A very good week of fantasy scoring around the league, most of the studs that played in games played well (except those on my team), and many fringe players put up big numbers as well. Many even matchups dotted the NFL landscape, and old friends returned to their old stomping grounds to send the home fans home disappointed.
I guess now is as good a time as any to join the chorus of those talking about the one remaining undefeated team. Maybe it’s me, but it just seems wrong that the Colts have to resort to that ‘no huddle/huddle at the line of scrimmage’ thing. A team that good shouldn’t have to resort to trickery and dirty tactics, should they? I didn’t like it when Cincinnati rode it to the Superbowl either way back when. Or maybe Tony Dungy isn’t confident enough in his own coaching ability so he needs that extra advantage? Not sure, of course, it continues to work so who am I to say anything about it. Still a ways to go before the 1972 Dolphins start worrying. On to the games…
Oakland 16, at Washington 13
Norv Turner returned to Washington and his Raiders complete the Redskins transformation from contender to pretender. Seems like a very long time ago that the Skins were undefeated. In this one, touchdowns were hard to come by. The Skins got on the board first, as their defense scored on a short interception return to open up the game’s scoring. Washington would parlay that score into a 13-3 halftime edge. Oakland would come back, Jerry Porter (142 yards, TD) scoring on a 49 yard pass play, then a field goal tied things up. Controversy reared its ugly head late in the game, with Oakland driving for the potential winning score, Lamont Jordan appeared to have fumbled the ball on the one yard line. Officials ruled he was down, and the Raider drive continued. Sebastian Janikowski booted his third field goal of the day, from 19 yards out, and the Raiders had the win. Washington would stage a final effort, but a sack and fumble ended their hopes.
Arizona 38, at St.Louis 28
In another comeback story, Kurt Warner (285 yards, 3 TD) returned to St.Louis as the QB of the Cardinals, and on this day he brought back memories of the good Kurt Warner as he led his team to victory. Anquan Boldin (105 yards, TD), Larry Fitzgerald (104 yards, TD), and Neil Rackers (3 FG, 3 PAT) all get mentions here for their winning efforts. But perhaps the story of the game was the Cardinals defense, putting a halt to the Rams rushing game by holding Steven Jackson to only 6 yards on the game and knocking Marc Bulger (224 yards, 2 TD) out with an injured shoulder in the third quarter. Torry Holt (129 yards, TD) and Kevin Curtis (98 yards, TD) did well in a losing effort.
Tampa Bay 30, at Atlanta 27
The Bucs continue to roll, seemingly able to do just enough on a weekly basis to win games. This week, they hang with the Falcons and force a late turnover to hold on for the victory. Early on, Tampa had their defense working well, along with a couple Matt Bryant (3 FG, 3 PAT) boots had the visitors out to a 13-0 lead. The Falcons would battle back, closing the gap to 13-10 just before the half. Atlanta would then take the lead Alge Crumpler scoring on a 4 yard pass play, but the Bucs came right back, Mike Alstott bursting in from a yard out. Todd Peterson tied things up early on in the fourth, and the stage was set for these two division rivals to battle to the finish. Atlanta’s defense came up big on the next possession, and the offense responded, Michael Vick (306 yards, 2 TD) tossing a TD pass to Michael Jenkins for the Falcon lead. Tampa Bay’s offense put together a methodical drive, and Carnell Williams (116 yards, TD) capped the nice drive with a 9 yard scoring run right at the two minute warning. With enough time on the clock, the Falcons were looking to put together a winning drive, but Derrick Brooks knocked the ball from Vick’s hand, Tampa recovered already in field goal range and Matt Bryant (3 FG, 3 PAT) was good from 45 yards out to give Tampa the win.
at New York Giants 27, Philadelphia 17
The Giants were looking to keep the reeling Eagles down in the NFC East basement, and they were able to do so as Philadelphia went into the game without their dynamic odd couple of Terrell Owens and Donovan McNabb. Mike McMahon (298 yards, TD, 1 int, rushing TD) filled in admirably, many times getting out of danger and scrambling for positive yards. His one yard plunge midway thru the fourth quarter brought the Eagles to within three points. But three plays later, on third and short, Eli Manning (218 yards, 3 TD) caught the Eagles DBs cheating, and he hooked up with Plaxico Burress (113 yards, TD) on a play that ended up going for 61 yards and the score that put the game out of reach.
at Chicago 13, Carolina 3
I like a good defensive battle like the next guy, and this was a very good football game, but it doesn’t leave me much to talk about from a fantasy perspective. One of the top defenses in the league went up against one of the top offenses, and in the end the Bears D (2 turnovers, 8 sacks) proved to be the difference as they keep the Panthers out of the endzone. Chicago was able to score early in the game, thanks to an interception and long return that had the drive start on the Panther 8 yard line. Muhsin Muhammed’s catch from 3 yards out ended up being the only TD of the game. From there, defense dominated the day. Only Steve Smith (169 yards) played well enough to get a mention here from either offense.
Indianapolis 45, at Cincinnati 37
From one extreme to the other, a game where we mention hardly anyone, to a game where we need to talk about almost everyone! This track meet got going early and often, as the Colts scored touchdowns on each of their first five possessions of the game. Domanick Rhodes was the first to score, and after holding the Bengals to a Shayne Graham (4 FG, 3 PAT) kick, Reggie Wayne (117 yards, TD) scored on the first play of the next Colts drive, a 66 yard pass play from Peyton Manning (365 yards, 3 TD, 1 int). Not to be outdone, three plays into Cincy’s next drive saw Chad Johnson (189 yards, TD) get loose down the left sideline for a 68 yard scoring play from Carson Palmer (335 yards, 2 TD, 1 int). Back and forth it went. After Dallas Clark (125 yards, TD) got into the endzone and the Bengals had to settle for another field goal, the Colts got a little greedy. They used their time outs to save time on the clock for another drive before the half, but the Bengals D picked off Manning and after a long return, the short field saw Cincy pull to within 8 points at 35-27 on a Rudi Johnson (76 yards, 2 TD) score just before the half.
Both teams recharged their batteries, and the Bengals came out firing to open up the second half, this time Palmer finding Chris Henry for a 15 yard score, the extra point closing the gap to a single point. Then the Colts decided to slow things down, and almost exclusively running Edgerrin James (89 yards, 2 TD), they chew up 10 and a half minutes of the clock, James hitting paydirt from two yards out. On the ensuing possession, the Bengals would again flinch, this time getting stopped on fourth and one at the Indy 27. The Colts would end up being forced to punt, but again the Bengals offense couldn’t score, this time an interception ending the drive. Manning would lead his team down the field, but they just couldn’t score so they took a field goal instead. The Bengals would again turn the ball over on downs, and with just over four minutes to go, things looked bleak. But the Colts didn’t seem interested in having the game come to an end, passing on all three downs, all incomplete. Working quickly, Graham was again good, this time from 44 yards out making it an eight point game. Alas, the on-side kick was recovered by Indy (twice, a penalty on the first kick had them do it again) and this time the Colts only had to take a knee to end the scoring on this day.
at Cleveland 22, Miami nil
Sage Rosenfels and Gus Frerotte were held to a combined 67 yards passing as the Browns defense stifled the Miami offense. Rueben Droughns (166 yards, TD) went for 75 yards on Cleveland’s first offensive play of the game, and though the point after was no good, that would be enough scoring on this day to take home a win.
Jacksonville 31, at Tennessee 28
No matter what the records of these two teams, it always seemed that the Titans were able to beat the Jaguars. On this day, they focused on stopping the Jacksonville running game, but it was the passing game that responded in a big way. Byron Leftwich (258 yards, 3 TD, rushing TD) had a career day, turning a 21-14 deficit midway thru the third quarter into a 31-21 lead they would not relinquish. The Titans would attempt to comeback, but an unsuccessful onside kick ended their efforts. Chris Brown (119 total yards, TD) did well in a losing effort.
at New England 24, New Orleans 17
Once again Corey Dillon was not available to the Patriots, with Patrick Pass and Heath Evans combining their efforts to fill the void. The Patriots’ first drive of the game started at their 2 yard line, but 98 yards and 12 and a half minutes later, Tom Brady (222 yards, 3 TD) to Deion Branch from 3 yards out got the scoring started. Brady would find Mike Vrabel from a yard out on their next drive, and the Patriots had control of the game. They could not, however, put the Saints away. New Orleans put together a nice march, Aaron Brooks (343 yards, 2 TD, 1 int) finding Donte Stallworth (76 yards, 2 TD) for the first of his two scores. Brady would see Andre Davis running free in the Saints secondary on the Pats’ second possession of the second half, a 60 yard hookup. From there, Pass and Evans went to work on the clock, and though the Saints made the score close, it was too much for them to overcome on this day.
at Dallas 20, Detroit 7
Shaking off an early slow start, the Cowboys handled the Lions easily in this NFC battle. Julius Jones was back in action, though it was Marion Barber (53 yards, 2 TD) that will get an official mention in this week’s story for his efforts. Nothing to see from the Lions, let’s move on.
Seattle 27, at San Francisco 25
For three quarters of this game, the Seahawks dominated San Francisco. Shaun Alexander (115 yards, TD) put up his usual numbers while the rest of the Seattle offense was clicking. But as has become trademark, a fourth quarter collapse allowed the Niners to get back into the game. Brandon Lloyd (119 yards, TD) scored early in the quarter, and the San Fran defense held the Seahawks in check for the full 15 minutes. All that was left was for the struggling offense to find a way to win. Finally, with under two minutes to play, Maurice Hicks punched the ball into the endzone from a yard out, Seattle’s lead was down to two. Alas, Ken Dorsey’s pass in attempt of getting the two point conversion fell harmlessly to the ground and Seattle had escaped with a win. Joe Nedney (4 FG, PAT) also did well in a losing effort.
at Baltimore 16, Pittsburgh 13 (overtime)
Two division rivals seemingly heading in different directions went toe to toe for 60 minutes, and then some. Once again playing without Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh’s offense was reduced to the equivalent of Baltimore’s. In other words, touchdowns were hard to come by. Though no player from either team will get a mention here, it was an exciting finish. Tommy Maddox hooked up with Willie Parker for an 11 yard score midway thru the fourth quarter to tie the game. On the ensuing drive, Baltimore looked to be in range for a long field goal attempt, but a penalty and sack forced the Ravens to punt. Working under two minutes, the Steelers were not quite able to get into range for a kick either, overtime. The Steelers had first dibs, but their drive stalled at midfield, and in fact went backwards thanks to a couple penalties. Both teams then went three and out before the Ravens offense found a spark. Taking small chunks of real estate with each play, they got to the Steeler 26, where Matt Stover ended the game by connecting from 44 yards out.
at San Diego 48, Buffalo 10
The Chargers offense was all business on this day, as they blow out the Bills. Drew Brees (339 yards, 4 TD), Keenan McCardell (88 yards, TD), and LaDainian Tomlinson (89 yards, TD) all did well for the winners. Of note, Antonio Gates left the game in the third quarter with an ankle injury who’s seriousness was not known at press time.
at Denver 27, New York Jets nil
Brooks Bollinger, Vinnie Testaverde, and Kliff Kingsbury all saw action at quarterback for the Jets in this game, which you can probably guess was dominated by the Broncos. Mike Anderson (113 yards, 3 TD) scored three times and the Bronco D (5 turnovers, 4 sacks, shutout) took advantage of a weak New York offense in the easy win.
Kansas City 45, at Houston 17
Lastly this week, the Chiefs kept Houston down, as they lay down a beating. Player of the Week Larry Johnson (211 yards, 2 TD) continues to assert himself as a fantasy force without Priest Holmes. Trent Green (220 yards, 3 TD, 1 int) and Eddie Kennison (57 yards, 2 TD) also get a mention for the winners. For Houston, Domanick Davis (110 total yards, TD) returned and performed well, but it was not nearly enough on this day. The game for all intents and purposes came to an end right before the half when with time running out, David Carr threw poorly to the sideline, Eric Warfield taking the offering 57 yards untouched the other way for a score to put the game out of reach. An ill-advised throw and an ill-advised play call with only seconds remaining in the half that has unfortunately typified Houston’s season.