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Tunnel Vision - Week 10
By David M. Dorey
November 3, 2003
 
Sunday Salutes
Quarterbacks Yards TD
Chad Pennington 281 4
Brad Johnson 333 2
Kerry Collins 303 2
Running Backs Yards TD
Ahman Green 189 1
Troy Hambrick 100 2
Anthony Thomas 111 2
Wide Receivers Yards TD
Torry Holt 200 1
Amani Toomer 127 1
Santana Moss 121 3
Tight Ends Yards TD
L.J. Smith 97 0
Billy Miller 58 1
Todd Heap 53 1
Placekickers XP FG
Jason Hanson 2 3
Mike Vanderjagt 2 3
Josh Brown 2 3
Defense/Special Teams TDs Sacks TOs
New Orleans 1 4 6
San Francisco 1 5 3
Jacksonville 1 0 2

Week 9 Bumps, Bruises and Bow-outs

Wayne Chrebet (NYJ) - Back bruise
Domanick Davis (HOU) - Strained chest
Chad Morton (WAS) - Sprained ankle
Patrick Ramsey (WAS) - Fractured finger
Marques Tuiasosopo (OAK) - Sprained knee

So, like, we gets keys and everything?!

Though the taxes may be high, the Saints have now gained all rights, title and interest to the greater Tampa Bay area by virtue of their most recent takedown of the Buccaneers. The Saints 17-14 victory comes on the heels of their sweep of the Buccaneers last season. It was December of 2001 when Tampa Bay last beat the Saints though they did wedge a world championship in last year.

So far the Buccaneers have followed the new NFL motto - "never do the same thing twice". While winning only every other game is surprising, the amazing part is that Buccaneer ticket holders have only seen one win all season.

The Omen

The Eagles kicked off to the Falcons to start their game and Alan Rossum ran towards the left sideline. Unfortunately, he did not bring the ball with him even though he was not touched on the play. As he attempted to change the ball to his other hand, he fumbled it away and the Eagles found themselves on the Atlanta 11-yard line with the game only eight seconds old. The Falcons lost 16-23.

The 49ers received the kickoff from the Rams to start their game and Cedric Wilson returned the kick 95 yards for a touchdown. In a sign of what was coming, a block in the back was flagged on the play but the referees decided it was just too pretty to call back and picked up the flag. The 49ers won 30-10.

Let's blame Chad

The state of Florida is a hotbed for football fanatics even if there are problems with voting machines there. The state currently hosts the world champion Buccaneers, the perennial AFC East contending Dolphins and even can rely on Jacksonville for the occasional nice game.

Unfortunately, those three teams are all 1-3 at home this season. If the South is going to rise again, home would be a nice place to start. That is one bandwagon that the 0-5 Falcons could stand to join.

Vegas-shmegas

In typical fashion for mid-season, the teams favored by odds-makers went 6-7 yesterday if you ignore the points and just consider who won. If you consider the point spreads, following Vegas favorites meant going 4-7-1 on the day. There were only two games that exceeded 41 total points and if you bet that every game were to end under the expected points, you would have gone 10-3 on the day. Hmm... upsets everywhere and no points to spread around.

Are Survivor Pools supposed to end at mid-season?

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

Comedy Lineup Yards TDs Tragedy Lineup Yards TDs
QB Tim Rattay 236 3 QB Aaron Brooks 142 1
RB Olandis Gary 52 1 RB Marshall Faulk 0 0
RB Corey Schlesinger 56 1 RB Corey Dillon 13 0
WR Michael Lewis 69 1 WR Terrell Owens 17 1
WR Freddie Mitchell 43 1 WR Marvin Harrison 60 0
WR Javon Walker 42 2 WR Joe Horn 39 0
PK Josh Brown 3 FG, 2 XP PK Martin Gramatica

2 XP

Huddle Fantasy Points = 100

Huddle Fantasy Points = 33

Well if Kyle Boller can do it once

Philadelphia had a nice bit of timing by visiting the Falcons during the week that head coach Dan Reeves got peeved and benched his entire starting secondary. Donovan McNabb responded by throwing his first 300 yard game of the season, ending with a touchdown and 312 actual "in the air, thrown to a receiver" yards.

Not only did McNabb manage to gain roughly the same amount of passing yards that he totaled in the three previous games, he even threw a touchdown to a wide receiver. Freddie Mitchell snagged a 37-yard touchdown pass and even added one more catch for six yards during the passing explosion. James Thrash had four catches for 69 yards to lead all receivers who were not rookie tight ends. Add in Todd Pinkston's two catches for 15 yards and it all adds up to exactly the same yardage and scores for Amani Toomer of the Giants.

Of course it falls well short of Tory Holt on the day, but wide receivers in Philly - who knew?

Sunday's Couch Commentary

IND 23, MIA 17 Let's see if we understand this. Miami was favored to win the AFC East when the season started and though they are only one game back, they have gone 1-3 at home. Ricky Williams has averaged 60 yards a game for the past five weeks with a 3.0 yard average during that time. The Colts win even though Marvin Harrison had only 60 yards receiving (and half of that was one pass). Evidently Universal Studios has opened their newest thrill ride in Miami. Visitors welcomed.
CAR 10, HOU 14 Let's see if we understand this one. Stephen Davis runs for 153 yards and Steve Smith scores what is now the obligatory touchdown. Domanick Davis only gains 74 yards and the Texans start Tony Banks for the first time. So then naturally the Texans win. Okay, let me start over. Delhomme throws for more than Banks, and then... 'sigh'
OAK 13, DET 23 The Raiders now exist to refute the old adage "well - it cannot get any worse". When Tuiasosopo was injured (and thankfully for announcers trying to quickly say his name), Rick Mirer finally had the opportunity to say "you want me to WHAT?". The Raiders have gone from winning the AFC Championship last year to getting beaten by the Lions who, incidentally, now have the same record as the Raiders. While Steve Mariucci has long ago traded in his boyish charm for his team-issued wrinkles, there is a smile in there somewhere this week.
SD 7, CHI 20 Anthony Thomas actually lied in the training room and said his foot was all better just so he could hop 31 times for 111 yards and two touchdowns. When the Chargers have to play their Flutie, they are playing 'Taps'. When Chris Chandler can rip off an eleven yard run, it is a sure sign that team speed is not a hallmark of the defense.
JAX 17, BAL 24 So the Jaguars go to Baltimore, right. And then they have more passing yards and more rushing yards and less turnovers than the Ravens - okay? Now stay with me on this one. And so like Jamal Lewis only runs for about 68 yards and does nothing in the game but the Ravens still win even though the Jaguars did better because, um, because... I hate when I forget the punchline.
STL 10, SF 30 Because the Rams beat the Cardinals by 24 even though the 49ers lost to them last week by three points. Just take the inverse of that, multiplied by a factor of Cedric Wilson and you get the result. The Rams cannot win on the road through no Faulk of their own. Terrell Owens is now dedicated to quality instead of quantity, catching touchdowns on half of his two receptions.
NO 17, TB 14 Maybe they are all secretly scared of the pirate ship in the stadium and fear the sound of the cannons when they go off. Keyshawn Johnson catches 10 passes for 124 yards. That alone should tell you that the game was not going to follow conventional wisdom. When the Saints defense collects six turnovers and scores once, it is a further statement that the game is not going to follow the laws of physics as we know them.
PIT 16, SEA 23 Maurice Morris almost matched the totals of either Alexander or Bettis with one 43 yard run. Kickers scored 21 of the 39 points in the game and it was 9-6 heading into the fourth quarter. The Seahawks rise to one of the least impressive 6-2 records in the NFL while the Steelers have lost five games in a row. How many "turn it around" speeches does Cowher have, anyway? This just in - the Bus is running and it still stops at every corner.
CIN 14, ARZ 17

There are only five teams in the NFL with more home wins than the Cardinals. There are only five teams in the NFL with more home wins than the Cardinals. There are only five teams in the NFL with more home wins than the Cardinals. There are only five teams in the NFL with more home wins than the Cardinals...

Sorry. Must have been a flashback to fifth grade during the penalty phase of "no gambling on school grounds". Sidenote - that little jerk Tommy Smith is a squealer and a welch.

WAS 14, DAL 21 This would have been the game of the week if it contained even a shred of drama. Hambrick fumbles twice and sets up the first Washington score even though the Redskins cannot even kick an extra point. The best passes thrown by Carter were of the "falling and throwing it sort of at someone" variety. Chad Morton was the kid brother who finally got to play with the big kids and got hurt just like we told Mom would happen. Patrick Ramsey now prepares for games by getting run over by a car, followed by diving into pools with no water and ending with a massage using a jackhammer.
PHI 23, ATL 16 Oh yeah, Michael Vick is just pacing on the sidelines saying " I want a piece of that!" If the Falcon's substitute secondary gave up 312 passing yards to McNabb, exactly how bad were those starters anyway? 138 years later and Atlanta is still burning.
GB 30, MIN 27 There is no running in the house! I said - no running in the house! HEY - is anyone listening to me? You there - Ahman - stop that. Don't run away while I am talking to you! Almost game of the week here. Just takes all the fun out of the "Bennett is back" party. Consider that the Vikings bombed the Packers in Green Bay to open the season so the Packers, who historically have problems in Minnesota even when the Vikes are terrible, can pull out a win using Brett Favre and his broken thumb.

Game-O-The-Week

This was a fairly brutal week. No comeback wins, almost all games turn in lower than expected points and underdogs win all over the place. Miami, Minnesota and Tampa Bay all lose at home. Ten of the games end with a touchdown or less difference in the scores and yet no thrilling comebacks? This happens every year - there is always at least one week where underdogs do very well and we still have one week left to go where road teams win a big portion of the games. Now if we could just figure out which weeks those would be...

Winner: NY Giants 31, NY Jets 28

This is a perfect game of the week in the sense that it represents the week well. The winner was the visiting team, which was really at home, and it went into overtime so that the Giants could defeat the team that it led 28-14 in the fourth quarter. Don't touch that dial - Just kidding!

It was a big game since it was the first start by Chad Pennington during the regular season. Evidently losing Lavernues Coles was not a big deal since by the time the fourth quarter started Santana Moss already had two touchdowns. Considering that Coles ended with about 100 yards and two scores less than Moss yesterday, it sort of makes Pennington look just a little more critical to the passing equation than we thought.

With only six minutes left in the fourth quarter, the Jets drew to a 21-28 deficit when Pennington found Moss for his third touchdown of the game. After two touchdowns, most defenses would try to limit the third. Hard to imagine the secondary was focusing on Wayne Chrebet or Curtis Conway.

The Giants then find themselves in that nasty little situation again. With six minutes to go and a seven point lead to protect, the obvious choice is to run the ball and kill the clock but who will run it? Tiki "Yo - someone fall on that thing" Barber or Dorsey "met at the line" Levens? Fumble or punt? The answer was evidently - "punt".

The Giants reached midfield and had to punt with three minutes left to play. Collins had moved the ball a little with passes, Levens had two runs for a total of four yards and finally Barber had one carry where he gained no yards because as soon as he reached the line of scrimmage he immediately went into a fetal position, somehow wrapping his arms and legs around the football.

Pennington moved the Jets from his own 14-yard line to the Giants nine yard line in 11 plays. On one third and 13, he threw to Moss for 12 yards but the Giants had a roughing the passer call. On fourth and one from the Giants 24-yard line, he connected with Santana Moss for a 15 yard gain. He spiked the ball on the next play to kill the clock with only 35 seconds left. He then hit Anthony Becht for the nine yard touchdown to tie the game. Afterwards, the Giants secondary met on their sideline and high-fived each other because hey - Moss did not catch that touchdown, boy!

The Giants let regulation expire when they had the ball since they have such fond memories of overtime this season.

They win the coin toss and march from their own 34-yard line to the Jets 21-yard line using mostly Barber rushes. With the opportunity to win the game on a 38 yard field goal before them, Brett "The New Guy" Conway pulls it left for a miss.

By this point, the fans stick around to see how the Giants will manage to lose this game. After trading punts, the Jets reach the Giants 32-yard line where the drive stalls, amazingly, on a pass to Santana Moss. On fourth down, Doug Brien trots onto the field and promptly kicks a 51 yard field goal attempt that is blocked.

The Giants take over at their own 36-yard line and after two Levens runs for three yards, Collins completes passes to Barber and Toomer to reach the Jet 22-yard line. Barber runs two more times for 11 yards and the clock drains all the way down to 41 seconds left in overtime. The two teams combined for 36 points in the two previous quarters and now have almost made it fifteen minutes with nothing but bad field goal attempts.

Finally, mercifully, Brett Conway comes out and nails a 29 yard field goal to win the game. New Yorkers stand up, grab their coats and mutter "well there is an hour I will never get back".

It was one of those quirky weekends in the NFL that happens every season. Little drama, no comebacks. Not only do most underdogs win, but most of them do so convincingly. It was a weekend that showed playing at home was a big advantage unless you had a really good team. Half the teams that played came off a loss to win or a win to lose. In an era of parity, yesterday saw the three longest current streaks that played lose yet again (PIT - 5, OAK - 4 and WAS - 4).

Consider this the "you're not as smart as you think you are" week. In what should prove to be a nail-biting season finish in many divisions, this was the screwy calm before the storm. One step back for many teams now ready for two steps forward. And we have not lost a coach or big player for the season. At least not yet.

Now get back to work...