Sweet Play of the Week: The Atlanta Falcons leading 10-7, the New Orleans Saints had possession on the Falcons' 44. The Saints lined up with Drew Brees under center, a tight end in-line and an I-backfield -- once among the most common formations in football, now practically risqué. A man-in-motion came back toward the formation. Brees play-faked a power run; both backs pass-blocked; two receivers on the right ran decoy routes to attract the safeties; from his in-line position, star tight end Jimmy Graham ran what seemed a quick out. Then Brees pump-faked and Graham headed up the field, leaving a confused corner in his dust, touchdown.
Sour Play of the Week: Hosting City of Tampa, the Detroit Lions surrendered five turnovers and a blocked kick: few teams could overcome that. Late in the first half, Detroit seemed to be driving for a score. Nickel safety Leonard Johnson lined up where the Sam linebacker normally would be. Matt Stafford seemed unaware Johnson was present when he threw a short out. Leaving his man, Johnson "jumped the route" for a pick-six. Moderately sour.
Yet trailing by only three despite the turnovers, Detroit reached third-and-12 on the City of Tampa 28 with a minute remaining. The Buccaneers blitzed. Stafford sprinted backward 10 yards, then launched a perfect lob to Calvin Johnson, who had beaten his man at the Tampa 3. Megatron, holder of receiving records uncountable, let the ball carom out of his hands for an interception. Game over. That's a Sour Warhead.
Sweet 'N' Sour Play: Kansas City leading 38-34, the San Diego Chargers, out of timeouts, faced second-and-long on the Chiefs' 26 with 31 seconds remaining. TMQ loves the tactic of, in a high-pressure situation, giving the ball to a guy who never gets the ball. Bolts receiver Seyi Ajirotutu, with two catches on the season, lined up wide left. He ran a go, and caught the touchdown pass that proved the winning points. Sweet. Sour was that Kansas City corner Sean Smith let Ajirotutu roar past him, though Smith knew the visitors had only seconds to reach the end zone. When the game is on the line, keep everything in front of you!
The Final Frontier May Not Be Peaceful: Many readers, including Jennifer Carpenter of Palo Alto, Calif., noted this research finding of an extremely strong gamma-ray burst relatively "close" to Earth in time and space. Previously observed strong gamma bursts have come from the far past, and thus from early in the evolution of the universe. This burst is "only" 3.6 billion years old, meaning the event occurred long after the firmament reached its present form. Theories about strong gamma bursts involve the early conditions that followed the Big Bang. Because this burst happened so much later, it's back to the drawing board for explanations of what strong gamma bursts are. The burst released in a few hours significantly more energy than the sun will release in its entire lifetime.