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Tunnel Vision - Week 16
By David M. Dorey
December 15, 2003
Sunday Salutes
Quarterbacks Yards TD
Peyton Manning 290 5
Brett Favre 278 4
Aaron Brooks 296 5
Running Backs Yards TD
Priest Holmes 136 3
LaDainian Tomlinson 195 2
Rudi Johnson 182 2
Wide Receivers Yards TD
Joe Horn 133 4
Marvin Harrison 117 2
Terrell Owens 127 1
Tight Ends Yards TD
Antonio Gates 117 0
Tony Gonzalez 93 2
Todd Heap 93 1
Placekickers XP FG
Jason Elam 2 3
Martin Gramatica 1 3
Shayne Graham 5 2
Defense/Special Teams TDs Sacks TOs
Carolina 1 4 2
Cincinnati 1 1 3
New Orleans 1 3 2

Week 15 Bumps, Bruises and Bow-outs

RB Clinton Portis - Sprained knee and ankle
RB Jerome Bettis - Sprained knee
WR Deion Branch - Arm injury
WR Isaac Bruce - Sprained ankle
TE Desmond Clark - Sprained ankle

Dialing for Dollars

After Joe Horn caught his first touchdown, he and Michael Lewis moved the protective batting from the goalpost where evidently Horn had planted a cell phone. Horn immediately pretended to be answering the phone in his own attempt to one up Terrell Owens and his many antics. He was penalized 15 yards on the next kickoff for the excessive celebration and there is little doubt that the NFL will be deciding how deeply into the five figures his fine will be. Horn made all the postgame shows with his brief show but it will be forgotten soon enough.

Now if he had not gone for the phone until after the FOURTH touchdown, then he would have something for the ages.

I'm sorry, I wasn't paying attention. Now WHAT?

They intercepted the pass on only the third play of the game and returned it to the one yard line where the bruising running back scored on the first offensive play for the team. One team lost three turnovers, a missed field goal, argued about the officiating and was sacked three times. The other had no turnovers, no sacks and no missed field goals. The good team was the Oakland Raiders and the bad one was the Baltimore Ravens.

Arguably the best defense in the league was unable to collect any turnovers or sacks against a 3-10 team led by Rick Mirer. And you thought some things were automatic.

Where did all these pumpkins come from?

Those willing to take a risk after Marcus Robinson turned in four touchdowns in week 12 were rewarded with two more consecutive games with a score - any three game scoring string by a wideout is rare enough and one snagged on the waiver wire in week 13 is almost impossible to find. Now that the fantasy playoffs are underway, those proud waiver hounds likely played Mr. Robinson only to find that he had no catches this week. Just when you needed him most.

Santana Moss had an incredible scoring stretch every game from week six through week 12. His last three games have been 76, 61 and yesterday 44 yards with no scores.

Domanick Davis was another hot property taken as a free agent in many leagues but only had 58 yards on Sunday and missed the previous week with an injury.

Those Cinderellas are hard to find and harder to keep. Let's just hope Thomas Jones does not believe in fairy tales.

Rounding the bend

In the AFC, the Patriots (12-2), Chiefs (12-2), have locked up their divisions.

The Bengals (8-6) and Ravens (8-6) are trying to make the AFC North a guessing game until the very end and the second place team there may not make the playoffs.

The Colts (11-4) are guaranteed a playoff spot and need only one win or one Titan loss to win the AFC South. The Titans (10-4) can do not better than a wildcard unless the Colts lose to both Denver and Houston while Tennessee wins out against Houston and Tampa Bay. Most likely, the Colts take the division and the Titans get the first wildcard.

That would mean that the second AFC wildcard would go to either Denver (9-5), Miami (8-5 before the Monday night game) or the second place team in the AFC North (Baltimore or Cincinnati). Any of these teams could lose at least one more game and it will almost certainly go to week 17 to get resolved.

In the NFC, the Rams (11-3) and Panthers (9-5) have locked up their divisions.

The Eagles (10-3) have clinched a playoff spot and will win the NFC East unless Dallas (9-5) gets very lucky though Philly does not have the easiest outschedule (@MIA, SF and @WAS). Dallas could win out with only the Giants visiting and then week 17 at the Saints.

The NFC North is a tied affair with Green Bay (8-6) and Minnesota (8-6) and it will likely go two more weeks to resolve since the Packers still have to play at Oakland and then host the Broncos while the Vikings are hosting the Chiefs this week and then end up in Arizona.

Most likely will be the Rams, Panthers and Eagles as divisional winners, either Minnesota or Green Bay as the NFC North champ and then Dallas gets the first wild card. The second wildcard in the NFC will go to either the Packers (8-6), Vikings (8-6), Seahawks (8-6) and at least possibly the Saints (7-7) or Buccaneers (7-7).

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

Comedy Lineup Yards TDs Tragedy Lineup Yards TDs
QB Billy Volek 299 3 QB Michael Vick 77 0
RB Rudi Johnson 182 2 RB Corey Dillon 24 0
RB Kevan Barlow 151 2 RB Domanick Davis 58 0
WR Robert Ferguson 56 2 WR Laveranues Coles -1 0
WR Brandon Stokley 95 2 WR Rod Smith 41 0
WR Tai Streets 89 1 WR Santana Moss 44 0
PK Shayne Graham 2 FG, 5 XP PK Jay Feeley

1 XP

Huddle Fantasy Points = 152

Huddle Fantasy Points = 19

I said I would be there

Those fantasy teams that owned Jeff Garcia suffered through three games with no scores this season and in total for the first nine games he played, Garcia had 12 touchdowns (8 passing, 4 rushing). His inconsistency was damaging to the fortunes of those owners that relied on him every week, capped off when he returned from a five week absence to throw for only 112 yards and four interceptions against the Ravens in week 13.

Those of you who kept the faith, or just as likely had no other decent alternative, have been richly rewarded with a two week performance that netted a total of six passing and three rushing touchdowns, 596 yards in the air and 83 yards gained on runs. In other words, he gained as many touchdowns in weeks 14 and 15 (fantasy playoffs) as he did from weeks two through week 13.

You didn't bench him, right?

Sunday's Couch Commentary

PIT 0, NYJ 6 The Steelers officially celebrated their losing season by losing their ninth game in the snow while Maddox ended the day with a string of eight consecutive incompletions. In a throwback to yesteryear, Curtis Martin blazed for 174 rushing yards while Bettis ran and then got hurt. Neither team could pass in that weather but fortunately there were no interceptions since even the defenders could not catch. When a game is over with the first field goal, it's time to get NFL Sunday Ticket.
JAX 13, NE 27 Patriots string out their tenth consecutive win by sticking yet another Florida team into the deep freeze and hitching a snow plow to Antowain Smith's facemask. Jaguars drop their sixth road loss and only have week 17 in Atlanta to avoid being blanked away from Jacksonville. On the plus side, the only snow job there will be the announcers gushing over Vick.
DET 17, KC 45 Lions match the record with their 22nd consecutive road loss but remain competitive the entire game until the Chiefs actually go on offense and begin to score 45 points. Priest Holmes has the TD record in his sites and 'sniff' Vermiel wants him to have it because... because... I LOVE YOU MAN....Ahem. Gonzo sticks his ninth and tenth TD and has the same amount of touchdowns since week two of the season as Harrington has thrown. Mariucci is already practicing his postgame speech for next week in Carolina when the Lions set the all-time record for futility with #23.
ATL 7, IND 38 Vick and Manning allow analysts to compare and contrast their styles by playing exact opposite games from one another in the same stadium. Manning threw five more touchdowns against none for Vick. Manning threw for 290 yards and Vick threw for 47 yards. T.J. Duckett provides his own version of the dirty bird dance after he scored the lone Falcons touchdown but must have been blind as a bat since the scoreboard was already 31-0 before he scored. Here - have another Harrison touchdown then...
SF 38, CIN 41 Garcia turns in his second big game right when you needed him most but since the 49ers are on a strict no-win diet when they fly, the Bengals creep back into a tie with the Ravens. Rudi Johnson went from four carries for ten yards in week 14 to having 174 yards and two touchdowns this week. Yo Corey - about that contract. Don't call us, we'll call you.
MIN 10, CHI 13 Onterrio Smith tore up the Bears for 148 rushing yards but on this day the winning QB was named Rex Grossman and you can pretty much forget the previous ones. You'd think a team that had their mascot be long-distance voyagers from a cold land would be able to do a bit more in the snow away from home. Moe Williams went from 108 yards in their first meeting to having four carries for no gain on Sunday. Vikes allow the Packers back into title picture and still get to play the Chiefs this week.
HOU 3, TB 16 Dave Ragone threw for only 64 yards and proved that his 74 yards the previous week was in fact not the worst it could get. Carr stayed in the garage last week but since the Titans show up in Houston next Sunday, he needs to get his motor running and start playing. Andre Johnson is the only receiver in the league that his own team considered elite even though he has not exceeded 37 yards a game in a month. Thomas Jones looks exactly how everyone envisioned Ki-Jana Carter and Lawrence Phillips when they drafted them expected them to return to form. Jones had 151 yards and a score and may give Pittman employment worries to lump onto his legal concerns.
BUF 26, TEN 28 Volek saved the day with three touchdowns and 295 passing yards and even scored once on a run to complete the McNair mimicry. No word if he will wear a protective boot this week. Bills refused to go quietly until Shaw missed catching the two point conversion with only 24 seconds remaining. Bills consider breaking Henry's other leg to see if that will help him be the league leading rusher.
SEA 22, STL 27 Game was much more interesting than a 1-5 road versus a 6-0 home team would seem to suggest. Alexander turns in one of his best games with 134 yards and a score but Hasselbeck still misses Mrs. Robinson and Jackson can only do so much. Rams likely lock up homefield in the playoffs with possible exception of Championship game while 8-5 Seahawks start to ponder "if - then".
BAL 12, OAK 20 The embarrassing part about this is that I had read Revelations in the bible and totally forgot about this sign. 12:20 In the trees to the west there lies grain in the mud and birds of black shall be slaughtered by the spiked hordes and the golden child shall crawleth back beneath his rock. (Oakland - Rice - Mirer, Ravens lose to Raiders, Robinson turns back into a newt). Sure, It seems obvious now.
NYG 7, NO 45 Sort of makes you wonder why the Giants even bother tucking in their shirts before they play. G-men display all the passion of a substitute teacher on the last day of school while Brooks keeps yelling over to the sidelines "look, I'm throwing touchdowns - see? Here's another - see?" Evidently Palmer, Tyree, Ponder and Shiancoe are not duplicates of Collins, Toomer, Hilliard and Shockey.
DAL27, WAS 0 It is ironic that Hasselbeck's wife is considered the Survivor star when she never had to get pasted by Greg Ellis and jump up for the next play. Then again, have to think even Elizabeth could pass for more than 56 yards. Cowboys attend their third shutout road game of the season but smile for the first time since Snyder's boys are the skunked ones finally. Hambrick may only be able to shine when he plays the Redskins, but if he had to pick one team...
CAR 20, ARZ 17 It speaks volumes about where a player is in his career when people are shocked to see him score his 166th touchdown. McCown's 172 yards were not bad, but there is still no way of knowing how he will perform when people are watching.
GB 38, SD 21 In a throwback to years gone by, Favre not only throws for 278 yards and four touchdowns, Driver nearly doubles his best game of the year, Ferguson catches two touchdowns and the one reliable receiver in Walker only has 26 yards on two catches. Tomlinson is the leading rusher and the leading receiver for the Chargers in the past two weeks. If they could give him a shot at kicking too, the Chargers could end up with the most concise boxscore in the NFL.


What a week. We were treated to a game with six total points and four below 30 total points. And yet there were five games over 50 points and two over 60 points. We saw Horn score four times, and Manning and Brooks throw for five. Brett Favre is back and Priest Holmes will not leave. Schottenheimer and Spurrier have seemingly ran out of things to say in press conferences and Butch Davis just walks off in the middle of his. Nerves are getting tense in the NFL and job security more rare.

There were several good contenders for the GOTW but the winner is the only overtime game:

Winner: Cleveland 20, Denver 23

The game was tied 10-10 entering into the fourth quarter and after Deltha O'Neal returned a punt to the Browns 46-yard line, the Broncos got to work. Plummer mixed passes to Rod Smith and Shannon Sharpe with two runs by Portis, the second one ending up as a 13 yard touchdown, his second in the game. The Broncos reclaimed the lead 17-10 with 10:43 left to play.

On their his first play, Tim Couch throws an interception down at the Denver 18-yard line and after two Portis runs and an incompletion, the Broncos punt the ball back to the Browns. Dennis Northcutt returns the punt 38 yards and is finally tackled by the punter at the Denver 34-yard line.

Jamel White loses a yard on first down, then cannot catch his pass on second down. On third and 11, Couch find Andre Davis on the left sideline and he catches the ball in the endzone for the quick score. With only 7:48 left to play, the score is again knotted at 17-17.

Portis has four runs and Plummer manages a few incompletions before they have to punt with 4:26 left to play. Cleveland takes over on their own 28-yard line and since Couch has been lucky throwing only once in the game, they run Jamel White and enjoy a 33-yard pass interference call to reach the Denver 22-yard line at the two minute warning. On third and 3, Couch is sacked back at the 30-yard line so Cleveland let Brett Conway kick a 48 yard field goal in the icy, swirling winds. He nails it true and with only 1:16 left to play - in Denver - the Broncos trail the Browns 20-17.

Starting out on his own 25-yard line with a minute left, Plummer hits Lelie for seven yards, then lets Lelie run an end around for five more yards. He goes out of bounds at the Denver 37-yard line with 37 seconds left to play. In what was a clearly surprise play, Plummer throws to Lelie - again - and he catches it for a 46 yard gain to the Cleveland 17-yard line where Elam makes the 36-yard field goal to tie the game with only five seconds left. Lelie - you remember that guy you drafted and have regretted since?

In overtime, Couch mixes one White run with two incompletions to White and the Browns are forced to punt.

Taking over on their own 47-yard line, the Broncos finally remember that they have one of the best running backs in the NFL and they are facing the same defense that previously this season allowed Jamal Lewis to set the all-time single game rushing record. Plummer runs for 23 yards to the Cleveland 30 yard line but then hands off to Portis five straight times to gain 20 yards and a first down on the Cleveland 10-yard line.

By this time, Portis has ran 37 times for 136 yards and two scores. As Shanahan later stated, Portis is sure handed and a good run is better than a risky kick in that weather. His intention was to keep feeding Portis the ball until either he scored a touchdown or it became fourth down. Portis has already exceeded his previous best of 34 carries. On first and ten, Portis takes his 38th handoff and twists into the left side of the line for a three yard gain but remains on the ground. In the replay, the defensive tackle ends up rolling up on Portis' right leg, trapping it on the turf while Portis is further twisted in the tackle.

After Portis is helped from the field, Elam is sent in to end the game with a second down field goal of 25 yards for the win. He slits the uprights and the Browns lose the game. And possibly the Broncos lost more.

Portis had X-rays after the game which were negative but an MRI will be done to determine if there was any damage to the knee or ankle. Shanahan defended his reasoning why he continued to use the sometimes frail running back on 38 runs in the game, stating that he was running well and was the safest option in a game they could not afford to lose.

It would be easy enough to question why Portis was still in there and why Shanahan seemingly took an unnecessary risk. But that would be asking the wrong person. Portis has enough stature that he can take himself out of the game whenever he wants and does on the rare occasion. Maybe Portis is not hurt badly and maybe he tore something no one wants to hear about. But in a game that contains equal and significant risk of injury on every play, Clinton Portis did what he wanted and did what he does best. Run the ball and win games.

Hope for the best and thank him for the rest.

Now get back to work...