Week twelve is almost in the books, and I know I’ve said it before, but what a week this was. With most fantasy league regular season schedules coming to a close, it’s nice to have a week like this when the fantasy scoring is high. A whopping 43 players make this week’s story, and while many of the usual suspects will be there, a cast of strange characters made a big splash this week.
As far as the actual games, there was excitement from coast to coast. Scores were high as six teams were forced to put in some extra time in their games. In the end, it was a dog day afternoon as ten ‘dogs on my sheet covered the spread. Funny thing, I thought the NFL still played a Sunday night game….yet I see the Florida State Seminoles taking on the Miami Hurricanes?? And I thought Spurrier coached the Florida Gators? Perhaps I missed a memo or something. Let’s get right into the games…
at Baltimore 44, Seattle 41 (overtime)
Talk about a plethora of fantasy scoring, when 85 points are scored in a contest, there is going to be much props handed out. The game started out innocently enough, with 3:32 left in the half, Matt “Hot” Stover (3 FG, 5 PAT) clicked from 21 yards out to tie the score at three. Seattle marched right down the field to take a 10-3 lead with half a minute to go in the half and that should have been that for the half. On the next play, Chester Taylor fumbled, Seattle returned the miscue 24 yards, one play and ten yards later Matt Hasselbeck (333 passing yards, 5 TD, 0 int) found Bobby Engram (2 TD) for a score that made it 17-3 at the half. Then the scoring got crazy. When Hasselbeck again hooked up with Engram at the start of the fourth quarter, giving the Seahawks a 41-24 lead, that seemed like that would be the end of the Ravens. The comeback began with nine minutes to go, the Ravens blocked a punt and returned it for a touch. A turnover later, Player of the Week Marcus “Swiss Family” Robinson (7 catches for 131 yards, 4 TD) and Anthony Wright (319 passing yards, 4 TD, 0 int) got together for the fourth time to bring Baltimore even closer with less than two minutes to go. Seattle was ready to salt it away, recovering the onside kick. Facing a fourth and one from the Baltimore 33 yard line, the Ravens stuffed Hasselbeck, giving the offense one last chance with 39 seconds to go. A forty four yard pass interference penalty put it into Stover range, and hit didn’t miss, clicking from 40 yards out to force the extra session. Seattle had the ball first in overtime, but could not score. Baltimore once again got into Stover Range, where he ended things from 42 yards out, completing the incredible comeback. Jamal Lewis (160 total yards) also did well for the winners while Darrell Jackson (7 catches for 146 yards, 2 TD) performed well in defeat.
Pittsburgh 13, at Cleveland 6
Just an ugly game where it seemed like no one wanted to score. The Browns dominated statistically, outgaining the Steelers 303 – 168, but their struggles in the red zone hurt them, as they suffer the tough defeat. Only James Jackson (143 total yards) did well enough to get a mention here. Let’s move on to the more exciting games of the day.
at Dallas 24, Carolina 20
Perhaps now people will begin to take the Cowboys seriously, after taking down the top team in the NFC. Dallas got up early in this one and held on late, as Quincy Carter (254 passing yards, 2 TD, 1 int) led the way. Nothing else of fantasy to note here, moving right along.
at Green Bay 20, San Francisco 10
Slow and steady often times wins the race, in this case, it was a slow and steady running game that won it for the Packers. Ahman Green (154 rushing yards) recorded his fourth 100 yard game in a row, as Green Bay rang up 254 yards on the ground. San Francisco never threatened, and since they were held to less than 200 total yards of offense, no Niner will make this week’s story.
Indianapolis 17, at Buffalo 14
It’s funny, when the point spreads were announced early in the week, there was no line on this one. The guy that runs the weekly “contest” that I’m in will often make up a line, especially in this case since it seems like it will be a one sided affair. The line came out at 10.5 and looking thru the sheets (yes, “the guy” is me), most people still took the Colts. Vegas did end up setting a line of three points, I guess they know what they were talking about. The Bills were looking for the upset, taking a 14-3 lead early in the fourth quarter, but that’s where Edgerrin James (147 total yards, 2 TD) went to work. The Colts were helped along when rookie WR Aaron Moorehead fumbled, but guard Rick DeMulling scooped it up and ran another 16. James did the honors from 14 yards out, and Buffalo went three and out on the ensuing series. The Colts then went on a 16 play march that began at their own 17, James finally breaking into the end zone after three previous tries from inside the five yard line. Despite finally producing some offense, no Bills make this week’s story.
Minnesota 24, at Detroit 14
The Vikings were looking to avoid losing their fifth straight game, and they almost didn’t do it in this one. With the offense sputtering, it was the Vikings D (4 turnovers, 2 return TD) that won it, picking off passes on consecutive plays and returning them both for touchdowns. Nothing to report from the Lions.
New England 23, at Houston 20 (overtime)
Don’t you just hate when you’re watching a game and for whatever reason, they have to start showing the useless facts. Like when Adam Vinatieri is lining up for a kick just before half time, they have to mention that he’s never missed a kick indoors. Bling, he hits the upright and the kick is no good. Or later in the game when Vinatieri is lining up for the winning kick in overtime, they have to show that Houston has never blocked a field goal attempt. Sure enough, they get their first. It’s useless facts like this that drive me crazy. In any case, what a game this ended up being. It seemed like neither team wanted to win this one in the first half, both teams wanted to win in the second half, then as it went into overtime, neither team wanted to win. Midway thru the fourth, Houston scored to take the lead 17-13. Four plays after that, they blocked a punt, four more plays later they settled for a field goal to push the lead to 20-13, and it looked like the Texans would score the upset. But three minutes to a guy like Tom Brady (368 passing yards, 2 TD, 2 int), even though New England was 80 yards away, is like an eternity. Brady went to work, and as was the case most of the game, Kevin Faulk (188 total yards) did most of the damage. The clock was winding down and the Pats put themselves on the Houston 13 yard line. On fourth and one, ala Joe Montana, Brady scrambled to his right and found Daneil Graham on fourth and one, for the score. Graham had been trouble holding onto passes all day, and this one went in a little slippery, but when he hit the turf he had a hold of this one. Houston won the toss in OT, yet on the first play, Tony Banks was intercepted. New England didn’t need any yardage, but as mentioned above, Vinatieri’s kick from 37 yards out was blocked. Houston’s drive stalled just out of field goal range, and three punts later, it was Vinatieri that was again in range. With less than two minutes before it would have ended in a tie, this time he was good from 28 yards out to put an end to the game. No Texans make the story this week, though it was a valiant effort.
at New York Jets 13, Jacksonville 10
This was a matchup of Marshall quarterbacks, as once again the Jets would be playing from behind in the fourth quarter. This one looked over when Jacksonville stopped the Jets, forcing them to turn the ball over on downs with a four point lead and three plus minutes to go. But the New York D held strong, forcing a punt after only three plays. With a shade over three minutes, no timeouts, and 94 yards to go, this was going to be a tall order for Chad Pennington to lead then to the win. But that’s exactly what he did, marched his team all the way down the field where he found Santana Moss for the score from three yards out. The Jags couldn’t mount anything with the little time they had left, and the Jet faithful got to go home happy. Curtis “My Man” Martin (108 total yards) the only player from either team to get a mention here.
at Philadelphia 33, New Orleans 20
The Eagles continue to roll, taking their sixth straight win this week. David “Green” Akers “is the Place to Be” (4 FG, 3 PAT) did much of the scoring, while Donovan McNabb (259 passing yards, 1 TD, 0 int, 54 rushing yards) provided the offense in the win. Deuce McAllister (232 total yards, 2 TD), Eddie “Boo” Williams (9 catches for 110 yards, TD), and Aaron Brooks (287 passing yards, 3 TD, 0 int) did well in a losing effort, but it was not enough.
Cincinnati 34, at San Diego 27
Coming off last week’s upset of the Chiefs, the Bengals faced the task of travelling west to try and keep things going. A possible let down game was avoided as their offense continues to hit on all cylinders. “Hanging” Chad Johnson (10 catches for 107 yards, 3 TD) from Jon Kitna (243 passing yards, 4 TD, 0 int) was the story of the day, as they take the nice road win. David Boston (9 catches for 139 yards, 2 TD), LaDanian Tomlinson (144 total yards, TD), and Doug Flutie (210 passing yards, 2 TD, 0 int) did well in defeat, but it was not enough to overcome. Somewhere after the game the Bengals passed along the “worst in NFL” torch along to the Chargers, that is unless they can turn things around and get a couple of wins before the season ends.
Chicago 19, at Denver 10
Kordell Stewart replaced the injured Chris Chandler, and led the Bears to the upset win. The Bears scored 10 unanswered points in the fourth quarter, six on Stewards one yard sneak on fourth and goal. Denver’s offense had trouble, especially in the fourth quarter, but things went bad to worse about midway thru the last period. After finally moving the ball, with just under four minutes to play, they had to settle for a field goal attempt…but a poor snap couldn’t be handled, and Elam never got a chance to kick the ball. Chicago then chewed up some clock, and by the time the Bronco offense got the ball back, it was too late. Paul Edinger (4 FG, 1 PAT) the only player from the Bears to get a mention here, while Clinton Portis (188 total yards) and Rod Smith (9 catches for 86 yards, TD) get some props in defeat.
at Kansas City 27, Oakland 24
Whenever these bitter rivals get together, you can throw the records out the window as you know it’s going to be a close and hard fought contest. This was no different. The Chiefs were looking like they would take home a nice win as Priest Holmes (191 total yards, TD) and Trent Green (244 passing yards, 1 TD, 0 int) were moving the ball well, but Oakland came back like gang busters in the fourth. Rick “Ad”Mirer (219 passing yards, 1 TD, 0 int, rushing TD) must’ve polished off his old golden dome helmet, as he actually plays his was into this week’s story. He found Jerry Rice to start the fourth, for Rice’s first touchdown of the season, and the Raiders were down by three. With a little over four minutes to play, Oakland got the break they needed as second year man Philip Buchanon had a nice punt return to put the Raiders in a dangerous position. However, he got caught up in the moment, took his helmet off in celebration, and that cost his team 15 yards. Oakland had to settle for a game tying field goal, and with a shade over two minutes to play, it was Kansas City that had one last chance. Green didn’t disappoint, moving his team down the field on a drive that included a 16 yard completion on fourth and 14 to keep the drive alive. Gary Anderson’s boot with four seconds left from 35 yards out was good, just barely making it over the crossbar, and the Chiefs had the win.
St.Louis 30, at Arizona 27 (overtime)
Another of the strange games this week, and another of the overtime variety. Marc “Battle of the” Bulger (329 passing yards, 1 TD, 4 int) had a solid fantasy day, but his five turnovers almost cost his team the win. The Rams were up in this one by two touchdowns, but that’s when Anquan Boldin (6 catches for 123 yards, 2 TD) went to work, scoring once at the end of the third, and once again early in the fourth. The Cardinal D (5 turnovers, return TD) forced Bulger to fumble, and they settled for a field goal which gave them a three point lead with six minutes to play. Bulger was picked off on the ensuing series, but the Cardinals were forced to punt, giving the Rams one more chance. With Marshall Faulk (133 total yards, TD) doing much of the damage, the Rams actually had a first goal from the seven, but time wasn’t on their side and after two unsuccessful tries, Jeff Wilkins sent the game into overtime. In the overtime, the Rams didn’t waste much time, taking the opening kickoff and moving down the field. The drive stalled, but Wilkins again saved the day by connecting from 49 yards out to end it. Torry Holt (9 catches for 145 yards) and Isaac Bruce (7 catches for 99 yards, TD) also did well in victory.
Tennessee 38, at Atlanta 31
A tale of separate quarters in this one as Atlanta raced to a 21-0 first quarter lead, which began with Tennesee’s opening drive stalling and the punt being returned for a touch. Then Steve McNair got things going in the second quarter, hooking up with Frank Wycheck (2 TD) to get Tennessee on the board. Atlanta fumbled the ensuing kickoff, and one play later Wycheck was in the end zone again. However, the next time the Titans got the ball, McNair injured his calf and left the game, not to return. Atlanta opened up the second half by extending their lead to ten, but thanks to Eddie “Curious” George (141 total yards, TD), the Titans raced right down the field to score. Tennessee’s D held, and Justin McCareins (4 catches for 72 yards, 2 TD) returned the punt for the touchdown, giving the Titans the lead that they would not relinquish. Warrick Dunn (143 total yards, TD) and Doug Johnson (276 passing yards, 2 TD, 1 int) did well in defeat.
at Miami 24, Washington 23
On the third play of the game, Brian Griese hooked up with James McKnight for an 80 yard score, but that was nearly it for the Miami offense. Washington got a couple of field goals to close the gap to one point after one quarter, then tacked on two touchdowns in the second before Miami’s Olindo Mare closed the gap with a 51 yard boot just before the half. Washington pushed the lead back to 13 points late in the fourth, and it looked like Miami would not have anymore answers. Enter Jay Fiedler, who on his first play, ignited the offense by finding Chris Chambers for a 31 yard gain. The drive ended with Ricky Williams (107 rushing yards, 2 TD) hitting paydirt from a yard out and Miami was back in the game. The Dolphins forced the punt, and Miami again drove the field, Williams again getting it done, this time from 24 yards out. Filling in for the injured Patrick Ramsey, Tim Hasselbeck did well, but on the ensuing drive he was picked off. Miami was forced to punt, but Washington’s Patrick Johnson couldn’t handle the kick, Miami ended up with the ball and the Dolphins were able to take a knee, and take the win. No other players make the story from this game.