Week 15 is almost in the books and even though there are many teams out of playoff contention, they are all playing hard. A few of those teams were up against playoff contenders, and they gave all they had. Always nice to see the Saturday schedule, just another reason to keep me from starting my Christmas shopping!
We’re getting to the end here, but just a reminder that we’ll be cranking this drivel out all the way thru and including the Super Bowl. I am very thankful for those of you faithful readers that continue to take the time to check out the weekly stories. As usual, hopefully you are in the playoffs and have more players mentioned here than your opponent…and hopefully your opponent did not have Chris Cooley.
at New England 28, Tampa Bay nil
On a warmish Saturday afternoon in New England, the Patriots reminded the league that they are ready to defend their Super Bowl Crown. New England took the opening kickoff 76 yards for the game’s opening score. It was Corey Dillon (63 total yards, 2 TDs) on the ground and Tom Brady (158 yards, 3 TD) in the air getting the job done, offensive tackle Tom Ashworth catching a one yard pass for the score. Both defenses then went to work, limiting the offensive output on each side. Midway thru the second, the Bucs were flagged for roughing the punter, and New England used the second life to move the rest of the field, Corey Dillon scoring from 3 yards out to double the lead. On the ensuing drive, the Pats D (7 sacks, shutout) continued their recent strong play, getting a sack that forced a fumble. Three plays later David Givens (137 yards, TD) scored from 16 yards out and that would be all the points New England would need on this day as they clinch a playoff berth in front of their home crowd.
at New York Giants 27, Kansas City 17
In a game of running backs, Player of the Week Tiki Barber (220 yards, 2 TD) stole the show here. He and Larry Johnson (167 yards, 2 TD) would go back and forth, but in the end the Giants would hold on for the win. The game was close entering the fourth quarter, when Amani Toomer broke a few tackles on his way to a 31 yard score, pushing New York’s lead to 20-10. Johnson and the Chiefs would respond with a scoring drive of their own, but Barber would have the last work, breaking a 20 yard scoring run that would put the Giants in the win column.
Denver 28, at Buffalo 17
It took almost an entire half and a bizarre touchdown play to spark the Broncos offense, but after it did, Buffalo’s chances of winning were gone. The Bills had taken the opening drive for a score, but that would be the extent of their offense on this day. Late in the second quarter, Rod Smith (137 yards, TD) was able to outleap defenders in catching a Jake Plummer (259 yards, 2 TD) three yard pass that was tipped at the line of scrimmage to tie the score. The second session was all Broncos, Mike Anderson (97 yards, 2 TD) ran wild and the Bills offense stagnated. Eric Moulds (110 yards) performed well in a losing effort.
at Washington 35, Dallas 7
Mama said there would be games like these, when everything goes right for one team, and everything wrong for the other. The game was officially a blowout when Dallas, down 21 to nil, was trying to salvage something just before the half. The Redskins D (5 turnovers, 7 sacks) would pick off a pass, and two plays later Mark Brunell (163 yards, 4 TD) was tossing yet another TD pass to put the game out of reach. On this day, Chris Cooley (71 yards, 3 TD) had a monster game and no doubt is the bain of some fantasy owners this morning.
at Jacksonville 10, San Francisco 9
On a cold and rainy afternoon, San Francisco game the Jaguars all they could handle. Neither team was able to get much offense going, and Jacksonville was able to muster up a late FG to win the game. David Garrard (216 yards, rushing TD) and Frank Gore (136 total yards) did well in a game with little fantasy implication.
at Houston 30, Arizona 19
Apparently there were a few (ok, more than a few) out there that did not find the humor in my discussion last week of the Texans. Players play hard, very hard, no matter what the circumstances, I know that. They want to win, no one wants to lose, anyone that’s ever been an athlete in any sport is aware of that. I was trying to put a humorous spin on their last three games that if they didn’t laugh, they’d probably cry. Tough losses all at the last minute. Sometimes I guess the humor misses the mark for some people. I didn’t want to be another person ‘piling it on’ saying they stink, that’s all. Anyway, this week, the Texans get in the win column. Jonathon Wells (87 yards, 2 TD) was part of a 24 point explosion in the second quarter that propelled Houston to victory. Arizona’s Anquan Boldin (134 yards, TD) and Larry Fitzgerald (85 yards, TD) did their usual fantasy damage, but in the game Kurt Warner was out and reports are that he will be out for the rest of the season.
Carolina 27, at New Orleans 10
The Saints season has long been over, the Panthers were able to grind this one out to take the win. Steve Smith (85 yards, 2 TD) and Donte Stallworth (102 yards, TD) the only fantasy players getting a mention here this week.
Seattle 28, at Tennessee 24
With each win, the Seahawks get closer to clinching the top seed in the NFC. Seattle’s offense was hot early, Matt Hasselbeck (285 yards, 3 TD) throwing for a score and Shaun Alexander (172 yards, TD) running for a score in the first quarter. But Tennessee would give Seattle all they could handle in this one, scoring the game’s next 24 points. Jarrett Payton got things going, then perennial fantasy playoff stud Drew Bennett (93 yards, 2 TD) sandwiched two scores around halftime. After a Titan FG, Seattle was finally able to get scoring again. Hasselbeck hooked up with Joe Jurevicius from 4 yards out, then midway thru the fourth, Darrell Jackson (72 yards, TD) made a nice play on a short 2 yard score to put Seattle in front. From there, Tennessee just couldn’t get close enough for the potential winning points and Seattle had the win. Steve McNair (310 yards, 2 TD)
also performed well in a losing effort.
Pittsburgh 18, at Minnesota 3
A tough grind it out defensive game, just the way the Steelers like it. Pittsburgh limited the Vikings offense to 185 yards in the win. No fantasy entities to mention here.
San Diego 26, at Indianapolis 17
A very good game between a couple of good teams lived up to its billing. And I guess there was some sort of streak on the line? Huh. Fighting for their playoff lived, the Chargers really asserted themselves right from the opening kick. They scored on their second possession of the game, Keenan McCardell catching a 29 yard pass for the score. Things seemed to be going the Chargers way when they picked off a Peyton Manning (336 yards, 1 TD, 2 int) pass, but they fumbled the return right back to the Colts. Despite that, their defense held and Nate Kaeding (4 FG, 2 PAT) added two FGs in a half that saw Indy not score a single point.
The second half would open with a three and out by the Colts, San Diego would use their opening possession to chew some clock and boot another FG. Indy would respond with a kick of their own, then the Colts defense got involved. They intercepted Drew Brees and two plays later Edgerrin James was in the end zone. On the ensuing drive, Brees would cough it up, and again the Colts would work quickly, this time taking three plays to score and take a 17-16 lead. After a couple of punts, Kaeding would again connect, this time from 49 yards out to put the Chargers back on top. On the ensuing kick, Indy would fumble, giving the Chargers a golden opportunity to put the game away. Two plays later, Brees was intercepted in the end zone!!?! Manning went to work, getting the Colts into FG range but a penalty and a sack pushed them too far out, forcing a punt with just under 3 minutes to play. Two plays later, Michael Turner broke thru the line and raced 83 yards for the score that sealed the win. Marvin Harrison (135 yards) also did well on this day but it was not enough.
at Miami 24, New York Jets 20
This is becoming old hat for the Dolphins, opponent races out to a lead but backup Sage Rosenfels comes to the rescue rallying the troops for the win. Ricky Williams scored from 23 yards out, then Rosenfels hooked up with Marty Booker for a 50 yard score giving Miami enough points for the comeback win. Brooks Bollinger (327 yards, 2 TD) did well for the Jets, as did Doug Jolley (102 yards, TD), who had a 60 yard score in the game.
Cleveland 9, at Oakland 7
A low scoring game usually means that two good defenses went at it, but here, two struggling offenses were involved. Lamont Jordan (172 total yards) got his usual numbers, no one else did, let’s move on.
Cincinnati 41, at Detroit 17
It’s getting ugly in Detroit. The fans are wearing the opponent’s colors in protest of Matt Millen still being on the job – this is wrong. Very wrong. Boo all you want, stay home if you want, but don’t openly cheer against your own players, they have nothing to do with what is going on above them. Outrageous. Insane. Rediculous. In the game, the Bengals rolled as Rudi Johnson (117 yards, 2 TD), Chad Johnson (99 yards, TD), and Carson Palmer (274 yards, 3 TD, 2 int) put up their usual fantasy numbers.
Philadelphia 17, at St.Louis 16
Two former playoff teams went at it, both in the unfamiliar role of ‘filling out the string’. As a result, both offenses had their issues in this low scoring affair. So low scoring that no fantasy impact came out of this game. In the end, the Eagles were able to score the last 10 points of the game to win.
at Chicago 16, Atlanta 3
After a disappointing game last week, the Bears defense went back to basics and put the clamps on Michael Vick and company on an extremely cold night in Chicago. The Bears got all the offense they would need from Thomas Jones (91 yards, TD), as they stifled the high flying (er, high running) Atlanta attack. A typical Bear win, one offensive touchdown, a bunch of FGs, and a defense that limits the opponent to around 200 yards and turns the ball over three times. Bears football.