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Rivalry is a good thing

Join senior editor Vic Ketchman as he tackles the fans' tough questions.

William from Jacksonville:
This one will be tough for you. In their prime years and healthy, would you rather have Jerome Bettis or Fred Taylor as your running back?

Vic: If you're asking me to address this question specifically, it's easy to answer. Jerome Bettis suffers from asthma and couldn't play in Jacksonville. The bottom line is that both guys are perfectly suited for where they play. Bettis is a pounder. He's the perfect back for the Steelers' power rushing attack. He's also a perfect back for the late-season weather conditions in Pittsburgh. There's a saying about playing on wet fields: "Little guys fall down in the mud." Bettis is certainly not a little guy. He's a mudder. Fred Taylor is a pure cutback runner with sensational speed and open-field running ability. Whereas Bettis gains yardage in increments of four, Taylor gains yardage in big chunks. I've never covered a guy who's had as many long runs as Taylor. What if he had played for the Steelers? He would've been just as good or better. In fact, he would've gotten the ball a whole lot more and let's not forget that Taylor holds the all-time Steelers opponent single-game rushing record, 234 yards at Three Rivers Stadium in 2000. These are two great backs I really like and you could give me either one and I'd be delighted. I'm going to miss Bettis. He was fun to watch. I hope Taylor's got some gas left in his tank because it may be a long time before we see someone of his talent come through here again.

Paul from Toamasina, Madagascar:
Vic, Manao ahoana from Madagascar. Your new blog gives me a better forum to follow the Jags with; kudos. I noticed a play in the Jags-Browns game where pass interference was called on a pass from Garrard to Smith. In terms of statistics, do the quarterback and the wide receiver get credit for the reception and the yardage, or is it just chalked up to penalty yards?

Vic: If the penalty is accepted, it's penalty yards; if the penalty is declined, which it usually is when the pass is complete, the yardage goes to the quarterback's and receiver's personal stats and to the team's offensive stats. Your question is kind of weak and that's not why I selected it. I selected it because I think you're the first "Ask Vic" reader in Madagascar.

Sheel from Deltona, FL:
You say that being the fifth or sixth seed doesn't really matter but it does in terms of who we play. Assuming we make the playoffs, who do you think the Jaguars have the best chance of beating, the Patriots, Broncos or Bengals? I'm thinking I don't want to play against Tom Brady in January regardless of how banged up they are.

Vic: I can understand why you wouldn't want to play against Tom Brady, who is 9-0 in postseason games. But I'm thinking that might make the Patriots ripe. I have a very high regard for Denver, but Jake Plummer isn't Brady or Carson Palmer and that might make the Broncos kind of attractive. The one team I wouldn't want to face in the first round is Cincinnati. They really have that offense cranked up right now and, given the Jaguars' recent decline in pass-defense, I don't think the Jaguars would match up well against the Bengals.

Richard from Jacksonville:
I checked out "Polian Corner" while listening to you on the Internet on Wednesday night. The only thing more out of touch than Polian on their website are the Colts fans who insist they are not racing toward salary cap hell.

Vic: I think it's good stuff. I think it's healthy that the Jaguars and the Colts have developed a rivalry; that they have competitive feelings toward each other. When the Jaguars were first put into the AFC South, my reaction was, "Yuk!" Now, I kind of like it. I regard Bill Polian's remarks in "Polian Corner" to be an accurate representation of his opinions about Sunday's game and the gap between the two teams. I like that. I'm glad he didn't candy-coat it. We need to know that the people at the top of our game are as passionate about it as the fans are. This is good stuff.

Erik from Fredericksburg, VA:
Is there really such a big gap between the Jaguars and the Colts, as the "other" Vic (Carucci) said there is? Has eight points, which the last time I checked could be gained in one possession, become such a big gap?

Vic: As I've written and said, I think it would be a mistake to try to spin Sunday's game. Eight points? I don't see it that way. The score was 26-3 with six minutes to play, which means the Jaguars hadn't scored a touchdown against the Colts in seven-and-a-half quarters of football this year. It's my personality to rough myself up a little bit. I think that particularly works in football. That's what I mean when I say you have to challenge yourself. When the playoffs begin, the Jaguars will probably be one win away from a rematch against the Colts, and I like the fact that it would be in Indianapolis. Being soft won't get it done. Sometimes it's best to spank yourself; take an introspective look and vow to make amends.

Vincent from Jacksonville:
On Wednesday, you mentioned that the "cover two" is a base defense that is designed to stop the deep pass. What do the Colts do differently that they constantly get long gains against the "cover two?"

Vic: Most teams don't play "cover two" as much as the Colts do. Most teams are trying to get that eighth man in the box, which means they're either playing some kind of man coverage with their other three defensive backs, or a three-deep zone. There are a lot of base-defense sets.

Kyle from Charleston, IL:
What city is your most favorite to visit?

Vic: I most enjoy going to towns where I have family or friends. Otherwise, they're all the same from inside a hotel. We arrive late on Saturday afternoon and we have a group of guys we call the "Back of the Bus Boys" who spend Saturday evening watching college football games. There are, however, stadiums I especially like. I like all of the new ones. I very much enjoyed the game in Cleveland recently. I also like covering games in Baltimore, Cincinnati, Nashville, New England, New York and Pittsburgh, to name a few places. I really like the stadiums and the atmospheres in those towns. I'm looking forward to getting a look next year at the new one in Philadelphia. I hate domes. I think they are one of the worst things to ever happen to football.

Eric from Palm Coast, FL:
I was watching a Broncos game and the officials made a personal foul call on John Lynch for saying something smart. The same thing happened when Jack Del Rio said something smart to the ref. In my opinion, whatever you say to the ref shouldn't affect the game. They are there to make sure the rules are followed; not be (treated as) gods. What's your opinion?

Vic: My opinion is very different from yours. I believe it's most important that the game's participants exercise restraint and respect, and I have no doubt Jack Del Rio agrees with me on that. Punishment for our misdeeds is how we learn to not repeat our mistakes. I'm most concerned these days about a general contempt for the officials and I think replay-review is to blame. What replay-review does is subject the game's arbiters to oversight. We expose their errors and then expect them to judge themselves and apply the corrections and, in many cases, we're still not satisfied with the results. The Marvin Harrison review situation is a perfect example. In my opinion, it was better when we just lived with the mistake. You know why? Because the mistakes tended to even out. Now we have replay-review correcting some mistakes but not others, and it often leaves the scales of justice unbalanced. Here's a perfect example: I was watching on ESPN Classic a re-make of the 1995 AFC title game. It was a great game; a true classic. Early in the game, Kordell Stewart failed to catch a pass at the goal line. Replay, however, showed that Stewart was hit hard by the safety before the ball arrived. It should've been pass interference but a flag wasn't thrown. Late in the first half, Stewart caught a touchdown pass but replay showed he had stepped out of the back of the end zone prior to catching the ball. Replay-review was not used in that game. Had it been used, it would've reversed the touchdown call. That's fair, right? But what about the pass interference? Replay-review has no jurisdiction over pass interference so it would've remained a blown call. Without replay-review, the mistakes canceled out each other. With replay-review, we would've corrected one mistake and not the other, leaving the scales of justice tipped toward one side. I liked it the old way, when the officials were the ultimate authorities and they were treated as such.

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