Week four is in the books and as one season ends, another continues to chug along. The weekend saw the wrap up to the regular season in baseball, and for many of us that means we no longer need to worry about fantasy baseball. Of course, with four weeks gone in the fantasy football season, it’s now or never for those teams that have yet to break into the win column. Always nice to take on your fourth loss at the hands of Neil Rackers!!
Many of the studs that have been performing well continue to do so, and they are joined by a few of the guys that haven’t been doing so well. We welcome the Indianapolis offense back to the weekly story, and hope they continue to be mentioned here in the foreseeable future. Speaking of which, cudos to the Manning brothers, for both getting into the write up this week by putting up nearly identical stats – an entire 2 yards of passing offense is all that separated them. Creepy. On to the games…
at New Orleans 19, Buffalo 7
Playing in their home away from home, New Orleans was looking to stop the turnovers that had plagued them the past two weeks, and had cost them winnable games. The game started out with Buffalo looking good, JP Losman leading the Bills on a 75 yard touchdown drive to open up the game. But that would be the extent of the Bills offense. Losman’s play deteriorated to the point that he was replaced at the start of the fourth quarter by Kelly Holcomb, who couldn’t do much better. In the meantime, the Saints took good care of the ball, not committing a turnover the entire game. Aaron Brooks (172 yards, rushing TD) broke a 3-3 tie by scampering 4 yards into the endzone, and just before the half John Carney (4 FG, 1 PAT) would boot the second of his fourth field goals. Buffalo had a chance to score, Terrance McGee literally weaving back across the field multiple times on the kickoff as time expired. However, with the endzone in sight, he was unable to hurdle the last New Orleans defender and he was downed at the five yard line. Buffalo would not threaten to score again as the Saints coast from there. Duece McAllister (130 yards) also played well in the winning effort.
Philadelphia 37, at Kansas City 31
Things were not looking good for the visiting Eagles early in the second quarter. Playing in front of their home crowd, Kansas City was out to a 17-nil lead. Their defense held the Eagles to two punts and blocked a field goal attempt on another Eagle possession. The Chiefs offense was working well, Eddie Kennison (109 yards, TD) and Priest Holmes (108 total yards, TD) both finding the endzone in the early going. Then momentum started going back and forth. Philadelphia got on the board via their defense, Sheldon Brown intercepting a pass and running it back 40 yards untouched for the score. But Kansas City got it back on the ensuing kickoff, Dante Hall sprinting 96 yards for the score. The Eagles would come back, scoring just before the half, Donovan McNabb (369 yards, 3 TD, 1 int) finding Terrell Owens (171 yards, TD) from 7 yards out. The second half was all Eagles. Kansas City’s offense failed them, and so did their defense. Philly ran up a 37-24 lead, then weathered a late rally that produced the final score. LJ Smith (67 yards, TD) also did well for the victors.
San Diego 41, at New England 17
The Chargers took full advantage of the depleted New England defense, running up 41 points and taking a relatively easy win in a place few teams had been able to claim victory. The Patriots hung with the powerful San Diego offense for the first half, matching them score for score, 17 points per team at the break. The Chargers would pull away easily in the second half. LaDainian Tomlinson (134 yards, 2 TD) scored the second of his two TDs early in the third quarter, and Drew Brees (248 yards, 2 TD, 0 int) found Reche Caldwell from 28 yards out to extend that lead they would not relinquish. No Patriots to be mentioned here this week.
at Washington 20, Seattle 17 (overtime)
This one came down to the kicking game, with the kicker that had never attempted a field goal in the NFL before this game winning it for the still undefeated Redskins. Nick Novak’s 39 yard boot in overtime was the difference in the game. But he almost didn’t have the chance. Matt Hasselbeck (242 yards, 1 TD, 0 int) led a furious Seattle comeback, hooking up with Darrell Jackson from 6 yards out with minutes left in regulation to tie the score. The Seattle defense then forced the game’s only turnover, giving their offense a chance to win it in regulation. They moved into the range of Josh Brown, but his 47 yard attempt as time expired hit the left upright. Seattle would never see the ball in overtime. Mark Brunell (226 yards, 2 TD, 1 int) had a nice game for the winners.
at NY Giants 44, St.Louis 24
Shootout at the OK Corral as both teams went to the air early and often in this game. The difference in the game being that the Giants offense was a shade more balanced than that of the Rams. St.Louis was held to less than 50 yards on the ground for the game. Player of the week Plaxico Burress (204 yards, 2 TD) got the scoring started early for New York, hauling in a 31 yard offering from Eli Manning (296 yards, 4 TD, 0 int). The Giants pushed the lead to 10-0, before Stephen Jackson (2 TD) scored the first of his 2 touchdowns on the day. New York would quickly answer, Amani Toomer and Burress again finding the endzone. After a New York field goal pushed the lead to 27-7, the Rams would mount a comeback, scoring 10 points just before the half. That would be as close as they would get. Jeremy Shockey caught the fourth of Manning’s touchdown throws, and Tiki Barber (128 yards, TD) would add a late score to put the game out of reach. The loss came despite a tremendous day from Marc Bulger (442 yards, 2 TD, 3 int), as he along with Torry Holt (84 yards, TD) and Shaun McDonald (121 yards) get a mention in this space.
at Tampa Bay 17, Detroit 13
The Lions entered the game looking to slow down the NFL’s leading rusher, rookie Cadillac Williams, and they were successful in that task. They were not, however, successful in winning the game. Williams was hurt and left the game, but Tampa Bay was able to score enough points to beat the downtrodden Lions. Brian Griese (302 yards, 3 TD, 2 int) had a nice game, hooking up on an 80 yard pass play with Joey Galloway (166 yards, TD) in the third quarter, a score that put the game out of reach. Filling in for Williams, Michael Pittman (126 total yards, TD) had a strong game, especially in the air. Once again, no one from the Lions did well enough to get a mention here this week.
at Cincinnati 16, Houston 10
Break up the Bengals! Four games, four wins, could the 1972 Dolphins be nervous? Ok, let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Cincinnati is playing sound football, and this week that continued against a weak opponent. Despite the new offensive coordinator, the Texans once again had trouble scoring, and they suffer the close defeat. Carson Palmer (276 yards, 1 TD, 0 int) did well, his one yard pass to unheralded Jeremi Johnson the only touchdown the Bengal offense would generate. Houston was mounting a comeback late, when David Carr was hit as he was about the throw a pass. Officials ruled it was a fumble, and the call stood after a replay review. The Bengals would chew up some clock and kick their fourth field goal of the day, and that’s how the game ended.
Indianapolis 31, at Tennessee 10
After winning their first three games on the backs of their defense, the offense finally came to life in a rout of the Titans. The big three of Marvin Harrison (109 yards, 2 TD), Peyton Manning (264 yards, 4 TD, 0 int), and Edgerrin James (102 total yards, TD) make a triumphant return to the weekly story and the Colts breeze to the easy win. Steve McNair (220 yards, 1 TD, 1 int) did well in a losing effort.
Denver 20, at Jacksonville 7
The Broncos had things working on both sides of the ball, an efficient offense that scored enough points to win, and a tough defense that once again battered Byron Leftwich. At this rate, it’d be a miracle for Leftwich to last the season, he continues to take a beating week after week. As for the play on the field, Duane Carswell caught two short TD passes for Denver as they built a 14-0 halftime lead that would carry them to the win. Mike Anderson and Tatum Bell combined to rush for 175 yards as they kept the Jaguars offense on the sideline most of the game. Only Jimmy Smith (109 yards, TD) performed well in a losing effort.
at Baltimore 13, NY Jets 3
When a game has Brooks Bollinger and Anthony Wright as the starting quarterbacks, there’s probably not going to be much offensive scoring. That was certainly the case here, the difference being the Ravens defense a shade better than that of the Jets. New York got nothing going on offense as they could neither move by land nor by air. Baltimore didn’t do that well either, however, the won the field position battle, booted a bunch of field goals, and won the game. No player from either team a fantasy bright spot this week.
at Oakland 19, Dallas 13
Staring an 0-4 start to the season, the Raiders defense put together a goal line stand in the waning moments of this game and Oakland registers its first win of the season. Dallas was hoping to complete the comeback, Drew Bledsoe hooked up with Patrick Crayton from 63 yards out, completing a three play 80 yard drive to bring the Cowboys within three. Sebastian Janikowski (4 FG, 1 PAT) booted the fourth of his successful tries on the day, but the Cowboys would again move the ball with ease. Under five minutes to play, Bledsoe to Glenn was good for 57 yards to the Raider 26 yard line. Dallas would eventually end up second and two from the three yard line at the two minute warning. Julius Jones was stuffed on second down, and the Raiders forced two incomplete passes to turn the ball over on downs. The goal line stand overshadowed a solid game from Lamont Jordan (126 yards, TD), as Oakland established the running game early in this one.
at Atlanta 30, Minnesota 10
Despite an early injury to Michael Vick, Atlanta didn’t need him in dismantling the Vikings. The Falcons running game continues to be unstoppable, Warrick Dunn (126 yards, TD) having a tremendous game for the winners. Minnesota didn’t score until the fourth quarter, at which time Atlanta was already enjoying a 27-nil lead. Atlanta’s defense had nine sacks on the day, returning the Minnesota offense to the shambles they were in for weeks one and two.
at Mexico, Arizona 31, San Francisco 14
In front of over 103,000 festive fans, the Cardinals and 49ers went at it in Mexico City. San Francisco got on the board early, their defense forcing a fumble on the first play of the game, Derek Smith falling on the ball in the end zone. The Niners would pull the same thing again later in the quarter, this time Derrick Johnson picking up a Shipp fumble and racing 78 for the score. That would be the extent of the San Francisco offense. Arizona’s defense played tremendously, eventually forcing Tim Rattay out of the game in favor of rookie Alex Smith. In the second quarter, Arizona’s offense got it going. Neil Rackers (6 FG, 1 PAT) struck for the first two of his six field goals (four from 40+ yards!?!), then Larry Fitzgerald (102 yards, TD) caught a 17 yard scoring toss from Josh McCown (385 yards, 2 TD, 0 int). Arizona would build on that 2 point halftime lead, Rackers again clicking twice in the third quarter. Anquan Boldin (116 yards, TD) would get into the scoring act in the fourth, and San Francisco’s offense was terrible.