Week Nine is almost in the books, and by now no doubt you are either a contender or a pretender in your fantasy league. A light week of scoring across the fantasy landscape, as only 29 players will make this week’s story. As usual, upsets continue to wreak havoc….predicting who will win is becoming harder and harder as the season progresses. Let’s get right into the games…
at Baltimore 24, Jacksonville 17
A ho-hum game that sputtered for three quarters, then the pace picked up considerably in the fourth as both teams thought it wise to at least try to win this game. Jacksonville was able to hold down Baltimore’s Jamal Lewis, but in the end, the mistakes of Byron Leftwich cost his team the game as the Ravens scored 10 points in the fourth quarter to put it out of reach. Only Fred Taylor (108 total yards) makes the print from either team in this game.
at Houston 14, Carolina 10
Tony Banks stepped in for the injured David Carr in this one and while his numbers were not great, he didn’t turn the ball over at all. Both teams played it close to the vest in this game that featured long drives on both sides. The Panthers took the lead late in the third, a quarter marked by each team only having one possession. In the end, Billy Miller made a great catch for a touch to give the Texans the lead that they were able to hold onto. Stephen Davis (153 rushing yards) the only player from either side playing well enough individually to get into this week’s story. Carolina had a shot at the end, working the hook and ladder down the field, but in the end they weren’t able to get into the endzone as time ran out.
at Chicago 20, San Diego 7
The Bears are finally starting to build something, winning their third straight game at home. Anthony Thomas (111 rushing yards, 2 TD) got the A-Train going again as he led they way for the Bears. After another horrible game, Drew Brees was relieved by Doug Flutie, who once again worked his magic. With a little over nine minutes to go, he brought the Chargers within six at 13-7. San Diego’s defense held, but Chicago’s special teams downed a punt at the one yard line and the Chargers never threatened again. LaDainian Tomlinson (82 total yards, TD) did well for the Chargers, but it was not enough.
Indianapolis 23, at Miami 17
One of the few games on this day involving two teams with winning records, this was as good a game as advertised. When the dust had settled, it was the Colts improving their record while handing the Dolphins their third home loss of the season. Edgerrin James (115 total yards, TD) led the way, and Mike Vanderjadt (3 FG, 2 PAT) improved to 21 for 21 on the season. The Colts were able to survive a couple of uncharacteristic Peyton Manning interceptions as their defense held Ricky Williams in check, and forced a Brian Griese fumble late in the game that ended any Miami comeback hopes. No Miami player gets a mention here.
at New Jersey: Giants 31, Jets 28 (overtime)
This is a game that seemed like was never going to end, but it didn’t have to be that way. The Giants looked like they were ready to take the win, taking a 14 point lead at the start of the fourth quarter. Then Chad Pennington (281 passing yards, 4 TD, 2 int) went to work, rallying the troops, mostly working with Player of the Week Santana “Just Call Me Randy” Moss (10 catches for 121 yards, 3 TD). Every time it seemed like they’d be stopped, the Jets would convert – third downs, fourth downs, you name it. Anthony Becht came down with a Pennington offering with a half minute left, forcing the overtime. Then in overtime, the Giants took the opening kickoff and drove for a field goal, missed by Brett Conway. Giant special teams again rearing their ugly head. After a couple of punts, it was the Jets turn to try and win it. Doug Brien lined up for a 50 yard attempt, yet it appeared the ball was snapped before he had completed his pre-kick routine, and the Giants were able to get the block. From there, the G-Men moved into position where this time, Brett Conway was good from 29 yards out. Kerry “Tom” Collins (303 passing yards, 2 TD) and Amani Toomer (6 catches for 127 yards, TD) did well for the winners.
at Detroit 23, Oakland 13
All you really need to know in this one is that Marques Tuiasosopo started this one, had to leave because of injury, and Rick Mirer finished the game at quarterback for the Raiders. Jason “Returns” Hanson (3 FG, 2 PAT) was the lone standout for either team. Let’s just move on.
New Orleans 17, at Tampa Bay 14
Tampa is one of the many teams that you just can’t seem to figure out this year. At times, they can be dominant, yet at other times they can look very ordinary. In this one, it was probably somewhere in the middle, but it was enough for the Saints to march into Tampa Bay and take a nice road win. They were able to hang around for most of the game as the Saints D (6 turnovers, 4 sacks, return TD) and Duece McAllister (110 rushing yards) did their thing. Brad Johnson (333 passing yards, 2 TD, 2 int), Michael “Peach” Pittman (97 total yards, TD) and Keyshawn Johnson (10 catches for 124 yards) did their best in a losing effort, but it was not enough to overcome. John Carney booted a 47 yarder with a few seconds left to give the Saints the late lead. Then the Bucs strung together their own hook and ladder play, one that must’ve touched every Buc on the field, including linemen…but it ended short of the goal line, and once again Tampa Bay falls short in an effort to string together consecutive wins in their Super Bowl defense.
at Arizona 17, Cincinnati 14
With a paltry 23000 in attendance, it was the Cardinals that survived this one. Marcel Shipp (141 rushing yards) did most of the work, recording his second straight 100 yard day. Other than that, nothing to see here. Of note, Corey Dillon did start, but once again the ole groiny was playing tricks, and he didn’t play in the second half because of tightness.
at Dallas 21, Washington 14
A knock down, drag em out affair that the Cowboys survive to keep their improbable season going. Overcoming some costly early mistakes (penalties and turnovers), Troy “Green Eggs and” Hambrick (100 rushing yards, 2 TD) and Terry Glenn (6 catches for 73 yards, TD) were able to put the Cowboys on top in the second half. From there, the Dallas D just beat the tar out of Patrick Ramsey, forcing him to leave the game on two separate occasions. After the game, there were some questions about Redskins’ Steve Spurrier’s play calling, I wonder if his professional coaching ride will soon be coming to an end. No Redskin makes the print this week.
Philadelphia 23, at Atlanta 16
There’s nothing like a matchup with the Atlanta Falcons to cure your offense’s ills. Working with an entirely new starting secondary, the idea didn’t work and Donovan McNabb (312 passing yards, 1 TD, 0 int) took advantage for what I believe is his first mention in any of the story’s this season. The nightmare season continues for Atlanta, who actually took the lead at halftime, but it didn’t last long. Kurt Kittner was pulled in favor of Doug Johnson, who didn’t perform much better as the Falcons wilted in the third quarter. Where art thou Michael Vick?
at Seattle 23, Pittsburgh 16
The Seahawks overcame a multitude of drops from Darrell Jackson, but he held on when it counted late in the game and Seattle takes the home win. A lackluster offensive performance from either side, as only Hines Ward (8 catches for 66 yards, TD) played well enough to get a mention here. In the end, the Steelers just couldn’t get their offense to click as they suffer the loss as a result.
at San Francisco 30, St.Louis 10
The Niners returned the opening kickoff for a touchdown and never looked back in this one. Tim “Say Hey” Rattay (236 passing yards, 3 TD, 1 int) looked like a stud in his debut, and the 49er D (3 turnovers, 5 sacks, return TD) chipped in as well in this game they were never threatened in. Torry Holt (11 catches for 200 yards, TD) and Marc “Battle of the” Bulger (378 passing yards, 1 TD, 2 int) did their thing, but it was not enough as the San Francisco offense pretty much had their way the entire game.
Green Bay 30, at Minnesota 27
Broken thumb, can’t win on turf? No problem. Brett Favre (194 passing yards, 3 TD, 1 int) played with the broken thumb, and played well. Ahman Green (189 total yards, TD) also did his usual damage and the Packers played as well as they can play in taking the tough division win. Daunte Culpepper (202 passing yards, 2 TD, 0 int, rushing TD) got himself into the endzone with under two minutes to go, but the Viking’s ensuing on-side kick was unsuccessful and Green Bay ran out the clock. Randy Moss (6 catches for 87 yards, TD) also played well in defeat, but on this day, Minnesota was simply beat by the better team.