And so week 13 is almost in the books, is it even necessary to play out the NFL playoff bracket? The Packers are a pretty good team, and yet the Eagles are just that much better. Another banner week for offensive players, could there have been any more scoring in the first half hour of football this weekend? Every time the ticker came across it was another 7-10 points per team…per game! Let’s get right into this week’s games…
at NY Jets 19, Houston 7
Chad Pennington returned to action for the Jets, and that sparked the New York offense as they cruise to the win here. Houston played it close in the first half, actually holding a 7-6 lead at the break, but the second half was all Jets. The defense put the clamps on the Texans, keeping them off the scoreboard in the last two quarters while the offense did just enough to win. Curtis Martin (134 yds, 2 TD) did well for the winners while no Texan gets a mention here this week.
at Tampa Bay 27, Atlanta nil
The Bucs prevent the Falcons from clinching the division championship, as they manhandle the Atlanta offense all game in this one. The TB D (pitched shutout, 5 sacks, 5 turnovers) really the only story here to cover. They intercepted a pass in the end zone on first and goal from the one early, and were never threatened again.
Cincinnati 27, at Baltimore 26
As the third quarter ended, the scoreboard was only showing only 3 Bengal points, last week’s 58 point outburst seemed a distant memory. The Ravens had built a nice 20-3 cushion, mostly thanks to the running of Chester Taylor (139 yds, TD) who filled in for Jamal Lewis. But then the Ravens began to fall apart. A muffed punt set up Cincinnati in prime position, and Carson Palmer (382 yds, 3 TD) went to work, hooking up with Chad Johnson (161 yds, 2 TD) for a 13 yard score, then again from 12 yards out after a 3 and out by the Ravens offense. Baltimore then tacked on a field goal, but Cincinnati could hardly be contained on offense, this time TJ Houshmandzadeh (171 yds, TD) on the scoring end of Carson’s arm. But Baltimore would rally, getting anove field goal to go on top by 2 points. Again, Cincinnati’s offense went to work, and their efforts were rewarded when they got a 24 yard boot as time expired to take the win.
at St.Louis 16, San Francisco 6
Marc Bulger was knocked out of the game in the first quarter, but Chris Chandler dusted off the old (and we stress the word old here) shoulder pads to do just enough to get the Rams into the win column. Steven Jackson won’t get an official mention here, but he had a nice game eclipsing the 100 yard mark in filling in for the injured Marshall Faulk. Torry Holt (160 yds, TD) will get an official mention, he the only player to get a touchdown in this game. Nothing to talk about for the Niners, let’s move on.
Buffalo 42, at Miami 32
Once again a valiant Miami effort ends in a loss as their opponent picks off a pass and returns it for a touchdown. Pat Williams’ 20 yard interception return with under two minutes to go iced this game away, but prior to that, it was an exciting game with plenty of offensive fireworks. The game got started with Buffalo returning the opening kick for a touchdown, that was a sign of things to come. Then AJ Feeley (303 yds, 3 TD, 5 int) came out en fuego, tossing three TD passes in the first quarter alone as the teams combined for five TDs in the first fifteen minutes. Things cooled down in the second quarter as the Dolphins built a 10 point lead. That cushion would not last, Drew Bledsoe (277 yds, 4 TD) hooked up twice with Lee Evans (110 yds, 2 TD) to put Buffalo on top in the third. The Bills would push their lead to eleven but Miami came back for a score that brought Miami to within three. But it was not to be, the Bills D (7 turnovers, 2 return TD) getting the last score of the game to clinch the win.
Carolina 32, at New Orleans 21
The Panthers continue to impress of late, making a run for a wildcard spot in a weak NFC wildcard race. Nick Goings (122 yds, TD) and Muhsin Muhammed (179 yds, TD) did well on offense while John Kasay (6 FG, 2 PAT) kept booting the ball thru the uprights in what was an easy win for Carolina. The Saints continue to muddle along as Joe Horn (160 yds, 2 TD) and Aaron Brooks (251 yds, 3 TD, 2 int) get a mention here their play not nearly enough to overcome.
at Chicago 24, Minnesota 14
There’s something about the Vikings travelling to Chicago in December as once again Minnesota loses on the road to the Bears. Chad Hutchinson (213 yds, 3 TD, 0 int) may be the first Bear signal called to get a mention in the story’s this year, but his performance this week has him deserving of the honour. A hard fought division battle, he the only Bear to get into here in a team effort. On the other side, the Vikings were left scratching their heads as only Duante Culpepper (279 yds, 2 TD, 3 int) performed well enough to get into this week’s ink.
New England 42, at Cleveland 15
The Patriots got scores from all three phases of the game, including a return of the opening kickoff for a score, as they beat down the Browns. The NE D (3 sacks, 4 turnovers, 2 return TD) had their way with the young Browns offense and Corey Dillon (100 yds, 2 TD) did well enough to get a mention here. Dillon did most of his work in the first half, and rested most of the entire second half with some leg situation (not deemed to be serious). It was a blow out, so he wasn’t needed. Fantasy owners could take solice in the fact that he ran once in the second half, for two yards, which got him to 100 yards. Playing from behind meant passing, and by sheer numbers Antonio Bryant (115 yds, 2 TD) and Luke McCown (277 yds, 2 TD 2 int) make their way into the story this week.
at Detroit 26, Arizona 12
Kevin Jones (196 yds, TD) ran wild for the Lions…..and that’s all we need to report here.
Tennessee 24, at Indianapolis 17 (first quarter)….Indianapolis 51, Tennessee 24 (final score)
In some games, this would be considered a final score, but not the way Indianapolis was playing. Tennessee showed some mettle in this one, not once but twice recovering on-sides kicks in a first quarter that featured 41 points. Drew Bennett (124 yds, 3 TD) made the most of his three touches in the first quarter, scoring each time as Billy Volek (269 yds, 3 TD, 2 int) was on his way to having a good game. But on the other side in this contest was Peyton Manning (425 yds, 3 TD). He had another tremendous day, and this time he actually led Edgerrin James (105 yds, 2 TD) run a couple into the end zone as the Colts pulled away in the second half. Brandon Stokley (153 yds, TD) also gets a mention here in a winning effort.
Kansas City 34, at Oakland 27
A tale of two halves in this one, Oakland winning the first, but Kansas City won the second and the game. Ronald Curry (141 yds, 2 TD) and Kerry Collins (343 yds, 3 TD) were making music in the first, as Oakland build a 10 point cushion at the break. But the second half was all Trent Green (340 yds, 3 TD), as he put together a near perfect second half of football, incompleting only one pass. Larry Johnson (118 yds, 2 TD) scored twice in the third period but Oakland would not go away, Curry again putting the Raiders on top early in the third. A field goal would tie things up, then with three minutes to go, Eddie Kennison (149 yds, TD) got free in the secondary and scored for the margin of victory. Oakland would have a chance at the end, but the Chiefs D would put an end to the Raiders drive.
at San Diego 20, Denver 17
It seems like I write this every week, but perhaps *now* people will take the Chargers seriously? I remember the emails I got way back in the preseason, after I had written that I thought the Chargers had a chance to put together a good season if Brees played well. He is indeed playing well, and so is San Diego, now fully in charge of the AFC West. On a cold and rainy day, this was an exciting game right to the very end. LaDainian Tomlinson (113 yds, 2 TD) had put San Diego up early, and his second score of the game again put the Chargers on top. They would extend the lead to 17-7 at the break. They’d push things to 20-7, but that would be the last of their scoring, they would have to rely on their defense to save the day. And they did. The Broncos got to within a field goal, and again they were driving with under four minutes to play. San Diego would come up big, making the interception in the end zone to stop the drive. But they couldn’t run out the clock, and Denver had one last chance. This drive would end as the Broncos converted on fourth down at midfield, but Darius Watts did not go out of bounds and time ran out on this comeback attempt.
at Washington 31, NY Giants 7
The New York Giants, despite the weak NFC, have no interest in winning this year. Tom Coughlin continues to play an ineffective Eli Manning, and in doing so he’s costing his team a shot at the playoffs. Manning and the offense struggled, which made it look like the Washington defense that had been missing for the last three weeks played well, as the Skins take the easy win. Clinton Portis (148 yds, 2 TD) ran hard for Washington in the winning effort.
at Philadelphia 47, Green Bay 17
Green Bay is a good football team, Philadelphia is just that much better. Donovan McNabb (464 yds, 5 TD) had a tremendous first half, and when he threw is fifth TD pass of the first half to Player of the Week Brian Westbrook (156 rec yds, 3 TD) with under two minutes to go, this one was toast. Terrell Owens (161 yds, TD) and David Akers (4 FG, 5 PAT) also got into the act as McNabb was throwing the ball to everyone. Green Bay’s offense never really got on track, being down by 32 at the half didn’t help. No Packers to mention here.
Pittsburgh 17, at Jacksonville 16
Sometimes to win games in the NFL you have to take chances, the Jaguars did not take those chances in this one. This was truly a physical battle all game, that boiled down to each team’s final possession. Down by a point, Jacksonville was finally able to get the ball moving, and positioned themselves well into field goal range. But instead of going for the touchdown, they instead tried in vain to run time off the clock while settling for the kick. As a result, they left the Steelers too much time to respond. Just under two minutes was left, but that was plenty of time for Ben Roethlisberger (221 yds, 2 TD). He moved the Steelers easily down the field, and on a play that epitomized the game, was able to run time off the clock as well. Big Ben had just thrown a 9 yard pass to put Pittsburgh on the 20 yard line, and he quickly lined up the offense for another snap. Jacksonville had 2 timeouts at the time, and yet they let time continue to roll, Big Ben didn’t snap the ball until the play clock had run down to nothing, and he spiked the ball. Pittsbugh then decided to kick on third down, not having a time out they rushed their kicker onto the field as the play clock ran down. Not to worry, Jacksonville would call a time out so that the Steelers could take their time and line things up. The kick was good, and 18 seconds remained. Despite the poor clock management and waste of a precious timeout, the Jaguards would threaten before the final gun. They moved the ball close enough where they’d attempt a 60 yard field goal. Josh Scobee’s attempt did end up being long enough, but was wide right by less than a yard and the Steelers escape with a hard fought win.