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Week Nine In Review

The 2005 Fantasy Football Season has officially gone silly.  Running Backs had been going down at an astounding pace, and things seemed to go double time this week.  What’s a fantasy owner to do?  I mean, ok, Dom Davis and Holmes declared inactive before the games begin, but how about this list of players that went down during play this week:  Kevin Jones, Mewelde Moore, Thomas Jones, Fred Taylor, Willie Parker….sure, many of the names on that list aren’t surprises, but all in the same week? 

And beyond that, an incredibly low scoring week overall in week nine.  Normally, I need to cap things at 35 or 40 players, and even then, some decent performances get left out of the weekly writeup.  Not so this week as a season low 24 players will get a mention in this week’s story.  Again I say, what’s a fantasy player to do?  On to the games…

Chicago 20, at New Orleans 17
This has to be said right off the top, the Bears are a very good running football team.  It’s no wonder that Thomas Jones does everything in his power to be on the field, the Bears offensive line is one of the best in the league right now.  Jones did start in this one, but was forced to leave early.  No worries, Adrian Peterson and Cedric Benson both ran well in keeping the Bears running game going well.  As for the Saints, they played well in short bursts.  Early on they were able to move the ball effectively, but had to settle for FGs instead of TDs.  While not enough to get an official mention, Antowain Smith did top the 100 yard mark for the game.  The low scoring affair went to the fourth quarter with Chicago leading by a TD.  New Orleans put together an 11 play 80 yard scoring drive that took six and a half minutes, Aaron Brooks running it in from a yard out to tie the game.  The Saints D would return the ball to the offense, holding the Bears without a first down on the ensuing drive, but on third and one, New Orleans could not convert the first down and had to punt.  Chicago was able to use nearly all of the last four minutes in regulation to get into field goal range, Robbie Gould converting from 28 yards out for the win. 

San Diego 31, at New York Jets 26
Player of the Week LaDainian Tomlinson (153 total yards, 4 TD) had three TDs at the half, and added a fourth late in the third quarter as the Chargers built a 28-13 lead.  Things looked bleak for the Jets, as Brooks Bollinger entered the field replacing the injured Vinnie Testaverde.  New York rallied around the youngster, driving for two fourth quarter touchdowns to close the gap to 5 points.  The Jets looked to continue the comeback, moving to the Charger three yard line with a minute and a half to play.  Alas, the Jets were unable to move any closer, Bollinger’s fourth down pass into the endzone batted down and the Chargers escape with the win.  Antonio Gates (132 yards) also did well for the victors. 

at Minnesota 27, Detroit 14
With both teams turning to their backup signal callers, it was anyone’s guess how this game would turn out.  In the end, it was the Vikings’ Brad Johnson that played better, and as a result Minnesota wins the division game.  The Vikings were very efficient early on, racing out to a 24-0 lead.  That would prove to be too much for the inept Lions offense to overcome.  While Joe Harrington (263 yards, 1 TD, 2 int) does get a mention here, he did not look good, throwing 2 interceptions and fumbling twice.  In his defense, the struggling running game was not much help, especially after Kevin Jones left the game.  The Vikings running game was doing very well, as Michael Bennett (106 yards, TD) seemingly re-established himself as the starter with a strong game.  Or is this yet another RBBC in the making?  Ugh.

Carolina 34, at Tampa Bay 14
The Panthers D (4 turnovers, 5 sacks, return TD) was the story in this one, making Bucs QB Chris Simms look, well, inexperienced.  Defense and efficient offense spelled out a win for the Panthers in this division contest.  Steve Smith (106 yards, TD) gets his usual mention in the weekly story, and though he didn’t rack up enough yards to get an official mention, Stephen Davis did rush for two scores on the day.  Nothing much to see from the Bucs offense, moving right along…

Atlanta 17, at Miami 10
Speaking of good defenses, two good units were matched up in this game, and as a result, scoring was extremely hard to come by.  Michael Vick (228 yards, 1 TD) had a good passing game for a change, Warrick Dunn (111 total yards, TD) and Brian Finneran (92 yards, TD) both joining him here in the print this week.  The Falcons got on the board early, scoring on their opening drive, Dunn doing the dirty deed from a yard out.  Miami would come right back, employing a strict 50-50 policy between Ricky Williams and Ronnie Brown, though it was Williams that ran one in from 23 yards out to tie the score.  Atlanta would take the lead on a Finneran TD catch, 14-10 is how the half would end.  Not much scoring in the second half, only a Falcon field goal.  Miami did have a chance to tie at the end, but an interception in the red zone sealed Miami’s fate.  The difference in the game was third down conversions.  The Falcons were able to keep drives going, converting 11 or 17 third downs, while the Dolphins were unable to convert a single one in nine attempts. 

Cincinnati 21, at Baltimore 9
The Bengals D held strong in this game, holding the Ravens offense to FG scoring drives while their offense was scoring TDs in this close game.  Rudi Johnson (97 yards, TD) and Carson Palmer (248 yards, 2 TD) performed well for the winners while there is nothing to report on the Ravens side of the ball. 

at Jacksonville 21, Houston 14
A largely uninspiring game came down to the fourth quarter.  The Texans were holding a 14-7 lead, but the Jaguar offense could not be stopped in the final frame.  Byron Leftwich (218 yards, 1 TD, rushing TD) directed Jacksonville to drives of 80 and 82, both ending up in the endzone giving the home side the come from behind win.  Leftwich ran the first TD in himself from 8 yards out, then Fred Taylor’s backup Greg Jones rumbled in from 12 yards out to provide the winning margin.  Jonathon Wells (101 yards, TD) did well in a losing effort. 

at Cleveland 20, Tennessee 14
With a high wind advisory in place for the game, the Browns did something that they had been unable to do yet this season – score a touchdown on the ground.  Reuben Droughns (189 total yards) ran well on the day, but left late with leg cramps, allowing Jason Wright to rush for the Brown’s first score on the ground late in the third quarter, a score that put the Browns up by 10, a lead they would not relinquish.  Early on, Cleveland scored first,
Dennis Northcutt (80 yards, TD) breaking away from defenders on a 58 yard scoring play.  Super TE Erron Kinney (74 yards, TD) caught a 24 yard pass to tie the score in the second quarter.  Cleveland put up 10 points in the third quarter and though Chris Brown (95 yards, TD) got the Titans close, the Browns would hold on for the win. 

at Kansas City 27, Oakland 23
Two division rivals met up with both teams needing a win to keep pace with the Broncos, and this one would come down to the last play of the game.  Both offenses sleep walked thru the first three quarters, including 5 FGs between the two squads in the first half.  Kansas City got into the endzone first, Tony Richardson breaking up the kicking party with a 6 yard scoring catch.  Larry Johnson (155 total yards, 2 TD) would strike next, his 15 yard run to open up the fourth quarter extending the Chief lead.  But Oakland would begin clicking on offense, Jerry Porter scoring from 4 yards out.  The Raiders were on the move again, with the ball on the Kansas City 7 yard line when corner Benny Sapp had a chance to pick off a Kerry Collins offering, but it fell thru his arms to the ground.  On the next play, Randy Moss was in the endzone and with Lamont Jordan (128 total yards) converting for two points, the Raiders had a 3 point lead with just under four minutes to play.  The Kansas City offense went to work, and they had some success in getting small chunks of yardage.  Looking to get into field goal range with 19 seconds left, Johnson took a pass over the middle and rumbled 36 yards to the one yard line, narrowly missing paydirt.  Five seconds remained and Dick Vermeil put the confidence in his offensive line, sending them out onto the field for either the winning score, or the last play of the game.  Johnson rewarded the coach, easily getting in from a yard out and Kansas City had the win. 

New York Giants 24, at San Francisco 6
Not a whole lot to report here.  The Niners offense was inept, the Giants offense played well in spurts, no fantasy players on either side to talk about. 

Seattle 33, at Arizona 19
There is something about playing against the Cardinals that brings out the very best in Shaun Alexander (173 yards, 2 TD).  In week 3, he lit up Arizona for four scores, this week, he tacks on two more, including an 88 yard sprint on the first play of the third quarter that effectively put the game out of reach.  Kurt Warner (334 yards, 1 TD, 3 int) had a good return to the starting lineup for the Cardinals, but it was not enough to overcome Alexander’s monster effort.  Neil Rackers (4 FG, 1 PAT) also gets a mention here in a losing effort. 

Pittsburgh 20, at Green Bay 10
Even with Charlie Batch at the helm, the Steelers were able to hang on and get a low scoring win on the road.  Both defenses kept the opposing offenses at bay for most of the game in this close contest.  In the second quarter, Pittsburgh’s Troy Polamalu picked up a Brett Favre fumble and ran 77 yards untouched for the game’s first TD.  Unknown RB Sam Gado pulled the Packers within three points in the third quarter, but that would be as close as they would get.  Trying to engineer the comeback, Favre saw a fourth quarter pass to Donald Driver go thru his hands, and into the waiting arms of the Steelers.  Working with the short field, Pittsburgh’s Duce Staley put the game away with a run from 3 yards out. 

at Washington 17, Philadelphia 10
Coming off last week’s shutout, all eyes were on the Redskin offense to see if they would respond.  Well, the fantasy eyes, that is…I guess a guy named Terrell Owens was suspended for the game?  That caused a bit of a stir as I understand.  More importantly, with both teams at 4-3, the loser would end up in sole possession of last place in the division.  Early on, Philadelphia didn’t seem to miss their star WR, as fill in Reggie Brown (94 yards, TD) took in a Donovan McNabb (304 yards, 1 TD, 1 int) offering and ran 56 yards to paydirt.  However, that would be the last we’d hear of the Eagle offense.  Though no Redskin gets an official mention here, Mark Brunell led a Washington offense that was content to grind things out a few yards at a time.  Mike Sellers ran one in from a yard out just before the half, giving the Skins a lead they would not relinquish as their defense clamped down on the Eagle offense.  David Akers would tie the game in the third quarter, but late in that same frame, Clinton Portis scored from 6 yards out to close out the scoring on this game. 

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