| Sunday Salutes
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
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
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
Drama 101 - Somebody has to laugh, somebody has to cry
| Comedy Lineup
|| Tragedy Lineup
|| 2 FG, 5 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
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
0, NYJ 6
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.
17, KC 45
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
38, CIN 41
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
|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
3, TB 16
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
22, STL 27
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.
7, NO 45
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...
20, ARZ 17
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
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
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...