Short-term goal: Defenses are prevailing in pivotal TD attempts
Call it the Madden effect -- as in the videogame in which players inevitably go for it on fourth-and-whatever. NFL coaches this season are taking a cue, going for it on fourth down within their opponents' three-yard-line more than usual. Through nine weeks (130 games), teams had gone for the touchdown in that situation 23 times. That projects to 45 such tries for the season, nine more than in any year this decade.
So what has it brought? Drama? Yes. Touchdowns? Not so much. Defenses are prevailing: They've held 56.6 percent of the time, a higher rate than in every season but one since 2000. Of all the goal line stands so far in 2008, here are five of the most important and what they've said about the teams involved.
Down four with three minutes left, the Eagles had first-and-goal at the Bears four when formerly pass-happy coach
Unlike the Dolphins' other big upset in '08 (see Pats, Week 3), this one came down to a single, solid play by coordinator
Trailing their '07 AFC Championship Game opponents by 14, New England opened the third quarter with a 77-yard drive to the San Diego one. Even after two
When Chicago failed to score on third- and fourth-down runs up the middle at Atlanta's one in the fourth quarter it would prove fatal -- the Falcons won 22-20 on a last-second field goal -- but it wasn't fortuitous. Two weeks earlier, in another heartbreaking loss, Chicago outsmarted itself by passing twice on second- and third-and-one at midfield while trailing Carolina by three with less than two minutes left. When fullback
If anyone was going to stop 6-foot-4, 264-pound battering ram