Week sixteen is almost in the books and with only one week to go, the end of the season is in sight. No doubt many of you out there were eagerly checking your computer all weekend to see how your playoff game(s) went, hopefully you have more players here mentioned than your opponent. Most of the games were high scoring, which means high fantasy scoring, which means plenty of players to talk about this week. Thanks for reading all season and continuing to read, as we’ll be cranking out the Week in Review right thru and after the Super Bowl. Let’s get right into it…
Green Bay 34, at Minnesota 31
And so the weekend’s worth of games begins on…Friday afternoon. To that I say, Nice! Two teams were battling for their division crown while most of us were worrying about finally getting those gifts wrapped and under the tree for the kids. When the scoring began at the start of the second quarter, points came in bunches. Duante Culpepper (285 yds, 3 TD) hooked up with Randy Moss for a 12 yard score to start off the second quarter, but the Packers drove the field on the ensuing drive that chewed up nearly 8 minutes of clock. Ahman Green did the dirty work on a gutsy fourth down call from the one. The very next play after the kickoff, Culpepper found Nate Burleson on a short hookup, but he got loose and ran 68 yards for the score. The Packers would score on their next drive, but again, the Vikings put together a one play drive, this time Michael Bennett (159 total yds, TD) scoring from 38 yards out. The high scoring quarter ended with Green Bay tacking on a field goal. Brett Favre (365 yds, 3 TD) would find Javon Walker on the Packers’ opening possession of the second half, giving the Packers the lead. The Vikings tied things up at the start of the fourth, leading to an exciting finish. The Vikings D would score, courtesy a Favre interception, and the home crowd was alive. But Green Bay would again drive the field, Donald Driver (162 yds, TD) scoring from 3 yards out to tie things up. Penalties would set Minnesota back, and they were forced to punt, setting the stage for Favre getting Green Bay into position for the game winning field goal as time expired. The football weekend was off to a great start!
at Kansas City 31, Oakland 30
Two division rivals without playoff aspirations went at it here, and another high scoring affair ensued. Tony Gonzalez (124 yds, 2 TD) and Trent Green (358 yds, 2 TD) were having a field day early on, and when Larry Johnson (122 total yds, 2 TD) scored from 4 yards out early in the fourth quarter, it looked like the Chiefs were on their way to victory. But the Oakland offense could hardly be stopped, Sebastian Janikowski (3 FG, 3 PAT) connected from 45 yards out to cut the lead to a point. All Kansas City had to do was run out the clock, but Green was sacked and fumbled the ball, giving the Raiders the lifeline they needed. The Raider offense was stifled, but Janikowski bailed them out, booting a 46 yarder to give the Raiders the lead. Now here’s the part I don’t get, there’s not that much time left on the clock, but there is time, and as the kick is sailing thru the uprights, Janikowski is waving bye bye to the crowd. The ensuing kickoff was a squib kick, but Dante Hall timed the bounce right and raced 49 yards to put Kansas City right back in business. The offense would move just far enough, where Lawrence Tynes could atone for his two earlier misses, he connected from 38 yards out giving Kansas City the win. Perhaps Janikowski was waving to his accountant?
Denver 37, at Tennessee 16
The Broncos keep their playoff hopes alive in this one, as no doubt many a fantasy owner is once again burned by the players in a Denver uniform. Jake Plummer (303 yds, 2 TD) was hot all game, making all the right moves as Denver strolls to the easy win. Rueben Droughns (91 yds, 3 TD) also gets a mention in this space for his performance this week, benefiting from an early injury to Tatum Bell. No Titan gets a mention here, not even Brew Bennett who essentially layed an egg.
at Indianapolis 34, San Diego 31 (overtime)
Probably the most intruiging matchup on the card, as still there are doubters out there that the Chargers are for real. They were able to keep pace with the mighty Colts offense, LaDainian Tomlinson (176 total yds, 2 TD), Drew Brees (290 yds, 3 TD) and Eric Parker (103 yds, TD) all playing well enough to get into the print this week. But in the end, it was not enough. Peyton Manning (383 yds, 2 TD) hooked up with Brandon Stokley (123 yds, TD) for the record breaking touchdown pass, and Edgerrin James (127 yds) scored on the two point conversion to tie the game late in the fourth. Drew Brees was picked off on the final drive of regulation and the game went into overtime. The Chargers never saw the ball in the extra session as Indy takes the nice home win.
Houston 21, at Jacksonville nil
Coming off last week’s tight win at Green Bay, the Jaguar playoff bus went off the road here in a stunner against the Texans. Playing without Fred Taylor, Byron Leftwich got hurt in the first quarter and Jacksonville’s offense never got on track. Domanick Davis (150 yds, TD) ran wild for the victors as the Texan D (3 turnovers, 3 sacks, return TD, pitched shutout) also gets a mention here. No Jags to speak of.
at Cincinnati 23, New York Giants 22
By now, losing has just become a way of life for the Giants. They seem to do everything they can during the course of the game to earn a win, but can’t seem to close the deal. On the other side, the Bengals are the team that usually lose games like this. A hard fought first half came to a close with the Giants holding the lead by a field goal. New York would add to that lead, Steve Christie (5 FG, 1 PAT) connecting for his third on the day. The Bengals would fight back, Rudi Johnson scoring from a yard out and Cincy was on top by a point. Tiki Barber (109 yds, TD) wouldn’t let the lead last, as he helped get New York into position for two more FGs and with a little over five minutes to play, the Giants seemed to be in control. New York would even force the Bengals to punt and all they had to do was run out the clock, but they could not do it. A few ticks from the two minute warning, they punted and the Bengals got what they needed, a 42 yard return to the Giant 24 yard line. With everything on the line, the Giants D was coming up big, stoning the Bengals on the first three plays. On fourth down, TJ Houshmandzedah caught a prayer from Jon Kitna on fourth and ten, getting Cincinnati to the five. Two plays later, Chad Johnson (2 TD) was in the endzone and the Bengals had the one point lead. Yet they missed the conversion, and it seemed like the Giants would mount a comeback thanks to a 35 yard return of the kickoff. But it was not to be, Eli Manning’s first pass was tipped at the line of scrimmage and intercepted, ending the Giants hopes.
at Detroit 19, Chicago 13
A snoozer of a game as offense was difficult to come by for both teams in this contest. Kevin Jones (123 yds, TD) and Jason Hanson (4 FG, PAT) did just enough to put the Lions in the win column. No Bears performed well enough to garnish a mention here this week.
at New Orleans 26, Atlanta 13
Without Michael Vick, this one was also another that wasn’t much worth watching. The Saint D (3 sacks, 3 turnovers, return TD, safety) got things going with an early safety and they never looked back in taking the easy win. Warrick Dunn (139 total yds, TD) had a nice game in a losing effort.
at Pittsburgh 20, Baltimore 7
The Steelers lock up the top seed in the AFC as they take a hard fought victory at home. No player from either side gets a mention here as the Steelers ground out the win on the ground while the Ravens offense, as usual, struggled all day. Ben Roethlisberger left the game with a rib injury but the Steelers should have plenty of time to rest him in the coming weeks.
Buffalo 41, at San Francisco 7
If there was ever a player that has performed above and beyond expectations coming from college it is Willis McGahee (102 yds, 2 TD). Those dynasy leaguers that took him as a rookie last year, knowing he would sit out an entire season before having his chance to play are certainly being rewarded right now. McGahee again ran wild as the Bills pummel the hapless Niners in a game where the score does not indicate how bad the beating really was. Lee Evans (92 yds, 2 TD) also gets a mention for the winners while there is nothing to see from the defeated sideline.
New England 23, at New York Jets 7
The Patriots erased any doubts that anyone had about them following last week’s collapse in Miami as they thoroughly dominate the Jets in every facet of the game. Tom Brady (264 yds, 2 TD) was effecient and on the mark all day in the difficult conditions on the road. The Jets couldn’t get their offense going until late in the game when the score was already 23-nil. Let’s just move on.
at Seattle 24, Arizona 21
Despite winning only their eighth game of the season, Seattle clinched a playoff berth with this win. Aah, life in the NFC! However, the win did not come easy as the Cardinals fought tooth and nail right to the bitter end. Arizona took the early lead, thanks to Anquan Boldin (107 yds, TD) collecting a 31 yard scoring pass form Josh McCown (248 yds, 3 TD, 2 int). Then Seattle went to work, mostly on the back of Player of the Week Shaun Alexander (154 yds, 3 TD). Alexander’s third score early in the fourth pushed the Seahawk lead to 24-7, which seemed comfortable. But Arizona was not done and the comeback was on. In fact, the Larry Fitzgerald (70 yds, 2 TD) show was just beginning as he collected two touchdown passes in the quarter. But it was not to be, as the Seahawks were able to run out the clock and survive with the close win.
Carolina 37, at Tampa Bay 20
The Panthers drive to the playoffs marches on as they lay down a solid beating on the Bucs. Muhsin Muhammed (115 yds, 2 TD) scored early on a 15 yard toss from Jake Delhomme (214 yds, 4 TD), but that was just the appetizer for Delhomme on this afternoon. The two would hook up again in the second quarter, giving the visitors a lead they would not relinquish. Brian Griese (321 yds, 3 TD, 2 int) and Joey Galloway (98 yds, TD) did their best to keep the game close, but Tampa Bay could not keep up with the hot Panther offense on this day. Nick Goings (127 yds) also performed well for the winners.
At Dallas 13, Washington 10
Score only, no hilights to see here.
at Miami 10, Cleveland 7
A game that neither team wanted to win closes out this weekend’s games. The Dolphins and Browns both put in an inspired effort, especially on the defensive side of the ball. Lee Suggs (143 yds) had a nice game for the Browns, but he had a costly fumble at the Miami one yard line that prevented the Browns from scoring. Cleveland would also bang a field goal attempt off the right upright, they just could not score. The game droned on, now into the fourth quarter with the teams deadlocked at seven, it had all the makings of a game that would run thru the 15 minutes of overtime without a score. But thanks to a poor punt and good return, Miami had a chance with two minutes to play to end the game in regulation. Yet even then, it didn’t look like the Dolphins wanted the game to end as they struggled to move the ball. Every time they’d run a nice gainer, they’d run a no gainer. Mercifully, Olindo Mare was true from 51 yards out to end things.