The week in review... and hating on the Pro-Bowl.

With 4:20 left in the fourth quarter, Kyle Larson drilled a punt 51 yards to Corey Ivy. Ivy muffed the punt and Ethan Kilmer scooped up the ball and ran into the end-zone. However, by NFL rules, if the returner muffs the ball, the recovering team may not advance it -- so there was no touchdown.

By definition, a muff is: "The touching of a loose ball by a player in an unsuccessful attempt to obtain possession."

There is a difference between muffs and fumbles. "A fumble is the loss of player possession of the ball. A muff is the touching of a loose ball by a player in an unsuccessful attempt to obtain possession."

The rule was established because the receiving team never gained possession on the change of possession.

The definition of a muff is as follows: touching of the ball prior to possessing the ball. The act of muffing the ball is not considered possession. In order to advance the ball, which the kicking team recovers, it has to be possessed by the receiving team first. But, the kicking team can also recover a muff, but it cannot be advanced. The people who wrote the rules of the game thought it was unfair to allow the kickers to recover a ball and advance it, unless the receiving team possessed it first.

Um, the Bengals played?

In case you're a Russian spy unable to, well, spy, the Bengals played Sunday on the NFL Network's second NFL broadcast. We won, do you need anything else? Yes? Gameday.

Time Warner vs. NFL Network

When I say Time Warner, I'm usually referring to all the cable companies that refuse to pick up the NFL Network. I've said before, their logic is sound. Ask friend #1 who hates football (why you'd associate with a non-NFL fan is beyond me) if he'd want to pick up the tab for having NFL Network on the basic cable tier. Then reflect on this answer for a moment as Time Warner subscribers in Southwest Ohio see a 5.1% increase in programming costs for 90 channels you never watch. If you're not a NASCAR fan, would you want to pay for the Speed channel? If you're not an NBA fan, would you want to pay for the NBA channel? Luckily, if you're not a fan of either, you don't have to pay for them. Of course, even that logic is flawed because you'd pay for them too if the NFL Network goes to the Sports tier.

However, the NFL Network saw last week, customer demand just isn't there right now. Which is the best thing that could happen because the belief is the NFL, in the future, will put their games in a pay-per-view format.

The Imminent Return of the Injured.

On Friday, head coach Marvin Lewis said Bobbie Williams, John Thornton and Deltha O'Neal will return to the starting lineup for Sunday's game against Oakland. Kelley Washington will be back also. Rich Braham and Levi Jones are still questionable. I suspect that Rich Braham's return will completely depend on whether or not Eric Ghiaciuc can go now that he's listed as questionable with a sprained knee.

The Pro-Bowl

Is there a more irrelevant all-star game than the pro-bowl? First of all, the season is over and most people are tuckered out of football for the season. Baseball plays their all-star game for home field advantage in the World Series (that's Bud's "greatest" legacy). They also have the highly entertaining Homerun Derby. The NHL powers an all-star weekend with SuperSkills, YoungStars and the all-star FANtasy (interactive hockey theme park). The NBA all-star weekend sports some of the best entertainment in sports -- you know, like triple-axle double toe loop dunks. They have a dunking contest and a three point contest. The Pro-Bowl sees guys that don't even get into stances during PATs. Yes, you're right. The players are more worried about injury in an irrelevant game which in turn reduces the entertainment value of the game. But that doesn't change anything; the NFL still has the worst all-star game in sports. The only thing the pro-bowl does is add to the superstars resume on how good they are... individually.

Oh, by the way, the voting is updated here.

Digest of Rules [NFL.com]
Jerry Markbreit's answers [Chicago Tribune]

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