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FANTASY FOOTBALL IN-SEASON FEATURES

Sunday Game Recaps - Week 7
John Tuvey
October 20, 2008
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Ravens 27, Dolphins 13

After last week, when Indy got up early and forced the Ravens out of their comfort zone, it was back to the blueprint for Baltimore. Leaning heavily on a shutdown defense, the Ravens got a little something from Willis McGahee (10-105-1, his second solid game in South Beach) and more than perhaps they expected from Joe Flacco to down the Dolphins. The rookie operated a no-huddle attack on four drives, three of them resulting in scores, and was an efficient 17-for-23 for 232 yards and a touchdown, with much of his attention directed towards Derrick Mason (6-87-1). The rest of the Ravens’ offense were bit players, with the possible exception of Todd Heap; his 29 yards moved him into the exclusive 4,000-yard club and the even more exclusive 4,000/4,000 club—receiving yards and yards of athletic tape used.

The Mildcat was neutered by a dominant Ravens defense, with Ronnie Brown mustering just 28 yards from scrimmage and the Dolphins scraping together a meager 71 yards on the ground. Left to pick up the slack, Chad Pennington rebounded from throwing a pick-six to Terrell Suggs in the second quarter by throwing for 295 yards and a score. Rookie Davone Bess caught the touchdown, leaving Miami’s regular cast of characters—Greg Camarillo (6-74), David Martin (4-71), and even Patrick Cobbs (5-64)—with little to show for their efforts.

Fantasy Impact: Miami’s Wildcat may have run its course; the Dolphins used the direct snap to Brown six times, with only two plays gaining positive yardage—a Brown run for five yards and a Cobbs end-around for three. Granted, not all teams play defense like the Ravens, but with a month of film the novelty appears to be wearing off. Speaking of wearing off, the notion that Le’Ron McClain will see a significant share of the workload with McGahee healthy is wearing off as well. The erstwhile fullback carried six times for 17 yards, with most of that duty coming on the Ravens’ final clock-killing drive.

Bills 23, Chargers 14

I’ll spare you the “lights out” and “power outage” witticisms; suffice it to say there were some electrical difficulties in Buffalo (stemming from some balloons becoming entangled with a power line outside the stadium). The outage didn’t prevent Trent Edwards from looking sharp in his first game back from a concussion, as he completed 20 of his first 22 passes and finished 25-for-30 for 261 yards and a score. Lee Evans was his go-to guy, including a fantastic one-handed grab for a touchdown as part of his 8-89-1 afternoon. A dozen completions went to backs and tight ends as the Bills used their short game to move the chains; only one Buffalo play went for more than 20 yards on the day, yet Buffalo’s only two punts came on drives started inside their own 20. Marshawn Lynch capped the Bills’ final drive of the third quarter with a nine-yard touchdown run, though once again his yardage numbers (70 rushing, 22 receiving) were subdued.

Philip Rivers turned the ball over three times, resulting in two Buffalo scores and a game-ending, run-out-the-clock drive. However, there’s plenty of blame to go around as the Bolts managed just three drives of more than four plays; two resulted in touchdowns, and the other ended with Rivers throwing a pick at the goal line. Malcolm Floyd (4-65-1) and Vincent Jackson (4-42-1)—both 6-foot-5—capitalized on their height advantage over Buffalo’s sub-six-foot corners, and Antonio Gates was hardly invisible with four grabs for 55 yards. However, San Diego’s ground game never got going, with 31 of its 72 yards provided by Jackson on an end around. LaDainian Tomlinson accounted for 67 yards on 20 touches but couldn’t shake free for anything longer than a nine-yard gain.

Fantasy Impact: Is this the beginning of the end for LT? He hasn’t scored in three games and has averaged less than three yards per carry in four of the Chargers’ seven games. He said entering this week that this was as good as his injured toe has felt this season, and yet… he was essentially a non-factor again this week. Funny thing, though: LT’s numbers are almost identical to those of Lynch. At their present respective paces LT would finish with 24 more yards from scrimmage (on eight fewer touches), though Lynch would outscore Tomlinson 13-9. Of course, one was a late fantasy first-rounder and the other the first overall selection, so expectations may be somewhat different.

Panthers 30, Saints 7

While the Carolina defense deserves much of the credit for Sunday’s victory, the Panther offense more than held its own against the high-powered Saints. To the surprise of no one it was Steve Smith doing the bulk of the damage, with six catches for 122 yards and a score—the bulk of Jake Delhomme’s 14-22-195-2 stat line. The Panthers also pounded the ball successfully with their two-headed running back committee; Jonathan Stewart carried 17 times for 68 yards and a score, while DeAngelo Williams added 66 yards on 18 carries and scored on a four-yard reception. With Julius Peppers and the Panther defense forcing two turnovers, that was all Carolina needed to sew this one up.

What does it take to slow Drew Brees and the Saints? Removing Reggie Bush from the equation helps, as the pass-catching back injured his knee just before halftime and didn’t return after the break. Adding Jeremy Shockey and Marques Colston back into the mix didn’t seem to offset Reggie’s loss: a Shockey fumble set up a Carolina touchdown, and Colston didn’t even crack the box score unless you count his two drops. Still, the Saints weren’t done until a Brees interception led to Carolina’s final touchdown and New Orleans failed to convert a pair of fourth downs that would have kept them in the game. Shockey did catch five balls for 50 yards (with fellow tight ends contributing another five grabs for 64 yards), though after the game his comments seemed to indicate dissatisfaction with the Saints for rushing him back. Devery Henderson hit on another long ball as part of his three-catch, 80-yard day but appeared to turn into a tackler rather than trying to outrun him on a play that could have turned a 54-yard bomb into a 65-yard touchdown early in the fourth quarter.

Fantasy Impact: Peppers spent almost as much time in the Saints backfield as Bush did, recording one sack and pressuring the usually accurate Brees into 21-for-39 passing. Without Bush as an outlet, this may be the blueprint for slowing Brees and the Saints over the next month. Carolina continues to get production from its backfield despite injuries along its offensive line. If everyone gets and stays healthy the Stewart/Williams tandem could do some serious damage over the next couple of months as Carolina faces a run-friendly slate that includes Oakland, Detroit, Atlanta, Green Bay, and Denver.

Titans 34, Chiefs 10

It’s a little surprising that Kerry Collins even bothered to throw 18 times, what with the ground game having its way with the Chiefs. Collins’ 123 passing yards was less than either LenDale White (17-149-3) or Chris Johnson (18-168-1) posted en route to a team-record 332 rushing yards, as both White and Johnson padded their stat line with long touchdown runs in the fourth quarter against a Chiefs defense that had packed it in for the afternoon. What little passing there was went to the tight ends, who combined for five catches and 86 yards; Collins completed just two passes for 11 yards to his wide receivers.

All three quarterbacks saw action on Sunday, thanks in part to Albert Haynesworth sacks that ended Brodie Croyle’s season (sprained knee) and knocked Damon Huard from the game (injured thumb). Tyler Thigpen mopped up and provided the lone spark with a late 14-yard touchdown run. The Larry Johnson-less ground game produced just 37 yards in addition to Thigpen’s 21, with Kolby Smith producing 19 yards on one carry and one yard on his other nine totes and Jamaal Charles picking up 16 of his 17 yards on one of his three attempts. All three quarterbacks focused on the Chiefs’ go-to guys, with disgruntled tight end Tony Gonzalez catching six balls for 97 yards and Dwayne Bowe hauling in seven catches for 86 yards.

Fantasy Impact: The Titans won’t mind a bit if Johnson and White each have as many rushing attempts as Collins has passing attempts. And so long as the rookie can house a long one on a consistent basis it won’t matter all that much to have LenDale stealing the goal line looks. In Kansas City, more pending disciplinary action regarding LJ, coupled with the injuries to their top two quarterbacks, is turning Arrowhead into a fantasy wasteland.

Steelers 38, Bengals 10

Pittsburgh’s 21 fourth-quarter points made this one look a lot less closer than it really was. After marching 75 yards for a score on their opening drive the Steelers punted on four of their next five possessions. In the second half, however, the Steelers got efficient with touchdowns on four of their final five drives. Ben Roethlisberger’s 17-28-216-2 afternoon included five-of-seven passing for 86 yards and a 50-yard touchdown toss to Nate Washington after the break, while Byron Leftwich went three-for-three for 34 yards and a scoring strike to Hines Ward in mop-up duty. Santonio Holmes led the Steelers with five catches for 89 yards but was pulled down at the two to set up Pittsburgh’s first score and was an afterthough in the second half. With Willie Parker out Mewelde Moore stepped up again, rushing 20 times for 120 yards (83 of them in the second half) and scoring thrice.

After five straight three-and-outs to open the game you couldn’t fault the Bengals fans for their sarcastic applause of the Bengals’ first first down late in the second quarter. Ryan Fitzpatrick didn’t stop there, moving Cincy down the field and throwing a touchdown to Chad Johnson for the Bengals’ lone offensive highlight. In between getting sacked seven times Fitzpatrick completed 21 of 35 passes for 164 yards before giving way to Jordan Palmer at garbage time. Cincinnati couldn’t generate an offensive play longer than 19 yards, and aside from Chris Henry (3-44) no Bengal managed more than 10 yards per catch; in fact, the eight catches apiece from Johnson and T.J. Houshmandzadeh resulted in just 110 yards, or less than seven a catch, and Ocho Cinco’s longest play covered all of nine yards.

Fantasy Impact: Washington continues to horn in on Holmes’ action, specifically the long ball. Worse, when the Steelers start facing teams with a legitimate pass rush—like, say, the Giants next week—their offensive line might not allow Big Ben the time to even look downfield. Holmes is on pace for maybe two more touchdowns this year, while Nate has scored in each of the past two. The Cincy passing game showed a brief resurgence—for all of one drive—but with Fitzpatrick dinking and dunking the stats just won’t be there for Housh and C.J. And it doesn't sound as if Carson Palmer is coming back any time soon.

Rams 34, Cowboys 14

It wasn’t at all shocking that the winning team threw deep to get up top early, then rode its stud running back to the victory. What was shocking was that the team was the Rams. Marc Bulger’s 14-19-173-1 performance, launched with a 42-yard touchdown to Donnie Avery, was every bit the model of efficiency that was expected—from Brad Johnson, not the much-maligned Bulger. And Steven Jackson’s 25-160-3 moved chains, chewed clock, and kept the Cowboys at bay—and came against a defense that had allowed only one running back to reach the end zone through the first six games. It certainly didn’t hurt the Rams that they forced a second straight NFC East opponent into four turnovers or that their average start position on four first-quarter drives was the Dallas 39. Maybe it was all Scott Linehan’s fault.

Everything looked to be right on course as the Cowboys marched down the field, capping the drive with a Marion Barber touchdown dive. The ensuing three drives resulted in a net loss of one yard, with two ending in turnovers; three second quarter drives also failed to produce points—despite all of them starting at the Cowboy 40 or better. By the time the Cowboys could get back on the scoreboard they were down 34-7. Barber carried 18 times for 100 yards and the score, but his touches were limited as the Cowboys were forced into catch-up mode. Brad Johnson completed just half of his 34 passes and had three picks; forced to throw down the field as the Cowboys dug a 21-7 hole in the first quarter, Johnson was out of his element. Jason Witten was a popular target with three catches for 44 yards, and what little deep success Johnson had came late to reserve tight end Martellus Bennett, who caught two balls for 67 yards and a score. Terrell Owens was targeted seven times but only caught two balls; new acquisition Roy Williams was targeted twice and failed to record a catch.

Fantasy Impact: Tony Romo tried to throw in pregame and told the club he wouldn’t be able to go; after watching what transpired, maybe he’ll choose differently heading into next week. Or perhaps Johnson has shaken the rust and will take better care of the ball—and hand off more to the team’s most reliable weapon, Barber. Despite the Rams’ two-game winning streak there is still little of fantasy value there. Jackson is proving he’ll be the workhorse, and Avery is emerging as a helper; aside from that, there’s not much to get excited about.

Giants 29, 49ers 17

The defending Super Bowl champs bounced back with an efficient, though hardly dominant, performance. Brandon Jacobs shouldered the load early, capping the Giants’ second and third drive with touchdown runs; he finished with 69 yards on just 17 carries as Derrick Ward (four carries, three catches, 69 yards from scrimmage) and Ahmad Bradshaw (33 yards on nine touches) were worked into the mix as well. Eli Manning was a little off, completing 16 of 31 throws for 161 yards and a touchdown toss to Plaxico Burress, but Ward’s 50 yards led all Big Blue receivers as no wideout topped 39 yards.

J.T. O’Sullivan’s 256-yard, one-TD stat line is a little misleading as he threw two picks and fumbled four times (though only one was lost). Didn’t help that he was under siege all afternoon, absorbing six sacks in the process, but it may end up costing him the starting gig. Josh Morgan stepped up as the receiver du jour with five grabs for 86 yards and his first NFL touchdown. Frank Gore was completely stymied on the ground, rushing for only 11 yards on 11 attempts and barely salvaging his fantasy day with 50 receiving yards. This one looks closer than it actually was thanks to a blocked field goal Nate Clements returned for a score —though given the frequency with which Clements is returning blocked field goals for touchdowns, maybe the Niners can count on him for one a game.

Fantasy Impact: Jacobs’ fantasy owners have to love the fact he only carried 17 times in this contest. Why? He still got you two touchdowns, and there’s a chance he’ll be fresher for your fantasy playoff stretch. Plus, Bradshaw and Ward aren’t yet doing enough to take a significant bite out of his fantasy value. You have to believe Gore’s game was an aberration; not every team is capable of playing the kind of defense the Giants play, nor will they hold the ball for 10 minutes more than the Niners and limit them to 44 offensive plays.

Bears 48, Vikings 41

It’s not unusual for the Bears to leverage a couple special teams touchdowns into a victory, but neither score against the Vikings involved Devin Hester. Instead, a pair of punting miscues—Vikings punter Chris Kluwe dropped the snap, then attempted to get off his punt into an oncoming rush only to have it blocked and returned for a score; later, a Bears punt bounced back and hit return man Charles Gordon as he was attempting to block and Chicago recovered it in the end zone—sparked a 27-point first half. But it wasn’t all crazy hops; Kyle Orton threw for 283 yards and a pair of scores, which doesn’t include a would-be touchdown toss to Desmond Clark that the Bears’ tight end fumbled at the goal line—only to have Rashied Davis fall on in the end zone. Marty Booker (3-79-1, his score coming on a nice run after catch—and after he had already dropped two potential touchdowns) and Greg Olsen (6-74-1) led Bears receivers with Brandon Lloyd still out, and Chicago’s receiving corps may be without Hester after he suffered a quad injury in the third quarter. All that scoring, you had to figure Matt Forte would get involved somehow—and he did, capitalizing on a fourth-down interference penalty in the end zone to dot his 20-carry, 56-yard performance with a touchdown.

Adrian Peterson got his—22 carries for 121 yards and a score—and Gus Frerotte nearly led the Vikings back with 296 yards and a pair of scores. However, the special teams dug Minnesota a hole they couldn’t get out of and Frerotte was picked four times by a secondary missing both starting cornerbacks. Bernard Berrian exploited his old mates for 81 yards and a touchdown, while Visanthe Shiancoe amazed with four catches (and no drops) for 68 yards and a score. Even Bobby Wade (5-60) and Chester Taylor (10-34 and a touchdown on the ground, another 6-48 through the air) got in on the action—but it’s tough to rally when three of your last six possessions end with picks.

Fantasy Impact: Peterson’s big day should salve any concerns about Taylor swiping a goal line look; on the play both backs were on the field and most of the Bears defense went with Peterson on a fake pitch right, leaving Taylor to dive into the end zone. And truth be told, Taylor’s increased touches will likely help Peterson, as he’ll be fresher in the fourth quarter—much like last season, when Chester was seeing 10 or so touches per contest. Forte continues to find the end zone, even while he was struggling to mount much on the ground. His longest run on the day was just eight yards, but factor in the score and an additional 17 receiving yards and it was another productive fantasy day for the rookie.

Redskins 14, Browns 11

For three and a half quarters you had the best of Clinton Portis, who finished with 175 yards and a touchdown on 27 carries. However, just when it appeared the Redskins had used a fourth-and-goal stop to wrap this one up, Portis fumbled to give the Browns new life. Later, on third-and-five just before the two minute warning Portis—at the time sporting a 6.6 yards per carry average—was able to muster only two, again breathing life into Cleveland’s hopes. Still, though, fantasy owners have to love the buck-seventy five. Santana Moss proved that if you get the ball into his hands good things will happen, using an array of spin moves to tack YAC onto his four catches, one of them an 18-yard touchdown. That was the highlight of the evening for Jason Campbell, however; he tweaked his groin early on and though he didn’t miss a play he finished with just 164 yards and the aforementioned score. On the bright side, his interception-free streak continues.

So much for building on last week’s momentum, as the first half saw Cleveland muster all of 64 yards on six possessions that all resulted in punts. The Browns were plagued by all their old friends: Derek Anderson wasn’t particularly accurate, finishing 14-for-37 for 136 yards and a touchdown. He didn’t get much help from Braylon Edwards, who matched his four catches with as many drops, or Kellen Winslow, who pulled in just two of the six aerials directed his way. Joshua Cribbs caught Deke’s lone touchdown on a fourth-and-goal play, the second time Cleveland went for it at the stripe. Jamal Lewis carved out 80 yards on 19 carries, though he was stopped for no gain on three goal line carries. Ultimately, all of the frustration last Monday’s win put on the backburner came roaring to the fore once again.

Fantasy Impact: Edwards’ post-game comments indicated he let the offense’s early struggles throw him off his game, so at least he’s aware of the problem. Whether or not the team can do anything about it other than hope Braylon comes to play with a little more regularity remains to be seen. The Redskins did work Shaun Alexander onto the field for three carries, which produced eight yards. But they certainly aren’t afraid to burden Portis with a full workload, and late fumble notwithstanding he’s been paying dividends on that commitment.

Texans 28, Lions 21

The Texans, like just about everybody else who has faced the Lions this year, scored on their first three possessions to race to a 21-0 lead. They were threatening to score on their fourth, too, but Matt Schaub was sacked and fumbled. Then it was back to frustration as Houston sandwiched a touchdown drive in amongst four punts, which was enough to send the Lions to a sixth straight defeat. Schaub was solid, completing 26 of 31 for 267 and a couple touchdowns, both to tight end Owen Daniels as part of his six catch, 66-yard day; on those scores Daniels was open by a combined 20 yards, which is tough to do considering both plays came at the goal line. The rest of the passing game went through Andre Johnson, who made it three straight in triple digits with 11 grabs for 141 yards. Helping Houston to a 40-to-20 minute time of possession advantage, Steve Slaton contributed 80 yards and a touchdown on 17 carries while Ahman Green chipped in 62 yards and a score on 14 totes of his own.

Dan Orlovsky said after the game he needed to do a better job of getting the ball to Calvin Johnson, which may qualify as the understatement of the week. Johnson’s first two touches of the game were on a fumble recovery and an end-around; he wasn’t thrown to until the team’s final drive of the first half and didn’t make his first catch—a 58-yarder, by the way—until time had expired in the second quarter. Despite just five targets and two catches, Johnson put up 154 yards thanks to a 96-yard touchdown that gave the Lions life; why the Texans tried to cover Johnson man-up with absolutely no safety help anywhere to be found will remain one of life’s great mysteries. Kevin Smith may finally be putting Rudi Johnson in his rear-view mirror; while the latter contributed eight yards on six carries (with a long gain of two), Smith rushed 10 times for 61 yards and scored Detroit’s first touchdown on a 26-yard sprint down the left sideline. Padded by the two deep balls to Johnson, Orlovsky finished with 265 yards and a score.

Fantasy Impact: Hope you sold high on Slaton. Not that he’s not the best back on the Texans’ roster, or even that he’s their primary ballcarrier; however, Green was in on the second series (when he swiped a touchdown from the rookie) and finished with 15 touches to Slaton’s 20. Not every opponent will be Detroit, which means not every game will provide enough yardage and/or scores for two backs to put up solid fantasy numbers—or for Slaton’s line to help if Green is biting off chunks. In Detroit it appears as if Mike Furrey will be the beneficiary of the Roy Williams trade; he caught six balls for 89 yards while Shaun McDonald finished with the rarely-seen “zero catches for negative seven yards” line—possible only because he was the lateral on Detroit’s game-ending hook and lateral play. Worse, he fumbled.

Packers 34, Colts 14

This one wasn’t quite the shootout the score might lead you to believe, as half of Green Bay’s touchdowns came via interception return. Aaron Rodgers was efficient, 21 of 28 for 186 yards and a score, helped by a fast start as the Pack scored on their first three possessions. After that there was no need to take chances downfield, which kept the numbers of Greg Jennings (3-32) and Donald Driver (4-35) in check. Ryan Grant did most of the heavy lifting, following up last week’s 33-carry effort with 31 carries for 105 yards and a touchdown against a very forgiving Indy run defense. After those first three scoring drives the Pack mustered just one more possession that resulted in points; they were doing just fine putting points on the board when Indy had the ball.

The Colts answered a Green Bay opening drive field goal with a touchdown of their own and this one looked to be a track meet in the making. But the Packers’ banged-up secondary didn’t back down, taking Reggie Wayne (2-24) and Marvin Harrison (2-11) away from a frustrated Peyton Manning. Dallas Clark led the way with eight catches for 81 yards and Anthony Gonzalez chipped in five for 72, but Manning missed his main targets while putting up a 21-42-229-0-2 stat line. Still, Indy wasn’t out of it until Peyton’s second pick-six, which came at the goal line with four and a half minutes to play. In garbage time Manning threw apparent touchdowns to both Gonzalez and Clark, but both plays were overturned (correctly) by replay. The second reversal, on Clark’s catch and run, put the ball at the one and set up Dominic Rhodes for a second touchdown as part of another workmanlike 20-73 afternoon. But ultimately Indy couldn’t overcome the Packers secondary or a Dungy-era record 12 penalties for 110 yards.

Fantasy Impact: Perhaps we were too hasty in proclaiming the Colts’ offense as back on track. Green Bay’s secondary shouldn’t have been able to contain Wayne and Harrison, but it did that and more. A healthy Joseph Addai might have helped against a run defense that has struggled, but Peyton was taken completely off his game by Green Bay’s defense—perhaps providing a blueprint for other opponents down the road. While Grant has now carried 64 times in the past two games, the Packers are still making use of Brandon Jackson; against Indy, he led the team with six catches for 37 yards.

Raiders 16, Jets 13

This one sure wasn’t exciting early, with the Raiders’ only first-half offense coming when they marched five yards following the recovery of a muffed punt and kicked a short field goal. There was a little more life in the second half as Oakland came out of the locker room and scored on their opening possession, but then it was back to the ballet (one-two-three-kick), including a pair of three-and-outs to open overtime. With little to lose, however, JaMarcus Russell took a couple shots down the field on Oakland’s third OT possession, moving Sebastian Janikowski close enough to drill a game-winning 57-yard field goal. The drama was nice, but the stat lines were ugly. Russell finished 17-for-30 for 203 yards and a touchdown—on which he bought time with his feet—to Javon Walker. Walker finally showed up to do more than collect a paycheck with five catches for 75 yards, including a 16-yarder to get the Raiders up the field on their final drive. Darren McFadden only carried eight times but produced 39 yards (compared to the 28-for-74 Justin Fargas posted); the rookie also added 50 yards on three catches.

The Jets opened with a no-huddle attack and marched to a field goal. Then they went back to huddling and didn’t score again until the fourth quarter. A Brett Favre interception at the goal line proved costly as the Raiders did a good job of keeping everything in front of them. Favre didn’t start throwing down the field until the fourth quarter, keeping Laveranues Coles’ stat line to a meager 4-51-0 and leaving Jerricho Cotchery with one catch for zero yards; Favre also failed to throw a touchdown for the first time as a Jet. Tight end Chris Baker was an early favorite target and finished with five catches for 42 yards, while Chansi Stuckey barely appeared on the radar until the fourth quarter, when he made a key catch on the drive to set up the tying field goal. Thomas Jones carried 24 times for 159 yards, but Leon Washington came on to steal his touchdown.

Fantasy Impact: McFadden sure looked good, averaging better than eight yards every time he touched the ball, but the fact that Fargas got 28 carries suggests that Raiders coach Tom Cable has his mind made up on who his primary ball carrier will be. Jones is starting to flex his yardage muscles, but he received three red zone carries—including two inside the six-yard line—and failed to score. Maybe it’s the yang to last week’s three-touchdown, low-yardage yin.

Buccaneers 20, Seahawks 10

It was apparent the Bucs didn’t feel threatened by Seattle offensively as they cobbled together a 17-0 halftime lead and coasted home with the win. Jeff Garcia threw downfield a couple times, with the big hookup a 47-yard touchdown to Antonio Bryant; other than that it was mostly dink-and-dunk—though an effective dink-and-dunk that resulted in 310 yards on the evening. Bryant finished with 115 yards on six catches as 10 different Bucs caught passes—eight of them more than one. Earnest Graham returned to fullback duties for one carry on the goal line, resulting in a touchdown; the rest of the evening saw him back in his usual spot, where he carried 23 times for 52 yards. Warrick Dunn chipped in 58 yards from scrimmage as Tampa was never threatened and controlled the ball for almost 42 minutes.

Which of Seattle’s 37 first-half yards did you like the most? The Seahawks were only slightly better in the second half; a 24-yard punt return set up a field goal on their first possession, but they failed to turn a 45-yard Maurice Morris run into points the next time they had the ball and didn’t score a touchdown until the two-minute warning. There wasn’t much running game to go around; Morris had 11 yards on five carries to go along with his 45-yard run, while Julius Jones used a 21-yard burst to pad his seven-carry, 42-yad stat line. Seattle only ran 39 plays from scrimmage thanks to the lopsided time of possession, but 23 attempts from Seneca Wallace was more than enough. He mustered all of 73 passing yards, doing what Seattle's backup quarterbacks do best in finding tight end John Carlson for a garbage-time touchdown.

Fantasy Impact: Given his career arc it comes as no surprise that Bryant has been inconsistent as the Bucs’ go-to guy with Joey Galloway sidelined. However, he seems to be the one Buc capable of stretching the field, which opens up both the running game and Garcia’s short passing game as well, so as long as Galloway remains out Bryant will remain a fantasy entity. The Seahawks are desperately hoping rest and rehab will allow Matt Hasselbeck to return next week; as bad as he’s been this year, the combined efforts of Wallace and Charlie Frye have been even worse.

 

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