So week four is mostly in the books, and the contenders are now separating themselves from the pretenders. A difficult week from a fantasy perspective as there were so many high profile players listed on injury reports. In the end, even though every one of them was saying that “they would play”, NONE of those guys that were hurt played. No doubt, this had a significant affect on your results this week. Unfortunately, that’s the way it goes sometimes in fantasyland. As they say, “It is better to be lucky than good sometimes.” Despite the lack of star power, 32 players make the story this week as there were some high scores all around the league. Let’s get right into the games…
Philadelphia 23, at Buffalo 13
If there was ever a team that was in an early season “must win” situation, it was the Eagles. Beaten senselessly in their first two games at home, no doubt it was an uncomfortable week off for this squad. A tough road battle loomed against what appeared to be a tough Bills team. No problem. The defense shut down the Bills attack for most of the game, and the Eagles hold on for the nice road win. A team effort as no Eagle makes the story this week. On the other side, another week of sputtering offense, albeit without Travis Henry this time. It wasn’t until late in the game that Buffalo got into the scoring act. Drew Bledsoe (296 passing yards, rush TD) and Bobby Shaw (8 catches for 92 yards, TD) played well, but it wasn’t enough.
Cincinnati 21, at Cleveland 14
At some point during the long season, it’s almost a given that every team in the NFL will win a game. For the Cincinnati Bengals, that win came this week over the rival Browns. Jon Kitna (215 passing yards, 3 TD, 0 int) and “Hanging” Chad Johnson (2 TD) played well, and despite not having Corey Dillon for the second half (aggravated a groin injury), they hold on for the win. Tim Couch (280 passing yards, 2 TD, 1 int) performed admirably, but he was picked off in the waning moments sealing his team’s fate.
at Houston 24, Jacksonville 20
You want to talk about gnads of steel, then let’s talk. Trailing by three points, two seconds remaining in regulation, ball on the opponent’s one yard line…easy call, right? Boot the field goal and head into overtime. Coach Dom Capers eschewed the conventional, sent out the offense and he was rewarded when David Carr (234 passing yards, 1 TD, 1 int, rush TD) jumped over the pile for the game winning touchdown as time expired. Just a gutsy call. The win spoiled the game played by rookie Byron Leftwich, who had a decent day, despite a late game fumble that led to the winning drive. Fred Taylor (94 total yards, TD)and Troy Edwards (3 catches for 111 yards, TD) also played well, but it wasn’t enough.
at Minnesota 35, San Francisco 7
One of the marquee matchups of the day turned out to be a dud. The Vikings established themselves early and often in blowing the 49ers out of the building. Gus Frerotte (267 passing yards, 4 TD, 0 int) filled in for the injured Daunte Culpepper, and he had a winning formula – throw the ball in the air towards Player of the Week Randy “No” Moss (8 catches for 172 yards, 3 TD) and just watch. Moss overshadowed the other top wide out in this game, Terrell Owens, who only gets a mention here for the childish temper tantrum he threw on the side lines. The Niners had their chances to score, including three chances from the two yardline on the opening drive of the second half, but just could not get the job done.
Tennessee 30, at Pittsburgh 13
The Steelers got up early in this one, 10-0 and thought they might be able to finally get a win over the Titans. Then the Tennessee defense took over, scoring a touchdown and recording a safety and just before the half, picking off another pass setting up another score. In the second half, it was all Steve McNair (15 of 16 for 161 passing yards, 3 TD), who was near perfect on the afternoon. Amos Zereoue (99 total yards, TD) and Tommy Maddox (332 passing yards) played well in defeat.
at St.Louis 37, Arizona 13
There’s nothing like a game against the Cardinals to cure all offensive woes. Despite playing without Marshall Faulk, the Rams offense got into high gear in this one. Torry Holt (12 catches for 133 yards, TD), Marc Bulger (272 passing yards, 2 TD, 1 int, rush TD), and even Jeff Wilkins (4 PAT, 3 FG) all get a mention in this week’s story. On the other side, nothing to see here except the ingredients for a long, long season. If one play were to sum up this game, it was just before the half, the Cardinals picked off a long Bulger pass with second left at their own 5 yard line…yet during the ensuing runback, they fumbled, the Rams recovered and kicked a long field goal. That’s how this game went.
at Washington 20, New England 17
Just a strange game, this one, from start and especially to finish. The Redskins should have been able to put this one on ice late in the game, but a controversial call changed a 17 yard first down completion to an incomplete pass, giving the Pats the ball back with a couple minutes to spare. And yet the Patriots could not capitalize. Penalties, bad decisions from the players, and some questionable play calling sealed their fate. The hilight of which was when New England could not get a first down from the Redskin 45 yard line at the very end of the game. Facing 4th and 2, they choosing to go for the first down instead of attempting a 55 yard field goal for the tie. Going without a huddle and not using their final timeout, Tom Brady’s (289 passing yards, 2 TD, 3 int) pass on fourth down fell incomplete. No one from the winning side and no one else from the losing side get into print this week.
at Carolina 23, Atlanta 3
That sound you just heard was Michael Vick’s timetable being pushed up. Stephen Davis (153 rushing yards, TD) ran wild for the still undefeated Panthers and there wasn’t much Atlanta could do to stop him. There wasn’t much they could do on offense either. Let’s just move on.
At Denver 20, Detroit 16
On paper, this one was the classic “tweener” game for the Broncos. Coming off a Monday night beating given to the Raiders and Kansas City up for next week, the Lions were a dangerous foe. They kept this one close, right up until the end, but could not pull off the upset. Jake Plummer (277 passing yards, 2 TD, 0 int) and Shannon Sharpe “Dressed Man” (7 catches for 74 yards, TD) performed well for the winners and no Lion did well enough to get a mention here.
Kansas City 17, at Baltimore 10
With five minutes to go in this one, the Ravens had tied the score…enter Dante Hall, who returned the ensuing kickoff for a touchdown that would prove to be the difference in this one. The Kansas City D (return TD, 3 sack, 4 turnovers) did very well, as did their counterpart, as this one turned into a low scoring field position battle. Only Jamal Lewis (115 rushing yards, TD) makes the story from either offense.
Dallas 17, at New York Jets 6
Just not a whole lot to go on here. Parcells once again heads to Giants stadium for a win, keeping the Jets in a terrible downward spiral. You can almost hear the doctors talking about Pennington keeping that cast on all season. “Helen of” Troy Hambrick (127 rushing yards, TD) and Curtis Martin (115 total yards) both performed well on an otherwise low scoring offensive afternoon.
at Oakland 34, San Diego 31 (overtime)
Finally a game to write home about! After struggling for much of the game, the Raider offense came alive in the last half of the fourth quarter to force the overtime, where they were able to prove victorious. Rich Gannon (348 passing yards, 3 TD, 1 int) and Tim Brown (6 catches for 110 yards, TD) turned in top notch performances in victory. On the losing side, it looked like a win was imminent until the last few minutes where the defense turned hot butter on a breakfast toast. LaDanian Tomlinson (187 rushing yards, TD) and Drew Brees (187 passing yards, 1 TD, 1 int) did well, but it was not enough. The Chargers had pulled out all the stops, including Tomlinson tossing a touchdown pass to Brees, but it was the defense that failed them in the end.
Indianapolis 55, at New Orleans 21
When the Colts intercepted Aaron Brooks on the second play of the game and turned that quickly into a Manning touchdown pass, that was an indication of how this one was going to go. “Marvelous” Marvin Harrison (6 catches for 158 yards, 3 TD) hooked up with Peyton Manning (314 passing yards, 6 TD) early and often, and kicker Mike Vanderjadt (7 PAT, 2 FG) enjoyed the benefits of the Colt high scoring offense in this drubbing. The defense also played well, as only Deuce McAllister (101 rushing yards, TD) gets a mention on the losing side.