Jan 25

Sean Payton burned 2 quick timeouts on back-to-back 4th quarter challenges, whyyyyy

The New Orleans Saints are making a heady comeback from a 17-0 deficit after scoring 14 straight points to open up the second half. Head coach Sean Payton, however, is doing what he can to ratchet up his own team’s level of difficulty Sunday night.

Romo says out loud what’s likely going through Tom Brady’s head in the moment (and what likely was going through Romo’s head in similar situations when he was with the Cowboys). The Patriots get the Titans to show they’re in man coverage by splitting running back James White outside, then motioning him inside. When the linebacker follows White, tight end Rob Gronkowski motions wide to give himself a plum matchup.

Then the Patriots motion the safety away from Gronk, and Romo gets really excited.

“Oh boy.”

Romo says “better get over there, Cyprien,” referring to the Titans’ Johnathan Cyprien. And indeed, Cyprien sprints over to double cover Gronkowski and perhaps prevent a touchdown.

I prefer the ‘rust equation.’ We get an automatic pass to the second round, and get to do so with all the people on our roster, Tomlin said. So we’ll deal with the rust element of it. We’ll work and prepare and hopefully get better in the process.

Indeed, if concern about getting out of practice were of such importance to NFL teams, they would not fight so tenaciously to secure one of the two byes granted to the top teams in each conference.

If taking a week off from the game created issues of rust, it would follow that teams coming out of an open date would perform below par. However, in playoff games alone, teams that qualify for a bye past the wild-card weekend have won 67.5 percent of their divisional round games over the past decade.

The NFL and NFLPA on Monday launched an official review to determine whether the Panthers properly followed an updated concussion protocol with Newton during the team’s NFC wild-card loss to the Saints. While interim general manager Marty Hurney and coach Ron Rivera believe the Panthers followed the protocol, a new NFL rule says players who show gross motor instability or significant loss of balance must be evaluated in the locker room.

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