| Sunday Salutes
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
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
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
|| Tragedy Lineup
|| Correll Buckhalter
|| 4 XP, 2 FG
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
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
14, NO 7
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
0, JAX 27
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
14, DET 7
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.
29, TEN 27
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
|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
10, PHI 36
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
|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.
14, SF 50
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.
6, BUF 17
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
|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...
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...