And so this is it, week seventeen is in the books and so is the regular season. If you’re still reading this mindless drivel that I’ve been putting together late Sunday night/early Monday morning, I thank you. It’s been a fun ride, and hopefully you’ve enjoyed what you have been reading. Like what you have read? Hate it? Wish it could have been a little different? Drop me a line and let me know at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’ve heard from many of you during the season, and now that it’s over I’m always looking to improve the product.
As for the games, even though many were meaningless, those that did mean something carried the same excitement that has characterized the entire season. Hopefully your championship was already decided last week, as many starters took the week off, and only 36 players will make the story this week. How about that game out in Arizona? With the playoffs on the line for the Vikings, they end up losing by giving up two touchdowns in the final two minutes. A microcosm of the season for them, but still a tough way to be eliminated. Aah, life in the NFL.
Thanks again for reading, probably a bit of a light week this week….let’s get right into the games!
at New England 31, Buffalo 0
Speaking of microcosm’s of the season, don’t you hate when you are in a 31 pool and you’ve won nothing all season (in any pool, er, I mean, contest) then you end up drawing New England and they post the 31 for you to open up the weekend….then three other teams go on to post the same score so your winnings are barely enough to get a good lunch? That’s a microcosm of the season for you, and yet I digress. I’m not sure why there was any doubt what the outcome was going to be of this game. Buffalo pounded New England 17 weeks ago by the score of 31-nil, and from there both teams took a different path. Buffalo went down faster than a bad Democratic candidate for President, and the Patriots rose to the top. Before the game, the network analysts were adamant that New England could be beaten at home in the playoffs….I’m just not sure what this is based on? In any case, Tom Brady (204 passing yards, 4 TD, 0 int) drove offense for a score on the opening drive that looked like you or I could have been making the throws. From there, the beatings continued. The Bills did have a chance to score, but the NE D (4 turnovers, 4 sacks, pitched another shutout) picked off a pass in the end zone with seconds remaining to preserve the shutout. David Givens (7 catches for 80 yards, TD) also did well in the win. I wonder if Lawyer Milloy is still happy about his $2.5Mil raise?
Seattle 24, at San Francisco 17
The Red Sea has parted….Seattle wins a game on the road!! Like most, I didn’t believe that this was possible, but they pulled it off. Shaun Alexander (131 total yards, TD), Matt Hasselbeck (315 passing yards, 2 TD, 2 int) and Koren Robinson (6 catches for 85 yards, TD) all performed well, but it wasn’t decided until late. Driving to put the game out of reach, Seattle had to settle for a field goal, giving them a seven point lead with less than two minutes remaining. Yet San Francisco started to drive the field, and it looked like they would have a chance to spoil the Seahawks bid for their first road win of the season. But it was not to be, Jeff Garcia (248 passing yards, 2 TD, 1 int) was incomplete on a strange pass play call on fourth and one at midfield, and the game was over.
Philadelphia 31, at Washington 7
With the potential for home field advantage for the playoffs at stake, Philadelphia was another team that did what they needed to to this week. The Eagles scored early and often in the rout. Donovan McNabb (242 passing yards, 3 TD, 0 int, rushing TD) makes the story this week in victory while Rock Cartwright (96 total yards, TD) gets a mention here in defeat.
at Atlanta 21, Jacksonville 14
Two teams finishing out the string, this one started off this some good scoring, and ended up with an exciting finish. Jacksonville was trying to come back, after being in a good position, ended up settling for a field goal attempt to try and draw within four. The kick was blocked, yet the Jags weren’t done yet. After a Falcon punt, they again went down the field, but the drive ended on downs at the Falcon 14 yard line with only seconds remaining. No player from either team gets a mention here.
Cleveland 22, at Cincinnati 14
So we turn to another team that, like Philadelphia, needed to do their part to at least have a chance at making the playoffs. Cincinnati needed a win and a Raven loss later in the night to make the playoffs, but they were unable to do their part and they are eliminated. The Browns’ Lee Suggs (186 rushing yards, 2 TD) ran wild, and that spelled doom for the home faithful. Rudi Johnson (77 total yards, 2 TD) gets a mention here in defeat, but it was not enough to overcome.
at New Orleans 13, Dallas 7
Perhaps with a playoff spot already locked up, the Cowboys didn’t put in their best effort in this one. On the other side, New Orleans got an earful from their owner in a Friday meeting, and perhaps that spurred them to play for a little more than pride. Whatever the case was, the Saints march to the win as Donte Stallworth (3 catches for 114 yards, TD) gets a mention in a winning effort. A disappointing day for the Cowboys, as they fall to the #6 seed, but no one thought they’d even have a chance for the playoffs, nevermind be in after week 16. Quincy Carter (290 passing yards, 1 TD, 3 int) and Richie Anderson (109 total yards, TD) get a mention here in defeat.
at Kansas City 31, Chicago 3
Coming off last week’s embarrassing loss, no doubt that Kansas City needed to do something to get that good feeling going again. Enter the Bears, and this one was out of hand early. The Chiefs scored early and often, and got Priest Holmes (50 rushing yards, 2 TD) the touchdown record in the romp.
Indianapolis 20, at Houston 17
Much was on the line here, for both the Colts and the Titans, specifically a home game in the first round of the playoffs. The Colts had to win, and win they did. Though like most teams that travel to Houston, they had a hard time pulling it off. Entering the fourth quarter, Houston was holding a 17-3 lead, but leads against the Colts are tough to keep. Edgerrin James (171 rushing yards, TD) opened up the frame with a score and the defense forced the three and out. Indy was moving the ball, but James fumbled giving it back to the Texans. Again, the Colt D came up with a three play stop, and the offense went back to work. Their next drive stalled at the Houston 33, and Vanderjadt came out for the long field goal try. But it was a punt, and Vandy pinned the Texans back at their own 5 yard line. Three plays later, the Colt D again was huge, picking off an ill advised pass to put their offense in great position to score from the Texan five yard line. Manning found Brandon Stokley (9 catches for 67 yards, TD) on the first play and the game was tied with less than four minutes to play. Yet another three and out for the Texans and the Colts again were in business. With no time left on the clock, Vanderjadt’s record 41st kick in a row was good, and the Colts had the win. Domanick Davis (99 rushing yards, 2 TD) ran hard in the loss, but it was not enough to overcome.
at Miami 23, NY Jets 21
Two teams that had high hopes for this season were finishing out the string. Finally playing with some offensive spunk, Chris Chambers (9 catches for 153 yards, TD), Ricky Williams (145 total yards, TD) and Jay Fiedler (328 passing yards, 1 TD, 1 int) all played well for the Dolphins. And this time it was enough as Olindo Mare booted a late field goal to bring the Dolphins their tenth win of the season. While many Jets played well, none will get a mention here in this week’s story.
at Detroit 30, St.Louis
With home field on the line, all the Rams had to do was win, but they could not. Trailing 20-10 at the half, it was Detroit that came out in the second half like Lions, scoring the next 17 points to take a lead they would not relinquish. Joey Harrington (238 passing yards, 3 TD, 1 int), Jason Hanson (3 FG, 3 PAT) and even Az-Zahir Hakim (5 catches for 58 yards, TD) get a mention here in a great winning effort. On the other side, only Marshall Faulk (75 total yards, TD) gets into the print this week in the disappointing loss. Kurt Warner replaced Marc Bulger in the fourth quarter but he was unable to mount a comeback. Bulger was hurt, but it doesn’t appear to be serious.
at Tennessee 33, Tampa Bay 13
Needing a win and some help to get a home playoff game, the Titans did their part of the bargain, leaving no doubt in this contest. Derrick Mason (9 catches for 90 yards 2 TD), Gary Anderson (4 FG, 3 PAT) and Eddie George (87 rushing yards) get a mention here in the rout. While his stats weren’t enough to get into the print, Neil O’Donnell filled in nicely for a resting Steve McNair in this one. Last year’s Super Bowl is a distant memory to the defending Champs.
Carolina 37, at NY Giants 24
The Panthers scored early and often, opening up a 20-0 lead, and hold on for the win. The Carolina D (5 turnovers, 2 return TD) and John Casey (3 FG, 4 PAT) get a mention here in a winning effort. The loss is the eighth in a row for the Giants, and ends Jim Fassel’s tenure as head coach. No individual was Giant enough to get in the print this week.
at Green Bay 31, Denver 3
I guess it would have been nice for Denver to at least put up a bit of a fight, but they didn’t feel like showing up for this one, and Green Bay will gladly take the easy win. Ahman Green (218 rushing yards, 2 TD) and the GB D (3 turnovers, return TD, 3 points allowed) were big in the rout of the Denver JayVees. The only suspense was towards the end of the game, when the Arizona/Minnesota game was coming down to the wire….(segway)…
at Arizona 18, Minnesota 17
The Vikings were another team that had a simple formula entering week 17, win and you’re in. On the flip side, it was also lose and you are out. Pretty good odds, especially up against the hapless Cardinals. Yet Minnesota was not a team this season to make things easy on themselves, so why start now? The Vikings sleep walked thru the first half, and Arizona took the 6-0 lead into the lockerroom. Midway thru the third frame, the Vikings finally got on the board, taking the lead on a touchdown. They would extend that lead early in the fourth by scoring another touch. A turnover on the next play gave the Vikes great field position, and they cashed in a field goal. 6:48 remained. Arizona drove the field on their ensuing possession, scoring a touchdown on a clutch fourth and two play from the two yard line. They missed on the two point conversion to trail by five. Minnesota’s “all hands” team was all cement, and the Cardinals easily recovered the on-side kick. The first play was a 28 yard pass interference on the Vikings, and the stage was set, Cardinals on the Minny 30 yard line. A few plays later, the ball was at the 9 yard line! Two sacks later, it looked like Minnesota was going to hold on…facing a fourth and 25 at the Viking 27 yard line, the Cardinals barely got the play off in time. No time on the clock, Joshua McCown (224 passing yards, 2 TD, 1 int) scrambled to his right and tossed the ball to the back corner of the end zone where Nathan Poole reached up and made the catch!! Though he landed out of bounds, the referees rules (correctly) that he was pushed out, and Minnesota’s invitation to the playoffs was revoked. Fans in Green Bay went wild, and the Cardinals had the win…that will ironically enough drop them from #1 to #3 in next year’s rookie draft.
at San Diego 21, Oakland 14
It was pretty easy to figure who would be this week’s player of the week heading into the games this week. Many were upset about the pro bowl selections, and non-pro bowler and now Player of the Week LaDainian Tomlinson (243 rushing yards, 2 TD) went wild in this one. Oakland had no answers for him as the Chargers end the season with a win. No Raiders get a mention in defeat.
at Baltimore 13, Pittsburgh 10 (overtime)
A game that was rendered meaningless by the other games earlier in the day, all that was left to be decided was whether Jamal Lewis (114 rushing yards, TD) would break the single season rushing record. But it wasn’t for trying, as the Ravens seemed to eschew trying to win the game in favor of trying to get him the record. But the Steelers realized this, too, and held him in check in the second half. A dreary game that near the end, Baltimore chose to continue to hand the ball off even in the waning moments when they could have improved their field position for a potentially winning kick. When they finally were forced to kick on fourth down, Matt Stover was short from 52 yards out. But the game wasn’t over, as the Steelers had some time to move into position for a kick of their own. Two plays later, the Steelers seemed to want to see Lewis get the ball one more time, Tommy Maddox throwing a pick two plays later. Baltimore did move the ball thru the air, and this time they trotted out Josh Miller to try a long FG, but that too was short….but wait, it was so short that it was returned….and it seemed to be a good one but ran out of gas at the Raven 36 yard line as time expired. Long story long, the Raven D (5 turnovers, 5 sacks) held on the first possession in overtime and Stover finally ended things from 47 yards out. After which, Eric Dickerson was seen holding up a sign “Rushing Record 19 years and counting”, no word at press time how much the fine would be from the NFL for this celebratory sign.