What’s causing those second-half collapses?
The list continues to grow each week of the college and pro football teams that jump out to what appears to be comfortable leads in the first half and then watch them disintegrate in the second half.
It happened two weeks in a row to the Texas Aggies and twice in four weeks to the Dallas Cowboys. It tried to happen two weeks in a row to the Houston Texans, but a stern lecture by Head Coach Gary Kubiak nipped it in the bud.
And a 42-yard field goal by Bridge City native Matt Bryant early in the fourth period proved to be the game-winner as the Atlanta Falcons halted the Seattle Seahawks’ 21-point splurge in the second half and hung on for a 30-28 win.
Buffalo, which rallied in the second half to overtake the New England Patriots, found itself on the other end of the spectrum Sunday by blowing a 17-3 lead and losing to the Cincinnati Bengals 23-20.
Now the only undefeated teams in the National Football League after four games are the defending World Champion Green Bay Packers and the surprising Detroit Lions who both hail from the NFC North Division.
Texas A&M would be undefeated if it weren’t for the meltdowns in its last two Big 12 football games. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out why the Aggies want out of the conference—they can’t beat a lot of the teams they play year in and year out.
One wag said that when Texas A&M notified the Big 12 that they wanted out and were applying to join the SEC (Southeastern Conference) that it was a typo and they really meant they wanted to join the SLC (Southland Conference) where they would be more comfortable playing against true “Southern teams.”
Seriously, it’s difficult to understand how a team can make a shambles out of an opponent’s defense for a half and then come back in the second half and get stopped cold on the same plays. What appears to have happened is that the opponent’s coaching staff must have made some dramatic adjustments during the halftime.
In the Oklahoma State and Arkansas comebacks, single-game passing records were broken by both teams. The offensive coordinators in both games saw some dramatic weaknesses in the Aggies’ pass defense and made adjustments that resulted in Oklahoma State rolling up 438 yards and Arkansas getting 512 yards—both respective school records.
In the case of the Dallas Cowboys, it was fairly obvious what took place. Play caller and head coach Jason Garrett–being a former quarterback himself—continued to use the passing plays that were so successful in the first half.
But what he forgot is that the Detroit Lions made a few changes in their pass rushing schemes and got in the face of quarterback Tony Romo a second or two faster, causing the hot-and-cold quarterback to hurry and throw the football short of the target.
Romo had three passes picked off in the second half, with two returned for easy touchdowns. In fact, the Detroit Lions wanted to present Romo with the game ball after rallying from a 24-point deficit to remain undefeated with the 34-30 win.
“It hurts,” lamented Romo after throwing three interceptions in his latest stunning meltdown. “It doesn’t feel real good right now.”
It was the largest blown lead in Dallas Cowboys’ franchise history and the fourth-worst collapse in NFL history including the playoffs, according to STATS LLC. It also tied for the largest collapse by an NFL team playing at home in regular-season history.
The second theory for the Cowboys second-half debacle could be that Idiot Owner Jerry Jones got so excited about the fist-half success that he drew up some of his personal plays and ordered Garrett to implement them in the second half. Either way the Cowboys look silly and go into their bye week at 2-2 instead of 4-0.
Another team that was supposed to be one of the NFL’s best– but isn’t– is the Philadelphia Eagles. With all that defensive talent they purchased during the off-season, teams are coming up with ways to score on the Eagles, especially in the late going. The Eagles have been outscored 36-0 in the fourth quarter of the last three games—all losses.
After trailing Philadelphia 23-3 right after the half, San Francisco 49ers’ quarterback Alex Smith connected on a pair of third quarter touchdown passes to get his team back into the ball game. Frank Gore’s 12-yard TD gallop with 3:00 remaining put the 49ers ahead for good 24-23.
At Seattle, Orange’s Earl Thomas and his defensive cohorts limited Atlanta to two Matt Bryant field goals in the second half, after trailing 24-7 at halftime. Thomas was credited with nine tackles, with five being solo stops, as the free safety took over as the Seahawks’ leading tackler with 27 tackles—19 solo stops and 8 assists.
Seattle had a chance to win the game as the clock was winding down but Seahawks’ kicker Steven Hauschka missed a 61-yard field goal attempt with 13 seconds left in the game.
The Houston Texans took the opening kickoff and marched 91 yards on a franchise-record 19 plays to score a touchdown while Orange native Wade Phillips’ defense allowed the Pittsburgh Steelers only 296 total yards and sacked quarterback Ben Roethlisberger five times, including two by Mario Williams.
The Texans led at halftime 10-0 but the Steelers came out and took the second-half kickoff 74 yards on 13 plays to score a touchdown.
Pittsburgh tied the score at 10-10 with 5:27 left on a 26-yard field goal by Shaun Suisham and then Kubiak delivered his lecture on letting another game slip away. The team responded with a great finish as star running back Arian Foster scored on a game-winning 42-yard touchdown burst with 2:55 left in the game.
KWICKIES…By the time this Korner hits the streets, the Milwaukee Brewers might already have captured the best-of-five National League Division series from the Arizona Diamondbacks. The problem is that the Brewers have a difficult time winning playoff games on the road. The Phillies’ pitching should carry them through in the other NL playoff series while the Tigers and the Texas Rangers should win in the American League Division Series.
Perhaps Oklahoma’s drop from No. 2 to No. 3 in this week’s Associated Press Top 25 Poll is an indication of things to come when the Sooners hook up with the Texas Longhorns in their annual Red River Rivalry Saturday. The Longhorns jumped from No. 17 to No. 11 while LSU remained No. 1 and Alabama vaulted over the Sooners to No. 2. Wisconsin moved up three slots to No. 4, Boise State dropped one notch to No. 5, Oklahoma State and Stanford each moved up one place to No. 6 and No. 7, respectively. Clemson jumped five spots to No. 8, Oregon remained at No. 9 and Arkansas leaped eight places to No. 10.
I got to watch my first-ever six-man football game after covering the sport for 50 years and was impressed with Orange Community Christian’s hard-fought victory over Chester Saturday. The rules are a big different, but a team still has to block, tackle and hang onto the football if they expect to win.
I had a good time playing in the Orange Christian Services annual four-person scramble golf tournament last Saturday at Sunset Grove Country Club. Our team of Craig Couvillion, Kenny Ruane, Hal Breedlove and me shot 63 and tied for third place but as luck would have it the tourney gave prizes to the teams that finished first, second and twelfth.
JUST BETWEEN US…The West Orange-Stark Mustangs need to play better than in the first five games (2-3) if they expect to win the District 21-3A championship this year. This Korner believes Head Coach Cornel Thompson has gotten the situation straightened out and will guide the Mustangs to the district title, with Silsbee coming in a close second and Bridge City nabbing the third spot, if the Cards can get past Orangefield this year.