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Crossing the Line - Week 12
By Todd Gray and Fritz Schlottman
November 20, 2003
 
Dallas vs. Carolina

Dallas Offense
Sacked/G=1.90
Rush TDs/G=.70
Rush Avg.=3.8

Carolina Defense
Sacks/G=2.50
Rush TDs Against/G=.40
Rush Avg. Against=3.8

Dallas Defense
Sacks/G=2.10
Rush TDs Against/G=.40
Rush Avg. Against=3.4

Carolina Offense
Sacked/G=1.60
Rush TDs/G=.70
Rush Avg.=4.3

When the Cowboys have the ball - It was bad all around for the Cowboys' offense on Sunday. Meanwhile, Dallas' top-ranked defense has to be thrilled that the team's offense has been shut out twice in 22 days. There was plenty of blame to go around.

A handful of Dallas drives were stalled by penalties, including four by the offensive line. The Cowboys finished with 10 penalties for 78 yards. Five other infractions were declined.

RBs Troy Hambrick (16 carries, 42 yards) and Adrian Murrell (3 carries, 11 yards) barely ran at all, blamable both on inadequate offensive line play and poor running. On a crucial third-and-one and fourth-and-one at the 50-yard line midway through the fourth quarter, Hambrick was stopped for no gain and minus-2 yards, respectively.

QB Quincy Carter could share some blame, as well, throwing three second-half picks, but he rarely had time in the pocket.

Carolina's front four must be licking their chops while preparing to feast on the Cowboys' weak running attack and happy-footed QB. The Panthers shut down Washington's running game to the tune of 54 yards on 22 carries (2.5-yard average). DT Brentson Buckner stripped the ball from 'Skins RB Rock Cartwright at the goal line on Washington's first possession. For the second straight week, Carolina's defense played near-perfect ball for three quarters, only to allow a pair of fourth-quarter touchdown passes.

When the Panthers have the ball - It wasn't pretty, but it got the job done. The Panthers ran into another opponent who stacked the box, but they didn't divert from their game plan and RB Stephen Davis churned out 110 yards on 35 carries. Davis fumbled his first carry of the day, but was solid from then out.

Once again, the Panthers needed a touchdown on their final drive, and again QB Jake Delhomme got the job done by orchestrating a seven-play, 71-yard drive. It was Delhomme's third fourth-quarter game-winning drive this season. Delhomme threw for 317 yards and both of his interceptions were the result of his wide receivers missing catchable balls.

Dallas' No. 1-ranked defense (1st pass, 2nd run) will be asked to all but shut down Carolina so that the six or nine points the Cowboys likely score can be put to good use. Rookie cornerback Terence Newman was burned on a 46-yard pass play that set up the Patriots' first field goal and was covering David Givens on a 57-yard pass play that led to New England's touchdown. Newman also jumped offside on in the fourth quarter, allowing the Patriots to run more time off the clock.

Baltimore vs. Seattle

Baltimore Offense
Sacked/G=2.60
Rush TDs/G=.90
Rush Avg.=4.9

Seattle Defense
Sacks/G=1.70
Rush TDs Against/G=.80
Rush Avg. Against=4.0

Baltimore Defense
Sacks/G=2.50
Rush TDs Against/G=.50
Rush Avg. Against=3.5

Seattle Offense
Sacked/G=2.60
Rush TDs/G=1.10
Rush Avg.=4.6

When the Ravens have the ball - At least being tied with the Bengals means better things this year than it has for the better part of the past two decades. The Ravens fell into a tie for first with upstart Cincinnati following another poor showing on offense.

RB Jamal Lewis may be showing signs of wear-and-tear. Lewis, second in the league to Ricky Williams with 240 carries, fumbled once on Sunday and has coughed up the ball three times in his past 53 carries after fumbling only once in his previous 187 carries.

Midway through the first half, the Ravens settled for three points following a 73-yard kickoff return by losing six yards on three plays.

LB Anthony Simmons will return this week after missing one game for disciplinary reasons, but LB Randall Godfrey (bruised sternum) is questionable. Seattle's chances of slowing down Lewis may very well hinge on Godfrey's availability. The Seahawks are vulnerable against the pass, but the Ravens probably won't ask much from QB Anthony Wright and would be pleased with nothing more mistake-free game.

When the Seahawks have the ball - Seattle put away an opponent early for once. The Seahawks had drives of 80, 87 and 72 yards on their first three possessions and scored all the points they would need to win in the first 19 minutes of action.

Seattle's offensive line kept the pressure off QB Matt Hasselbeck (zero sacks) and spearheaded a ground game that churned out 159 yards on 33 carries.

Baltimore put on another defensive show at Miami, albeit with negative results. Hard to image the Ravens playing any better than allowing only nine points to a Dolphins team that started drives at Baltimore's 23-, 33- and 43-yard line and two others at the Miami 47.

Baltimore is brutal on QBs at home, and Seattle has struggled on the road in general. An efficient performance from Hasselbeck would serve the Seahawks well, indeed. The Ravens have held three of the past four QBs its faced to 126 yards passing or fewer, so it won't be big stats but intelligent play that get Hasselbeck through. Only one wide receiver has caught a touchdown pass against the Ravens in their own house.

Alexander will be tested, to say the least. No opposing RB has crossed the goal line against the Ravens in Baltimore this season.

Houston vs. New England

Houston Offense
Sacked/G=2.00
Rush TDs/G=.90
Rush Avg.=4.0

New England Defense
Sacks/G=2.20
Rush TDs Against/G=.80
Rush Avg. Against=3.6

Houston Defense
Sacks/G=1.20
Rush TDs Against/G=1.00
Rush Avg. Against=4.5

New England Offense
Sacked/G=1.90
Rush TDs/G=.60
Rush Avg.=3.5

When the Texans have the ball -There'd be a lot more talk about the Texans' struggles on offense if they hadn't ended up on the right side of the win/loss column. The offensive line turned in arguably its worst performance of the year.

QB David Carr was harassed consistently until succumbing to his second injury (shoulder) in just more than a month. Tony Banks replaced Carr and completed 11 of 16 passes for 207 yards despite solid pressure. Combined, Carr and Banks were sacked four times.

Carr's sprained shoulder is expected to keep him out for at least one and possibly more games.

Rookie RB sensation Domanick Davis was held to 68 yards on 26 carries and for the first time didn't have much of an impact on the game - nor much room to run.

New England continued its trend of stuffing its opponent's running game and giving up yardage, but not points, through the air. The Patriots held Dallas to 84 total rushing yards, 49 below its average, and stopped RB Troy Hambrick for no gain on third-and-one and for -2 yards on fourth-and-inches in the fourth quarter. The Patriots benefited from the return of run-stopping NT Ted Washington.

Of Dallas QB Quincy Carter's 210 yards passing on Sunday, 37 came on a short pass and run to end the first half, and 47 were earned with time running down and a 12-point New England advantage late in the game. The Patriots also picked off three passes and at plus-nine for the season in plus/minus trail only Kansas City and Tennessee.

The Patriots are pretty comfortable seeing the ball fly out of an opponent QB's hands, and they should have relatively little trouble forcing Banks to move out of the pocket and make plays on the run.

When the Patriots have the ball - The Pats' defense has been the offenses most valuable component this side of Tom Brady. New England has mustered little with its running game of late (25 carries, 65 yards vs. Dallas' No. 1-ranked rush defense) but the defense kept the Cowboys off the board to allow the Patriots to keep pounding the ball with RBs Antowain Smith (16-51) and Kevin Faulk (8-11).

Tom Brady completed a career-low 44 percent of his passes (15-34), but once again avoided mistakes and hit big passes at crucial moments to set the table for nine of New England's 12 points. Brady took advantage of good protection on Dallas blitzes to hit 46- and 58-yard passes, and though he was sacked twice, that's not a bad showing against the Cowboys D.

Pats WR David Givens (leg) left the game in the second quarter and joined starting WRs David Patten (knee) and Troy Brown (knee) on the sidelines. Despite the dearth of talent at the position, Brady kept the Cowboys honest by completing passes to eight different receivers. Givens is questionable for Sunday's game vs. Houston.

Minus a 64-yard Travis Henry gallop and a 16-yard end-around play by Josh Reed, Houston held Buffalo to less than four yards a carry. Still, 182 rushing yards must count for something - and the Texans have been getting shredded on the ground consistently the past month as Henry became the fourth RB in as many games to top 100 yards.

New York Jets vs. Jacksonville

New York Jets Offense
Sacked/G=1.40
Rush TDs/G=.40
Rush Avg.=4.1

Jacksonville Defense
Sacks/G=1.30
Rush TDs Against/G=.90
Rush Avg. Against=3.1

New York Jets Defense
Sacks/G=2.80
Rush TDs Against/G=1.40
Rush Avg. Against=4.2

Jacksonville Offense
Sacked/G=2.30
Rush TDs/G=.80
Rush Avg.=4.0

When the Jets have the ball - A standout performance on offense against a tough Indy defense wasn't enough for the Jets. New York averaged 7.8 rushing yards per attempt (17-132), Chad Pennington had a perfect passer rating of 158.3 and three WRs caught touchdown passes.

However, Pennington was 1-for-4 passing with a sack and no conversions on third down, and after moving the ball freely throughout most of the day, New York managed only 19 yards on its last two drives. New York ran only 34 plays on offense to the Colts' 77, and the Jets were dominated on time of possession 38:52 to 21:08.

The Jets are 0-3 this season when RB Curtis Martin rushes for at least 100 yards. Martins' 8.1 yards-per-carry average was rendered less effective due to the team's struggles to maintain drives. The Jets were 1-for-7 on third-down conversions.

Colts' DE Dwight Freeney schooled OL Jason Fabini with two sacks and two penalties forced.

It was an unlikely performance in Tennessee as Jacksonville made the Titans beat them with the run - which they did, of course. Still, no one had even held Tennessee to fewer than 30 points in the Titans' previous six games. It was a great all-around performance for a defense that had been stingy against the run yet generous against the pass throughout most of the season.

The Jets would love to establish their ground game early against the Jags, but realize that they'll most likely have to rely heavily on the pass. That should be okay with Pennington at the helm, but still, another productive game from Martin and RB LaMont Jordan would give the Jets a big lift.

When the Jaguars have the ball - Jacksonville outperformed the Titans - albeit slightly - in most facets of the game on offense, but their Achilles' heel - third-down conversions - once again plagued the Jags. Jacksonville converted only two of 13 third-down plays.

The Jaguars' offensive line did a fine job of opening holes for RBs Fred Taylor, Chris Fuamatu-Ma'afala and LaBrandon Toefield, who combined for 125 yards on 29 carries, but couldn't compensate for rookie QB Byron Leftwich's continued growing pains. Leftwich completed only 50 percent of his passes, threw two picks and managed a QB rating of only 35.8.

The Jets allowed Indy RB Edgerrin James only 3.5 yards per carry - far better than the 4.2 they normally give up. But that average came with 36 carries, 127 yards, three touchdowns and a whopping 11 first downs. Incidentally, those 36 carries were one greater than the total number of offensive plays for the Jets (34). The Jets left seven men in the box for most of the game, but it didn't slow down QB Peyton Manning (401 yards passing).

New York will welcome back veteran DT Josh Evans, who was suspended for the first eight games of the season for violating the NFL's substance abuse policy. Jets FS Jon McGraw injured his shoulder against the Colts and has been placed on injured reserve. DE John Abraham (groin) is questionable and backup S David Young (hamstring) is out.

The Jets may be lucky enough to face the Jags minus Taylor (knees), but Fuamatu-Ma'afala would most likely fill in nicely against the Jets porous run defense. Leftwich will need Taylor or Fuamatu-Ma'afala (or better yet - both of them) to run well to avoid the heat from one of the league's best pass rush units. New York is sure to try to rush the rookie QB into the same mistakes that have cost him dearly of late.

Buffalo vs. Indianapolis

Buffalo Offense
Sacked/G=3.00
Rush TDs/G=.90
Rush Avg.=3.7

Indianapolis Defense
Sacks/G=2.20
Rush TDs Against/G=.80
Rush Avg. Against=4.8

Buffalo Defense
Sacks/G=1.80
Rush TDs Against/G=.80
Rush Avg. Against=3.6

Indianapolis Offense
Sacked/G=.90
Rush TDs/G=1.00
Rush Avg.=3.4

When the Bills have the ball - Bad got even worse for QB Drew Bledsoe and the Bills against the Texans. Bledsoe didn't produce a touchdown for the third straight game and fumbled the ball on a sack with 1:51 remaining. The drop was his third such miscue in as many weeks.

RB Travis Henry played the second half with a cracked fibula, yet still managed 149 yards on 23 carries. The offensive line, playing without starting RT Mike Williams (car accident), blocked well for the run but gave up four sacks and committed four penalties. LT Jonas Jennings, who may have been struggling with a sore hip, was thrice flagged for holding.

The Colts' run defense continued its downward spiral, allowing132 yards on 17 carries for a 7.8-yard average against the Jets. The pass rush wasn't much better, if at all, but Indianapolis did harry New York into a 1-for-7 effort on third-down conversions. Indy allowed only 11 completions, but they went for an average of 20 yards.

Indy's defense may be just the tonic for what ails the Bills' staggering offense - although that's unlikely. Problem is, Buffalo will probably have to score lots of points to win this game. Having Henry in the lineup will be crucial to the Bills' success, although lately just about any RB has run with ease against the Colts.

When the Colts have the ball - Amazing the things Peyton Manning can do with a running game. With big help from Edgerrin James and his 42 touches, Manning torched the Jets for 27 completions and 401 yards minus the services of WR Marvin Harrison (hamstring) and TE Marcus Pollard.

James, who accounted for 11 Indy first downs, finished with 127 yards on 36 carries and added 33 yards on six catches.

OT Adam Meadows (knee) will likely play against the Bills after missing three games. OT Tarik Glenn (knee) is expected to return to practice this week and may return on Sunday.

Buffalo's defensive line played one of its best games of the year, stuffing the Texans' on the ground (34 net yards) and taking QB David Carr out of the game - literally - by way of a tremendous sack/fumble/safety in the first quarter. Incidentally, the play was made by ex-Texan LB Jeff Posey.

Both Harrison and Pollard are likely to miss Sunday's game, and more will rest on James shoulders as a result. Buffalo has been stingy against the pass, but Manning seems to routinely torch every defense he comes across these days - and his line is as healthy as it's been in weeks.

Green Bay vs. San Francisco

Green Bay Offense
Sacked/G=1.10
Rush TDs/G=1.30
Rush Avg.=5.4

San Francisco Defense
Sacks/G=2.70
Rush TDs Against/G=.50
Rush Avg. Against=3.9

Green Bay Defense
Sacks/G=1.80
Rush TDs Against/G=.80
Rush Avg. Against=4.5

San Francisco Offense
Sacked/G=1.70
Rush TDs/G=.50
Rush Avg.=4.4

When the Packers have the ball - Another week, another outstanding performance by the Packers' offensive line - only this one may have been the best yet. Green Bay's OL led the way for 190 yards on the ground, held the Bucs' defense without a sack for the first time in 69 games, led the Packers on their longest drive (17 plays, 98 yards) in almost four years, and the list goes on.

The Packers confidently went for it on fourth-and-one at Tampa Bay's 16-yard line with the game tied in the fourth quarter and gained five yards rushing on the play. RB Ahman Green finished with 109 yards on 21 carries and RB Najeh Davenport chipped in with 70 yards on 13 carries.

San Francisco allowed only one meaningful drive by Pittsburgh on Sunday, a 73-yard march early in the third quarter capped by Jerome Bettis' one-yard plunge. The 49ers held the Steelers to 44 yards rushing and allowed 327 yards passing, a number that reflects the deficit faced by the Steelers throughout much of the game. San Francisco turned three Steelers' trick plays into 18 yards in losses.

The 49ers overcame the loss of LB Jamie Winborn for the season with a herniated disc in his neck. Though not a starter, Winborn was a key component in the unit's four-man rotation.

When the 49ers have the ball - Excellent blocking led the way to a sack-free performance against the Steelers, the 49ers' first such accomplishment since week one and against Pittsburgh's blitz happy defense. RBs Kevin Barlow and Garrison Hearst galloped for 165 yards on 28 carries (5.9-yard average), highlighted by Barlow's 78-yard burst early in the third quarter.

QB Tim Rattay picked apart the Steelers with a 21-for-27 performance (254 yards, 2 TDs), and he completed all six of his first-quarter passes. Rattay will get the nod for the third straight week despite Jeff Garcia's improving health.

Green Bay allowed 51- and 61-yard runs to the Buccaneers, but otherwise held Tampa Bay to 2.6 yards per carry. The Packers kept the pressure on Brad Johnson and sacked him three times. Johnson had few options as his receivers were blanketed throughout most of the game.

Minnesota vs. Detroit

Minnesota Offense
Sacked/G=2.50
Rush TDs/G=.90
Rush Avg.=4.5

Detroit Defense
Sacks/G=.70
Rush TDs Against/G=.90
Rush Avg. Against=4.0

Minnesota Defense
Sacks/G=2.40
Rush TDs Against/G=1.30
Rush Avg. Against=5.2

Detroit Offense
Sacked/G=1.70Rush
TDs/G=.30
Rush Avg.=3.6

When the Vikings have the ball - The Vikings demonstrated perfectly how miscues can ruin even the most dominant offensive performances. Minnesota amassed a season-high 467 yards on Sunday, led by QB Daunte Culpepper's career-high 396 yards through the air and ran for 42 more. However, turnovers and penalties wrecked the Vikings.

Culpepper reverted to last season's form with three interceptions and two fumbles, and the Vikings turned the ball over six times in all. Minnesota was also flagged for 10 penalties for the second week in a row.

At least the Lions have been able to stop the run this season. Or at least, they had been able to until the Seahawks torched them for 159 yards on 33 carries (4.8-yard average). Seattle amassed 18 first downs, 300 yards and 35 points in the first half alone. The Seahawks did little on offense in the second half, an indication that the game was well in hand.

When the Lions have the ball - Detroit used up its big play early on a 72-yard touchdown catch from QB Joey Harrington to WR Scotty Anderson that pared a 14-0 deficit to 14-7. Then the defense and special teams collapsed. To make matters worse, Anderson - the Lions' most recent "best" receiver - suffered an ankle injury in the first half.

Still, Harrington benefited from good pass protection and threw well for most of the game. Detroit gained 13 first downs and 171 yards in the second half, but couldn't manage a point despite two trips into the red zone. Both drives stalled after failed fourth down conversion attempts.

Detroit will have the opportunity to tie Buffalo for the second-longest road losing streak (22 games) in NFL history on Sunday. Minnesota may provide stiff non-resistance, because the Vikings haven't proven they can stop any ground game of late, allowing averages of 433.5 yards and 32.3 points over a four-game stretch - all losses. Minnesota has been particularly susceptible to the run and has been getting beat consistently on the outside. Clearly, Detroit's best hope is to not get into a shootout with the pass-happy Vikes.

Cleveland vs. Pittsburgh

Cleveland Offense
Sacked/G=2.10
Rush TDs/G=.50
Rush Avg.=3.6

Pittsburgh Defense
Sacks/G=2.30
Rush TDs Against/G=.90
Rush Avg. Against=3.4

Cleveland Defense
Sacks/G=1.80
Rush TDs Against/G=.60
Rush Avg. Against=4.6

Pittsburgh Offense
Sacked/G=2.50
Rush TDs/G=.50
Rush Avg.=3.3

When the Browns have the ball - For the first time in more than a month, Cleveland's five starting offensive linemen were healthy, and it showed. The Browns gave QB Kelly Holcomb (29-35, 392 yards) great protection, and he responded with a field day against Arizona's secondary - this despite the Cardinals stacking eight men close to the line for much of the day.

Cleveland ran for only 89 yards on 33 carries, but RB James Jackson ran big when it counted with a pair of rushing touchdowns. Jackson finished with 45 yards on 19 carries.

Pittsburgh's defense died by the blitz, highlighted by San Francisco RB Kevan Barlow's 78-yard touchdown run in the third quarter. The Steelers allowed two scores on a total of seven plays in the first half, then allowed fourteen points in 14 seconds in the third quarter. After registering 10 sacks the past two games, Pittsburgh's D turned in zero against San Fran.

When the Steelers have the ball - Pittsburgh's running game sputtered through another poor performance, managing only 44 yards on 20 carries. In the first quarter, when most teams try to establish the run, the Steelers gained only three yards on the ground. Pittsburgh finished the first half with 20 yards rushing.

RB Jerome Bettis led the Steelers with 39 yards on 13 carries (3-yard average) and Amos Zereoue had five carries for -2 yards. Surprisingly, Pittsburgh was an efficient 8-of-16 on third-down conversions.

Cleveland showed in its tune-up against a pathetic Cardinals' offense that it may be able to handle the Steelers under-achieving offense. The Browns halted Arizona's running game and forced QBs Jeff Blake and Josh McCown into 13-of-32 passing for only 146 yards. DE Courtney Brown was a force, creating a fumble, batting down two passes and narrowly missing a handful of sacks. This all bodes well for Cleveland in Sunday's tilt against the slow-running Steelers.

Philadelphia vs. New Orleans

Philadelphia Offense
Sacked/G=2.90
Rush TDs/G=1.30
Rush Avg.=4.6

New Orleans Defense
Sacks/G=2.10
Rush TDs Against/G=.80
Rush Avg. Against=4.5

Philadelphia Defense
Sacks/G=2.20
Rush TDs Against/G=.60
Rush Avg. Against=4.0

New Orleans Offense
Sacked/G=2.30
Rush TDs/G=.70
Rush Avg.=4.5

When the Eagles have the ball - Donovan McNabb may have had his best game as a QB, and he had great help. The Eagles' offensive line held a team sackless for the first time this season - and the first time in any regular-season game since September 2002. McNabb was comfortable enough to hit 24 of 30 passes for 314 yards and two touchdowns.

Even more remarkable was that the O-line did its work with two backups at guard.

The Eagles ran for only 62 yards on 21 carries, but Philadelphia RBs did catch seven passes for 135 yards. RB Brian Westbrook continued to establish himself as a playmaker with three touchdowns, including one on the ground and two via the pass.

New Orleans' harassed Atlanta QB Kurt Kittner into an 8.7 QB rating and 2.7 yards per pass play, consistently swarming him up front and knocking down several passes at the line of scrimmage. RB Warrick Dunn busted loose on the Saints for 54- and 41-yard sprints, but otherwise held the Falcons in check by allowing only 73 yards on 26 carries.

When the Saints have the ball - Led by RB Deuce McAllister's 173 yards rushing, New Orleans piled 210 yards on the ground on 36 carries (5.8-yard average) despite continuing injury problems along the offensive line. McAllister tallied 237 total yards from scrimmage.

RG Le Charles Bentley is day-to-day with a hyperextended left knee. LG Kendyl Jacox is out for two to three weeks after undergoing arthroscopic knee surgery on Monday, and LT Wayne Gandy has played the past month with a strained right hamstring.

To make matters worse, starting TE Ernie Conwell fractured the fibula in his right leg and is out for the remainder of the regular season. The Saints do have depth at tight end and Boo Williams should get the starting nod in Conwell's absence.

The line couldn't do for Aaron Brooks what it did for McAllister - at least not early in the game - as Brooks was intercepted twice and sacked four times in the first half alone, Brooks was sacked seven times total. In fairness to the oft-hit QB, WR Joe Horn continues to be limited by a bone bruise in his left knee, and WR Donte Stallworth, playing for the first time in four week, has yet to recover fully from a twisted ankle.

The Eagles allowed 376 net yards to the Giants, but held their ground when it counted most. On the game's most telling series with the Eagles up 14-3, Philadelphia held New York scoreless after the Giants gained a first down at the Eagles' 1-yard line. New York turned the ball over on downs.

New Orleans' offense showed on Sunday that it may make a good target for Philadelphia's innovative blitz package. However, RB Deuce McAllister hasn't been contained for most of the season and has gained more than 100 yards rushing in seven straight games. This does not bode well for an Eagles defense that has surrendered 786 yards rushing (5.1 yards-per-carry) over its past five games.

Arizona vs. St. Louis

Arizona Offense
Sacked/G=1.90
Rush TDs/G=.30
Rush Avg.=3.8

St. Louis Defense
Sacks/G=2.30
Rush TDs Against/G=.60
Rush Avg. Against=4.4

Arizona Defense
Sacks/G=.90
Rush TDs Against/G=.80
Rush Avg. Against=3.5

St. Louis Offense
Sacked/G=2.90
Rush TDs/G=1.10
Rush Avg.=3.3

When the Cardinals have the ball - It's hard to believe that Arizona entered November on a roll. Now, they're simply in November as Sunday's "performance" against the Browns was akin to driving past a bad accident.

The Cardinals' grab bag of game-losing tricks included 187 total yards, three turnovers, numerous penalties and a pair of wasted timeouts because the offense couldn't get plays off in time. Cardinals QBs Jeff Blake and Josh McCown combined to complete only 11 of 32 passes for 146 yards and three interceptions.

RB Marcel Shipp, who had compiled 400 yards rushing in his previous four games, carried only nine times for 23 yards against Cleveland's so-so run defense. Arizona ran the ball only 13 times against 32 passes as it played catch-up throughout the game.

St. Louis allowed 241 yards to the Bears in crappy conditions, and would have more or less shut down Chicago if it weren't for a 25-yard run in the second quarter and a three-play, 62-yard drive in the fourth quarter that resulted in a 21-20 Bears lead. The Rams put relatively little pressure on QB Chris Chandler.

When the Rams have the ball - The Rams' offensive line got back on track in the second half against the Bears following 10 quarters of below-average blocking. St. Louis gained only 16 yards on eight first-half carries, but the Rams busted loose for 96 yards on 17 carries in the second half, highlighted by RB Marshall Faulk's 52-yard run on fourth-and-one.

QB Marc Bulger was sacked four times, but this was partly his own doing as he held onto the ball too long and too often. Bulger was almost replaced by QB Kurt Warner for the second consecutive week, something that may happen if he struggles this Sunday against the hapless Cardinals.

Is there reason for concern regarding Faulk, who gained 103 yards on 20 carries? Take away his 52-yarder against the Bears and Faulk has rushed for 99 yards on 35 carries (2.8-yard average) since his return from injury two weeks ago.

Arizona's defense is questionable for Sunday's game against the Rams. Better put, the question for St. Louis won't be how, but how many? Cleveland's No. 31-ranked offense tore the Cardinals apart for 481 yards and scored on eight of its first 10 possessions.

Try as they might - and indeed, they may have tried - Arizona barely caught a whiff of QB Kelly Holcomb all day despite numerous blitzes. There is little to indicate that Bulger won't bounce back with a fine performance.

Denver vs. Chicago

Denver Offense
Sacked/G=1.70
Rush TDs/G=.80
Rush Avg.=4.6

Chicago Defense
Sacks/G=1.10
Rush TDs Against/G=.90
Rush Avg. Against=4.3

Denver Defense
Sacks/G=2.30
Rush TDs Against/G=.40
Rush Avg. Against=3.9

Chicago Offense
Sacked/G=2.80
Rush TDs/G=.80
Rush Avg.=4.1

When the Broncos have the ball - QB Jake Plummer was in mid-season form despite missing the previous five weeks with a broken foot. Plummer, benefiting from great protection, threw for three touchdowns and 253 yards while getting sacked only once.

For the third time in team history, the Broncos did not have to punt in a game. It is the first time Denver has won in such an instance.

RB Clinton Portis had his sixth 100-yard game this season despite the absence of starting FB Mike Anderson (suspension).

Chicago stuffed the run minus a 52-yard scamper by Marshall Faulk. The Bears allowed its highest rushing total in four games - a somewhat respectable 112 yards. Chicago also allowed a season-high for gross passing yards (240), albeit against the league's No. 2-ranked passing offense. The Bears sacked Bulger four times and had two interceptions.

When the Bears have the ball - Chandler, considered something of a semi-savior for the Bears a few weeks ago, had his first really bad game (48.0 passer rating) despite decent pass protection against a strong Rams' rush.

Chicago ran for its second-highest rushing total (95 yards) since Chandler became the starter, but it failed the Bears late in the game when they needed to milk the clock.

Denver's defense was not tested against San Diego. The Broncos allowed only 40 offensive plays - fewest in franchise history - and surrendered a mere five first downs and 96 yards of offense. Nineteen of the Chargers' 40 plays went for zero yards, and on six plays the Bolts lost yards.

Chicago's linemen will have to play above their heads to keep the heat off of Chandler, and Anthony Thomas must have a big game against a tough run defense away from home. The Broncos limited LaDainian Tomlinson to 29 yards on eight carries and kept the scrambling Flutie in check, and the odds of Thomas being a consistent factor in this game are unlikely, at best.

Atlanta vs. Tennessee

Atlanta Offense
Sacked/G=2.40
Rush TDs/G=1.10
Rush Avg.=4.7

Tennessee Defense
Sacks/G=2.60
Rush TDs Against/G=.50
Rush Avg. Against=3.9

Atlanta Defense
Sacks/G=2.70
Rush TDs Against/G=1.60
Rush Avg. Against=4.8

Tennessee Offense
Sacked/G=1.70
Rush TDs/G=.80
Rush Avg.=3.0

When the Falcons have the ball - The Falcons beat the Giants on week 10 in spite of Kurt Kittner, but they fell shy of pulling the same trick against the Saints. Kittner completed only eight of 27 passes for 80 yards and two painful interceptions, and his passer rating stands at 32.5. To put that number in perspective, it's a very good passer rating divided by three.

Atlanta's OL blocked reasonably well - Kittner simply couldn't get the ball to his receivers. Falcons WRs were guilty of a few drops, Kittner had 10 passes that were either broken up or knocked down by linemen.

RB Warrick Dunn was huge for the Falcons again, breaking off 54- and 41-yards runs en route to 162 yards on the ground, despite New Orleans stacking the line in the second half. Dunn was also Atlanta's leading receiver with a pair of catches for 22 yards, but he couldn't prevent the Falcons from dechieving a 1-for-12 third down conversion rate.

The Titans' No. 1-ranked rushing defense finally found out what it's like on the other side of the fence, despite finishing with reasonable results by most teams' standards. Tennessee allowed RB Fred Taylor to run for 65 yards on nine carries and Chris Fuamatu-Ma'fala to rush for 40 yards on nine carries, but neither back reached the end zone.

When the Titans have the ball - Tennessee's suspect running game almost bit the Titans against a Jacksonville team that came in solid against the run. RB Eddie George ran for 73 yards on 20 carries, good for a season best 3.7-yard average, but the Titans' other RBs combined for -3 yards on six carries with a key fumble as Tennessee had trouble managing the clock and making first downs.

QB Steve McNair wasn't his usual dominating self against a so-so pass defense, though his receivers were guilty of a few drops. His 69.8 QB rating was his second-lowest of the season.

Atlanta's defense is in for a long day if the Falcons can't find success on offense. On Sunday, Atlanta allowed only 20 rushing yards on eight carries in the first half, then surrendered 190 yards in the second half and in overtime as the Saints gradually wore down the Falcons' defenders. Not surprising considering that Atlanta's D was on the field for 15 minutes, 15 seconds longer than the Saints.

The Falcons' pass rush has improved considerably in recent weeks, and Atlanta dealt out a season-high seven sacks on Sunday. CBs Tod McBride and Juran Bolden have been solid since taking over for Tyrone and Ray Buchanan a few weeks ago. McBride seems to make a big play every week these days, and he put the first points on the board against the Saints in the first quarter when he returned an interception 15 yards for his first career touchdown in the first quarter.

Kansas City vs. Oakland

Kansas City Offense
Sacked/G=1.50
Rush TDs/G=1.60
Rush Avg.=4.3

Oakland Defense
Sacks/G=1.40
Rush TDs Against/G=1.20
Rush Avg. Against=4.5

Kansas City Defense
Sacks/G=2.60
Rush TDs Against/G=.60
Rush Avg. Against=4.9

Oakland Offense
Sacked/G=2.40
Rush TDs/G=1.00
Rush Avg.=4.1

When the Chiefs have the ball - Things weren't right early on Sunday - the Chiefs were held scoreless in the opening quarter for only the second time this season. Kansas City also sank back into bad habits on third down, successfully converting only 1 of 11 such chances.

RB Priest Holmes was merely average with 62 rushing yards and a 3.9-yard average. G Brian Waters (shoulder) was injured in the first quarter, which didn't help an already struggling offensive line. QB Trent Green was superb, but most of his yards came playing catch-up and he spent numerous plays avoiding blitzing Bengals.

The Raiders can't count on benefiting from six turnovers against the Chiefs the way they did against the Vikings. Kansas City has given the ball away only 11 times all year.

Despite allowing 467 total yards to Minnesota, Oakland limited WR Randy Moss to four catches for 25 yards, a season low. Much of the credit for containing Moss went to CB Charles Woodson, although there were key plays all around. The Raiders were after QB Dante Culpepper much of the afternoon.

When the Raiders have the ball - Oakland's offensive line continues to make QB Rick Mirer look like the next Rich Gannon. Maybe that's a stretch, but Mirer was eerily efficient for the second straight game. However, it was the OL's efforts in springing Oakland's trio of RBs that made the real difference. RB Tyrone Wheatley ran for 109 yards and a touchdown, Zack Crockett ran for 54 yards and two scores, and Justin Fargas chipped in 24 yards on three carries. Crockett and Fargas did both lose fumbles.

Mirer threw only 13 passes, but he completed nine of them for 195 yards - a 21.7-yard average. He also made a nice 5-yard run to set up Oakland's game-clinching TD with 2:16 left to play.

So while the Raiders on offense looked like anything but the Raiders from the first half of the season, Kansas City on defense looked more vulnerable than at any other time this year. The Chiefs allowed the Bengals to run more or less at will, and CB Eric Warfield was burned badly by WR Peter Warrick for a 77-yard touchdown late in the game with Kansas City trailing by only five points.

Key for the Raiders will be continuing their success on the ground against a Chiefs defense that's allowed five RBs to break 100 yards against them this season. It was one thing when Kansas City was giving up yards and winning, but losing seems to expose problems that may have existed all along.

San Diego vs. Cincinnati

San Diego Offense
Sacked/G=1.90
Rush TDs/G=1.00
Rush Avg.=5.2

Cincinnati Defense
Sacks/G=1.80
Rush TDs Against/G=.70
Rush Avg. Against=4.4

San Diego Defense
Sacks/G=2.10
Rush TDs Against/G=.80
Rush Avg. Against=4.3

Cincinnati Offense
Sacked/G=2.10
Rush TDs/G=.80
Rush Avg.=3.7

When the Chargers have the ball - San Diego was forced to start three backups on its offensive line and it showed. The Chargers' OL allowed two sacks and created few holes for RB LaDainian Tomlinson (8 carries, 29 yards).

QB Doug Flutie failed to summon his magic from a week before while hitting only 9 of 25 passes for 70 yards and scrambling five times for only 11 yards. Flutie also threw an interception and fumbled three times.

Cincinnati's defense outplayed the league's No. 1 offense by doing the basics: stuffing the run, eliminating long gains and denying the Chiefs on third down. The Bengals forced Kansas City into five three-and-out possessions and held RB Priest Holmes to 98 yards of total offense - 42 yards less than his average.

San Diego's greatest hope may lie in knowing how poorly the Bengals have played at times on the road. LaDainian Tomlinson is a near lock to pile up 100 or so yards, especially if Flutie performs as well in his home confines and in the same manner as he did against the Vikings in week 10.

When the Bengals have the ball - Cincinnati has jumped from 31st to 14th in rushing offense in only two weeks, so it isn't likely that RB Corey Dillon will see much more action than he did on Sunday when he carried six times for 21 yards. Dillon is still not 100 percent, and he probably won't be as long as Rudi Johnson tears it up (hint, hint). Johnson (22 carries, 165 yards) led the way as the Bengals finished with 200 yards on the ground.

The offensive line let K.C. get to QB Jon Kitna twice, but otherwise protected him well, controlled the neutral zone and created plenty of room to run for Johnson and Dillon. Kitna again played smart, efficient football again and has thrown 11 touchdowns with one interception in the Bengals' five wins.

The Chargers basically imploded on defense, especially in the secondary and on the line. DEs Adrian Dingle and Marcellus Wiley each committed unnecessary roughness infractions and no one on could get to QB Jake Plummer in his first game back following a four-week layoff due to a broken foot.

San Diego and Cincinnati are heading in opposite directions, but this is an intriguing matchup nonetheless. The Bengals should be able to put points on the board against the Chargers' 30th-ranked defense, which may be without the services of SS Kwamie Lassiter (knee).

Miami vs. Washington

Miami Offense
Sacked/G=1.80
Rush TDs/G=.70
Rush Avg.=3.7

Washington Defense
Sacks/G=1.40
Rush TDs Against/G=1.10
Rush Avg. Against=4.2

Miami Defense
Sacks/G=2.40
Rush TDs Against/G=.50
Rush Avg. Against=3.1

Washington Offense
Sacked/G=3.20
Rush TDs/G=.50
Rush Avg.=3.9

When the Dolphins have the ball - The Dolphins must have breathed a huge sigh of relief following their overtime win against the Ravens. Miami netted only 267 total yards, but 141 of those came on the ground against a Baltimore defense that allows only 98.4 yards rushing per game.

Injuries continue to plague Miami's offensive line, which played well enough to open some holes for RB Ricky Williams and didn't allow a sack of QB Brian Griese after giving up four a week earlier. Griese did absorb a number of hits following passes.

Injuries to LG Jamie Nails, RG Todd Perry and C Tim Ruddy left the Dolphins thin along the offensive line, but Gs Billy Yates and Greg Jerman, who had never played an offensive snap, and backup C Seth McKinney held together long enough to help Miami pull off the win.

Williams broke out of his two-month slump (somewhat) with his first 100-yard game since Sept. 21. Williams finished with 105 yards on 36 carries for a 2.9-yard average.

Washington let yet another opponent run for more than 100 yards, although the 'Skins did hold the Panthers to 3.1 yards per carry. The Redskins also came up with two fumbles and two interceptions, but couldn't sack QB Jake Delhomme despite bringing good pressure at times.

Still, Washington's defense wilted near the end, when Carolina put together a 7-play, 71-yard drive to win the game.

When the Redskins have the ball - One week was all it took for Washington to slip back into mediocrity on offense, despite avoiding penalties altogether. The Redskins managed only 54 yards rushing on 22 carries (2.5-yard average), and RB Rock Cartwright lost a crucial fumble at the goal line on his first carry of the game.

QB Patrick Ramsey faced steady pressure from Carolina's front four despite the Panthers' reluctance to blitz. Ramsey wasn't accurate at times, although he made good throws when given ample time to do so.

Miami's No. 3 rush defense more or less lived up to its billing, especially considering the competition. Baltimore pounded the ball for 118 yards on the ground, but it took 32 carries to do so. Just as importantly, the Dolphins held RB Jamal Lewis, the league's leading rusher, to 88 yards on 26 carries. Whenever a team can do that against the Ravens, it's lights out.

DEs Jason Taylor and Adewale Ogunleye each had a sack and outplayed Ts Orlando Brown and Jonathon - no easy feat.

Tampa Bay vs. New York Giants

Tampa Bay Offense
Sacked/G=1.60
Rush TDs/G=.20
Rush Avg.=4.1

New York Giants Defense
Sacks/G=2.80
Rush TDs Against/G=1.00
Rush Avg. Against=4.2

Tampa Bay Defense
Sacks/G=2.10
Rush TDs Against/G=.60
Rush Avg. Against=4.0

New York Giants Offense
Sacked/G=1.90
Rush TDs/G=.50
Rush Avg.=4.1

When the Buccaneers have the ball - The Bucs rallied from a 10-0 deficit behind the inspired running of backup Thomas Jones, who finished with 134 yards on only nine carries (14.9-yard average) and had 61- and 51-yard runs. Tampa Bay tied the game 13-13 early in the second half on a 3-yard Brad Johnson-to-Keenan McCardell pass before unraveling in an all-too-familiar manner.

The Buccaneers had the ball in Packers' territory and the momentum late in the third quarter when LT Kenyatta Walker was called for face-masking. It's the same old story for the Bucs, who were penalized eight times for 48 yards. Backup LG Kerry Jenkins was benched after being flagged twice on three plays at the Bucs goal line.

None of the six drives in which Tampa Bay committed penalties resulted in points. The Bucs lead the lead in penalty yards with 792.

The offensive line provided little protection for QB Brad Johnson, who was sacked three times and harried into throwing three interceptions. The Bucs converted only 1-of-11 third downs.

Tampa Bay is rushing for 10 more yards and passing for 23 more yards this year than last, when the team won the Super Bowl. However, scoring by the offense is down from 19 points per game to 17.

The Giants slowed the Eagles' running attack, but fell far short of stopping Philly's RBs altogether. Eagles' backs were limited to 62 yards on the ground, but more than doubled that total (125 yards) catching the ball. New York's secondary struggled again and nine different Eagles caught passes.

Brad Johnson has fewer tools to work with following the deactivation of WR Keyshawn Johnson, but the Bucs will still most likely take to the air against the Saints - or try to, at least. Jones was a bright spot on Sunday, but this is the same Thomas Jones who had run for less than 100 yards total this season prior to Sunday and who's had trouble holding onto the ball.

When the Giants have the ball - New York passed almost twice as much as it ran (44/24), which is often what teams are left with doing when they score three points through three-plus quarters. RB Tiki Barber was effective when used, running for 111 yards at 5.8 yards per attempt, yet neither he nor Dorsey Levens could gain a single yard in three tries at the Eagles' 1-yard line.

QB Kerry Collins posted big numbers once again, but he didn't look very good doing it - once again. Collins was out of rhythm and missed receivers on a few occasions. The offensive line didn't help much as Collins was hurried frequently and sacked three times.

It has become clear that Tampa Bay's defense is no longer among the league's elite. The Packers simply bullied the Buccaneers at the line of scrimmage, often using an extra offensive lineman reporting as a tight end to help the running game's cause. It marked the third week in a row that the Bucs have been killed by the run. Tampa Bay also allowed a 98-yard game-winning touchdown drive in which Green Bay converted four third downs and one fourth down. The most ominous sign may have been Tampa's failure to register at least one sack for the first time in 70 games. Clearly not the Bucs D of old.

Bucs' LB Ryan Nece (ankle) should return against the Giants. LB Nate Webster (turf toe) is questionable.