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Tunnel Vision - Week 12
By David M. Dorey
November 16, 2003
 
Sunday Salutes
Quarterbacks Yards TD
Peyton Manning 401 1
Kelly Holcomb 392 3
Joey Harrington 285 2
Running Backs Yards TD
Deuce McAllister 237 2
Edgerrin James 160 3
Brian Westbrook 108 3
Wide Receivers Yards TD
Muhsin Muhammad 189 0
Tory Holt 124 1
Andre Johnson 122 1
Tight Ends Yards TD
Shannon Sharpe 101 3
Dallas Clark 100 0
Tony Gonzalez 86 1
Placekickers XP FG
Phil Dawson 5 3
John Carney 2 3
Jeff Wilkins 2 3
Defense/Special Teams TDs Sacks TOs
Atlanta 1 7 4
Oakland 1 3 6
Chicago 1 4 3

Week 11 Bumps, Bruises and Bow-outs

Scotty Anderson (DET) - Sprained ankle
Troy Walters (IND) - Strained hamstring
David Carr (HOU) - Bruised shoulder
Travis Henry (BUF) -Cracked leg bone
Tim Carter (NYG) - Concussion
Marcel Shipp (ARZ) - Bruised knee
Ernie Conwell (NO) - Fractured ankle

I'm bringing a Gameboy next week

While punter Micah Knorr replaced Jason Elam on the final field goal, it was probably less about protecting Elam than it was giving Micah something to do. For the first time in thirteen years, the Denver punter never was asked to punt in the entire game. This is a favorable sign that the opponent's defense is not doing very well.

Plug-n-Play

Peyton Manning was without two of his best weapons on Sunday but hardly missed a step. Manning ended with a league leading 401 yards passing and when Marcus Pollard was not available, he gave Dallas Clark his first 100 yard receiving game in the NFL. With Marvin Harrison inactive for the game due to a hamstring strain, Manning merely threw four passes to Troy Walters for 88 yards and a touchdown before Walters furthered the comparison by also straining his hamstring and having to leave the game in the third quarter.

Somebody write it down this time!

Shannon Sharpe turned in his third career game with three touchdowns when he had seven catches for 101 yards in the San Diego game on Sunday. The last time he had performed the hat trick was back on October 6th, 1996. Against the San Diego Chargers. Again.

Oxygen... 'gasp'... oxygen

Zack Crockett had his standard one yard touchdown plunge against the Vikings yesterday and with Tyrone Wheatley getting tired from his heavy load, Crockett was sent in to replace Wheatley in the third quarter. It was first and ten from the Oakland 43-yard line and Crockett carried the ball for an astonishing six yards before finding someone to bash into. On second down from midfield, he took the handoff and found himself running for 44 yards all the way to the Minnesota 7-yard line. The one run was seven yards longer than he had gained this entire season to that point though it took 19 previous carries to gain 36 yards.

In wonderful irony, he was replaced by Tyrone Wheatley who ran twice and scored a one yard touchdown.

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

Comedy Lineup Yards TDs Tragedy Lineup Yards TDs
QB Kelly Holcomb 392 3 QB Brett Favre 92 1
RB Thomas Jones 145 0 RB Michael Pittman 40 0
RB Tyrone Wheatley 115 1 RB LaDainian Tomlinson 45 0
WR David Tyree 106 0 WR Randy Moss 25 0
WR Jon Carter 62 1 WR Joe Horn 21 0
WR Kassim Osgood 19 1 WR Jimmy Smith 5 0
PK Phil Dawson 3 FG, 5 XP PK Steve Christi

zippo

Huddle Fantasy Points = 111

Huddle Fantasy Points = 22

What'ya mean I haven't missed anything?

There were 18 teams playing early games on Sunday and of those, nine of them had only three points or less by halftime. Only three teams had over 10 points to start the third quarter. In case you missed the entire set of early games, eight of the teams never scored more 12 points in the entire game though three still managed to win.

By the afternoon, the teams had warmed up and only the Green Bay - Tampa Bay game failed to score at least 45 total points. Appropriately, the Dallas-New England game ended the day's slate with a 12-0 snoozer to bring us back to full circle.

Whose house is this?

After 15 games played on Sunday, there were a dozen wins by the home team and of the three road wins, only Tampa Bay lost as a home favorite in the game. That was expected though, since they are just the reigning World Champions.

Last week there were 14 games and again only three teams managed to win on the road. Victory does not seem to be a good traveler lately.

Have a nice trip

There were three quarterbacks (Holcomb, Plummer and Pennington) that had three touchdowns passing and three other players (Westbrook, James and Sharpe) that also had three touchdowns yesterday.

The scoring by those three non-quarterbacks was made even more impressive considering that only McAllister and James Jackson were able to score more than one time. It's feast or famine for NFL scoring and five teams go into their games next week still looking for that elusive place called the "endzone".

Sunday's Couch Commentary

BAL 6, MIA 9 OT With 112 yards passing, no scores and two interceptions, Anthony Wright proved to be a perfect replacement for Kyle Boller. The Fins finally remember how to get Ricky Williams over the 100 yard mark and handoff to him 36 times in the game. Since all the wideouts accounted - in total - for only 74 yards in the game, you know it was not destined to be a shoot-out. There were only five field goalzzzzzzzzz...
ARZ 6, CLE 44 The Cardinals retain their claim to being the surprise team of the season by allowing Cleveland to actually win at home, by 38 points, in a game that made Kelly Holcomb (392 yards, 3 TD's) look all-world. Kevin Johnson missed all the fun since the two starting wideouts of Quincy Morgan (116 yards, 1 TD) and Andre' Davis (117 yards, 1 TD) provided bookend performances. William Green also watched the game and saw James Jackson score two touchdowns. This all begs the question - who can they get rid of for next week so they can beat the Steelers? And no, Butch is not an option.
KC 19, CIN 24

The reporters were surprised to find HC Marvin Lewis already waiting at the postgame news conference and looking like the only guy invited to a sorority kegger. No surprise here - Chad Johnson guaranteed it just like Jamal Lewis guaranteed that he would set the all-time single game rushing record earlier this year. What the heck - I guarantee I will win the lottery this week. Good things come in threes, right? Or is that celebrity deaths? At any rate the Chiefs drew to 19-24 with three minutes left to play but experienced what their opponents usually get from Priest Holmes when Rudi Johnson popped a 54 yard run and then just ran the clock out safely in Kansas City territory. Next week Corey Dillon will not play the changing injury status game of being "Doubtful" or "Questionable" or Probable". He will just be listed as "Unnecessary".

STL 23, CHI 21 Chicago made it interesting and led 14-3 at the half and Chandler led a comeback to go ahead 21-20 with only five minutes left. But the Rams take the win thanks to Torry Holt and Marshall Faulk who evidently still has the jets with his 52 yard run late in the third quarter. He even got caught from behind, just like before. Bears eventually accepted their fate when informed that their assigned cellar buddy Detroit also lost.
WAS 17, CAR 20 What could be more appropriate than the Redskins taking the late 4th quarter lead via the pass only to see Stephen Davis rush in a touchdown to win the game? Cartwright may carry the Rock now in Washington, but in Carolina, Davis carries it past that magical white line with flags at either end. This makes an important difference. In the immortal words of Steve Spurrier - "well dang".
HOU 12, BUF 10 This was not only an ugly game, the 12-10 score was not from five field goals and one touchdown. It came from four field goals, two safeties, one touchdown and a failed two point conversion. The only truly productive player in the game was Travis Henry with a broken leg and the only touchdown came just prior to the halftime when Andre Johnson scored on a 46-yard touchdown pass when he was sandwiched by three defenders and kept running as the the trio bounced away.
NYG 10, PHI 28 Same result as last time only the Eagles did not wait until the end of the game to take the lead and Westbrook scored three times instead of only twice. Okay - so Donovan McNabb threw for 312 yards instead of just 64 like last time. He hit nine receivers in the game even though these are the exact same nine he has played with the entire season. Marcellus Rivers (3-16) was no Shockey.
JAX 3, TEN 10 Titans kept getting close only to mess it up before they remembered that they had already scored a touchdown and were therefore safe on the scoreboard. If you thought they looked disinterested this week, they visit the Falcons next Sunday. On the plus side for the Jaguars, Leftwich reduced his interceptions from three to only two in his second matchup against Tennessee.
ATL 20, NO 23 Game-O-The-Week
SD 8, DEN 37 Doug Flutie had 52 yards passing during his late game touchdown drive and only had 18 yards passing in the rest of the entire game. Surprisingly, that one drive was the only time Drew Brees was not smiling. The Broncos were so tired of scoring on literally every drive that Quentin Griffin played for most of the second half and still out gained LaDainian Tomlinson 55 to 29 yards rushing. If Sharpe retires in the offseason, he should move to San Diego where the weather is nice and no one gets in his way.
NYJ 31, IND 38 Manning threw for 401 yards without two of his best receivers and the game winning score was made when the field goal holder Hunter Smith took off running for the goal line. When the Jets review their gamefilm, it will be the first time any of them have seen Smith with the ball. The Colts gained 545 offensive yards and scored five touchdowns. They also gave up three passing scores to Pennington and 105 yards rushing to Curtis Martin. This is exactly why we all started playing fantasy football in the first place. The terrifying news that the Colts have a defense this season is thankfully just a baseless rumor.
GB 20, TB 13 Winning the Super Bowl just does not buy the same amount of respect that it once did. These matchups are usually lower scoring (check) and for the past dozen or so games has always been won by the home team (not a check). The times are changing when Favre wins with 92 yards passing, Robert Ferguson is the best receiver and the Bucs are featuring Thomas Jones at running back. "Chuckie" now has a new appreciation for horror.
DET 14, SEA 35

The game ended with the same score as the first half because even the players were swept up in the crowds that were streaming out of the stadium. The big day planned to open up their offense by the Seahawks was canceled because it worked too well, too early. Next week at Minneapolis may be the final chance for the Lions to break their road streak until next season unless their petition succeeds to have their bye weeks actually considered as tied games against themselves. Even in that scenario the bookies would still somehow favor the home Lions over the road Lions.

MIN 18, OAK 28 After living a great life for the first six weeks of the season, the Vikings have now passed the fourth stage of dying. The fifth and final stage will appropriately be next week if the Lions win as a visitor in Minnesota. The Raiders finally get another win just in time to head to Kansas City next week where the Chiefs will be on the warpath.
DAL 0, NE 12 Cowboys balance their fairy tale season with yet another trip to the black forest of shutouts. Having the best defense is nice and all, but throwing a point or two up by the offense would go a long way to making road trips less painful. The offense does not have to be stocked with superstars - just look at what New England has done.

Game-O-The-Week

There were several valid contenders, enough so that I almost made this a multiple award. There were many close games this weekend and nine were won by a touchdown or less. Miami took the victory in overtime but with a 9-6 game score, it makes for less thrilling fare. The Bengals draw to tie for the AFC North lead by defeating the Chiefs and thereby sparing us the never-ending stories about the 1972 Miami Dolphins.

In the end, it had to be a close game with a screwy path to a home win.

Winner: Atlanta 20, New Orleans 23 in overtime.

The Falcons were fresh off their dismantling of the Giants and on the road again after their emotional (if not astounding) win. The Saints were fresh from their bye week and having witnessed the big Atlanta win last week during the Crawfish party at Deuce's crib, there was little chance that the Falcons would catch the Saints sleeping. This was the team that New Orleans beat 45-17 only three weeks ago in Atlanta.

So then, naturally, the game witnessed the first score when midway through the first quarter Aaron Brooks attempted a pass to Michael Lewis that was intercepted and returned for a touchdown. Down 7-0, it was hardly time to panic.

The next series the Saints went three and out and then the Falcons drove the field to get a field goal. Down 10-0, it was not really time to panic.

After trading ineffective series, the Saints took over on their own 15-yard line when Aaron Brooks was intercepted again and the ball returned to the Saints 5-yard line. After gaining one yard on first down, T.J. Duckett took his second carry for a four yard touchdown and the 17-0 lead only two minutes into the second quarter. Panic became an option, though not a preferable one.

The Saints, now fully aware that the Falcons are not willing to play the patsy yet again, mount an eight minute drive that includes first down at the Atlanta 5-yard line. After three plays and five yards lost, they accept the field goal gladly to get on THAT STUPID SCOREBOARD.

With only four minutes left in the half, both teams have one more fruitless series and Atlanta takes over on the Saints 45-yard line with 1:40 left to play in the second half thanks to a nice punt return. Kittner - Kurt Kittner - drives his team down the field for a field goal to end the half and take the lead 20-3.

The Saints, fighting panic, come out passing in the second half and do little for a couple of series as does Atlanta as well. Midway through the third quarter, the Saints intercept that pesky Kittner and take over on the Atlanta 16-yard line. Knowing that the pass is getting them nowhere, they opt for three straight runs and a Deuce McAllister touchdown. They now trail by only 10 points.

A few more series finds the Saints having done little but they have the ball on their own 48-yard line and thanks to Atlanta penalties, incompletions by Brooks and runs by McAllister (but mostly the runs), they reach the Atlanta 7-yard line. Deuce scores his second touchdown of the game with two minutes gone from the fourth quarter. The Saints trail only by three points!

The Saints trade meaningless series with the Falcons and then starting on their own 13-yard line with six minutes left to play. Deftly mixing a couple of completions with being sacked, Brooks drives the field largely by handing off to Deuce McAllister. With only 28 seconds left, Brooks gets sacked and throws an incompletion to Jerome Pathon before the Saints tie the game on a John Carney field goal, 20-20.

Overtime!

The Saints win the coin flip and receive the ball on their own 38-yard line thanks to a nice run back by Michael Lewis. After gaining two yards on the first play, Deuce McAllister takes his second hand off and streaks through the heart of the Falcon defense. He is almost untouched by the time he reaches the Atlanta 35-yard line when the safeties collide with him and then both quickly peel off as Deuce continues to run to the 30, the 20, the 10 and then signifying that the NFL is all about those last few feet and not the 174 other ones that McAllister has already ran, the cornerback Juran Bolden catches up to him and tommyhawks the ball from his grip. The Falcons recover in the endzone for a touchback.

Warrick Dunn then takes first down and runs for 41 yards himself to the Saints 39-yard line. This was the time that panic was not only justified, but actually called for. The Saints hold the Falcons to only two yards and from the 37-yard line, Jay Feely attempts a 54 yard field goal that is almost perfectly centered down the middle, all the way until it hits the ground a few feet short of the cross bar. The Saints take over on the 45-yard line!

On first down, Brooks hits Joe Horn for 14 yards and not wanting to tempt fate, they opt to run McAllister instead of attempt another pass. After all, McAllister loses the ball much farther down the field than Brooks does. McAllister breaks through the left side and runs for 23 yards, ending with him holding the ball with both arms while lowering his helmet over it. From the 18-yard line, there is no sense in taking any risks and John Carney nails the 36-yard game winning field goal on first down.

Whew!

It was a game of big plays and bigger errors that somehow ended up where most thought it would. The Falcons have now set the table for Vick's return with a team that does not look nearly so bad as a few weeks ago while the Saints string their second win in a row.

It was a close win over a supposed easy opponent that was replicated all over the NFL this week. By the time it was over, we were reminded that it doesn't matter if things don't always go your way and that bad things can happen at the end of otherwise good plays. That it doesn't really matter what the records are going into a game and that it's okay to push yourself by shooting off your mouth before facing the biggest and baddest out there. It's all okay as long as we remember one thing.

There's no place like home.

Now get back to work...