You never know about any new coach.
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Turnovers Still Overrated
More evidence that the average turnover is the most overrated aspect of the average football game--the fall-guy play for the coach--was presented in Nashville on Sunday when the Tennessee Titans turned the ball over seven times, on three interceptions and four fumbles, and still overcame Cleveland easily, 24-10.
The result was reminiscent of the one in San Francisco in 1981 when the 49ers, with Joe Montana at quarterback, turned the ball over six times and still beat Dallas for the NFC title, 28-27, en route to their first of five Super Bowl championships.
In the Bay Area ever since, that 1981 49er-Cowboy game has been called, simply, "The Catch," in honor of the winning touchdown pass.
Montana threw three interceptions that day, when he and his teammates also lost three fumbles, to prove that in football games, it isn't turnovers that lose--or win--it's what you do after the turnovers.
As a rule, the winners in close NFL games are those who, after a turnover, continue to attack with the smarter game plan and with the deeper desire to win.
Typically, it is coaches and their followers who talk the most about fumbles and interceptions.
A losing coach is aware of just what he means by a turnover.
What he desperately wants you to believe is, "I did everything right, but my players screwed up."
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Baltimore Best Balanced
Although the national consensus this week is that Tennessee, Oakland, St. Louis and Minnesota are America's top teams, my view is that the Baltimore Ravens are better balanced than any of them and hence the NFL's best-balanced team--if not the best all-around team--whenever their new quarterback, Trent Dilfer, is distributing passes judiciously.
And that's the rub.
Continuing an old habit, Dilfer has thrown two or three seemingly foolish interceptions in the last two weeks.
At the same time, his completions have been more accurately thrown, far and near, than those of most other 2000 passers, meaning that Dilfer has consistently overcome his mistakes--most recently in leading Baltimore past Dallas, 27-0.
Baltimore Coach Brian Billick, whose won-lost record has risen to 8-4 during Dilfer's three-game winning streak this month, obviously knows the man's limitations, and has just as obviously been unable yet to make a full correction.
Billick, therefore, seems to be predicting that Dilfer will from now on throw more touchdown passes than interceptions and so keep Baltimore winning all winter--as, most likely, a wild-card playoff team.