1998, 1999, 2000, 2001 & 2002
Tunnel Vision - Week 17
By David M. Dorey
December 22, 2003
Sunday Salutes
Quarterbacks Yards TD
Brad Johnson 346 4
Aaron Brooks 296 2
Dante Culpepper 260 3
Running Backs Yards TD
Jamal Lewis 226 2
Fred Taylor 225 1
Onterrio Smith 183 3
Wide Receivers Yards TD
Torry Holt 124 1
Randy Moss 111 2
Lavernues Coles 94 2
Tight Ends Yards TD
Ituli Mili 70 0
Jason Witten 36 1
Boo Williams 54 1
Placekickers XP FG
Billy Cundiff 1 4
Jay Feely 3 3
Todd Peterson 3 2
Defense/Special Teams TDs Sacks TOs
New England 1 4 5
Miami 1 6 4
Baltimore 1 5 4

Week 16 Bumps, Bruises and Bow-outs

Short but significant

QB Matt Hasselbeck - Shoulder strain
WR Joe Horn - Shoulder sprain
WR Terrell Owens - Broken collarbone
WR Darrell Jackson - Sprained ankle

Happy Holiday wishes!

This week 17 edition of the Tunnel Vision has traditionally been the last one of the season, but I may continue it through the playoffs this season as I did last year after being goaded by some nice emails. Before many of you head out to the off-season, I wanted to take this opportunity to thank you for reading along this season and hopefully you enjoyed the Tunnel Vision this year. Hope you and yours have a great holiday season and if you do not check back until next year, have a wonderful off-season!

I want to be a part of it, you lose, you lose

Billy Cundiff had never kicked more than three field goals in any game this season except when he played against the Giants. Cundiff kicked four field goals on Sunday and upped his 2003 total to 11 field goals when playing the G-Men. Add in three extra points and he's averaging 18 points a game which is five more than the Giants have actually scored in any game during the last six weeks.

You got to want it... you do want it right?

In week 16 there is everything on the line for those teams vying for the playoffs and jockeying to be a better seed. So what happens? Of the current division leaders, Indianapolis, Kansas City, Philadelphia and Cincinnati (though they were tied) all lost. To make it more incredible, both the Colts and Eagles lost at home.

To make it completely unbelievable, the Eagles had won their last five games at home while the 49ers were a perfect 0-7 in road games. Apparently all they needed was to not use Garrison Hearst and lose Terrell Owens in the first half. Don't bother rereading, it will make no more sense.

Week 18 and beyond

The playoffs contenders became a little more clear yesterday, though by no means completely decided.

Both New England and Kansas City have clinched divisions and first round byes.

Both Indianapolis and Tennessee are going, but Indy must beat Houston to take the division.

Denver has clinched a wildcard.

The only AFC question left is if Baltimore or Cincinnati wins the AFC North and advances. The loser stays home in January. If Baltimore beats Pittsburgh, the Ravens advance. If they lose and the Bengals beat the Browns, then they take the division.

In the NFC, the Rams have clinched the NFC West and a first round bye. Both the Eagles and Cowboys have clinched, but Philly needs to beat the Redskins to take the NFC East. If they lose and the Cowboys beat the Saints, then Dallas takes the division.

Carolina has taken the NFC South division.

The NFC North waits to see if Green Bay wins on Monday night since the Vikings are now one game ahead. The loser battles Seattle for the last wildcard.


Jamal Lewis entered the day still needing 253 yards to hit the magic 2000 mark for rushing yards in a season. At the end of the first half, Lewis only had 41 yards on 14 carries. He only had eight more carries in the game which included runs for 24, 45 and 72 yards. He ended with a total of 205 yards and two touchdowns leaving him only 48 yards short of the 2000 yard mark.

The idea that he can gain at least 48 yards rushing is not exactly unthinkable, since he has not ran for less than 68 yards this season in any game. The Ravens will be hosting the Steelers on Sunday and that is the one team that has always been problematic for Lewis. In his previous three games against Pittsburgh, he gained 69, 86 and 34 yards.

He what?

The Saints pulled off a play for the ages when their last snap during regulation time against the Jaguars came from their own 25-yard line. With only six seconds left, Aaron Brooks threw a pass to Donte' Stallworth who ran all the way to the other sideline before pitching the ball to Michael Lewis who pitched it to Deuce McAllister who ran and then lateralled to Jerome Pathon who ran the final 21 yards for a touchdown. It was actually the second time I had seen that exact same play, the other time being about 30 years ago when the sidelines consisted of holly bushes or oak trees and it was actually me who pitched the ball back to a kid we called stinky for reasons better left unsaid.

Almost every team has that sort of play in their arsenal. Almost every time it ends up around midfield with a forward lateral or fumble out of bounds. This one time it worked.

The score became 19-20 with only the extra point left to tie. As we all know, John Carney somehow pulled it wide right, adding to the surreal nature of the end of the game. Many parallels have been drawn to "The Big Play" that occurred between the University of California and Stanford in 1982 that ended crashing through the Stanford band for the winning score. When someone brings that up, ask him who the quarterback was for Stanford in that fabled game. It was a kid who ended up in Denver the next season, wore #7 I believe.

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

Comedy Lineup Yards TDs Tragedy Lineup Yards TDs
QB Rex Grossman 249 2 QB Peyton Manning 146 0
RB Onterrio Smith 183 3 RB Michael Bennett 31 0
RB De'shaun Foster 114 1 RB Troy Hambrick 36 0
WR Todd Pinkston 121 1 WR Eric Moulds 20 0
WR Kassim Osgood 102 1 WR Joe Horn 39 0
WR David Givens 61 2 WR David Boston 9 0
PK Billy Cundiff 4 FG, 1 XP PK Martin Gramatica

2 XP

Huddle Fantasy Points = 140

Huddle Fantasy Points = 18

"I want to kiss you"

During the fantasy championships that happened most commonly in week 16 of the season, those owners who drafted running backs early last season were richly rewarded in a week that saw 15 runners gain over 100 total yards and seven that had over 150 yards. There were eight different runners with either two or three touchdowns scored last week compared to only three receivers that managed the multiple score trick.

There were only nine receivers over 100 yards and none over 124 yards on Sunday, unlike nine different runners that exceeded that yardage mark. Think anyone will remember that come draft time next season?

Those runners made many fantasy champions yesterday so happy that they probably wanted to kiss them in a manly, butt-slapping, "touchdown!" headbutting sort of way.

This is unlike the apparent desire of Joe Namath who was being interviewed by Suzy Kolber during the NE-NYJ game on Saturday. As Suzy tried to discuss the Jets and the game at hand, Broadway Joe mentioned that he wanted to kiss her enough times that the interview was cut short. The Jets organization has not commented on the situation. I can only imagine what Joe's version of fantasy football entails.

James Stewart + Charlie Batch = win

In week 16, James Stewart gained 164 yards on 37 carries to help the Detroit Lions defeat the New York Jets by a score of 10-7. Of course that was week 16 of the 2000 season - the last time that the Lions have won a road game before embarking on a new NFL record 24 consecutive losses. Eventually someone will fall prey to the visiting Lions, but only in the sense that we all believe football will last forever.

Until that fateful day that some team has to be "it" for losing to the Lions, the Jets remain with the "it" title as the last team that the Lions actually could beat.

With the 54th pick of the NFL draft...

Anquan Boldin was selected by the Arizona Cardinals with their 54th pick last April, after they had already taken WR Bryant Johnson (1.17) and DE Calvin Pace (1.18). Boldin has since been selected for the Pro Bowl and has already passed Terry Glenn for the all-time rookie reception record with 96 (Glenn had a mere 90). There is still one more game against the Vikings left to play. Boldin already has 1350 yards for the season with eight touchdowns.

Wonder if the Redskins (2.12 Taylor Jacobs) or the Patriots (2.13 Bethel Johnson) want to rethink their draft strategy?

Sunday's Couch Commentary

KC 20, MIN 45 Shoot-out of the big scoring offenses did not disappoint, and the lack of defenses only added to the wonderful fantasy bonanza we all knew was there. Trent Green decided to cool off when he faced a bad secondary and Priest Holmes was quiet all until the second half when he ripped off three touchdown runs to tie the Emmitt record of 25 in a season. What are the odds that Chicago sees Holmes at the goal line this weekend? Pretty good. Since Michael Bennett owners had seen their long awaited draft pick start to pay off, the Vikings started him, let him take a few runs and then allowed Onterrio Smith to gain 146 yards and three touchdowns. You've been Ticed.
NE 21, NYJ 16 Since fantasy championships were on the line, Pennington decided to turn in the worst game of his career by throwing for no touchdowns and five interceptions. Antowain Smith turned in 121 yards on only 18 carries because you picked up Faulk a few weeks back and David Givens scored twice because no one was starting him. Saturday was not that kind to many fantasy owners.
NYG 3, DAL 19 The G-men scored on their first drive thanks to a long pass interference, but otherwise mostly used a gameplan of Tiki-Tiki-Tiki-punt. The Dallas defense was initially at a loss who to cover since there were no apparent receivers but recovered and shut down the Giants offensive machine with about as much ease as changing the channel which most viewers did when they realized this was going to be a game with no touchdowns after the first quarter.
DET 14, CAR 20 We'll get 'em next season... Part III. Before you make the incorrect assumption that the Lions were competitive in this game, realize their touchdowns were a fumble return and a punt return in the fourth quarter. To show balance, the Lions ended with exactly 53 yards rushing and 53 yards passing. Matt Millen might call Morton names, but he would be better served by realizing that Morton was there the last time the Lions won on the road.
MIA 20, BUF 3 Fins try to keep in the wildcard race - AKA Keep Wannstedt Employed - by reminding the Bills that they are not going to have a winning record this season. Ricky gained 111 yards but needed 29 runs to get there while Jay Fiedler threw for only 46 yards. Travis Henry ran like a guy with a broken leg and Bledsoe may want to investigate how much it costs to take out a full page ad thanking the Bills for the ride.
CIN 10, STL 27 The Bengals helped ease fantasy owners fears about starting the wrong guy by having Dillon and Rudi combine for 67 yards rushing. Faulk cruised for 121 yards and a score while Torry Holt had 124 yards and a score without Isaac Bruce there to catch Bulger's attention. Now that the Rams are safely at home through the Championship game it makes playoffs pools a little easier while Kitna's three interceptions does not help his anti-Palmer plans.
BAL 35, CLE 0 Jamal Lewis has gained 500 rushing yards in only two games against the Browns this season. If he played against them every week, that would equate to 8000 rushing yards a season. By the looks of the second half on Sunday, that is not an unrealistic expectation. The most troubling aspect of Jamal's big season is that one team in every league would have never drafted him since they did back in 2001.
SD 24, PIT 40 Yeah, the Chargers lost another game, only had Tomlinson do anything and the Steelers won. But now Bettis is only 14 yards away from surpassing Jim Brown to rank sixth overall in NFL history in rushing yards (12,312+ yards). I sort of hope the Ravens hold him to 13 yards in the game next week. Bettis was good in his day, but was he really Jim Brown good? It makes it all more ironic that Jim Brown played for Cleveland who still provides huge rushing efforts (by the other team).
ARZ 10, SEA 28 Let's see - Koren had only 16 yards on three catches and Jackson got banged up and never had a single reception. But Alexander had 135 yards and the Cards lost 28-10. Boldin had 122 yards and caught the only Arizona touchdown in the game. This about sums up the Cardinals season.


This week was a tremendous slate of great games with big finishes, made more breathtaking by the fantasy implications that every game held. If you recall, there has been a relative dry spell of close games lately so the season is winding down with my first five-way tie. The weekend was that good.


Atlanta 30, Tampa Bay 28 - The Bucs fell behind 27-7 at the half to the No-Coach Falcons but battled back with three fourth quarter touchdowns. With only 27 seconds left to play, they missed on the 2 point conversion pass just to disappoint everyone who was thinking the Bucs could pull it off. On the plus side, being so far behind allowed Brad Johnson to throw for 364 yards and four touchdowns.

Game #1 decided at the last play - Doh!

New Orleans 19, Jacksonville 20 - Only the Saints could have perhaps the greatest last second play this season only to miss an extra point and lose. Carney had not missed an extra point since 1999. That was over 130 consecutive good extra points. If Carney had made it and the Saints ended up winning, then it would have to be the GOTW. Wide right will get you every time. It was the first time in NFL history that one team had scored a touchdown on the final play and yet lost by one point with a missed field goal. Small consolation with that sort of record. Head Coach Jack Del Rio spent most of the postgame interview trying not to giggle.

Game #2 decided at the end - whew!

Tennessee 27, Houston 24 - After falling behind 24-20, it came down to a fourth and ten pass from the Houston 23-yard line that Bennett caught in the endzone. The game was spiced up with a 95 yard interception return for a touchdown by Houston that was followed up by a 61 yard fumble return for a score by Tennessee. Despite conflicting reports during the week, Steve McFootinjury played and threw for two scores.

This was game #3 decided on virtually the last play. Whew!

Washington 24, Chicago 27 - Tim Hasselbeck faced one of the better secondaries in the NFL and still managed to throw for two touchdowns to Lavernues Coles who had finally gone public with his foot injury that had prevented him from ever catching another touchdown this season. Anthony Thomas completed 141 yards worth of the circles that all rushers have been running around the Redskin's defense. In the end, Paul Edinger was able to kick a field goal with five seconds left to win the game. From 45 yards out in windy conditions. It cleared the crossbar by about a foot.

This was game #4 decided at the end. Wow!

San Francisco 31, Philadelphia 28 - This is exactly how the season should wind down. The Eagles had won five at home and the 49ers had never won on the road. Eagles needed to win to stay in the bye week lead and San Francisco had nothing to lose. Hearst was out and then Terrell Owens broke his shoulder. The Eagles get a free touchdown on yet another Westbrook punt return but Kevan Barlow stomps Philly for 154 yards and two touchdowns making McNabb score on a pass to Pinkston to tie up the game. In overtime from his own 21-yard line with Westbrook and Staley available, McNabb tries a throw over the middle to Freddie Mitchell that is batted up, intercepted and returned to the Philadelphia 4-yard line where the 49ers take the win with a field goal.

This was game #5 decided on the first play of overtime - DOH! Whew! Wow!

It was fantasy championship weekend and the NFL provided a multitude of great games and performances to make it a memorable one. Records and hearts were broken, tough field goals made and extra points missed.

All those coveted running backs we drafted last summer paid off well if in fact they played at all. Eleven teams scored 27 or more points and yet there were two teams that managed only three points and the Browns were shutout. Just like many fantasy leagues, sure things like KC, IND and PHI ended up as surprises and in the end, it's all NFL football and the game we love.

Hopefully you won a championship this whacky year and avoided the injury minefield. If you didn't, I hope you still found fun and entertainment for the experience. The thrill, frustration, challenge and occasional dose of humility is quite addictive as I discovered a short 13 years ago. Now that the season ends for most, there is that hollow feeling that can be filled with but one thing.

Next year.

Now get back to work...