Very much a downer of a weekend in New England, and I’m not even talking about the Red Sox being swept out of the playoffs. Actually, I can still say World Series Champion Boston Red Sox, right? Sox of Red doused by Sox of White, but more importantly for the first time in 28 years, a Columbus Day weekend went by without the annual Feast on Federal Hill in Providence. How sad. Perhaps it was justice that it rained every minute of the entire weekend. This festival needs to come back.
Back to the task at hand, football! There were some very good games played this week. A couple of the undefeated teams had their dream of a spotless record erased, and I’m sure there are more than a few fantasy owners bummed about Duece McAllister and Ben Roethlistberger. Even Najeh Davenport was felled by the injury bug. It took a while for the injuries to happen, make sure you backup your studs before someone else does. To the games…
at Cleveland 20, Chicago 10
Ever since the Browns were re-awarded to Cleveland, there haven’t been many wins for the home fans to enjoy. And though this one ended up being a win, it was hard to enjoy. The Browns and Bears shuffled thru most of this game listlessly, with Chicago putting together a 10-6 lead they would hold with five minutes remaining in the game. Thomas Jones (137 yards) had been running hard, but he left the game with a knee injury. Finally the home offense began to click, Antonio Bryant (83 yards, 2 TD) taking in the first of his two TD catches from 33 yards out, giving Cleveland the slim 13-10 lead. Being the Bears, it took Chicago three plays to fumble the ball back to the Browns. Two plays later, Bryant took in another TD pass, this one from 28 yards out, putting the game out of reach.
Seattle 37, at St.Louis 31
What had been billed as an offensive showcase, did not disappoint. And despite the WR injuries coming into the game, Seattle did something they could not in three tries last year – defeat the Rams. Player of the Week Shaun Alexander (119 yards, 2 TD) had a strong game, while Joe Jurevicius (137 yards, TD) filling in for the injured Darrell Jackson, and Matt Hasselbeck (316 yards, 2 TD) also contributed to the win. The Rams did their best to keep up, Steven Jackson (139 total yards, TD), Marc Bulger (336 yards, 2 TD, 1 int), and Torry Holt (126 yards, TD) doing their part to keep the pace. The game was decided with just under three minutes to go, St.Louis’ Shaun McDonald could not handle a Seahawks punt, and Seattle was able to run off the clock after recovering the muff.
at Detroit 35, Baltimore 17
Simply put, the Baltimore Ravens lost their composure in this matchup, and it cost them the game. Early on, Detroit’s Kevin Jones (58 yards, 2 TD) was doing what he could on the ground, scraping into the end zone twice in the first quarter to build a Lions lead. The second scoring drive courtesy a controversial call, where Joey Harrington appeared to throw an incomplete pass, but the play was ruled a fumble. In the confusion, Jones picked up the loose ball and ran 24 yards to the one yard line before he was tripped up. After review, he scored a play later. Two plays before the “fumble”, the Raven’s Terrell Suggs was ejected for arguing a roughing the passer call and there were more ejections after the touchdown, and later in the game. The Ravens would settle down to do some scoring of their own in the second, closing the gap to 14-10 right at the halftime gun. The third quarter is where things got even more dicey. Baltimore had Detroit stopped on third and goal from the one, but Maake Kemoeatu was flagged for making an obscene jesture to the crowd, giving the Lions a fresh set of downs. Artose Pinner was finally able to punch the ball into the end zone three plays later, on a play that was very close, but review upheld the call. The rest of the game was penalty riddled, the Ravens coming one penalty away from breaking the NFL record of 21 in a game. Jamal Lewis (95 yards, TD) and Anthony Wright (230 yards, 2 TD, 2 int) did well in a losing effort.
at Green Bay 52, New Orleans 3
The Packers and Brett Favre (215 yards, 3 TD) picked up where they left off on Monday night, their offense clicking on all cylinders in the blowout win. The Green Bay D (5 turnovers, 2 return TDs, 4 sacks) was immense in stifling the Saints attack. Already missing Joe Horn, New Orleans will be without RB Duece McAllister, who left the game in the third quarter with a knee injury. Najeh Davenport (54 yards, 2 TD) was doing well filling in for the injured Ahman Green, but he too was hurt in this one, breaking an ankle which will end his season as well.
at New York Jets 14, Tampa Bay 12
Vinnie Testaverde makes a triumphant return to the starting lineup as the Jest use their defense to take the home win. Curtis Martin (59 yards, 2 TD) ran well in a losing effort, and the Bucs could not get much going with their prized rookie Carnell Williams in the shop for repairs. Tampa Bay did have a chance at the end, but they ran out of time as Joey Galloway was tackled after a pass over the middle and the Bucs had no timeouts to stop the clock. Matt Bryant (4 FG) the lone offensive bright spot for Tampa Bay.
Tennessee 34, at Houston 20
The Titans played mistake free football, while Houston could not convert a single third down as Tennessee coasts to the easy win. Steve McNair (220 yards, 2 TD, rushing TD) had a good game, getting the ball to both Drew Bennett (99 yards, TD) and Ben Troupe (67 yards, TD) in key situations and the Titans D continued to hold the Texan offense in check. Domanick Davis (173 total yards) ran hard in defeat, and Kris Brown (4 FG) had a good game as well.
at Buffalo 20, Miami 14
The Bills built up a 17-nil lead in this division battle, then held off a furious Miami comeback at the end to take the win. Willis McGahee (86 yards, TD) scored early for the Bills as they kept the Miami offense off the board the entire first half. The Dolphins would get things going in the third quarter, and they’d draw within a point in the fourth. Driving for the go-ahead score, Miami’s Ronnie Brown was stripped of the ball and the Bills were able to add some insurance points to complete the victory.
New England 31, at Atlanta 28
Aah, the dreaded game time decision. Michael Vick ended up being scratched from the game, but Matt Shaub (298 yards, 3 TD) performed very well in this absence. New England got on the scoreboard first, Patrick Pass from six yards out then Daniel Graham (119 yards, TD) on a 45 yard catch and run to pay dirt. Atlanta would rally in the second quarter, eventually drawing within a point on Michael Koenen’s 58 yard boot at the half. Koenen actually had two cracks at the kick, the Patriots’ timeout call to ice him came late from the officials, so his initial attempt missed, but did not count. His second boot was true. Tom Brady (350 yards, 3 TD, 1 int) went to his other TE, Ben Watson from 33 yards out to open the scoring in the second half, later he’d loft a bomb to Bethel Johnson for a 14 point lead. The Falcons would not go away, Alge Crumpler (99 yards, TD) taking in a Shaub 25 yard offering, then Dez White from 14 yards out. Brian Finneran took in Shaub’s two point conversion pass and the score was tied with just under four minutes to go. Way too much time for Brady and the Pats. New England got into Adam Vinatieri’s range, and he was good from 29 yards out, once again providing the game winning kick for the defending champs.
Indianapolis 28, at San Francisco 3
Not much to discuss here, Colts good, Niners bad. The Colts D (5 turnovers, 5 sacks, return TD) had its way with the rookie signal caller and Edgerrin James (147 total yards, TD) had a decent game for the winners.
Carolina 24, at Arizona 20
The Cardinals build up a lead they could not protect in this game. Arizona has become quite the hotbed for fantasy stats in the passing game as Anquan Boldin (158 yards, TD), Josh McCown (394 yards, 2 TD, 3 int), and Larry Fitzgerald (136 yards, TD) all get a mention in this space. However, it was not enough as the Panthers stage a fourth quarter comeback to steal the win. Jake Delhomme (243 yards, 2 TD, 1 int) to Steve Smith (119 yards, 2 TD) was good twice including a late score that provided the margin of victory for the visitors.
at Denver 21, Washington 19
The Broncos remove the Redskins from the ranks of the undefeated, in a game that Washington had many chances to win. Though it is early in the season, the difficult weather conditions played a factor in this game as cold rain fell for most of the game. The Skins lost some points from the scoreboard just before the half, a penalty wiping out a 54 yard field goal. Washington also lost a safety, with the tuck rule making a comeback. Jake Plummer’s “pass” from his own one yard line being ruled incomplete instead of a fumble he would later recover in the end zone. Denver’s offense came from Tatum Bell (127 yards, 2 TD), who scored twice, including a 34 yard scoring run on fourth and one. He would later tack on a 55 yard scoring run. Mark Brunell (322 yards, 2 TD) was putting the comeback together for the visitors, his 11 yard pass to Chris Cooley (82 yards, TD) brought the Skins within two points. However, his two point conversion was batted down and the Broncos end up with the victory.
at Dallas 33, Philadelphia 10
The Cowboys scored early and often, while the Eagles were listless the entire game in this blowout. Terry Glenn (118 yards, 2 TD), Drew Bledsoe (289 yards, 3 TD), and Jose Cortez (4 FG, 3 PAT) get cudos in a winning effort while no Eagles earn their way into this week’s story.
at Jacksonville 23, Cincinnati 20
Another of the undeafeateds take on their first loss of the season, this one at the hands of the feisty Jaguars in a divisional battle. A good game from start to finish, this one, as Jacksonville got in front with an early touchdown and a couple Josh Scobee (3 FG, 2 PAT) field goals before the Bengals offense could get going. Carson Palmer (239 yards, 2 TD) found Chad Johnson from 14 yards out, and Johnson went into his celebration bag of tricks by performing CPR on the football after the score. The Jags were first to score in the second half, tacking on another FG for a 20-7 lead. Cincinnati went into comeback mode, but had to settle for two kicks of their own, closing the gap to 20-13. At the start of the fourth, the Jaguars D would hold, stuffing Rudi Johnson on a fourth and one from the Jaguar 39. Four and a half minutes later, Scobee would connect again, his second of more than 50 yards, pushing the home cushion back up to 10 points. Cincinnati would go three and out, and the Jaguars would chew some more time off the clock before punting. This time, Cincinnati would move quickly, going 73 yards in just three plays, Chris Henry the 25 yard TD catch. Cincy would get the ball back once more, but the Jags would get to Palmer, sacking him and forcing a fumble that they would recover to allow their offense to run out the clock.
Pittsburgh 24, at San Diego 22
Bonus coverage this week since we’re a little late getting things out….another good game this one, a game that would come down to the wire. Coming off a tough loss and the bye week, the Steelers came out looking very good, and after a scoreless first quarter, they ran out to a 14-nil lead in the second. Ben Roethlisberger (225 yards, TD, rushing TD) ran one in, and Jerome Bettis ran for the other. The Chargers would respond, Drew Brees hooking up with Antonio Gates from 11 yards out just before the half. San Diego avoided disaster at the start of the second half, Darren Sproles was fielding a Steeler punt, called for the fair catch but muffed it. However, Pittsburgh’s Chidi Iwuoma grabbed the ball before it hit the ground and was called for fair catch interference. The Chargers would drive the field for a field goal. Nate Kaeding added his third FG early in the fourth, and the Chargers took the lead for the first time at 16-13. Roethlisberger quickly brought the Steelers back, executing a three play 62 yard drive capped off by a Heath Miller 16 yard TD catch. The Chargers responded with a long drive of their own, 11 plays and 62 yards with LaDainian Tomlinson (130 yards, TD) doing the dirty work from 2 yards out. The two point conversion failed badly, and San Diego clung to a one point lead. With just under 5 minutes to play, that was plenty of time for Roethlisberger and company to move down the field. The key play was a pass to Randle El over the middle for 9 yards, getting well into Jeff Reed’s range, but on the play, Roethlisberger was hurt and did not return. Reed was good from 40 yards out and the Steelers had the win, but await word on their starting QB.