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Tunnel Vision - Week 11
By David M. Dorey
November 10, 2003
 
Sunday Salutes
Quarterbacks Yards TD
Duante Culpepper 412 4
Trent Green 368 3
Peyton Manning 347 2
Running Backs Yards TD
Rudi Johnson 200 2
LaDainian Tomlinson 207 2
Priest Holmes 158 2
Wide Receivers Yards TD
Santana Moss 146 1
Ricky Proehl 133 1
Lavernues Coles 125 1
Tight Ends Yards TD
Marcus Pollard 92 1
Tony Gonzalez 70 1
Desmond Clark 39 1
Placekickers XP FG
Jason Hanson 0 4
Shayne Graham 4 2
Jeff Wilkins 3 4
Defense/Special Teams TDs Sacks TOs
Tennessee 1 4 5
Pittsburgh 1 5 1
St. Louis 1 7 7

Week 10 Bumps, Bruises & Bow-outs

Charlie Garner (OAK) - Strained lower back
Marvin Harrison (IND) - Strained hamstring
Shawn Jefferson (DET) - Sprained knee
Jeremy Shockey (NYG) - Sprained knee
Kyle Boller (BAL) - Sprained knee

Low Expectations Redefined

During the St. Louis - Baltimore contest, Ray Lewis was "miked up" for the game and was heard delivering those sweet words every offense wants to hear - "just don't give up any points". While it is nice to have a defense as good as the Ravens, most NFL teams want their offense to aim a little higher than "don't give away any points".

Unfortunately, after seven sacks, four lost fumbles and three interceptions by the offense (including one fumble return for a touchdown), perhaps he should have gone with "just take a knee".

Well, can I at least get a saddle then?

The Bengals defeated the Texans 34-27 without the services of Corey Dillon who was held out of the game in order to allow his groin to heal even more. Dillon has complained about the playing surface in Cincinnati and the previous week it was a concern that he should not play in Arizona where the field was too chewed up. By this point, the only place he seems safe to play him is in Madden Football 2003.

Apparently Rudi Johnson has not experienced the same problems as Dillon on those surfaces since he carried the ball 77 times in the past two games. This week his 43 carries were the second highest in NFL history. In case you have not considered the waiver wire as fruitful in the past, Johnson has now carried more times in the past two games (77) than Dillon has this entire season (69). Dillon will be back in the picture this week, it's just that no one remembers why.

Attack of the Little People

The NFL has long been the home to society's gargantuan class. The prototypical anything is over six feet high, can bench press a domestic car and weighs almost that much.

Yesterday we were reminded that bigger is not always better and if you want an upset, rely on the team munchkin.

The Panthers defeated the Buccaneers yesterday and Steve Smith (5'9") keeps catching touchdowns.

The Chargers finally benched Drew Brees and went with Doug Flutie (5'10") so that he could run for two touchdowns and pass for two as well in their win.

The Falcons went to New York for their expected butt whooping and left as the whoopee thanks in no small part (pun intended) to Warrick Dunn (5'9") who ran for 178 yards and a touchdown.

The Jets managed a comeback win over the Raiders thanks to the most productive receiverin the NFL on Sunday - Santana Moss (5'10") who gained 146 yards and one touchdown. His score came on a 65 yard pass. Actually it was about a 10 yard pass but when Charles Woodson tried to sling him to the ground, Moss kept his balance and was actually propelled for the remaining 55 yards. The little ones do not throw down very well.

Maybe Plaxico Burress (6'5") needs to start crouching down when he goes out for a pass?

Umm.. This is about me, isn't it?

In week nine, the Raiders lost to the Lions and Rick Mirer was forced to replace the injured Marques Tuiasosopo. Against one of the worst secondaries in the league, Mirer only completed 15 of 28 passes for 125 yards and two interceptions. He was trying to pass to two certain Hall of Fame receivers and Jerry Porter at the time. He was evidently considered more of a liability than an asset going into this week's matchup with the Vikings. Mirer found himself doing the opposite of the 2003 Raiders.

He handed off instead of passing the ball. In fact, Mirer handed off 23 times before he ever attempted a pass (incomplete). The Raiders eventually were forced to throw the ball and while Mirer did end with one touchdown and 186 yards passing, the run to pass ratio for the game was 52-25 or roughly 2:1. The Raiders are becoming very unpredictable now, all except for that scoreboard thing.

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

Comedy Lineup Yards TDs Tragedy Lineup Yards TDs
QB Doug Flutie 266 4 QB Kerry Collins 202 0
RB James Jackson 84 1 RB Ricky Williams 59 0
RB Jerald Sowell 52 1 RB Troy Hambrick 33 0
WR Ricky Proehl 133 1 WR Chris Chambers 30 0
WR Corey Bradford 73 1 WR Ike Hilliard 18 0
WR Chris Doering 62 1 WR Plaxico Burress 6 0
PK Jason Hanson 4 FG PK Olindo Mare

1 XP

Huddle Fantasy Points = 120

Huddle Fantasy Points = 25

There's no place like not here

The Giants are now 1-4 at home and come off a domination by the Atlanta Falcons (just when I thought I would never write that again). Preseason favorites to win their division have not fared well where the heart is supposed to be this year. The Giants (1-4), Pittsburgh (2-3), Oakland (2-2), Philadelphia (2-2) Green Bay (2-2) and Tampa Bay (1-3) have not exactly been delighting season ticket holders.

Shame too, since yesterday was one of those statistical oddities where the home team won 11 of 13 games. Even the Jaguars had their first home win as a member of the AFC South. But don't get used to it - each season always has one week a year that the visitors win about 9 or 10 of the games and it has not happened yet.

Everybody hold hands, ready? 1... 2... 3... jump!

Starting yesterday there were three teams in the NFL that were 1-7 on the season. The Jaguars (vs. 7-1 Colts), the Falcons (vs. 4-4 Giants) and San Diego (vs. 6-2 Vikings). All three teams won and two of them defeated divisional leaders.

Does no one want the first pick in the draft?

Sunday's Couch Commentary

CLE 20, KC 41 Sure, Priest and Gonzo had big games but when Green throws a couple of scores to his wideouts, who can beat this crew? KC has CIN, OAK and SD up next and this whole unbeaten thing is probably not over quite yet.
IND 23, JAX 28 So this is what the Colts are like without Marvin Harrison. Evidently it is not something worth doing twice. Sure, it was Homecoming week all over the NFL, but 7-1 losing the 1-7 team? In their own division?
CHI 10, DET 12

The Lions beat the Bears and yet had a total ground game of 20 carries for 17 yards. Reggie Swinton's one run for nine yards was more than Shawn Bryson gained in ten carries. And now Detroit is on a two game winning streak and hoih 8OUWER8 T 8 WER8 G8YER (call 911- I'm having convulsionss90ihqw[e8 h 08ywer[g8ye rgw0 e98yrg 0ewrg

HOU 27, CIN 34 This is why we love football. There were 315 yards gained by Rudi Johnson and Domanick Davis in the game. No wait - this is why we love the waiver wire. Knock knock - who's there? NOT DILLON OR MACK
TB 24, CAR 27 This would have been GOTW, but the last time they played already was a few weeks back. Panthers entered the game without Stephen Davis and with only Steve Smith as a weapon that had been working lately. Ricky Proehl's 66-yard TD bomb was a big factor but inevitably it was Steve Smith yet again scoring the winning points. Smith now regularly supplies the winning margin and when he does not kick defenders, it usually is his own team winning.
BUF 6, DAL 10 When tight end Dan Campbell scores the only touchdown in the game, you know that the Cowboys defense will be keeping the lofty ranking again this week while their offense continues to slide downward. Eric Moulds led all receivers on both teams with only 32 yards receiving. Drew Bledsoe still doesn't like Parcells and yet millions of Texans are adding him to their Christmas card list this year.
MIA 7, TEN 31 McNair only had two touchdowns before losing interest in the game and the fastest way to make Ricky Williams a non-factor is to intercept his quarterback three times. Okay, that and not allow him to gain yardage just like almost all opponents have done lately. Rumors are that Flipper is suing the team for defamation of character.
ARZ 15, PIT 28 Maybe the Steelers still cannot run and maybe their secondary cannot stop anyone and maybe Plaxico Burress can never be another Chris Doering, but having the Cardinals as a visitor will cure what ails you. Considering the Steelers go to SF next week it may be a temporary cure, but so is drinking more alcohol to combat a hangover. And both feel pretty good at the time.
ATL 27, NYG 7 At last - final proof that we are in the Matrix and Agent Smith has one wicked sense of humor. There were so many reasons why the Giants should have won the game that it should have been obvious that they wouldn't. Falcons win by only completing nine passes for 65 yards in the entire game and Kittner only had five yards rushing. Heck - Vick could probably have done that a month ago. The G-men begrudgingly accept the Doofus Torch from the Raiders who carried it all last week.
MIN 28, SD 42 So let me get this straight - that whole perfect six weeks to open the season was just a very long fluke and the Vikings really do have the same defense from last season? It's like finding out your wife's swelling stomach isn't a baby, it's just too many Baby Ruths. Doh - you had me going there, girl! You got me good! You sorry little...
NYJ 27, OAK 24 This was almost GOTW but the Jets were just there last week. Raiders could not win but gave their fans a solid three quarters worth of thinking that they could. Do those fans wear black face paint and black clothes so no one can see them cry? First order of business on Monday for Oakland - teaching the secondary to not throw receivers toward the goalline. Just tackle them.
BAL 22, STL 33 .Bulger remains perfect at home no thanks to 110 yards passing with two interceptions. Marshall Faulk finally returned to the playing field and only gained 48 yards on 20 carries. But when the Ravens lose four fumbles and three interceptions, you just cannot help but win. Chris Redman replaced the injured Kyle Boller in the game and helped make Boller look good again if only by comparison.

Game-O-The-Week

Once again we had no last minute wins this week but the Jets and Raiders were kind enough to go into overtime where the favored team won anyway. The team that ended a four game losing streak qualified more this week.

Winner: Seattle 20, Washington 27

When Maurice Morris muffed the opening kickoff and gave the ball to the Redskins on the Seattle 18-yard line it made people think that this game would be different. When Washington settled for a field goal because five plays inside the 10-yard line failed to score a touchdown, it erased that notion.

The next two Seahawk possessions resulted in two touchdowns but by the time the second quarter was over, the score was knotted at 17-17. What no one knew was that Steve Spurrier had relinquished the play calling to the offensive coordinator, Hue Jackson. After four consecutive losses, Spurrier admitted - what was the worst thing that could happen? Besides, since it moved the coordinator from the booth down to the field it would give one more person to hide behind in case fans started throwing bottles or batteries.

By the end of the third quarter, both teams had attempted a field goal but while John Hall made his 34-yard kick, Josh Brown was short on his 49 yarder. Washington held a tenuous 20-17 lead that was erased on the first Seahawk drive in the fourth quarter when Brown managed a 48-yard field goal.

The Redskins promptly responded by going three and out which was followed by the Seahawks doing the same. When Washington took over for what would be their final drive, there was 7:10 left on the clock.

After the first three plays, the Redskins found themselves with a fourth and inches from their own 25-yard line. Most teams would punt, especially considering that over six minutes remained in the game but most teams are not on a four game losing streak. Spurrier made that call himself - go for it. If it failed, the Seahawks would already be well in field goal reach and would be perfectly positioned for a series of clock-chewing runs that might score a touchdown. But Rock Cartwright gained two yards instead and gave the Redskins a fresh set of downs.

Washington mixed two more Rock Cartwright runs, three passes and a couple of Canidate rushes to reach the Seattle 10-yard line with only two minutes left in the game. It was third down with five yards to go and all the Redskins needed to do is run the ball, eat up a little more time, and then kick the field goal for the lead. But this is the team that has not seen good things late in a game. This is a team that went for it on fourth down on their own 25-yard line in a tied game.

When the play began, Rod Gardner dropped backwards instead of running forward and Patrick Ramsey threw it back to him on an apparent receiver screen. As the entire defense shifted to the right, they somehow missed Trung Canidate running very much by himself near the goal line over near the right sideline. Gardner stopped, faced back towards Canidate and let loose with more of a lob than pass that Canidate easily caught for the ridiculously easy looking score.

With less than two minutes left, Matt Hasselbeck brought the Seahawks from his own 35-yard line to the Washington 35 before throwing an interception with only 39 seconds left to play. Game over. Redskins win.

It was a sorely needed win for a team that had gone a month without seeing one. It was yet another stamp of "who are these guys anyway?" for the Seahawks who fall back into a tie with the Rams for the NFC West. It all happened because the offensive genius named Steve Spurrier decided to allow his coordinator to call the plays and when the game situation called for a safe punt, he decided his team could gain a few inches no matter where on the field it was. When the practical thing was to set up a field goal, Spurrier once again made the call - trick play.

None of that would have happened if the fourth and inches had failed. The move would have been viewed as so dumb that if it led to the Redskins loss it would be considered the play that killed Spurrier. But he believed in his team and let them do the same. And when it came down to a third down play on the ten yard line, instead of a safe run and a kick, he elected to pass on a risky trick play.

It was a great ending to a game that signaled the theme for the week - home teams win and little remains the same. Peyton Manning had big numbers and lost. Marc Bulger had terrible numbers and won. The three worst teams in the league all find victory by beating the Giants, Colts and Vikings. Of the 26 teams that played yesterday, only the Cowboys, Chiefs, Titans and Lions won for a consecutive week. There were several upsets and as the Giants and Vikings and Jaguars showed, you cannot always predict future performance based on numbers from the past. The only thing you can rely on is that the NFL will continue to amuse, befuddle and surprise.

Oh yes, and no one remembers the guys that punt on fourth and inches.

Now get back to work...