Welcome back, the Week In Review is back for another season. We’ll do our best to crank out a brief synopsis of every game with a fantasy slant on Monday mornings. This column began over a decade ago, it being a recap of each week’s fantasy matchups with a humorous twist that included some creative nicknames. Though that was well before Chris Berman made it popular, we’ve modified the format here not to include the names. Instead, we do our best to include the stats from the week’s top fantasy performers. Along the way, we’ll touch upon some of the key aspects of the game, as well as some of the fantasy impacts going forward. A little potpourri if you will. I hope you enjoy, as always, your feedback is welcome to firstname.lastname@example.org.
But before we get into that, please make sure you take a moment to reflect on the events that took place five years ago on this day. No one will ever forget where they were that day, and let’s make sure that we never forget what took place. It’s great that the NFL is back and we now have fantasy football to carry us thru the next three months, but all of this pales in comparison to real life. Anything can happen at any time, so keep things in the right perspective. Make sure your family and friends know you care about them as they are truly what is important in life.
So most of week one is in the books, with a strange Monday night coming up where there are two games yet to be played. Things got kicked off Thursday night with the defending Superbowl Champion Steelers escaping with a win. Along the way a couple of shutouts were pitched as the scoring in general around the league was down. Many teams were entering the season with a committee approach to the backfield, and week one did nothing to discourage those teams from doing anything different as both RBs took home nearly identical stats. And there will be many around the water cooler whining about the officiating, some things will never change.
So without further ado, let’s get into it, as always, thanks for reading…
at Pittsburgh 28, Miami 17
So the Champs hoisted the banner, Ben Roethlisberger was on the sideline after an emergency appendectomy, and the Dolphins under Daunte Culpepper were eager to show the world that their strong finish in 2005 was a sign that they are ready to get into the playoffs. It was a very good game, and after a scoreless opening frame, the Steelers drew first blood, Charlie Batch (209 yards, 3 TD) hooking up with Nate Washington from 27 yards out. Miami would respond later in the quarter, after another nice punt return from Wes Welker, Ronnie Brown (62 total yards, 2 TD) got in for the first of his two scores from two yards out. Pittsburgh would respond on the ensuing drive, Hines Ward taking in a 7 yard TD pass to put the Steelers back on top. Miami would close the gap with a late FG just before the half. The Dolphins scored on their opening possession of the second half, Brown hitting paydirt from 5 yards out. Miami was looking to pin Pittsburgh deep in their own end, but fell victim to some penalties, illegal hands to the face on third and long, pass interference, then the Steelers went to the trick play book for an end around that got them out of trouble. Though they didn’t score on the drive, they kept Miami from getting the momentum. After a Miami punt, Heath Miller got free in the secondary, and 87 yards later (well, 85), he was in the endzone for the score. Then it was time for Culpepper to show his rust as he was picked off on the first play of Miami’s drive. His next pass would also get picked, this time Joey Porter took it to the house and the Steelers were able to hold on for the win. Willie Parker (115 yards) also had a nice game for the victors).
Philadelphia 24, at Houston 10
The Texans scored first in this one, but that was the Lone Star hilight. Philadelphia responded and went on to post the easy win. Donovan McNabb (314 yards, 3 TD, 1 int), Donte Stallworth (141 yards, TD), and Brian Westbrook (132 total yards, TD) all played well in victory while no one from Houston played well enough to get a mention here.
Baltimore 27, at Tampa Bay nil
Though Steve McNair didn’t accumulate enough stats to get an official mention in this space, it was his leadership (Baltimore finally has a legit NFL QB!!) that gave the Ravens offense enough confidence to do enough to win. Of course, with the Ravens D (3 sacks, 3 turnovers, return TD) laying waste to the Tampa Bay offense, they didn’t have to do much.
Seattle 9, at Detroit 6
The Seahawks were looking to get a win in a place they could not get one last February, and despite not getting into the end zone, they got one. An offensive offensive display on both sides in this contest, as no player from either team gets into this week’s story. Points were at a premium, as Seattle even had two FG attempts blocked in the first half. With the score tied at six, Detroit decided against a 53 FG attempt late in the game, instead choosing to punt and that allowed Seattle to generate just enough offense for Josh Brown to boot a 42 yard kick to end the game.
New Orleans 19, at Cleveland 14
And so the Reggie Bush Era begins in New Orleans. Bush (119 total yards) was involved in the offense from the get go, and even though he didn’t get into the endzone, it looks like he will be getting enough touches to be a solid fantasy entity this year. Duece McAllister was also involved, running for 90 yards in the win. Cleveland just couldn’t get the offense going, the game bookended by an opening 74 yard TD reception being called back for a penalty and a Charlie Frye (132 yards, TD, 2 int, rushing TD) tipped pass being picked off to clinch the defeat. Kellen Winslow (63 yards, TD) also did well in a losing effort.
at New England 19, Buffalo 17
Not much of a fantasy presence in this game, but a good battle between division rivals. The game began with the feisty Bills taking a lead 12 seconds into the game. Their defense sacked Tom Brady and returned the ensuing fumble for a touchdown. Buffalo even went into the break leading by 10, but it was a lead they could not protect. The Patriots used both Laurence Maroney, who had 86 yards on the ground, and Corey Dillon who had 73 yards rushing, effectively, but it was their defense that would provide the margin of victory. Early in the half, instead of kicking a short FG to extend their 10 point lead, Buffalo went for it on fourth and one from the seven yard line, and the Patriot D was up to the task. Using the momentum shift, they marched 93 yards down the field to score a TD and get the home crowd into the game. After New England tied things early in the fourth, their defense would sack JP Losman in the endzone to take a slim 2 point lead. Buffalo would get the ball back once more, and late in the game it was New England that would go for it on fourth and two with the clock winding down, the successful run would then allow New England to run out the clock.
Atlanta 20, at Carolina 6
The Falcons defense was on a mission in this game, limiting the Steve Smith less Panthers to just over 200 yards in the contest in a surprisingly easy win. Michael Vick (140 yards, 2 TD, 48 rushing yards) guided the efficient Atlanta offense in victory while no Panther gets a mention here this week. Warrick Dunn (132 yards) also played well for the winners.
New York Jets 23, at Tennessee 16
The Jets simply played better in this one, Chad Pennington (319 yards, 2 TD) showing the good form all game long. New York took a 16-0 lead into the fourth quarter before the Titans woke up and decided to put the scoreboard operator to work. While Chris Brown had the most success on the ground for Tennessee, rushing for 64 yards, it was Travis Henry that hit paydirt twice in the fourth quarter as Tennessee was looking to pull out the comeback win. The Titans would twice connect on two point conversions, and the game was hanging in the balance down to the final minute. However it was not meant to be, as Kerry Collins just missed Bo Scaife in the endzone on a fourth down, a play that finally sealed the win for New York. Laveranues Coles (153 yards) also played well for the victors while Drew Bennett (106 yards, 2pt rec) gets a mention here in a losing effort.
Cincinnati 23, at Kansas City 10
The Bengals erupted for 17 second quarter points, which would prove to be enough for the victory. Kansas City QB Trent Green took a vicious hit late in the third quarter, one which knocked him unconscious. He was carted off the field after a long delay, and preliminary reports indicate that he will be OK. The Chiefs got good performances from Tony Gonzalez (81 yards, TD) and Larry Johnson (148 total yards), but without Green the offense could not get much done. Rudi Johnson (96 yards, TD) performed well for the winners, and though Carson Palmer does not get an official mention here, his 127 yards and no interception performance was efficient, more importantly he’s back from last year’s serious injury.
at St.Louis 18, Denver 10
As so the Jay Cutler Watch begins in Denver. Jake Plummer had a horrible day (138 yards and 3 ints) as the Rams defense kept the Broncos offense in check all day. Mike Bell (88 yards, TD) and Tatum Bell (103 yards) split the work for the visitors on a day where TDs were hard to come by for both teams. Jeff Wilkins (6 FG) provided the offense for the Rams and Steven Jackson (140 total yards) also had a nice day for the victors.
at Arizona 34, San Francisco 27
Finally playing in front of a sellout crowd, the Cardinals revamped offense did not disappoint the home faithful. Playing in their new stadium, Arizona scored early and often. Unfortunately, San Francisco was also able to put up some points, in this game that went down to the wire. The Niners would take the game’s opening drive into the endzone, Alex Smith (288 yards, TD) finding rookie Vernon Davis from 31 yards out. But Arizona would also score on their opening drive, in fact they’d score three times in the opening frame. Kurt Warner (301 yards, 3 TD) tossed the first of his 3 TD scores, and after a turnover, Edgerrin James (86 total yards, TD) would cap off a two play 5 yard drive from a yard out. After another fumble, Anquan Boldin closed out the first quarter onslaught, Warner finding him for a six yard score. San Fran would then respond, Player of the Week Frank Gore (170 total yards, 2 TD) tallying the first of his two TDs on the day from 4 yards out. Midway thru the third quarter, Gore would draw the Niners within a FG, this time San Francisco cashing in on a Cardinal fumble. San Francisco would rally again, a late FG drawing within a TD and they would recover the onside kick to keep things interesting. But alas, Smith and company would run out of time and the Cardinals had the opening day win. Larry Fitzgerald (133 yards) also did well for the winners.
at Jacksonville 24, Dallas 17
The Cowboys raced out to an early 10-0 lead in this one, but that would essentially be the extent of their offense. Julius Jones (111 total yards, TD) opened the scoring with a 23 yard run, but Drew Bledsoe struggled mightily, tossing 3 interceptions. On the other side of the ball, Fred Taylor (115 total yards, TD) and Byron Leftwich (237 yards, TD, int, rushing TD) were looking very good for the home side, as they responded to the 10 point deficit by running off 17 unanswered points. Leftwich called his own number from 3 yards out to break the 10 all tie. Taylor would extend the lead with a five yard run, the short field set up by a Bledsoe interception. Dallas would try to rally, Terrell Owens (80 yards, TD) making a great 21 yard catch for a score, but it was too little too late for the visitors.
Chicago 26, at Green Bay nil
The Bears D (3 sacks, 3 turnovers, return TD, pitched a shutout) rendered the Packers offense useless as they take the easy win. Robbie Gould (4 FG, 2 PAT) provided most of the Bears offense while the lone bright spot for Green Bay was Ahman Green (110 yards)
Indianapolis 26, at New York Giants 21
And finally this week, NBC got back into football with this week’s Sunday night game, a dream matchup in their eyes with brothers Peyton and Eli Manning battling it out on the prime time stage. Both teams came out looking to control the clock. The Colts opened up the game with a nearly nine minute drive that ended with Adam Vinatieri (4 FG, 2 PAT) connecting from 26 yards out. The Giants would respond with a decent drive of their own, but Eli Manning (247 yards, 2 TD, int) threw incomplete on fourth and 5 at the Colt 33 yard line. Indy would work quickly this time, and again it was Vinatieri, this time from 32 yards out. The Giants offense again has success, much of it Tiki Barber (171 total yards), but Jay Feely was no good from 40 yards out. Peyton Manning (276 yards, TD, int) and company went back to work, this time hitting paydirt as Dallas Clark hauled in a nice pass from 2 yards out. The Giants would not go into the break disappointed, their offense drove the field with Plaxico Burress making a great catch from 31 yards out to get New York on the board. Unfortunately, 32 seconds was enough time for the Colts to trot out Vinatieri for another FG just before the half, this time from 48 yards out. The G-Men took the second half’s kickoff on another nice drive, 11 plays, 69 yards, nearly eight minutes, capped by a Shockey TD reception. The score would remain close as both defenses would finally find a way to put their opponents punter on the field. Early in the fourth Domanick Rhodes plowed in from the one yard line to extend the Colt lead to 9. Eli and company would respond on the ensuing possession, Brandon Jacobs doing the work from the one. After a Indy punt, New York was looking to complete the comeback. On third and two, Tim Carter took in a 19 yard Eli offering, however he was called for offensive pass interference, a call that seemed to be refuted by replay. Now faced with a long third down, Eli’s pass over the middle was picked off and the Colts would be able to run off enough clock to take the win on the road. Marvin Harrison (113 yards) also played well for the victors.