Where do we begin this week? Generally there are a couple of games where you just shake your head and say, “Wow, how did that game end up like that?” This week, it seems like every game went like that, just a bizarro week all around.
We had a game end with a field goal being blocked, then during the runback there was a penalty that allowed the opposing team to attempt a kick with no time on the clock, bizarro. We had a team calling upon its ghosts in order to squash a perfect season, bizarro. We had teams that we thought were good taking a beating from teams we thought were bad, bizarro. And we had some players put up some fantasy numbers like you see on a Saturday afternoon in a college game. Bizarro Week. Let’s get into this week’s games…
at Washington 22, Dallas 19
This one started out with the Cowboys giving up a safety on their first possession of the game. Washington would add a field goal in the opening frame to take a 5-nil lead. Dallas would click early in the second quarter, putting together a 60 yard drive capped off with Terry Glenn scoring from 10 yards out. But the Cowboys would go for 2 and fail, missing out on the one point that would come back to haunt them. The teams would go back and forth in a close match, in the end, with 5 ticks left on the clock, the Cowboys lined up for a 35 yard FG attempt to win the game. Mike Vanderjadt’s kick was blocked, and in the ensuing return, Dallas was guilty of a 15 yard facemask penalty that would move the ball into range for a long attempt by the Skins. Nick Novak’s kick from 47 yards out just snuck inside the upright, and Washington had the improbable win. Tony Romo (284 yards, 2 TD) performed well in a losing effort.
New Orleans 31, at Tampa Bay 14
The Saints got up on the Bucs early in this one, racing to a 17-nil lead early on in the third quarter. Drew Brees (314 yards, 3 TD) connecting with both Marques Colston (123 yards, TD) and Devery Henderson (111 yards, 2 TD) for TD plays of 15 and 62 yards, respectively. Tampa would close the gap to 17-14, Joey Galloway (97 yards, 2 TD) doing all the scoring from 44 and 17 yards out, but that’s as close as the home side would get. Duece McAllister would score from 3 yards out, and Henderson would hit paydirt for the second time, this time from 45 yards out to seal the win. New Orleans wins despite Joe Horn sitting out the game with a sore groin.
at Buffalo 24, Green Bay 10
The Bills’ Willis McGahee left the game early in the first quarter with a rib injury, and despite only gaining 184 yards on the day, Buffalo relied on its defense in winning at home. The Buffalo defense returned an interception for a TD and forced enough Green Bay turnovers to keep them off the board until the fourth quarter when the offense was finally able to put the game out of reach. Lee Evans scored from 43 yards out and Anthony Thomas ran one in from 14 yards out to seal the victory. Only Donald Driver (96 yards, TD) performed well for the defeated.
at Detroit 30, Atlanta 14
I guess the Falcons aren’t as good as we all thought they were. Detroit’s offense rang up 435 yards of offense on this day, as they cruise to the win. Kevin Jones (110 yards, 2 TD), Roy Williams (138 yards, TD), and Jon Kitna (321 yards, TD, 1 int) all get kudos for the victors, while the Lions defense held Atlanta’s offense in check all afternoon. Though Michael Vick (136 yards, TD, 2 int, 80 rushing yards) did perform well enough to get an official mention here, it was not enough to lead his team to the win.
at Baltimore 26, Cincinnati 20
Two division rivals went at it, two teams that are heading in different directions. The Ravens continue to play very solid football, using their patented staunch defense and efficient offense to get them wins week after week. This week was no different, as the Ravens hold the Bengals offense to 275 yards. Jamal Lewis (72 yards, TD) got the scoring started for the home team, then the defense scored, Ed Reed running in the last 25 yards after taking a handoff from an Samarie Rolle interception. The Bengals would make a game of it, closing the gap to 6 points late, but their rally would fall to the ground, a fourth down pass falling harmlessly though TJ Houshmandzadeh thought he was interfered with. Matt Stover (4 FG, 2 PAT) also performed well for the winners.
at Jacksonville 37, Tennessee 7
The Jaguars scored 37 points before the Titans offense finally got going in the fourth quarter, as they coast to the easy win. No player from either side did well enough to see their name in this week’s story, though Jacksonville quarterback David Garrard had a very efficient day in leading his team to victory lane.
at New York Giants 14, Houston 10
The Giants didn’t play their best football on this day, but it was just enough to defeat the Texans. New York scored first, Tiki Barber (115 yards, TD) hitting paydirt from 16 yards out, but their offense would sputter for much of the game. Meanwhile, David Carr (176 yards, rushing TD) gave the visitors a 10-7 lead, his hard 2 yard run gave Houston some hope for finally getting a win on the road. Alas, it was not to be. Jeremy Shockey’s 3 yard TD pass midway thru the fourth quarter put the Giants on top, and their defense forced a turnover to seal the win.
Miami 31, at Chicago 13
Way back in 1985, a dominating Chicago Bears team was a couple weeks away from finishing the season with an undefeated record. One of the teams left on their schedule was a weak Dolphins squad. But the ghosts of Miami past would rise up, and Miami would take down the Bears to keep the 1972 Dolphins as the only team to finish the season with a perfect record. So here in 2006, the Bears have looked dominating on most weeks, and the Dolphins have looked, well, let’s just say not good. But on this day, they travelled to Chicago and they put the hurt on the Bears, taking a surprisingly easy victory. The Dolphins D (6 turnovers, 3 sacks, return TD) was the difference maker, forcing the Chicago offense to turn the ball over 6 times on the day. Ronnie Brown (190 total yards) and the Dolphins offense would do the rest, and that score is not a misprint, 31 for Miami, 13 for Chicago. For the Bears, the defeat may have been costly as both Bernard Berrian and Brian Urlacher left with injuries.
Kansas City 31, at St.Louis 17
The Chiefs scored early and often in this one, racing out to a 17-nil lead, then coasting from there over the struggling Rams. Larry Johnson (172 yards, TD) and Tony Gonzalez (63 yards, 2 TD) were the story for the Kansas City offense. On the other side, St.Louis was forced to play catchup all game. Marc Bulger (354 yards, TD) and Steven Jackson (219 total yards, TD) did end up with enough stats to get a mention here, but otherwise there is nothing to see from the Rams offensive players.
at San Francisco 9, Minnesota 3
Zzzzz. Minnesota’s field goal in the first quarter would be the only points they would put on the board against….the San Francisco 49ers!? The Niners were also unable to find the endzone on this day, but they were able to manage three FGs to take the close win. Chester Taylor (139 total yards) the only player from either side to get a mention here.
Denver 31, at Pittsburgh 20
The Defending Super Bowl Champion Pittsburgh Steelers are going to have to turn things around in a hurry if they expect to be able to defend their title. Another week, another mistake riddled effort has them dropping their record to 2-6. A hungry Broncos team keeps Pittsburgh down this week as they play well in every facet of the game. Jake Plummer (227 yards, 3 TD) and the Denver offense got going early and often as Rod Smith and Player of the Week Javon Walker (134 yards, 2 TD, 72 rushing yards, rushing TD) hit paydirt in the first quarter. Pittsburgh would make a game of it in the second quarter, Willie Parker (137 total yards, 2 TD) scoring on a 15 yard pass play, and a late Jeff Reed FG would send the teams into the locker room at 14-10. Walker would score again early in the second half on a 72 yard run, but Parker would find the endzone for the second time on the day, this one from 3 yards out. The Broncos would finish strong, Walker completing his trifecta on the day, this time a 10 yard passing score, as Denver would close down the Steelers offense to take the win. Ben Roethlisberger (433 yards, 1 TD, 3 int) also performed well in a losing effort.
at San Diego 32, Cleveland 25
The Browns held San Diego in check for a shade under three quarters, but when the Chargers offense got going, they really got going. Cleveland was holding a slim 12-10 lead late in the third quarter when the LaDainian Tomlinson (192 total yards, 3 TD) kicked into high gear. His 41 yard TD run was the spark that the home team needed to get going. Tomlinson would score twice in the fourth quarter on 7 and 8 yard runs helping San Diego put the game out of reach. Phil Dawson (6 FG, 1 PAT) and Charlie Frye (236 yards, TD, 1 int) performed well for the defeated.
Indianapolis 27, at New England 20
And finally this week, two good teams went at it on a cold New England night. Both offenses would have their way on this night, moving the ball at will, but the Colts defense took advantage of too many Patriot mistakes as they keep their unblemished record intact. Indianapolis got up early in the game, forcing New England to play from behind. The Patriots’ opening possession ended with the first of four Tom Brady interceptions, this one picked off in the end zone. Marvin Harrison (145 yards, 2 TD) and Peyton Manning (326 yards, 2 TD, 1 int) would drive the field, Harrison’s 5 yard TD catch getting the Colts on the board first. New England would respond, putting together a long drive where they would convert a fourth and three to keep things going. Corey Dillon rumbled in from a yard out to tie the score. Manning and company again went to work, a short 82 yard drive capped off with Joseph Addai plunging in from 2 yards out. The Pats would respond, Dillon scoring again, this time from 4 yards out. The defenses would then finally stop the scoring, the Colts settling for a FG, then the Colts D picking off their second Brady offering of the day. The game would have really shifted in favor of Indy, but Adam Vinatieri’s 37 yard attempt on the opening drive of the second half was no good. Again the Colts D would respond, forcing a Dillon fumble on the very next play. But this time the Pats D held, forcing a punter onto the field for the first time in the game. New England’s punter made an appearance on the ensuing drive, and Manning would hook up with a fired up Harrison for his second score of the night. But just when it looked like the Colts would pull away, holding New England to a long FG, their 7 point lead became precarious as the Patriots forced a fumble on the ensuing kickoff. Alas, this time it was Gostkowski’s 36 yard attempt that was no good, and the Colts moved in for the kill. The teams would exchange interceptions, and Vinatieri would extend the Indy lead back to 10 points. Late in the fourth quarter, Vinatieri would have an opportunity to put the game out of reach, but again he missed, this time from 46 yards out with only 2 minutes left to play. Alas, Kevin Faulk could not handle a Brady pass over the middle, the tipped ball falling safely into the hands of the Colts defense and Indy’s undefeated run would continue.