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Tunnel Vision - Week 15
By David M. Dorey
December 8, 2003
 
Sunday Salutes
Quarterbacks Yards TD
Trent Green 397 2
Daunte Culpepper 274 3
Jeff Garcia 280 6
Running Backs Yards TD
Clinton Portis 254 5
Jamal Lewis 180 3
LaDainian Tomlinson 236 2
Wide Receivers Yards TD
Randy Moss 133 2
Anquan Boldin 123 1
Terrell Owens 92 2
Tight Ends Yards TD
Jed Weaver 76 0
Shannon Sharpe 73 0
Boo Williams 59 1
Placekickers XP FG
Mike Vanderjagt 2 5
Ryan Longwell 2 4
Aaron Elling 4 2
Defense/Special Teams TDs Sacks TOs
Jacksonville 1 3 5
Green Bay 1 5 3
Philadelphia 1 3 3

Week 14 Bumps, Bruises and Bow-outs

QB Kerry Collins - Sprained ankle
QB Steve McNair - Sprained ankle
RB Michael Bennett - Sprained ankle
RB Trung Canidate - Bruised foot
WR Jonathan Carter - Sprained knee
WR Ike Hilliard - Sprained knee
WR Bobby Engram - Concussion
TE/DT Warren Sapp - Sprained ankle

Get off me already

Bruce Smith set the all-time sack record of 199, one better than the previous record by Reggie White. Kerry Collins had already given way to Jesse Palmer in the Giants-Redskins game and he managed to gain a distinction to his otherwise young and unremarkable career by being #199. When Bruce Smith began his record-setting career it after 1984 and that is perhaps appropriate since Smith spent his entire career playing Big Brother with dozens of smaller quarterbacks over the years. There's a "noogie" they will never forget.

Rule #1 - Do no harm

The best way to start a football game is to march down the field and get a touchdown. It was something that was attempted by Shaun Alexander, Tony Hollings, Shawn Bryson and Tiki Barber and all four share in the misfortune of actually losing a fumble on the very first drive of the game. All four runningbacks were also on teams that lost yesterday.

Jamal Lewis lost a fumble as well, but did so on their second series. The Ravens won the game anyway. Evidently you can make a mistake but for crying out loud - not on the first drive!

He's baaaaack

Taking his first start this season, Michael Vick completed an unspectacular 16 of 33 passes for only 179 yards and one interception. He also added 141 yards on 14 rushes and scored once. Only five other running backs ran for more yardage than Vick did on Sunday.

He is good. He is impressive. Now if we can figure out how to keep the announcers from reminding us on every offensive play.

He's gooooone

Clinton Portis shredded the Chiefs defense for 218 yards and five touchdowns - tying for the second most rushing touchdowns in one game in the history of the NFL. Portis also added 36 yards on five catches. In just two games against the Chiefs this season, Portis has a total of 474 yards and six touchdowns.

If Portis could just play Kansas City every game of the season, his pace would result in 2872 rushing yards, 920 receiving yards and 48 touchdowns. Now there would be the unquestioned first pick of the fantasy draft next summer.

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

Comedy Lineup Yards TDs Tragedy Lineup Yards TDs
QB Joshua McCown 120 2 QB Kerry Collins 62 0
RB Correll Buckhalter 144 1 RB Marcel Shipp 34 0
RB LaBrandon Toefield 69 1 RB Corey Dillon 45 0
WR Eddie Kennison 83 1 WR Chad Johnson 15 0
WR Kelly Campbell 60 1 WR Amani Toomer 30 0
WR Dante Hall 124 0 WR Chris Chambers 32 0
PK Aaron Elling 4 XP, 2 FG PK Olindo Mare

nope

Huddle Fantasy Points = 98

Huddle Fantasy Points = 17

He's a Pinball Wizard

Adam Vinatieri only had the opportunity to kick one extra point in the 12-0 Patriot win over the Dolphins. He made the most of the moment with with the rare "double doinker". His kick went caroming of the right upright, over... over... over to the the left upright which it whacked before falling behind the cross bar.

He is available for parties, graduations and pick up soccer games.

Let's see - There's Eric Moulds. And Jerry Rice. Donald Driver. Oh yeah - Jerry Porter...

Josh Reed, Todd Pinkston, Brian Finneran. Bill Schroeder. Of course, Tim Dwight. And then...

Oh - I'm sorry. I was just trying to think of all the wide receivers in the NFL this season that have less receiving touchdowns than Warren Sapp. There are actually 88 of them. Fortunately Plaxico Burress scored yesterday so he is tied with two touchdowns as well... 'whew'...

Sunday's Couch Commentary

TB 14, NO 7 Let's review. Deuce McAllister had rushed for 100+ yards in the last nine games. This included 110 yards on 26 carries in Tampa Bay back in week nine when the Bucs had not yet lost even more defenders to injury. Last season he had 109 and 99 yards against Tampa Bay. This time around he is hunting for a record, is at home, and the Saints are actually the vastly more healthy team. Naturally, he gets held to 69 yards on 22 carries. Tampa Bay had lost four of their last five games, the Saints had won six of their last seven. We were getting too comfortable again.
SEA 7, MIN 34 Randy Moss is one of those very few players that make you say "why are they only double-covering him?" Seattle had been red hot while the Vikings had jumped off the high board over a month ago. Hasselbeck had 661 yards and 8 touchdowns in the previous TWO games which included against Baltimore. Against the normally abused Vikings secondary, Hasselbeck managed only 218 yards and two interceptions. They can't all be Baltimore...
HOU 0, JAX 27 Evidently the Ragone-Hollings era is over before we knew it. Didn't Fred Taylor always used to get injured in odd-numbered years? Did he not get the memo? In a show of dedication, Hollings one yard average required 18 carries to ensure that was all he could do. Yep - one yard. Uh-huh - one yard. Okay... there's another yard.
CHI 21, GB 34 The Packers continue their streak of playing in games with three interceptions, only this time around it was Kordell Stewart doing the throwing (like we could not see that coming). Bears took a 14-0 lead in the first quarter and then gave up 34 straight points to Green Bay. It was as if Stewart was unable to bring the Bears back once they lost the lead, and his turnovers caused - stop me if you have heard this one before...
SD 14, DET 7 And so the moral of the story is that one Tomlinson in the backfield is better than 22 lions out on the field. Detroit gets to hit the road again in their quest to own the all-time record for consecutive road losses. And they get to go to Kansas City where the Chiefs have the look of someone who had their car stolen and the thief took out the front bushes when he left.
CIN 13, BAL 31 And so the AFC North goes. It turns out that Jamal Lewis can still flatten CIN. Kitna's two fumbles and two interceptions matched up with Dillon's 45 yards and Chad Johnson's 15 yards to make a nice three legged stool. Now sit there and be quiet because Baltimore is going to win the AFC North.
IND 29, TEN 27 Came one two point play away from being the unquestioned GOTW. Titans battle back from 29-13 to score fourteen points in the fourth quarter but the conversion was batted away. Great game that likely gives IND the division crown barring an unforeseen two more losses coupled with TEN winning out.
OAK 7, PIT 27 In this replay of week two of last season, the Raiders only threw for 335 yards less and the team scored the same points (give or take 23) than in 2002. Mirer's 68 yards passing was actually half of his previous season's worst. Raiders met the terrible towel of Pittsburgh with their own symbol - the white flag. Who knew the Pirates of the Caribbean was really a comedy?
DAL 10, PHI 36 Dallas takes the unquestioned bottom bunk under Philly only to find that the Eagles are still wetting the bed. McNabb has now completely switched places with Rush Limbaugh while Carter's 93 yards passing and two interceptions indicates that Parcells Phase II plans are getting bigger every week.
WAS 20, NYG 7 The Giants plan to select new linemen from a season ticketholder lottery now seems suspect. Collins ankle sprain may be a mercy killing and chances are that this week when the coaches see him limping they will be asking " I thought you hurt the other leg?" Giant assistant coaches are given half day Fridays in order to start calling everyone on their Rol-a-dex.
ARZ 14, SF 50 Garcia scored as many touchdowns on Sunday as he had in the previous five games. The first series for each team were microcosms of the Cardinals season - Blake throws the ball away, then throws two incompletions to Boldin and then they punt. Before that it only took SF five plays to cover 73 yards and score on their opening drive. Most men would need a 12 pack of Viagra to keep up with the scoring opportunities afforded by ARZ.
MIA 0, NE 12 The Fins prepared for ten days in order for Chambers to only gain 32 yards and not score like the rest of the team. Starting out with a skunk is not exactly the way Wannstedt wanted to lift the December curse and hosting Philly next week may be little better. Patriots seem a lock now for the AFC Championship game with the test winning formula - great defense, little running and enough passing to win the game.
NYJ 6, BUF 17 Jets figure out the best way to gloss over Bledsoe's woes is to not make him throw - Travis Henry rumbles for a personal best 169 yards while Curtis Martin slides back down below the 4 YPC range. AFC East continues to held each other back.
KC 27, DEN 45 The game started out with Holmes and Portis scoring touchdowns, and then Holmes again, and then Portis. And then Portis. And then Portis. And then Portis. Kennison's mouth wrote a check that he actually could cash but Portis cleaned out the bank. Oh man, there he goes again...

Game-O-The-Week

What a week. Much anticipated fights most often became blowouts with 11 of 15 games decided by over 10 points. MIN won by 27. DEN had 18 extra. PHI went 26 points farther. The Fins and Texans were shutout and the 49ers had five more TDs this time against the Cards. TEN almost pulled out a comeback but ended up disappointing the hometown crowd. In the end, there was but one close game involving a favored division leader.

Winner: Carolina 14, Atlanta 20

The teams were tied, 7-7, at the half and Michael Vick had already gained 55 yards rushing. The Falcons had shown that they were not going to roll over now that Mighty Vick was under center and the defense had held Stephen Davis to only 39 yards on nine carries. Compare this to week four when these teams met and Carolina won 23-3.

In that game, the Panthers led 17-0 at the half.

Is it possible that the mere presence of Vick could make the rest of the team better? Even the defense? How exactly does that work, anyway? And why doesn't it work for Jay Feely who had already missed a 34 and a 36 yard field goal?

After trading punts on their opening series of the second half, T.J. Duckett loses a fumble on his own 23 yard line and wisely using Stephen Davis, the Panthers march the 23 yards in eight plays to score and take the 14-7 lead. It did require six plays inside the Panthers 10-yard line and was helped by a defensive holding.

The third quarter ends with the two teams trading punts while the announcers love-fest for Vick begins to run out of superlatives.

In the fourth quarter, the two teams trade punts once more and the announcers have taken to pointing out that Vick would be naturally tired as an excuse why he had not yet taken over the game. When the Falcons get the ball on their own 44-yard line with 12:06 left to play, expectations have dropped (if not overall viewership on the east coast). That is when Vick takes off on a winding 43 yard run which prompts some 100,000+ viewers to say "Dude - I forgot just how fast this guy is". From the Carolina 15-yard line, the Falcons use a Vick 9-yard run, a dump pass to Griffith and a Duckett one yard gainer to reach the one yard line where, of course, Vick fakes play action and then sort of hops into the endzone for the 14-14 tie.

Carolina cannot move the ball in two series and punts and the second time Atlanta gets the ball on their own 24-yard line, there is only 1:46 left. Vick moves the team down the field largely with two passes to Alge Crumpler and two Panther penalties and with only 20 seconds left on the Carolina 27-yard line, Vick runs towards left end and loses six yards and six seconds. From the 31-yard line, Feely would need to kick a 48 yard field goal which has evidently become at least 14 yards farther than his range, whatever that may actually be in the windless, carpeted stadium.

Knowing that more yards are needed, Vick goes back to Crumpler just one time too many and throws an interception which effectively ends regulation. Oddly enough, the announcers fail to mention that lobbing up a pass that falls short to the only receiver you have used on the drive is actually not that "super".

Carolina wins the coin toss and begins their certain march to victory. Delhomme hits Smith for two yards and then Davis takes a run up the middle for five more. On third down, Delhomme hits Kevin Mathis who plays for the Falcons. Mathis scoots 32 yards in for the score. The game ends on an interception returned for a touchdown by one of the worst secondaries in the league. There is no Vick saving the day. There is no Davis bull rushing for the win. Feely packs his shoe bag while nodding at Mathis - "Thanks buddy, I owe you one."

The game ended suddenly and without warning in a manner no one expected. Just like our dwindling season that now witnesses the Chiefs as fallible, the Patriots as apparently unbeatable and the Titans as good as McNair can be. We have the Colts winning without defense and the Eagles scoring in any one of a dozen different ways.

The season is short and the offseason will be long. Let's enjoy it while while we can...

Now get back to work...