Week 14 is almost in the books, and upsets were the word of the day. The race for the playoffs is heating up, while so is the race for Reggie Bush. This needs to be said, the Houston Texans are throwing games. If a team came back on them in the closing minutes of a game once, I’d give that a pass. Twice, I’d start to look closely. But three weeks…in a row? Beyond coincidence. Bush is a tremendous player and I’d probably be doing the same, perhaps Dom Capers’ best coaching job in making this happen…if he can keep his job.
A good week of fantasy scoring as 40 players will make this week’s story. Larry Johnson continues to reward those owners that used “too high” a draft pick on him back on opening day. Many of the other studs came thru as well. As always, hopefully you have more players mentioned here than your opponent and that you’ve accumulated enough wins to be in your playoffs. On to the games…
at Pittsburgh 21, Chicago 9
The Bears have been winning games strictly on defense, and on a cold and snowy day in Pittsburgh, their defense continued to do well. The difference in this game is that the Steelers have a perfect runner for the snow in Jerome Bettis (101 yards, 2 TD). Bettis had a tremendous day as he was able to outscore Chicago.
Thomas Jones (95 total yards, TD) did well in a losing effort.
at New York Jets 26, Oakland 10
Two teams filling out the string here. The only fantasy note in this game is that Curtis Martin did not play for the first time in a long time, and word is that he may be opting for season ending surgery, breaking his string of consecutive 1000 yard seasons. As for the game itself, the Jets D (4 turnovers, 6 sacks) came up big, and that’s about all we need to mention here.
at Minnesota 27, St.Louis 13
The Vikings renaissance continues, as Brad Johnson’s record as a starter this season remains unblemished. Michael Bennett (70 yards, TD) performed well for the winners while the Rams offense had begun to sink under Ryan Fitzpatrick.
Tampa Bay 20, at Carolina 10
The Bucs exact a little revenge here, taking a nice win on the road against their division rival. In the process, they tie things up in the division race. They did it the old fashioned way, with tough defense and good running. Carnell Williams (112 yards, 2 TD) opened up the scoring on a 14 yard run in the first quarter and midway thru the fourth his 10 yard scamper closed the deal. In the middle, the Bucs defense kept the Panthers offense in check, so much so that no Carolina player makes this week’s story.
at Tennessee 13, Houston 10
I can really find no other explanation to Houston’s losing of football games, other than they are insuring that they get Reggie Bush in the rookie draft. Three weeks ago when St.Louis scored 10 points in the final 30 seconds to tie, then a TD in overtime to beat them, that was tough. Last week, they allow the pathetic Ravens offense to drive the field for a game winning field goal in the final moments, hmmm. And this week they add another chapter to this conspiracy theory. With just under four minutes to play, Kris Brown’s 36 yard boot is blocked, keeping the game tied. The Titans are all of a sudden able to move the ball with ease, and Rob Bironas connects from 21 yards out with 15 ticks left on the clock. Not wanting to risk a long kickoff return, the Titans squib the kick, but the Texans smartly lateral the ball back to their dangerous return man Jerome Mathis, and he races down the right side 50 yards…time expires, yet he’s tackled by the face mask, allowing Houston to line up for a 31 yard attempt with no time on the clock. With Jeff Fisher trying to call a time out, Brown’s kick is wide left, Texans lose. Again. As for the fantasy impact, only Dom Davis (189 total yards, TD) makes the story for his efforts.
New England 35, at Buffalo 7
Speaking of snowy conditions, lake effect snow had little affect on this game as New England had their way with the hapless Bills. Despite the weather, Tom Brady (329 yards, 2 TD, 2 int, rushing TD) came out throwing, with good success. Eventually, Corey Dillon (102 yards, TD) would wear down the Bills and even the Patriots D (3 turnovers, return TD, 2 sacks) gets a rare mention in this space as they roll on. Nothing to see from the Bills here.
Indianapolis 26, at Jacksonville 18
Going into this game, you had the feeling that the Jaguars had a good chance to play the Colts tough and win. Then you heard the Jacksonville players spouting off about how they were going to prevent the Colts from going undefeated…all the while everything was quiet in Indianapolis. Until the game started. Marvin Harrison (137 yards, 2 TD) and Peyton Manning (324 yards, 2 TD) hooked up twice in the first half, as Indy built up a 17-3 halftime lead. Mike Vanderjadt (4 FG, 2 PAT) connected twice in the third quarter and once again early in the fourth to put the game out of reach. The Jaguars were able to get two TDs in the last five minutes of the game, David Garrard (250 yards, TD, rushing TD) rushing one in and throwing another to Jimmy Smith (102 yards, TD). The final result would look like the game was close, but it really wasn’t. Edgerrin James (154 total yards) also did well in a winning effort.
at Cincinnati 23, Cleveland 20
As the weather gets colder, the Bengals have been relying more on their running game. And Rudi Johnson (169 yards, TD) has been up to the task. The Browns kept this one very close, in fact three times they held the lead in the game. Just before the end of the third quarter, TJ Houshmandzadeh scored from 4 yards out giving the Bengals their first lead of the day. The Browns would kick a FG to tie things up, but in the end, they could not stop Rudi. He got Cincinnati into position for Shayne Graham’s game winning 37 yard kick with no time left, and the battle of Ohio went to Cincinnati.
Washington 17, at Arizona 13
Zzzzz. Clinton Portis (105 yards, TD) and the Redskins D (4 turnovers, 2 sacks, return TD) prove to be too much for the Cardinals in this one. Anquan Boldin (114 yards) the only Cardinal getting a mention in this space this week.
at Seattle 41, San Francisco 3
Let’s see, Seattle good, very good. San Francisco bad, very bad. Shaun Alexander (108 yards, TD), Matt Hasselbeck (226 yards, 4 TD, 1 int), Bobby Engram (65 yards, 2 TD), and Josh Brown (2 FG 50+, 5 PAT) did well for Seattle. No one did well for the Niners.
New York Giants 26, at Philadelphia 23 (overtime)
You knew that the Eagles would bounce back from last weeks embarrassing loss to Seattle. Though Tiki Barber (195 total yards, TD) started the scoring on this day,
Ryan Moats (114 yards, 2 TD) would keep the Eagles in this game as the teams battled the first 30 minutes to the tune of a 17 point tie. Both defenses were playing well, and both offenses were protecting the ball…until the fourth quarter when Eli Manning (312 yards, TD, 3 int, rushing TD) started to overthrow his targets. Philly would cash in on a couple of those picks, David Akers (3 FG, 2 PAT) tying the score with just under two minutes to play on a 50 yard boot (after hitting the crossbar earlier in the half from 49 yards. out). Both teams would get a chance in those two minutes, but could not get it done.
Philadelphia would have the ball to start the overtime, but the drive stalled at their own 41. The Giants would have success moving the ball, but Manning had a pass tipped and intercepted at the Eagle 35. Three plays later, it was the Giants D that turned the ball over, sacking Mike McMahon and recovering the fumble at the Philly 27. After three running plays, New York held its breath as Jay Feely came onto the field, but this time his 36 yard kick was true, and the Giants had the win. Jeremy Shockey (107 yards) also did well for the victors.
Miami 23, at San Diego 21
Both teams were fighting for their playoff lives, but in the end the Dolphins take home an upset win on the road. Perhaps looking ahead to their two remaining games against division opponents, the Chargers were not able to do much on either side of the ball in this game, at least at the start. They also apparently did not see the film from last week’s Miami game. Chris Chambers (121 yards, 2 TD) came to life in the third quarter, hooking up with Gus Frerotte (229 yards, 2 TD) twice, once from 8 yards, again from 35 yards out. Those scores gave the Fins a 20-7 lead entering the fourth quarter. The Chargers would finally come to life, Drew Brees (279 yards, 2 TD, 1 int, rushing TD) scoring on a 5 yard scramble to draw San Diego a little closer. But the Chargers D was not up to the task on this day, Miami’s Olindo Mare connected from 20 yards out, giving Miami a 9 point lead with just over a minute to play. Antonio Gates (123 yards, TD) would score in the waning moments, but despite a chance at recovering the on-side kick, Miami had the ball and the win.
at Denver 12, Baltimore 10
Ugh, not much to talk about here. Mark Clayton (105 yards, TD) did well, no other player did well, Broncos score just enough to win.
at Dallas 31, Kansas City 28
Another game with heavy playoff implications, a game that was exciting right to the finish. But it almost did not turn out that way. Player of the Week Larry Johnson (143 yards, 3 TD) scored his second TD of the game early in the second quarter, and it looked like the Chiefs could not be stopped. Two plays later, Dallas pulled of a successful flea flicker, Drew Bledsoe (332 yards, 3 TD) finding Terry Glenn (138 yards, 2 TD) behind the defense for a 71 yard scoring play. Kansas City’s offense went back to work, easily moving down the field. Less than two minutes remained and the Cheifs were on the Dallas 9 yard line when Dallas’s D came up huge. Trent Green (340 yards, TD) was sacked and fumbled, Marcus Spears picked up the ball and returned it 59 yards. Working with the short field and little time, Drew Bledsoe (332 yards, 3 TD) found Jason Witten (93 yards, TD) from 26 yards out giving Dallas the halftime lead.
Johnson scored for the third time to give Kansas City the lead back, but it would not last. Digging into the trick play book again, Terry Glenn hit paydirt on a 6 yard run to open up the scoring in the fourth quarter, Dallas back up by 3. The Cheifs would score, Eddie Kennison (92 yards, TD) coming free on a defensive breakdown, his 47 yard score putting the visitors back on top. But on this day, Bledsoe was not finished, and he drove Dallas inside the KC 10 yard line. On fourth and goal from the six, his pass to Jason Witten fell incomplete, but Witten was held on the play giving the Cowboys a fresh set of downs, though only 42 ticks remained on the clock. Julius Jones ran into the pile on first down, and on second down, Bledsoe’s play action freed Dan Campbell for the winning points. But it was not over! Green would hook up with Samie Parker for 14 yards (a close play near the sideline upheld by review), then Dante Hall was open for a 34 yard gain. Two ticks remained and Lawrence Tynes came on to attempt a game tying boot, wide right, Cowboys win.
at Green Bay 16, Detroit 13 (overtime)
Finally this week, an uninspiring game from both teams here…one that took overtime to settle. Samkon Gado (171 yards, TD) had a tremendous game, and he had the play of the game as well. Late in the fourth quarter, the Packers were stacked up at their own 1 yard line. Gado took the handoff on first down and was wrapped up three yards in the endzone. Just before getting tackled, he “fumbled” the ball forward, where Green Bay fell on the ball at the one yard line. Chaos ensued. There was a flag on the play, two fouls to be sorted out. One was offensive holding (which had to have been in the endzone, and should have resulted in a safety), but the other was intentional grounding on Gado, enforced and resulting in a safety for Detroit. However, the officials conferred for an eternity, and after Mike Sherman threw the challenge flag to get into the conversation, it was ruled that since Gado was out of the pocket and the pass/fumble made it to the line of scrimmage, the play was ruled incomplete. How it was that the holding was not called in the endzone I do not know, but the game continued. And continued into overtime where Detroit’s Shaun Rogers was flagged for unneccesary roughness, those 15 yard helping the Packers get into Ryan Longwell’s range, his 28 yard kick true for the Packer win.