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Tunnel Vision - Week 2
By David M. Dorey
September 15, 2003

Week Two Bumps, Bruises and Bow-outs

This season is starting out with many more injuries than last year.

Jeff Blake (ARZ) - Bruised heel
Jeff Garcia (SF) - Mild concussion but returned
Steve McNair (TEN) - Dislocated finger but returned
Jake Plummer (DEN) - Shoulder separation
Kordell Stewart (CHI) - Strained neck
Clinton Portis (DEN) - Bruised chest
Corey Dillon (CIN) - Hyperextended knee but returned
Lavernues Coles (WAS) - Neck/back spasms but returned
Reche Caldwell (SD) - Dislocated wrist - will need surgery
Joe Jurevicius (TB) - Sprained knee
Terrell Owens (SF) - Mild concussion but returned

Sunday Salutes
Quarterbacks Yards TD
Vinny Testaverde 373 1
Patrick Ramsey 356 2
Tom Brady 255 3
Running Backs Rush TD
Jamal Lewis 295 2
Ahman Green 160 1
Priest Holmes 128 3
Wide Receivers Catch TD
Lavernues Coles 180 1
Darrell Jackson 133 2
Santana Moss 142 1
Tight Ends Catch TD
Dallas Clark 63 0
Alge Crumpler 54 1
Shannon Sharpe 47 1
Placekickers XP FG
Mike Vanderjagt 3 4
Jason Elam 4 3
John Kasay 0 4
Defense/Special Teams TDs Sacks TOs
Kansas City 2 4 4
Seattle 1 2 6
New England 1 7 3

Why yes, I not only can write that check, I can cash it too, Bucko

When Jamal Lewis was talking on the phone to Cleveland linebacker Andra Davis last week, he mentioned that if the Ravens would allow him to carry the ball 30 times in the game that he could break the all-time single game rushing record set by Corey Dillon with 278 yards.

A man of his words, Jamal Lewis had an 82 yard scoring run on the second play of the game. He had a 63 yard scoring run in the fourth quarter. By the end, he had exactly 30 carries in the game and he did, as foretold, surpass Dillon's record by running for 295 yards. Lewis actually had a third scoring run of 60 yards called back in the first half due to Marcus Robinson's holding call.

The Raven's rushed for a franchise record of 343 yards in all and with every record broken, there is also someone who allowed it to be broken. The Browns allowed more rushing yardage than any other game in their franchise's history.

The Brown's defensive tackle Gerald Warren summed it up in an understated way when he later said "This could be a wake-up call, the defense has to stay strong, stick together and not let this move us back." A wake call is no doubt needed too, since on Sunday in a historic game, the entirety of the Dawg Pound was put to sleep.

It's one thing to make a mark, it is quite another to do it behind glass in Canton, Ohio.

They were in the backfield anyway

Week two only had two running backs that scored on passes this week - Reuben Droughns and Tony Fisher. Compared to week one, when a total of seven different runners caught a score, the day was very sparse for passing to the backs. No Holmes, no Faulk, no stud running back, just backups Droughns and Fisher who between them had no rushes and only three catches for two touchdowns. Last week there were seven running backs that had passing scores. Ricky Williams, Shaun Alexander, Garrison Hearst and other names we might actually have on our fantasy teams.

There were actually seven more touchdowns thrown to backs yesterday. Problem was that those were defensive backs with an unusually high amount for one day.

Errr... back to the waiver wire!

How did those red-hot players that no one owned last week do now that they were acquired by teams happy to have their new studs?

QB Jeff Blake (ARZ): Week one - 385 yards, 3 TDs. Week two - 55 yards, 2 interceptions
QB Joey Harrington (DET): Week one - 195 yards, 4 TD's, Week two - 241 yards, 3 interceptions
TE Josh Norman (SD) : Week one - 64 yards, 1 TDs, Week two - 0 catches, 0 TDs
TE Matt Schobel (CIN) : Week one - 97 yards, Week two - 13 yards, 0 TDs
WR Anquan Bolding (ARZ) : Week one - 217 yards, 2 TDs, Week two - 62 yards, 0 TDs

What are you waiting for? Tony Fisher and Reuben Droughns are still available!

Do a little dance, make a little love...

When the San Francisco 49ers tied the St. Louis Rams with only 23 seconds left in the game, they used their little known secret weapon. Terrell Owens ran straight into the endzone and Jeff Garcia threw it right to him on fourth down. Who would have guessed that would be the play? I mean sure - putting FS Aeneus Williams man to man with one of the best receivers in the past decade who is only four inches taller seems like a prudent move but it wasn't in the end.

Then when San Francisco kicked a bullet-fast squib directly into the facemask of Rich Coady and recovered the live ball, they were all set up for a dramatic comeback. There were 13 seconds on the clock and Garcia spent four on an incomplete. With only nine seconds left, Garcia hit the slanting Cedric Wilson who caught it and ran. And he cut and he ran. Then he ran a little more until he reached the Ram's 29 yard line with nary a second left on the clock. Meanwhile, on the sideline, the entirety of the Dennis Erickson's coaching staff was screaming "GET DOWN! GET DOWN!". The 49ers still had a time out they could have used.

By the time the Rams took the overtime kickoff and marched down for the winning field goal in only four plays, it seemed a missed opportunity that the stadium could not locate their copy of "That's the way, uh-huh, uh-huh, I like it..."

Drama 101 - Somebody has to laugh, somebody has to cry

Comedy Lineup Yards TDs Tragedy Lineup Yards TDs
QB Jake Plummer 96 3 QB Rich Gannon 103 0
RB T.J. Duckett 35 2 RB Curtis Martin 30 0
RB Tony Fisher 24 1 RB Eddie George 46 0
WR Santana Moss 131 1 WR Quincy Morgan 18 0
WR Deion Branch 89 1 WR Peerless Price 28 0
WR Bobby Shaw 81 1 WR Randy Moss 38 0
PK John Kasay 4 FG PK Martin Gramatica

1 FG

Huddle Fantasy Points = 106

Huddle Fantasy Points = 24

Redefining Dynasty

The best eight teams from last year made it into the second round of the playoffs for 2002. How are they doing now only two games into 2003?

Tampa Bay - (1-1) Tied for last place in NFC South. Only five NFL teams have less points scored.
Oakland (1-1) And this by barely beating Cincinnati in Oakland
Philadelphia (0-2) - Last in NFC East and no other team has less points scored.
Tennessee (1-1) - The most respectable of the final four teams last year.

San Francisco (1-1) - Chicago was a breeze but St. Louis remained Ram-tough.
New York Jets (0-2) - snuck into 2002 playoffs and now cannot even buy a ticket
Atlanta (1-1) - Losing Vick meant making Spurrier look good
Pittsburgh (1-1) - At least they are tied for the lead in the AFC North

The best eight teams from last year and not one had made it two games without a loss. There are currently eight teams that are 2-0 on the season and only Indianapolis made it to the playoffs last year when they were waxed by the Jets 41-0 in the wildcard round.

Parity now is just a great big dice cup each season that has the good and bad teams roll out in random fashion.

Sunday's Couch Commentary

PIT 20, KC 41 It's just like last year except the Chiefs are not allowing opponents the big comeback wins. How many more Holme's highlights must we suffer this year?
BUF 38, JAX 17 Bills hot start reminiscent of last season while Travis Henry rekindles the spirit of Cris Carter by rushing 21 times for 26 yards and three touchdowns.
TEN 7, IND 33 McNair loses the use of his ring finger while the Colts finally find a use for their middle finger. George's rushing average now held constant by standing him up at the line of scrimmage and then just tipping him over forward.
DET 6, GB 31 Yes Mooch, the folks at home watched the game but you've already exceeded expectations. On the plus side Harrington still has thrown one more touchdown to his own team than he has to defenders. It is a start.
CLE 13, BAL 33 295 yards. Jamal Lewis gained more rushing yardage on his second run than the Browns did in the entire game. As expected, that is a very bad ratio. In the background, a noise comes from the bench " cough-cough-Couch-cough-cough"
WAS 33, ATL 31 In the land of mini-me runners, Rock Cartwright and Ladell Betts versus T.J. Duckett goes to the team with the best defense. No - I mean Washington had the better defense.
MIA 21, NYJ 10 Vinny rediscovers his old self by throwing for 373 yards but only scoring once in a loss. The Dolphins lose that monkey hanging onto their dorsal fin from last week.
SF 24, STL 27 Rams hold off surprise attack by Garcia and Owens for the win while Martz pays the team doctor to tell Warner that he has contracted a rare disease with no symptoms but which prohibits him from starting. Cedric Wilson needs to work on his sheepish look for the next time the cameras follow him for the last fifteen minutes of the game.
HOU 10, NO 31 I'm guessing the team jet resembles a pumpkin again and preparing for the Chiefs to visit Houston next week no longer looks as appealing as it once did.
SEA 38, ARZ 0 When a team can secretly suspend their star receiver for the game, you knew this is was not going to be a nail biter.
CHI 13, MIN 24 The good news here is that Chicago is on a bye next week so you will not be disappointed again.
NE 31, PHI 10 Plucked, cut up and made into a shocking eagle chowder that seems to be the soup of the month now. The "draw straws" system of running back rotation seems to need revamping.
CIN 20, OAK 23 Once again we are faced with a "are they really that good/bad" set of questions. This just in - Kitna threw for exactly 200 MORE yards than Gannon did. And yet lost.
DEN 37, SD 13 The second string backfield for Denver only scored half what the first string did but that was still good for more points than the Chargers could generate. If SD gives Portis 120 yards in two quarters, I wonder what Jamal Lewis is saying about his trip there next week?


Winner: Carolina 12, Tampa Bay 9

The 49er-Ram game was a heavy contender here, but anytime a Superbowl champion can play their home opener against a team that they beat twice last season, it is a good story.

The Panthers took the lead, 9-0, when John Kasay kicked his third field goal in the third quarter. The Buccaneers had reached the Carolina 21-yard line in the second quarter, but Martin Gramatica's field goal attempt was blocked. He redeemed himself right before the end of the third quarter when he made his 41 yard attempt and drew the team to within six points, 3-9.

The two teams both had two series leading up to the third attempt by Gramatica from 47 yards out with 8:27 remaining. It was, of course, blocked by Julius Peppers big paw and gave the Panthers a big sigh of relief that they promptly turned into a "three and out" series.

After Tampa Bay did likewise, the Panthers took the ball to midfield where they punted down to the Tampa Bay 10-yard line with only 1:49 seconds left to play. Ninety yards away from a win, Brad Johnson led the team down to the Carolina 23 with only 19 seconds left and third and 15 yards to go for a first down.

He hit Keyshawn Johnson for 17 yards down to the Carolina 6-yard line. After spiking the ball to kill the clock with only five seconds left to play, his final chance was a touchdown strike to Keenan McCardell who was wide open in the endzone and almost exactly the same game time and quick route that Owens caught his score in the Rams game. The Buccaneers tied the game 9-9 with only an extra point to kick to take the heart-wrenching win away from the Panthers.

Now two of Gramatica's field goal attempts had already been blocked. That is a reason for concern and when the Panthers loaded up half their team over the left offensive guard, it was a clue that they were not going to go quietly into that good night. Snap - set down - kick - WHACK!

The Panthers managed the very rare trifecta for blocking kicks. Jon Gruden was displeased, but not nearly so as to cast suspicion on him when the his Special Teams unit is collectively found face down in the Gulf of Mexico by passing Cubans immigrating to America in a '67 Dodge Dart with pontoons. Maybe they all went swimming and drowned?

The Panthers won the overtime coin flip but after the kickoff only reached their own 37-yard line. They punted to the Buccaneers who got down to the Carolina 42 yard line before needing to punt. It is not that Gramatica could not attempt a 59 yard field goal, it was just that Gruden was concerned how far back the batted kick attempt would go. In order to give the Panthers poor field position, they punted to Steve "you looking at me?" Smith who returned it from his own 8 yard line and made it 52 yards away to the Tampa Bay 40-yard line by running through the aforementioned special teams unit.

The Panthers could only get as far as the 24-yard line before fourth down. Then before they could kick, Todd Steussie had a false start to make it from the 29-yard line. From 47 yards away, John Kasay nailed his fourth field goal in the game to take the win 12-9.

It was appropriate that the Buccaneers lost to the Panthers since they lost on poor special teams play to a defense that would not allow them to even get a kick off. In this world of temporary champions and no dynasties, it was appropriate because the Panthers and Buccaneers first met last year in Carolina and though the Panthers put up a spirited fight, they lost to the visitors.

The score last year was 12-9, Buccaneers.

What comes around, goes around.

Now get back to work...