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Tunnel Vision - Week 6
By David M. Dorey
October 6, 2003
 

Week Five Bumps, Bruises and Bow-outs

Nothing big here. Looks like conditioning drills may be working.

Emmitt Smith (ARZ) - Sprained shoulder
Derrick Mason (TEN) - Sprained knee
Eric Moulds (BUF) - Pulled groin muscle
Jason Whitten (DAL) - Broken jaw
Matt Bryant (NYG) - Pulled hamstring

Sunday Salutes
Quarterbacks Yards TD
Steve McNair 391 2
Doug Johnson 352 2
Drew Brees 296 3
Running Backs Rush TD
Clinton Portis 220 1
Ahman Green 125 2
Fred Taylor 164 2
Wide Receivers Catch TD
David Boston 181 2
Peerless Price 168 1
Randy Moss 84 2
Tight Ends Catch TD
Jeremy Shockey 110 0
Mikhael Ricks 76 1
Tony Gonzalez 46 1
Placekickers XP FG
John Hall 1 4
S. Janikowski 0 5
Gary Anderson 1 4
Defense/Special Teams TDs Sacks TOs
Philadelphia 1 2 2
Minnesota (2 safeties) 0 2 3
Dallas (2 safeties) 0 3 2

Greased Lightning

Dante Hall has now scored on returns in a record four consecutive games. His this-way, that-way, zoom return in the Denver game not only made him the only returner in the history of the NFL to score touchdowns in four consecutive games, his four scores tie him for the record number of touchdowns returns in a season. One more in the next eleven games and he owns the season record too.

The Chiefs head to Green Bay next week where the Packers are already practicing onside kicks and going for it on fourth down.

Changing jerseys to Hunter Orange

Both the Minnesota Vikings and the Dallas Cowboys recorded not one but two safeties in their games this weekend. In the case of Dallas, they were made on consecutive series in the third quarter with only about three and a half minutes of clock time between them. No one on the Arizona or Atlanta offenses are looking forward to film review of the safeties where someone will ask the cringing question "now which one was that safety?".

Probable, Questionable, Astronomic, Doubtful

The NFL injury report is always important to review each week since it contains those players that have a chance of not playing due to injury. You certainly do not want to squander an all-important starting roster spot to someone that may not even be able to play, right? Let's review the players that appeared on the injury list this week and see if they played. Remember - Questionable means 50/50 so in theory says that half the time a player is listed as such he will not even play. Probable means there is a 25% chance he cannot play.

Player Injury Report Result
Travis Henry Questionable - Chest 99 yards, 2 TDs
Peerless Price Questionable - Foot/Neck 168 yards, 1 TD
Anthony Thomas Probable - Shoulder 123 yards
Ty Law Questionable - ankle 65 yard interception TD
Clinton Portis Questionable - Chest 220 yards, 1 TD
Randy Moss Probable - Back 81 yards, 2 TDs
Deuce McAllister Hospitalized Saturday - Flu 183 yards

The question is not how are you supposed to know who to play, it is how can you get your entire starting lineup on the injury report so you can win?

And the Magic 8-Ball says.... 'Definitely Not'

This was the big "reunion" week in the NFL with players and coaches returning to their old stadiums. It begged the question - "Can you go back home again?"

Steve Mariucci - Lost 24-17 to old employer 49ers but in Detroit terms - eh, not so bad.
Mike Holmgren - Lost 35-13 to Green Bay and yeah, it was bad
Emmitt Smith - Lost 24-7, gained (-1) yards on six carries

This does not bode well for Tony Dungy on Monday night as he returns to his old haunting grounds. No wait - he does have the one key element for a win - Edgerrin James is listed as questionable for the game - whew!

There is no WR in consistency

Thanks to playing on a bad team, or being injured, or just underperforming the entire season, it seemed safe enough to bench those game killers on your roster. Let's look at all receivers with over 90 yards on Sunday compared to what they did the previous week for comparison.

> 90 Yards On Sunday Previous Game
David Boston 181 yards, 2 TDs Suspended
Peerless Price 168 yards, 1 TD 30 yards
Jimmy Smith 137 yards Suspended
Rod Smith 131 yards 61 yards (but ejected the previous game)
Terry Glenn 108 yards, 1 TD No catches
Eric Moulds 99 yards 114 yards
Derrick Mason 99 yards 4 yards
Marty Booker 94 yards, 1 TD 34 yards
Tyrone Calico 92 yards No catches

The next time you see someone drunk and babbling in an alley on a Monday morning, chances are probable that he projects player performances for a living and by now we all know, "probable" means 99.999%.

I suggest when you bench someone, Dr. Livingston...

In the scramble to start your best running backs each week, the astute fantasy team owner gave the well deserved sit-down to the following players:

Anthony Thomas - Bears are terrible, no O-line (123 yards)
William Green - Green is terrible, playing in Pittsburgh, all hope is lost (120 yards)
Antowain Smith - Old news is bad news (103 yards, 1 TD)
Olandis Gary - Beaten out by Bryson on bad team anyway (78 yards, 1 TD)
Rudi Johnson - No name will share with Brandon Bennett (79 yards, 1 TD)
Mike Cloud - No name player coming off suspension to bad team ( 73 yards, 2 TDs)

At least we knew enough to start Ricky Williams (59 yards, 1 TD) and LaDainian Tomlinson (68 yards).

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

Comedy Lineup Yards TDs Tragedy Lineup Yards TDs
QB Byron Leftwich 336 2 QB Rich Gannon 183 0
RB Mike Cloud 73 2 RB LaDainian Tomlinson 68 0
RB Rudi Johnson 79 1 RB Emmitt Smith 1 0
WR Darnerian McCants 79 1 WR Plaxico Burress 19 0
WR Terry Glenn 104 1 WR Amani Toomer 38 0
WR Mikhael Ricks 76 1 WR Donte Stallworth 15 0
PK John Hall 4 FG, 1 XP PK Steve Christi

3 XP

Huddle Fantasy Points = 115

Huddle Fantasy Points = 23

Bad Boys, Bad Boys, whatcha gonna do?

In case you have not put it together yet, there were two players coming off a four game suspension to play in their first game last Sunday. Mike Cloud (73 yards, 2 TDs) and Jimmy Smith (137 yards). David Boston (181 yards, 2 TDs) came off a one week suspension. Terrell Owens (79 yards, 1 TD) was not suspended, but he will be next time - MISTER!

Discipline works even for spoiled millionaires playing, effectively, a school yard game. Apparently, it even works pretty well in advance of doing anything wrong. The Cowboys are now 3-1 and lead the NFC East all by themselves because even the beer vendors are scared of Bill Parcells.

Now if we can just get Kid Rock to get suspended for four weeks...

Sunday's Couch Commentary

ARI 7, DAL 24 The Cowboys start 2003 with a bang while Emmitt leaves the game with a whimper. When a superstar spends the postgame interview referring to his daughter's soccer game, maybe it is time to hang up the Canton cleats and go watch all her soccer games.
NO 13, CAR 19 Like Pollard last week, Deuce visits the hospital and then turns in a big game. Saints show a little life in their offense while the Panthers still have no idea what they have beyond Stephen Davis.
CIN 16, BUF 22 OT The Bengals won on the road last week and take the Bills to OT before losing. These are not the same Bengals. Travis Henry imitates Eddie George except this version scores touchdowns.
MIN 39, ATL 26 I'll see your Peerless Price and raise you a Randy Moss. Vikings start slow, get interested and then head off to their bye week with a slap on the back.
MIA 23, NYG 10 Dolphins realize if they cannot stop the pass, they might as well go ahead and try to catch the Giants' passes themselves. Ricky was sticky but the Barber couldn't cut it either.
TEN 30, NE 38 The Pats are on Cloud #21 after gaining 161 total rushing yards and three rushing touchdowns. Eddie George... ran the ball.... 15 times... for 35 yards... and had two catches... for 13 yards.... in the loss...
DEN 23, KC 24 Vegas bookies now must consider the 7 point Hall Factor in assigning betting lines. The only consistent thing in the NFL is 5'8" and is only on the field a dozen times a game. Portis doubles everything about Priest Holmes except for his side of the scoreboard.
SEA 13, GB 35 Because Wisconsin was serious about that "Walrus-Free" State initiative they voted in a few years back. Favre fails in his quest to give his old coach a proper gift while Ahman Green shows what he can do when he is not fumbling with his asthma inhaler.
SD 21, JAX 27 Battle of the Beatens gives the Gatorade bath to Del Rio. David Boston basically doubled what the rest of the offense could do while Fred Taylor matched him. Previously suspended receivers in this game accounted for over half of the 632 passing yards in the game.
DET 17, SF 24 Garcia looked good, Owens had a touchdown and the Lions only lost by seven points so basically everyone left a winner.
WAS 25, PHI 27 The Redskins have played all five 2003 games that were decided by three points or less. The Eagles have scored more every week now that they figured out Westbrook in the fourth quarter = win.
CLE 33, PIT 13 The Browns almost score as much as their three previous games combined in Pittsburgh without relying on any suspended or injured players. By relying on their new gameplan (run the ball and throw completions), Cleveland is now 2-3 and in a tie for the AFC North. Every week needs a "go figure" game and this was it. Go figure.

Game-O-The-Week

Winner: Oakland 21, Chicago 24

When Chicago can gain their first win of the season by defeating the AFC Champion, you had to know this was going to be another odd weekend in the NFL. True - the Raiders had not actually beaten anyone that had won a game this year, but the Bears qualified in that group. You know - last week showed that Gannon was back and the Raiders were slowly getting on track. Or so we thought.

By halftime, 'yawn', the Raiders led 18-3 because Sebastian Janikowski could kick four field goals in the second quarter even though he missed on his only extra point try. The Raiders could not punch in a touchdown maybe, but they kept getting really close which was more than the Bears could claim. When the second quarter ended, Charlie Garner already had 80 yards and Anthony Thomas only managed 50. Marty Booker had a freak 48 yard pass play so it was assumed he was done for the day. Kordell was only 4 of 9 for 71 yards passing including that 48-yard pass.

The Bears took the opening kickoff and made it to midfield before Kordell threw his second interception of the day. With the ball on the CHI 31-yard line, the Raiders followed their apparent gameplan and after gaining only two yards, they attempted yet another field goal so that the score would go to 21 and we would all glance at the box scores thinking that the Raiders could score three touchdowns. It was blocked!

Then the Bears get the ball back on their own 37-yard line, drive to the Oakland 42 before punting. First play from scrimmage, Rich Gannon throws an interception at his own 18-yard line and the Bears take over already in field goal range. Could it be the tide is turning?

1st down - False start loses five yards and then A-Train runs for a one yard loss.
2nd down - Stewart's pass gets tipped and the center Olin Kreutz wisely grabs if for an 8 yard loss
3rd down - Stewart fortunately throws an incomplete. The Bears have lost 14 yards in two plays already.

On fourth and 24, Paul Edinger comes on for a 50-yard field goal attempt and nails it. With the third period ten minutes past, the Bears draw closer 18-6.

After the Raiders lose four yards on their next series in this game that offense forgot, the Bears take over on their own 33-yard line. Chicago gains yards with Anthony Thomas runs and a Marty Booker pass down to the Oakland 18-yard line when Kordell fumbles the ball but Stanley Pritchett falls on it. On second and 11, Kordell throws to Booker AGAIN. Marty Booker. You remember him from last year? Get this - on third and 7 from the Oakland 14-yard line, Stewart throws it to Booker AGAIN! For a TOUCHDOWN! Throw the ball to Booker? Who knew?

With the first play of the fourth quarter, the Bears have drawn to an 18-13 deficit in something that was coming close to resembling a game.

After trading punts the next two series, the Raiders drive down to the Chicago 34-yard line and just when Sebastian Janikowski is warming up his leg again, Rich Gannon throws another interception that R.W. McQuarters returns to the Oakland 45-yard line. There is now about nine minutes left to play in a game that the Bears trail by only five points.

Kordell rushes for 16 yards and then Anthony Thomas runs for 20 more all the way to the Oakland 9-yard line. Anthony Thomas - that Anthony Thomas. On first down he gets tackled for a one yard gain but on second down, Stanley Pritchett goes over left guard on a misdirection play and scores an 8-yard touchdown! The Bears lead by one! Kordell Stewart runs the two point conversion in himself for a three point lead with only seven minutes left to play.

The Raiders suddenly find themselves trailing in the game for the first time and the veteran players rise from the bench to regain the lead. Starting at their own 38-yard line, Gannon suddenly wakes up and hits Doug Jolley for 11 yards, then Rice for 12 yards down to the Chicago 39-yard line. On first down, since the pass is starting to work again, they run Garner for no gain. On second down, Gannon hits Jolley for two yards. On third and eight from the Bears 37-yard line needing eight yards for a first, the Raiders surprise everyone by running Garner for six yards. Fortunately Sebastian Janikowski lumbers onto the field and hits a 49-yard field goal, his fifth in the game, in order to make it appear that Oakland can score touchdowns.

The one missed extra point back in the first quarter allows the announcers to drone on and on again about the importance of not missing an extra point but with 3:36 left to play, the Raiders have tied the game 21-21. The viewing world begins to make bets how long the Janikowski field goal will be during overtime that wins the game.

The Bears start out on their own 27-yard line with 3:25 left to play. Someone notices that Anthony Thomas has already gone over the 100 yard mark in the game and that, maybe, he would be a way to keep Kordell from throwing an interception.

Thomas takes first down and runs for two yards. Kordell then rushes for six more on second down and on third and two at the two minute mark, Kordell throws a complete to TE Dustin Lyman for five yards and a first down at the Chicago 40 yard line. Clock is ticking and it appears the Bears will be able to keep the Raiders from getting the ball and beating them in regulation.

Anthony Thomas runs for five yards on first down and then Kordell throws an incomplete with a minute left. On third and five from the Chicago 45, he throws to Dez White who only gains four yards. On fourth and one from midfield with only 45 seconds left, the rational thing is to punt. Be safe - punt it away so that the Raiders can kick the game winning field goal in overtime instead of during regulation. But they don't. Maybe it is the Houston effect still in play and maybe Dick Jauron just has plans immediately after the game, but they go for it by having Kordell Stewart lunge over left guard for the first down!

Midfield and Kordell quickly spikes the ball to kill the clock with only 22 seconds left. Could something be happening?

On second and 10 from midfield, with only 22 seconds remaining, Kordell runs for 19 yards all the way to the Oakland 31-yard line! But wait! A holding call! Oh no - forget it. Why did we get all excited? Chicago is placed back on their own 40-yard line with 15 seconds left. It was too good to be true. These are the Chicago Bears and that is Kordell Stewart and what were we thinking?

The Bears have one time-out but are about 30 yards away from a long field goal to win. Offensive holding - pffft. They were so close. Kordell takes the snap and then, hey - he threw it to Dez White. And White is still running. He gets down to the Oakland 31-yard line before getting knocked out of bounds with only nine seconds left to play. What? Could.. Could it be?

Anthony Thomas goes over right guard for a yard and the Bears burn their time-out with only five seconds left to play. From the Oakland 30-yard line. And Paul Edinger comes in and from 48 yards out he kicks it.

True. Field Goal. Bears win! Bears win! Kordell Stewart wins! I knew it! I knew it all along! Bears win!

It was the perfect ending for the game of the week - a last second, long field goal by the Bears to give them their first win and send the Raiders packing with their incredible inability to score touchdowns or figure out how their offense runs anymore.

On any given Sunday, the Bears really can win, Kordell can do the right thing. Suspended players can become instant stars when they return and the only real purpose of an injury report is to injure everyone else's ability to determine who is going to play and play very well. On any given Sunday, we can all learn that you cannot give up on players just because of a slow start and that just when you write off that running back he will go off on your bench. And on any given Sunday, professional football will be thrilling, unpredictable, frustrating and hope inspiring. On any given Sunday, anything is possible. Savor it and remember it.

Because today is Monday.

Now get back to work...