally, (outside of the Bucs organization) it was regarded as a bone-headed play, reminiscent of Cleveland’s Dwayne Rudd back in 2002 when he prematurely took his helmet off to celebrate (also during Week 1*). You’d think Lavonte would act like a man, take the heat, and accept the blame for his unquestionably dumb decision. A simple “I let my emotions get the best of me and it won’t happen again” is all it takes. However, Lavonte decided to go another route, which is the (surprising) “I didn’t do anything wrong route”. Seriously. In an interview with the Tampa Bay Times, David said the following:
“That’s the way our defense is, we just play aggressive, we just play physical. You’re going to get those calls and you may feel like that’s not the right call but you can’t do anything about it. You can’t let it change the way you play the game.”
Where do I begin? Actually, jackass, there is something you can do about it. Don’t hit players out-of-bounds, and don’t commit penalties that cost your team the game. You can play aggressive defense without committing dumb penalties (see 49ers, San Francisco). Absolving yourself by saying you were playing physical shows that you just don’t get it, and probably never will.
Enjoy your teabags.
*stat courtesy of our Useless Stats Dept.