Permit me, if you will, a little bit of a rant before we get into this week’s football action. Something happened last Friday night, something that has put a black mark on all sports in America. I’m talking, of course, about the ugliness that went on in Detroit during the Pistons game with the Indiana Pacers. What took place that night has changed all sporting events across this country.
I commend NBA Commissioner David Stern for handing down some swift and hefty suspensions. While one can certainly argue the Ben Wallace’s suspension was not as long as it should have been, Stern left off one deserving party from his suspension list: The Fans of Detroit. The next time Indiana plays in Detroit, all fans should be suspended from going to the game. That’s right, the game should be played in an empty arena. Something has to be done at some point to stop the rediculous behavior of fans at games, an example needs to be made.
Yes, I know, it was only a “few” fans that had a hand in what happened that night, though there were certainly more than a “few” emptying their beverages into the faces of the Pacer players and staff. And what happened that night could probably have happened at any city for any sport. Those of you readers in Detroit, I feel for you that this happened in your backyard. But something needs to be done and the clearest way to do so is to ban all fans from attending a game. People need to understand that much like a driver’s license, attending these events is a privilege, not a right. Though it may have only been a few bad apples, there needs to be punishment. What better way to send a message that this behavior will not be tolerated than to simply have no tickets to a game.
Interestingly enough, just last week I got involved in a thread on the message boards talking about soccer. A simple discussion about rules quickly turned into a place where simple minded folks began remarking what a sorry sport that it was and that the sport “…so bad that the fans fight, riot, pillage, murder” to get their money’s worth from their ticket. Hmm, interesting foreshadowing.
I’m not exactly sure why it is always en vogue for people to trash the sport of soccer, but that’s a discussion for another time. In any case, I’m sure no one noticed, but there was an incident in Europe not too long ago where some unruly fans got out of hand and the referee was struck with an object at halftime. He ended the match immediately, and when the match was replayed, the governing body forced the home team to have to play the game in an empty stadium as a penalty for the incident. That’s right, no fans. No ticket sales, no consessions, nothing. The actions of one fan caused an entire stadium of 50 thousand to suffer.
Just throwing that out there in case you are reading Mr. Commisioner.
Heard something on the radio over the weekend, a “sports expert” from one of the major sports reporting agencies was saying that the whole situation could have been prevented by the three officials on the court. Say what? Anyone who’s ever officiated, coached, or even played in organized sports knows what a rediculous statement that is! That game was like one of those “Seconds From Disaster” episodes that just sometimes happen. You know, there is a disaster that happened and the show breaks down what the 8-10 contributing factors to the disaster, and if you took out any ONE of those contributing factors, then the disaster doesn’t take place. Trust me, those three officials couldn’t do anything more than they did, they didn’t stand a chance. That was a candle that just needed to be lit and nothing was going to stop it.
Rant over. On to the games.
at Minnesota 22, Detroit 19
We can officially pass the torch from Dante Hall last year to Eddie Drummond. Easy Eddie took the opening kickoff and returned it for a touchdown to get things going in this game. Detroit took advantage of the momentum and dominated the first half in taking a 17-7 lead into the locker room. The Lions tacked on a safety in the second quarter, and the natives in Minnesota were getting restless. In what could end up being the defining moment of the season for the Vikings, Daunte Culpepper (233 yds, 2 TD) gathered the offense around on the sidelines for a pep talk. It must have worked, as the Vikings scored two touchdowns in the fourth quarter to take the comeback win.
Denver 34, at New Orleans 13
By the time Bronco Al Wilson took in an Aaron Brooks toss as he was being sacked, and walked the seven yards into the end zone, this one was toast. “Grilled” Reuben Droughns (166 yds, TD) got things going, ripping a 51 yards score early in the first quarter. Before the frame ended, it was 20-nil. Wilson’s return made it 27-3 midway thru the second quarter, and the Saints rolled over after that. Yet another beat down for New Orleans. Yet having to play catchup, that was good for us fantasy leaguers as Donte Stallworth (122 yds, TD), Duece McAllister (11 catches for 87 yds), and Aaron “Bubbling” Brooks (377 yds, TD, 3 int) will get a mention in this space.
at Tampa Bay 35, San Francisco 3
The Buc D (5 sacks, return TD) limited the Niners to less than 200 yards in total offense, as Tampa Bay rolls to the easy win. Michael Pittman (106 yds, 2 TD) and Joe Jurevicius (82 yds, 2 TD) get a mention here as the Bucs seem to be on a roll after their 0-4 start. Nothing to mention for San Francisco in this one.
at Carolina 35, Arizona 10
At some point in this article I’ll be able to talk about another close game, but this was not one of them. Player of the Week Nick Goings (121 yds, 3 TD) got Carolina going early, and Muhsin Muhammed (118 yds, 2 TD) continued what is a dominating stretch of games in getting the Panthers the win. Dennis Green tried all he could, even benching Josh McCown in favor of Shaun King (343 yds, TD, 3 int), but King did not look good. Larry Fitgerald (92 yds, TD) the only other Cardinal to get into this week’s print.
Tennessee 18, at Jacksonville 15
Steve McNair returned to the field and Antowain Smith (95 yds, TD), filling in for Chris Brown, scored the game winning points with under five minutes to go in this closely fought divisional battle. Once again, the Titans fell prety to the dreaded safety, McNair sacked in the end zone early in the fourth quarter. Jacksonville held the 15-10 lead as a result, and on their next possession they drove the field for a field goal attempt from 44 yards out that was missed. That would prove costly as McNair and the Titans got it together for the winning score. No Jags to report here.
at Baltimore 30, Dallas 10
How many of you out there are Jamal Lewis owners (my hand is raised)? How many of you lost by say, four points this week because Lewis put up a zoot (hand still raised)? Aah, ain’t fantasy football grand. Lewis hurt his ankle early in this one and did not return, much to the disdain of fantasy leaguers everywhere (well, not those that were playing against him). No matter. The struggling Cowboys offense didn’t need to be matched up with the Ravens D, let’s just say they continue to struggle. Baltimore kept Dallas in check all game as they take the easy win. No fantasy players from either side get a mention here, but of note, Vinny Testadverde left late in the game due to injury and Drew Henson came on. Before you get all excited, he fumbled on his first play so he’s got a ways to go.
at Buffalo 37, St.Louis 17
We move onto another game that one team just completely dominated the other, yet you wouldn’t think it was Buffalo that would be laying the smack down on St.Louis, but they did. The Rams ran out to a 10-nil first quarter lead, but after that it was all Bills in all facets of the game. Mark Campbell (3 TD) got two of his three scores in the second quarter to give Buffalo their first lead. The Rams would answer, Torry Holt (90 yds, TD) and Marc Bulger (287 yds, 2 TD) hooking up from 11 yards out. Buffalo tied the score with a FG just before the half. Campbell scored again early in the third, then the Bills D (6 sacks, return TD) and special teams took over, Nate Clemens returned a punt 86 yards for a score and the Rams never recovered.
Indianapolis 41, at Chicago 10
What else can be really said about Peyton Manning (211 yds, 4 TD)? Another outstanding performance this week as the Colts roll big. Edgerrin “Jesse” James (204 yds, TD) and Reggie Wayne (106 yds, 2 TD) also went wild in this affair. The Colts even took their foot off the gas pedal, sitting James and Manning for the fourth quarter as the Colts prepare for the short week and Thanksgiving Day game. No Bears here.
Pittsburgh 19, at Cincinnati 14
The Bengals threw everything they had at rookie Ben Roethlisberger, and they proved that he is still, well, a rookie. Despite the adversity, the Steelers were able to just enough to win this one. No player from either side gets an official mention, but it was the play of the Steeler D and Jerome Bettis that made sure Pittsburgh stayed in the winning column.
NY Jets 10, at Cleveland 7
An ugly game on both sides, in the real and in fantasy as no player from either team gets into this week’s print. Curtis Martin was injured in this one, and Lamont Jordan filled in nicely. Late in the game, the Jets were able to muster just enough offense to score in taking the win. Jeff Garcia was hurt in the second quarter for the Browns, Kelly Holcomb coming in and playing ineffectively. As of press time it was not known the extent of those two injuries.
San Diego 23, at Oakland 17
The Chargers were not at their best in this game, but proving that they are one of the top teams this season, they were still able to win the game. LaDainian Tomlinson (164 yds, TD) and Drew “Cool” Brees (226 yds, TD, rushing TD) each ran for a score, while Antonio Gates (101 yds, TD) continues his dream season in the victory. Oakland was able to keep things close, but they had a late score wiped off the boards due to penalty and they weren’t able to overcome. No Raiders here.
at Seattle 24, Miami 17
Many folks, myself included, have taken some swipes at the Dolphins this season, but let me say that this is a game that they deserved to win. They wanted it more than Seattle, yet sometimes that just isn’t enough to actually take a win. AJ Feeley (229 yds, TD, rushing TD) put in a gutsy performance, playing when it looked like he was barely able to walk. He led Miami on a drive in the fourth quarter that tied the game with a field goal. Then with time winding down in regulation, he had them on the move again. Unfortunately, when a season goes bad, it goes really bad. With under a minute to go and the score tied, Feeley’s pass intended for Chris Chambers (103 yds, TD) was read perfectly by Michael Boulware, and he picked off the pass and raced 63 yards untouched for the game winning score. Tough ending for Miami, as they limited the Seahawk offense all day. Only the Seattle D (4 sacks, 4 turnovers, return TD) gets a mention for the winners in this one.
Atlanta 14, at NY Giants 10
And so the Eli Manning Era begins in New York. But this game it was once again the Michael Vick (115 yds, 2 TD, 104 rush yds) Show. Vick took off for large chunks of real estate as the Falcons built up a 14-nil halftime cushion. Manning seemed to settle in as the second half began, even leading the Giants down the field for his first touchdown pass (like his father and older brother, it was a 6 yard toss, this one to Jeremy Shockey). The Falcons D took advantage of the rookie, disguising a blitz as zone coverage in picking off Manning late in the third. They were able to limit him just enough in the fourth to keep New York out of the end zone in taking the road win.
at Philadelphia 28, Washington 6
At the end of the first half, it was looking like Washington was going to be pulling off the upset. Their defense was stifling the Eagle attack, and they held a slim 6-3 lead. But the second half was a different story. Donovan McNabb (222 yds, 4 TD) got things rolling, along with Brian Westbrook (105 total yds, 2 TD) as the Eagles pulled away in the end. No Skins to mention here.
Green Bay 16, at Houston 13
Ok, how many of you are Ahman Green owners? Ok, we won’t go there again, but Green was hurt early and was very limited in this one. Because of that, the Packers went to the air with impunity, which certainly helped those of you with Donald Driver (148 yds, TD) and Brett Favre (383 yds, TD). A close game this was, some missed FGs early keeping the score to a minimum. In the end, it came down to which team could move the ball in the fourth quarter, and it was the veteran Favre that got the job done. As the Texans were struggling to get a first down in the fourt quarter, Favre led the Packers on a late drive that culminated in Ryan Longwell booting a 46 yarder that scraped the right upright as it went thru. Domanick Davis (106 total yds, TD) the only Texan to get a mention here.