What an incredible week of fantasy offense this one was. I have a normal threshold of 18-22 points that a guy has to score in order to get a mention in the weekly story. Time used to be that it was set in stone at 20, but I don’t like to have to mention more than 30 or so guys, it just gets too cluttered, that’s why the range. Incredibly, this week’s “cut” is at 25 points. When you think about it, that means that 30 guys scored 25 points or more in an average scoring system. If I stuck with 20, then I’d have to talk about 44 guys, may as well just have a list. Surely it’s possible this week that your team beats your opponent without getting players with official mentions in here. Wow.
Enough about this drivel, I’m already late in getting this posted as it is….on to the games!
Indianapolis 41, at Detroit 9
Turkey Day got off with a dud as the Colts show no regard for the “Lions always win on Turkey Day” montra. This one was over when Detroit lost the coin toss. Seriously. Peyton Manning (236 yds, 6 TD) hooked up with Brandon Stokley (57 yds, 3 TD) on the opening drive and the Colts never looked back. Manning would hook up with Stokley two more times, before getting Marvin Harrison (127 yds, 3 TD) involved in the action. The Lions were able to generate some offense in response, but they’d always end up with field goals. When Detroit turned the ball over just before the half and Manning converted that into another TD pass, the game was toast and probably your turkey was being served.
at Dallas 21, Chicago 7
What in hades were the Bears wearing in this game? Was it red, was it orange, was it the television set I was watching or something in between?!?! Whatever it was, it didn’t work. If the first game of Turkey day was a dud, then I’m not sure what this one was. Drew Henson proved he is not yet ready for prime time as both teams mailed in a dismal effort in the first half. Vinny Testaverde came off the bench to lead Dallas to some offensive production in the second half, Julius Jones (150 yds, 2 TD) did some fine running and the Dallas D (6 sacks, 4 turnovers) also did their part in the home victory. The only offense the Bears really could muster was from their defense, scoring on an interception return. Luckily, most of you were probably in full nap mode before the final gun sounded on this one.
at Cincinnati 58, Cleveland 48
You want offense? We got offense in this one. Leave it to the Browns and the Bengals to get together for nearly 1000 (yes, one thousand) yards of total offense and a record setting 106 points between the two teams. I mean, where do we even begin with this one. On the second play of the game, the Browns picked off a Bengal pass and on their first offensive play, Kelly Holcomb (413 yds, 5 TD, 2 int) hooked up for the first of three with Steve Heiden (82 yds, 3 TD) from seven yards out. The Bengals would quickly respond, most of the yards courtesy a Rudi Johnson (202 yds, 2 TD) 51 yard burst and it was quickly tied. On their next possession, Carson Palmer (251 yds, 4 TD, 3 int) took just three plays in going 67 yards, all of it to Chad Johnson (117 yds, TD), including the last 46 yards thru the air. TJ Houshmandzadeh (79 yds, 2 TD) got into the act as the Bengals took a 27-13 lead into the halftime break. Heiden and TJ exchanged TDs to start the third quarter, then Kelly Holcomb (413 yds, 5 TD, 2 int) clicked with Antonio Bryant (131 yds, 2 TD) for the first of his 2 TDs in the quarter, both sandwiched around a Rudi Johnson TD run. The scoring continued at a rediculous pace in the fourth quarter as well. Heiden’s third TD catch early in the fourth gave the Browns a brief lead. The Bengals quickly stormed back, once again Rudi hitting paydirt to put the Bengals back on top. Finally, the scoring ended as the Bengals D got into the act, returning an interception for a TD late in the fourth to seal the win. Whew!
San Diego 34, at Kansas City 31
Perhaps now people will listen to us here at FantasySharks.com and take the Chargers seriously? This back and fourth battle got started early with LaDainian Tomlinson (103 total yds, 2 TD) punching in a one yard run to open up the scoring. Kansas City would answer with two runs for TD of their own and the scoring race was on. Tomlinson clicked again but it was KC that took the slim 17-14 lead into the break. Things got exciting when Dante Hall took the opening kickoff of the second half and appeared to be home free for the score when he fumbled the ball switching hands at the five yard line. The Chargers took that miscue and tied the score on a FG. The teams would trade TDs again early in the third, San Diego’s coming via air, Drew Brees (378 yds, 2 TD) to the unstoppable Antonio Gates (92 yds, 2 TD). Dante Hall took the ensuing kickoff, and this time got into the end zone to once again give the Chiefs the lead. It would be short lived as again, Brees to Gates worked, tying the score at 31. The Charger D picked off the Chiefs and that set up the winning FG for the visiting Chargers.
at Minnesota 27, Jacksonville 16
Of utmost importance to us and Vikings fans, Randy Moss returned and did fairly well in this one, catching a few balls including a TD. Daunte Culpepper (235 yds, TD, rush TD) had a strong game as this one was hard fought from the get go. Jacksonville welcomed back their starting QB, but the results did not go in their favor. Moss’ score put the Vikings up by 10 in the third quarter, but Jacksonville would not go away. A FG brought them close and they were driving in the closing minutes. However, the Vikings got to Leftwich and the fumble was returned for a touch, sealing Jacksonville’s fate.
Philadelphia 27, at NY Giants 6
I’m convinced that Tom Coughlin is not interested in winning football games or making the playoffs. Or maybe it’s just that the Giants don’t want to win either. With the weather a bit frightful in the Meadowlands, the Giants took to warming up underneath the stands, out of the elements, while the Eagles took right to the field for their warmups. A sign of things to come in this game. These two division rivals kept things close in the early going, Philly clinging to a 7-6 lead. The Giants had first and goal from the three, and instead of running with Tiki Barber, Coughlin called for a fade to the corner that was badly thrown, and easily intercepted. That would be the last time the Giants would threaten. The Eagles scored just before the half, Brian Westbrook (127 total yds, 2 TD) doing the honors from one yard out, and the 20-6 halftime lead was more than enough as the Eagle D limited Eli Manning to 14 yards passing in the second half. Donovan McNabb (244 yds, TD, rush TD) performed well for the winners.
at Pittsburgh 16, Washington 7
These are the games the Steelers like to play. Everything close to the vest, not a lot of scoring, but plenty of defense. Mix in a little running, this week once again provided by Jerome Bettis (100 yds, TD), and that is a mixture for victory. Of course, we were all told that Duce Staley was going to be back so as dutiful fantasy owners with Bettis, we put him back on the bench. What a surprise it was to find out that Staley would not be playing – coal for you Mr.Cower! Nothing to report from the Skins in this one.
at Carolina 21, Tampa Bay 14
Believe it or not, this win puts the Panthers right back in the playoff chase. And this one was all about special teams, in particular Buc kicker Martin Gramatica. He missed from 39 yards out in the first quarter, had a 26 yarder blocked later in the game, and with the score tied late in the game, missed from 37 yards out with the score tied late in the game. Carolina seized the opportunity, racing down the field where Keary Colbert (72 yds, 2 TD) caught the game winning pass with less than a minute to go in the game. Tampa had one last gasp but a hail mary fell just shy. Michael Pittman (134 rec yds, 2 TD) and Brian Griese (347 yds, 2 TD) did well in a losing effort, but it was not enough to overcome.
at Houston 31, Tennessee 21
A tale of two halves in this one, the first belonging to the Titans as they raced to a 21-3 lead. The home crowd was not pleased with the first half effort, and when the Texans had a FG attempt blocked at the end of the half, the boo birds were out in force. Steve McNair (227 yds, 3 TD, 1 int) was brilliant in getting Tennessee the lead. But the second half was all Texans, as they forced McNair into two costly second half fumbles. Domanick Davis (181 total yds, TD) doing most of the damage on the ground while David Carr settled down and got things done in the air in the nice win for the home team.
at Atlanta 24, New Orleans 21
These Saints ain’t easy to figure out this season. A team that should be doing better than they are, this game ends up as another loss for them. They got in a hole early, 14-0, but they kept clawing back at the Falcons. When Joe Horn (101 yds, TD) hit paydirt in the fourth quarter, giving New Orleans their first lead of the game, it was looking like victory was at hand. The Falcons would drive the field, the the Saints D responded, stripping Warrick Dunn as Atlanta was looking to score. A three and out by the offense put the ball back in the hands of Michael Vick (69 rush yds, rush TD, 212 pass yds, 2 TD) and this time the Falcons did not miss, Vick finding Alge Crumpler from 20 yards out for the winning score with under 2 minutes to play. Another tough loss for the Saints on what has become a tough season.
Miami 24, at San Francisco 17
With the #1 pick in the draft at stake, the Dolphins are a team that is still showing signs of life. The Dolphin D (8 sacks, 3 turnovers, return TD) played a tremendous game, yet another team that made Tim Rattay look silly. Not a lot of offense from either side, but the guts of the week has to go to AJ Feeley. With his finger dislocated, Feeley ran off the field holding his mangled hand in the air. A crew of Dolphins on the sideline snapped the finger back into place, and two plays later Feeley found Chris Chambers for a 25 yard TD pass. Tremendous guts shown on a team that could have easily given up. Speaking of given up, hello San Fran, nothing to report here.
Buffalo 38, at Seattle 9
Here’s another team that is suddely showing tremendous signs of life. The Bills back up their beat down of the Rams last week by crushing the Seahawks on the road in a rout. Player of the Week Willis McGahee (116 yds, 4 TD) took advantage of Travis Henry breaking his leg in the first quarter and Buffalo just runs away with this one. Wither Seattle? Quickly moving right along.
NY Jets 13, at Arizona 3
One of the few games this week where offense didn’t rule the day, the Jets and Cardinals battled to a close low scoring game here. Santana Moss caught a 69 yard bomb in the third quarter, scoring what would be the final points of the game. 13 points seems to be enough for the Jets to win these days, well, at least when playing against the Cardinals. Not that it matters much, but Emmitt Smith left the game after injuring his toe, the extent of the injury not known at press time.
At New England 24, Baltimore 3
Speaking of the weather being frightful, a monsoon hit New England and both teams seemed to enjoy the elements. These are two teams that run the ball well and play tight defense, but without Jamal Lewis, that put the Ravens at a disadvantage. The Patriots would take advantage, with Corey Dillon (123 yds, TD) putting in an excellent effort on the ground. As is usually the case in these types of games, once the Patriots got up by 14 points on Dillons fourth quarter score, they forced the Ravens to go to the air, and that was not a pretty sight. The NE D (4 sacks, 2 turnovers, return TD) flexed and scored on a fumble recovery right after Dillon’s score and that pretty much sealed the deal.
Oakland 25, at Denver 24
We go from the monsoon of New England, to the blizzard of Denver. Yet these two teams seemed to find a way to keep their offenses moving and some points were scored. Denver needed this one to keep pace with the Chargers, but agianst their bitter rival Raiders, nothing would come easy. The Broncos got up 10-0 early in this one, but the Raiders quickly came back with Jerry Porter (135 yds, 3 TD) from Kerry Collins (339 yds, 4 TD, 2 int) being twice as nice. Reuben Droughns (102 yds, TD) got the Broncos back on top early in the fourth quarter, and the stage was set for a great finish to this game. Denver stretched their lead to 9 on an interception return and it looked like victory was at hand. But Collins kept bringing Oakland back, getting the Raiders down to the one yard line on their next possession, aided by pass interference in the end zone. The Raiders would then work backwards, a fumble, a penalty, then ultimately an interception ended this drive. Three and out for Denver gave Oakland a little more hope, and on the ensuing possession, Ronald Curry made a spectacular catch in the end zone from 6 yards out to make things close. Oakland would get the ball back once more after another Bronco three and out, and again Collins went to work, hitting Curry for a 63 yard gained on the second play. Things would boil down to fourth and goal from the five yard line, under two minutes to go, and Collins would again find Porter for the trifecta and go ahead lead. This time it was the Broncos that would have to comeback, and Jake Plummer got them within Elam’s range, however his 43 yard attempt at the win would be blocked, and the Raiders go home with the win.