Norwood & Faulk done for year, Bush out 4-6 weeks

New Orleans Saints running back Reggie Bush is taken off the field in a cart after sustaining an injury in the fourth quarter against the San Francisco 49ers during their Monday night NFL football game in San Francisco, California September 20, 2010. REUTERS/Robert Galbraith (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT FOOTBALL)

I went to do a report on Reggie Bush’s fractured fibula and then noticed roughly 1,800 more injuries worth noting in the NFL. So here’s a rundown of six of those 1,800 injuries…

Reggie Bush, RB, Saints
Bush suffered a fracture of the upper fibula in his right leg after muffing a punt during the Saints’ 25-22 win over the 49ers last night. He doesn’t need surgery, but he’ll miss at least four-to-six weeks. DeShawn Wynn now takes over the backup duties behind Pierre Thomas.

Anthony Gonzalez, WR, Colts
More bad news for Gonzalez, who will be sidelined for the next 4-6 weeks with a high right ankle sprain. Obviously the Colts can and have gotten by without him, but this has to be frustrating for Gonzalez, who can never seem to stay healthy.

Jake Delhomme, QB, Browns
Jake the INT Machine has had a boot on his injured ankle for a week and reports state that he likely has a high ankle sprain. While head coach Eric Mangini doesn’t want to make a definitive statement either way on whether or not Delhomme will play this week, chances are Seneca Wallace will receive his second start of the year on Sunday.

Jerious Norwood, RB, Falcons
Norwood tore his ACL on the opening kickoff last week against the Cardinals. He’ll be placed on IR, effectively ending his season. Jason Snelling now becomes the sole backup to Michael Turner.

Kevin Faulk, RB, Patriots
The Patriots’ running back situation just got more interesting, as Faulk will miss the rest of the season due to a torn ACL. Danny Woodhead will get a look as a third-down back, but Sammy Morris and BenJarvus Green-Ellis will see more action behind Fred Taylor now.

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Bill Belichick was right…

…at least according to Gregg Easterbrook.

Indianapolis had only one timeout, so a first down would have all but won the game. On the night, the Patriots had averaged 6.6 yards per play, so the chance of gaining 2 yards was auspicious. As Tim Graham of has noted, since Tom Brady became New England’s starting quarterback, the Patriots have converted 76 percent of their fourth-and-short attempts. A 3-in-4 chance to win is a pretty inviting opportunity.

Which seems like a better gamble — 2 yards to win the game, or two minutes to shut down Peyton Manning when the Colts are hot? In 2007, AccuScore did thousands of computer simulations of the punt-or-go-for-it question for TMQ. One finding was that between your own 21-yard line and your own 35, you should go for it on fourth-and-2 or less. In test after test, doing this improved a team’s chance of victory — though, of course, there is no guarantee. No coach can control what happens on the field. Had New England punted, Indianapolis might have run the kick back for a touchdown, for instance. All the coach can do is make a decision that improves the team’s odds. Belichick made such a decision.

Two things to note:

1. While the Pats did average 6.6 yards per play on the night, they only averaged 2.8 yards per play in their final three possessions (not including Faulk’s 1-yard catch). The New England offense wasn’t as productive in the fourth quarter as it was during the first three.

2. While Brady may own a 76% success rate on fourth down, during those last three drives, just six of the preceding 16 plays (38%) went for more than two yards. That didn’t bode well for the Pats’ 4th-and-2.

I have no problem with computer simulations, but there is something about a 4th-and-whatever with the game on the line that can’t be quantified. Emotions are higher and everyone tightens up. It becomes tougher to execute. Officials are less likely to call a penalty, thinking that unless it’s obvious, players should decide the outcome (especially when the home crowd isn’t going to like your call).

Belichick’s reasoning is understandable. Tom Brady is his best player and he’d rather have the ball in his hands then punt it to Peyton Manning, who just made short work of his tired defense on the previous possession. Had Faulk caught the ball cleanly, we’d all be talking about how gutsy (and brilliant?) it was to go for the first down to win the game.

But it didn’t work out, and Belichick is left with egg on his face.

Belichick costs the Patriots a win over Colts

Bill Belichick is a genius. In fact, he’s so much of a genius that he cost his team a win on Sunday night by making one of the dumbest decisions by a head coach in quite some time.

The Patriots absolutely dissected the Colts for 58 minutes tonight. Tom Brady threw for 375 yards and three touchdowns on 29-of-42 passing, while Randy Moss (nine catches, 179 yards, 2 TDs) and Wes Welker (nine catches, 94 yards) abused an injury-riddled, inexperienced secondary on their way to taking a 31-14 fourth quarter lead.

Then Peyton Manning worked his magic to cut Indy’s deficit to 34-28 with just over two minutes remaining. But all the Patriots had to do was pick up two first downs (something they had done with ease the entire night) on their ensuing possession and put the Colts away for good. Instead, Indy’s defense rose to the challenge and stopped the Pats on a 3rd and 2 from New England’s 28-yard line to force a punt.

Or what everyone thought would be a punt, that is.

Instead of punting and making Manning drive the length of the field, Belichick decided to call a time out (the second of the drive) and go for it on fourth down. What ensued was a 1-yard catch by Kevin Faulk, a controversial spot of the ball and a turnover on downs for New England. Four plays later, Manning found Reggie Wayne for a 1-yard touchdown pass to give the Colts a stunning 35-34 victory.

Now, I don’t fault Belichick for being who he is: An aggressive decision-maker and a coach that not only likes to beat his opponent, but rip their soul out of their bodies and do a tap dance number on it. That’s who he is and that’s what he does. He’s won multiple Super Bowls with that strategy and he’s not going to change his philosophy now.

But the problem with that strategy in this case is that it just wasn’t a smart football decision. Belichick has to punt the football and trust his defense in that situation by forcing Manning to drive the length of the field to win. There’s nothing wrong with being aggressive, but that was just a flat out stupid decision by a head coach that knows better.

Granted, if the Patriots picked up that first down and never gave the ball back to Manning, everyone would be lauding Belichick’s fearless style. I get that, and I don’t want to lose sight of that fact because the media can be two-faced in scenarios like these. And in Belichick’s defense, with the way his offense had been moving the ball all night, gaining a first down on 4th and 2 must have seemed like a lock and why give the ball back to Manning after he just carved up your defense the previous two drives?

But the Patriots didn’t pick up that first down and there was really no reason not to punt the football in that situation. It wasn’t like they were at midfield – they were at their own 28-yard line and if their gamble didn’t work, Belichick had to have known he was handing a win over to the Colts. Furthermore, for Belichick to burn two timeouts before making that decision and leaving himself without the option to stop the clock had his offense not picked up the first down was just as stupid.

I’ve never seen a team dominate like the Patriots did for 58 minutes, only to lose on a decision like that. New England will surely rebound and I wouldn’t doubt it if we saw these same two teams play in the AFC Championship Game in the same stadium. But nevertheless, this was an awful decision by Belichick and he cost his team tonight.

Photo from fOTOGLIF

Laurence Maroney’s season is over

The Patriots have placed Laurence Maroney on IR.

Maroney, now in his third season, missed Sunday’s game against the Chargers with a shoulder injury. He also missed the team’s Week 3 loss to the Dolphins with a shoulder injury.

Maroney totaled 28 carries for 93 yards this season. A first-round draft choice in 2006, he is signed through the 2010 season.

Look for Sammy Morris to get the bulk of the work with LaMont Jordan out. Kevin Faulk will be the main RB in the Pats’ passing game. Once Jordan returns, I wouldn’t be surprised if the three form a committee, with no player having a ton of value. Morris currently appears to be the team’s favorite goal line back.

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