Footballguys Game Recap Writers: Mike Anderson, Bill Brown, Michael Brown,
Jeff Caldwell, Stan Dorsey, Cathy Fazio, Rich Fix, Mike Flynn, Bradley Gabbard,
Cory Gilbert, Tracy Hackler, A. Jalen, Alex Knapik, Mike Krucek Jeff Lewis,
Scott Martin, Allen Matirossian, Dave Oleyar, Jeff Pasquino, Greg Porzucek,
Steve Prosapio, Steve Schone, David Shick, Jeff Siedsma, Mark Strickland, Dave
Teller, Michael Tudor, Kerry Walls, Mark Westmyer, Todd Young
Edited by Joe Bryant
Dolphins 23 at New York Giants 10
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
The Giants were intent on stopping RB Ricky Williams at all costs, and by all
accounts, they did. The Dolphins running back was bottled up from the very beginning,
and finished with just 22 carries for 39 yards. He did manage to get into the
end zone late in the contest. Williams' yardage totals by quarter went: 0, 2,
6, and 31. This perhaps serves as evidence that despite the fact that Miami
had trouble running the ball, it was their commitment to the running game that
wore down the Giants.
QB Jay Fiedler luckily escaped relatively unscathed in the turnover department.
There were two separate occasions where balls he threw should have been picked
up, including once in the end zone by Ralph Brown. Brown had the ball in his
hands with no one around him, but he dropped it and on the next play, Olindo
Mare kicked a field goal.
The Miami defensive backs have some of the best hands in the league. The first
interception, by Brock Marion, came as the ball was rolling around on the chest
of Amani Toomer, who was on the ground. Marion dove over the top of Toomer to
snag the ball out of the air. On the second pick, the ball was batted up in
the air and into the hands of Patrick Surtain. Surtain also intercepted a pass
late in the game in the end zone in which he turned around and the ball was
right on him, but he managed to get his hands up in time. These players have
reputations for having great hands, and a lot of times it can mean the difference
between a productive fantasy day or a terrible fantasy day for your quarterback,
or a win versus a loss for the Dolphins.
New York Giants
TE Jeremy Shockey had a very big game. He had a decent first half, but really
came on strong and exploded in the second half. If Shockey seemed to catch everything
thrown his way, it's because he did. He was targeted 11 times and caught every
one. He finished the contest with 11 receptions for 110 yards. What's more,
he didn't do many of his usual antics after his receptions. He was whistled
for taunting, but even that one was more a misunderstanding than anything. His
arm was being pinned back and when it finally broke free, it came flying forward
and appeared he was throwing the football at Sam Madison.
It should be noted that the first two interceptions thrown by QB Kerry Collins
were not entirely his fault. Of course, he did throw the ball in traffic, but
more often than not, you expect WR Amani Toomer to come up with the tough ones.
Each ball was deflected initially before being picked off.
RB Tiki Barber managed to find the end zone for the first time all year. He
was in on every red zone situation, and got the carries when the Giants got
close to the end zone. One note on Barber, however. Just prior to the last play
of the game, Barber appeared to get up limping around the field.
WHAT YOU OUGHT TO KNOW
QB: Jay Fiedler was lucky to escape without a pick, as there were two separate
occasions in which he should have been. Other than those throws, Fiedler played
an okay game. He didn't focus too much on one guy in particular, instead opting
to throw it around to a bunch of different ones. Randy McMichael was his favorite
target, receiving 7 targets but only catching two balls. Despite the Giants
intention to sell out on the run at all costs, Fiedler wasn't really able to
take advantage much with anything downfield.
RB: Ricky Williams had a tough day at the office. Despite running for 31 yards
in the final quarter, he still only finished up with 39 rushing yards for the
game. He added another 20 receiving as well as a touchdown to salvage an otherwise
forgettable day. He just had nowhere to run, as the Giants followed through
on their promise to make Jay Fiedler beat them.
WR: Chris Chambers had an extremely quiet day, with just 3 receptions for 19
yards. He was never able to get any sort of separation downfield, and his long
reception for the day was just 9 yards. He was targeted 7 times.
Derrius Thompson was targeted 3 times, and caught 2 balls for 22 yards. As
with most of the Dolphins wide receivers, the impact he made on the game was
James McKnight was a non-factor in the passing game, with just 2 receptions
for 17 yards. But it was his highlight-reel 68-yard touchdown run on a reverse
that put the Dolphins' first touchdown on the board. He did a great job in faking
out the first would-be tackler, and then did a terrific job of reading his downfield
blocks all the way to the end zone. It should also be noted that those downfield
blocks were outstanding, and the only reason McKnight was able to make it as
far as he did.
TE: Randy McMichael came out with a big 33-yard reception on the Dolphins'
first pass of the day, but then sort of disappeared for awhile. He did record
a nice 24-yard catch and run later in the game, and looked a lot like the opposing
tight end during the play, as he ran over and around several defenders downfield.
Pass Defense: While they did allow Kerry Collins to throw for 276 yards, many
of that came late in the game when the Giants were playing catch-up. Yet even
when they were back in more of a softer coverage, they were still able to come
up with an interception on in the end zone, courtesy of Patrick Surtain. The
Dolphins defensive backs made a number of nice plays during the game, including
3 huge interceptions. The turnovers were basically the difference in the game,
as they led directly to not only points for Miami, but critical stops of the
Giants offense. They got some pressure on Collins, but only sacked him once
and he had time to make most of his throws during the course of the day.
Run Defense: Tiki Barber didn't necessarily have a bad game, running 20 times
for 71 yards and a touchdown. And several times, he busted through for a decent
gain when it appeared there was nothing there. But for the most part, the Giants
running game didn't seem to make much of an impact in the action on the field.
Linebacker Junior Seau appeared to injure his hamstring late in the fourth quarter
and appeared to be in a great deal of pain while on the ground. However, he
walked off the field without a noticeable limp.
New York Giants
QB: Kerry Collins was a victim of some bad luck and some sticky fingers on
the hands of Miami's defensive backs. Collins' passing numbers (31-43, 276 yards)
look ok until you factor in that he was intercepted three times. On each of
the first two, he threw passes intended for WR Amani Toomer, only to see the
ball go in the air for interceptions. Still, outside of Tiki Barber's touchdown
run, the Giants were unable to put the ball into the end zone, a problem that
has plagued this team going back prior to this season.
RB: Tiki Barber finished with 20 carries for a game-high 71 yards, and included
a nice touchdown run. It was from just 2 yards out, but he displayed good patience
and vision in waiting for the hole to develop outside before picking the precise
spot to cut it back inside for the score. Barber, who is supposedly going to
see more breathers every now and then, carries the ball 20 times. His backup,
Delvin Joyce, carried just 3 times. Barber was the recipient of all the red
zone carries. Ron Dayne was inactive for the game and Dorsey Levens never got
in. One possibly important note is that on the final play of the game, Barber
appeared to be limping around the field, but the announcers made no mention
WR: Amani Toomer was targeted just 7 times in this one. He was the victim of
constant double-teaming and had a very quiet game overall, with just 3 receptions
for 38 total yards. He was the target on Collins' first two interceptions, and
it was awhile before Collins went back to him on a regular basis.
Ike Hilliard was the beneficiary of the double-teaming on Toomer, as he was
targeted 11 times in the game and responded with 8 receptions for 73 yards.
TE: Jeremy Shockey had a very big game, although it started off somewhat slowly.
He and Amani Toomer were being constantly double-teamed, but eventually the
Dolphins attempted to cover Shockey one-on-one. Junior Seau and company just
couldn't hang with him, as Shockey lit them up for 110 yards on 11 receptions.
In typical Shockey fashion, he sought out defensive backs after the catch to
try and run over them, and in most cases, he did. Perhaps most importantly,
there wasn't any of the usual showboating or dancing around after a reception.
He just did his job and let his play on the field do the talking.
Pass Defense: This unit may have been able to make the difference in the game
if it could have held on to just two passes. Omar Stoutmire had a ball bounce
off him for what would have been an interception. Later on, Ralph Brown had
a ball in his hands that was such a surefire pick that Greg Gumbel actually
proclaimed it an interception before the ball was even caught. Of course, he
retracted it after the ball hit the ground. The pass defense unit as a whole,
though, did a fine job in covering Miami receivers. This much-maligned unit
of New York surrendered just 167 yards through the air, a far cry from what
they've done to this point.
Run Defense: Absolutely slammed the door shut on Ricky Williams for 3 quarters.
They did allow Williams to rumble for 31 yards in the fourth quarter, perhaps
the fact that Miami stayed committed to the running game played a part in that.
Also, Williams is a supremely conditioned athlete, and one cannot expect to
hold him down all game long. The one big hiccup, however, was on the James McKnight
reverse, which turned into a 68-yard touchdown scamper. He could have been stopped
for about a 10-yard run, but a missed tackle by Will Allen, followed by numerous
downfield blocks, turned it into a touchdown. It is conceivable that because
of the Giants' focus on stopping Williams, they had no idea he'd turn and hand
the ball off to McKnight, who was heading the other way, on the play.
Special Teams: Starting kicker Matt Bryant injured his hamstring late in the
first half on a successful 43-yard field goal. He was carted off the field,
and punter Jeff Feagles became the replacement kicker. Feagles, who had never
before attempted a field goal or extra point in the NFL, misfired on a 29-yard
Bengals 16 at Buffalo Bills 22 (OT)
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
Corey Dillon did not play with a groin injury and was replaced by Rudi Johnson
who finished with 20 carries for 69 yards and a touchdown. Expected to split
carries with Brandon Bennett, Johnson was moderately effective running between
the tackles, relegating Bennett (6 carries, -1 yards) to sideline duty. Peter
Warrick continued his surprising season, leading the Bengals with 7 catches
and 3 redzone targets.
The Bengals could not pull off the road upset, losing in overtime. The defense
was again effective, finding a pass rush for the first time this season. The
Bengals muffled Bledsoe and the Bills offense until the final 5 minutes and
overtime. Missing CB Jeff Burris, Bledsoe shredded the Bengals to tie the game
(final drive, 6 of 8 for 64 yards) and was 2 for 2 in overtime for 48 yards.
The Bengals offensive line continues to struggle to run block. Rudi Johnson
had few holes to run through as the revamped Bills defensive line pushed the
Bengals line backwards at the point of attack. Conversely, the pass protection
was very good in the first half and adequate in the second half. Jon Kitna was
sacked once and was hit on his one interception. Overall, Kitna had enough time
to get through his progressions.
Both teams were effected by the weather. Pregame temperatures were in the mid
40s with heavy winds (15-24 mph). Both teams were ineffective driving into the
wind. The Bengals spent most of the day on the plus side of the field position
battle, but were hurt by two turnovers (Kitna's interception at the Bengals'
35 led to a go ahead TD).
The Bills continued to be mired in their offensive funk, looking lifeless for
the majority of the afternoon. On a cold and windy day, Drew Bledsoe could find
no consistency to sustain drives. Bills receivers added to the problems, dropping
several catchable balls. Bledsoe's final numbers do no justice to how pedestrian
the Bills offense continues to be.
Travis Henry returned from a rib cage injury, apparently suffering no side
effects. He ran hard for 85 yards and one TD. He also chipped in 2 catches for
14 yards and an additional score. Henry continued to show his penchant for coughing
up the ball, being charged with one fumble (recovered by Moulds) and dropped
a Bledsoe pitch he should have caught.
The Bills run defense showed up, limiting the Dillon-less Bengals to 69 yards
on 28 carries. The pass defense limited the Bengals big play ability, allowing
the Bengals to complete passes underneath and outstanding tackling to limit
yards after catch.
The Bills line was good in run blocking, terrible in pass blocking. Henry found
several nice holes and was hit in the backfield infrequently. The pass defense
struggled, with the right side of the line being victimized for all 4 sacks.
WHAT YOU OUGHT TO KNOW
QB: Drew Bledsoe played poorly, even though his final numbers were respectable,
finishing 19 of 35 for 211 yards with 1 TD. Before the final 5 minutes of the
game and overtime, Bledsoe was a lowly 11 of 25 for 99 yards and 1 TD. His early
numbers were effected by at least 4 dropped passes by Buffalo receivers (including
a 20 yard pass to Eric Moulds). He finished 8 of 10 for 112 yards on the game
tying drive and in overtime. Bledsoe was clearly flustered by drops and the
Bengals pass rush (sacked 4 times), forcing balls and overthrowing receivers.
A lack of a consistent running game also forced the Bills into numerous third
and longs. Bledsoe also fumbled a shotgun snap (the fumble was charged to the
RB: Travis Henry had a good day, with an asterisk. His final numbers were 25
carries for 85 yards (3.4 yards per carry) and 1 TD. He added 2 catches for
14 yards and an additional score (1 drop, 2 redzone targets). He ran hard, showing
no ill effects from his rib injury. Another 15 yard carry was reversed on a
penalty. But, Henry continued to demonstrate his penchant for fumbling, being
charged with 1 fumble (recovered by Moulds) and also fumbled a pitch that should
have been caught (the fumble was charged to Bledsoe). Backup Joe Burns had 1
carry for -5 yards.
WR: Eric Moulds was the Bills' leading receiver with 9 catches for 99 yards
(1 redzone target). His production mirrored Bledsoe's, garnering 4 catches for
61 yards on the game tying drive and in overtime. He had one clear drop of a
20 yard pass in the first half. Moulds had a key 4th down catch in regulation
and out wrestled Tory James for a jump ball in overtime.
Bobby Shaw had 3 catches for 26 yards (1 redzone target) and was not a big
Josh Reed continued his struggles, finishing with 1 catch for 20 yards with
2 drops (2 redzone targets).
TE: Mark Campbell had 1 catch for 20 yards in overtime. He also had 1 redzone
K: Rian Lindell was 3 of 3 on field goal attempts. He was successful on attempts
of 27, 38 and 29 yards.
Pass Defense: The Bills managed very little pass rush in the first half, allowing
Kitna time to stay in the pocket and complete passes. Late in the first half
and throughout the second half, Buffalo challenged the Bengals by bringing multiple
blitz packages, forcing Kitna into quicker decisions and into hurried throws.
The secondary coverage was adequate, keeping plays in front of them (long pass
of 20 yards), making the Bengals beat them underneath.
Rush Defense: The Bills run defense was smothering, limiting the Bengals to
69 yards on 28 carries (2.5 yards per carry). In the first half, the Bengals
had a meager 16 yards on 14 carries. Outside of a Rudi Johnson 16 yard TD scamper
in the third quarter, the Bengals found very little on the ground. DT Pat Williams
in particular had a spectacular day in run support.
QB: Jon Kitna (26 of 44 for 225 yards with one interception) was unspectacular
but solid. The Bengals offensive game plan was more conservative than expected,
taking underneath routes, instead of going for the big play. Kitna missed several
open receivers, rushing his throws once the Bills started blitzing aggressively.
On Kitna's one interception, he was hit by London Fletcher as he threw.
RB: With Corey Dillon out with an injury, Rudi Johnson was the primary ball
carrier. Expected to split carries with Brandon Bennett, Rudi Johnson carried
the ball 20 times for 69 yards and 1 TD (3.5 yards per carry). Johnson ran hard
between the tackles but with little success. He showed off his speed on a 16
yard sweep for a TD. At the half, Johnson had 9 carries and Bennett had 6. Bennett
had no carries in the second half, finishing with 6 carries for -1 yards (long
of 8 yards).
WR: Peter Warrick was the Bengals' leading receiver with 7 catches for 78 yards.
Warrick showed his open field ability on a nifty 20 yard catch and on a 30 yard
punt return. Warrick was the target on 3 redzone passes from Kitna. On the downside,
Warrick fumbled a punt and dropped a possible touchdown catch at the 5 yard
Chad Johnson had 6 catches for 59 yards, but was the target on several long
attempts and had 2 redzone targets as well. Johnson continues to mature as a
receiver, running several nice routes, highlighted by a 3rd down catch along
the sidelines, dragging his toes to keep a Bengals drive going.
Rookie Kelley Washington had 2 catches for 18 yards.
TE: Tony Stewart led the tight ends in receptions with 5 catches for 35 yards.
Reggie Kelly had only one catch for 8 yards but was targeted on a red zone attempt.
K: Shayne Graham was 3 of 4 on field goal attempts. He had successful kicks
of 39, 37 and 30 yards. He missed a 54 yard field goal attempt at the end of
the first half.
Pass Defense: The Bengals' pass coverage was very good for most of the game.
They frustrated Bledsoe with excellent coverage and an effective pass rush (4
sacks). DE Duane Clemons had 3 sacks. CB Jeff Burris got hurt in the second
half and missed him late in the contest as the Bills came back for the win.
Rush Defense: The Bengals' run defense was solid in the first half (limiting
the Bills to 13 carries for 42 yards), especially in short yardage, but struggled
in the second half as Henry was able to convert third and shorts with ease.
Seahawks 13 at Green Bay Packers 35
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
The Seattle defense showed they are not as good as advertised. They allowed
Green Bay to march down the field for TDs on five consecutive drives of 49,
66, 68, 53, and 56 yards while putting no pressure on Favre or showing any signs
of being able to stop the run.
The Seattle offense looked much more potent than the score might lead you to
believe. The Seahawks only scored 13 points, but P Tom Rouen only had one punt
in the game. Seattle ended drives on two occasions with turnovers and finished
their last two drives on downs after getting down by a large margin. Penalties
also were a thorn in the side of the offense today.
RB Shaun Alexander looked like he was headed for a huge day ripping off long
runs early. However, after Seattle got down big they had to abandon the run
looking for yardage in big chunks.
Green Bay Packers
The combination of QB Brett Favre and RB Ahman Green was too much for Seattle.
P Josh Bidwell punted once after the first Green Bay possession, then took almost
took the rest of the afternoon off (had to punt one away in the 4th quarter
with a 22-point lead).
Donald Driver is fully recovered from his neck injury and still Brett Favre's
go to WR. Driver scored over rookie CB Marcus Trufant early on a deep ball and
made 7 receptions on only 8 targets.
The Green Bay defense has serious issues trying to stop the run. Making matters
worse, defensive linemen Johnson, Brown, and Nwokorie were all injured during
the game. They allowed Shaun Alexander better than 5 yards per carry and looked
very soft up the middle.
WHAT YOU OUGHT TO KNOW
QB: Matt Hasselbeck: (22-39-225 0 TD 1 INT passing, 1-7 rushing) Matt Hasselbeck
had plenty of time and continued to make good decisions in the pocket expect
for his one interception that was thrown very far behind WR Darrell Jackson.
Hasselbeck also looked agile in the pocket avoiding the rush. The return of
RT Chris Terry next week will be a huge help to the Seattle passing game. Seattle
has had to compensate with max-protect blocking schemes. The only knock on Hasselbeck
was that he didn't read and adjust to the blitz well. Seattle was unable to
turn those opportunities into big plays.
RB: Shaun Alexander: (20-105 1 TD rushing, 3-13 receiving on 6 targets) Shaun
Alexander got off to an impressive start with 50 rushing yards in the first
quarter, but the Seattle defense couldn't keep Favre and company off the field
which led to playing catch up all afternoon. Alexander owners missed out on
a chance for a monstrous game, but can take solace in the fact that Alexander
is still the focus of this potentially high-powered offense. Alexander is the
first and last option in all short yardage and goal line situations for Seattle.
Maurice Morris: (1-17 rushing, 0-0 receiving on 0 targets) Maurice Morris was
given one carry early in the game to give Alexander a breather. There's nothing
to worry about here for Alexander owners.
WR: Koren Robinson: (8-76 receiving on 12 targets) Koren Robinson is firmly
established as the go to WR in Seattle. The possibility of WR Darrell Jackson
out producing Robinson seems to grow slimmer and slimmer each week. Robinson
was targeted deep twice in the game. One was a ball that was in Robinson's hands,
but he was unable to come up with the potential TD. The Seattle offense moved
the ball best in the game during the 2nd quarter when Robinson made 6 of his
Darrell Jackson: (4-58 receiving on 10 targets) Darrell Jackson couldn't get
into rhythm today with QB Matt Hasselbeck. He was targeted 3 times in the endzone
and couldn't come up with the big play. Each was a ball that could have been
caught, but they all would have required Jackson to make a tough catch. He had
only 1 drop in the game, but it wouldn't have mattered due to a penalty on Robinson
during the play.
Bobby Engram: (3-45 receiving on 4 targets) Bobby Engram filled his typical
role for Seattle. He came up with two first down grabs on third down plays and
continues to give Hasselbeck a third option. Also of note, Engram started the
game along with Jackson and Robinson as Seattle began in a 3-WR set.
TE: Itula Mili: (4-31 receiving on 4 targets) Itula Mili is holding on to his
starting TE job by making plays. However, he isn't displaying the speed to stretch
the field down the middle. Nor is he getting open in the back of the endzone
while in the redzone. Also of note, Seattle started in a 3 WR set leaving Mili
on the sideline.
Jeremy Stevens: (1-2 receiving on 1 target) Stevens didn't see the field much
as his one target and one reception would indicate.
K: Josh Brown: (1-1 XP, 2-2 FG, 27, 58 YDS) Josh Brown hit a 58-yard field
goal at the end of the first half.
Pass Defense: The Seattle pass rush was virtually non-existent today. DT John
Randle dropped QB Brett Favre once late in the game, but it was too little too
late. Donald Driver burned rookie CB Marcus Trufant deep for a TD, but Trufant
recovered well and made several nice plays to break up passes. Seattle's other
starting rookie, S Ken Hamelin, put a big hit on Brett Favre. This only seemed
to make Favre mad leading to another quick Green Bay TD.
Rush Defense: Ahman Green kept Seattle from getting the Green Bay offense off
the field. Green Bay was consistently facing 2nd or 3rd and short which because
Seattle couldn't stop the run.
Green Bay Packers
QB: Brett Favre: (19-25-185 2 TD 0 INT passing, 3-1 rushing) Brett Favre was
masterful while having to do a minimum amount of work today. He was accurate
and strong rifling passes all over the field. He even avoided Chad Brown in
the open field before completing another pass when flushed out of the pocket.
Favre did take a big hit from S Ken Hamelin, and promptly got in Hamelin's face
in a small shoving match and war of words. It was "classic" Brett
RB: Ahman Green: (27-118 2 TD rushing, 1-7 receiving on 1 target) Ahman Green
hit the holes quickly and appeared on the verge of breaking a long run all day.
The offensive line opened up great holes for him as he ran north/south. He also
did a great job of getting his shoulders low and gaining extra yardage after
first contact. On one of his short TDs he appeared stuffed by three Seattle
defenders, but kept his feet grinding and powered in for the score.
Tony Fisher: (3-33 rushing 1 TD, 0-0 receiving on 0 targets) Najeh Davenport:
(1-2 rushing, 0-0 receiving on 0 targets) Even with the TD for Fisher, it was
unclear who would be the backup if Green were to go down with injury in the
future. Davenport is just returning from injury and may not be 100% yet. If
it were today, the nod would have been Fisher. This could change when Davenport
is completely healthy. It also should be noted that the score was only 21-13
when Fisher scored his TD. The game was not yet out of reach.
William Henderson: (0-0 rushing, 3-28 1 TD receiving on 3 targets) William
Henderson filled his usual role in the passing game. He made a nifty run after
the catch hurdling a defender on the sideline. His TD came on a nicely designed
inside shovel pass near the goal line.
WR: Donald Driver: (1-5 rushing, 7-72 1 TD receiving on 8 targets) Donald Driver
showed no after affects from his neck injury. He ran great routes and caught
the ball with his hands. Neither of the Seattle cornerbacks (Ken Lucas and Marcus
Trufant) looked like they could slow him down. Driver appeared wide open time
Robert Ferguson: (1-5 receiving on 2 targets) Robert Ferguson did not seem
to be a factor in the game plan for Green Bay. No word was given during the
game on his physical status or whether that was a factor in his apparent lack
Javon Walker: (2-14 receiving on 5 targets) Javon Walker did not put up great
numbers or play a large role in the Packer win. However, he did draw a pass
interference call on a mid-range pass inside the 10-yardline.
TE: Bubba Franks: (3-40 receiving on 4 targets) Bubba Franks still remains
the #1 TE in Green Bay. It did not appear that TE Wesley Walls was cutting into
his opportunities. Also, Franks was targeted in the endzone on a play where
Marcus Trufant made a great play on the ball.
Wesley Walls: (1-5 receiving on 2 targets) Wesley Walls was lined up as a WR
on both plays that he was targeted on.
K: Ryan Longwell: (5-5 XP, 0-0 FG) Nothing of consequence to report for Longwell.
Pass Defense: The Green Bay pass rush was aided by timely blitzes. The defensive
linemen were unable to pressure QB Matt Hasselbeck today. Neither of the Green
Bay sacks in the game came from the defensive line. DE speed rusher Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila
was completely shut down by LT Walter Jones. CBs Mike McKenzie and Al Harris
gave large cushions to Koren Robinson, but made several big plays, especially
in the endzone.
Rush Defense: The Green Bay run defense looked porous, but did force a Shaun
Alexander fumble that led to the first Green Bay TD. Rookie LB Nick Barnett
seemed to be everywhere leading the team with 12 tackles and 1 sack.
Lions 17 at San Francisco 49ers 24
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
Joey Harrington opened the game by throwing an interception on his first pass
attempt. It was his first interception of two for the game. Harrington completed
19 passes on 35 attempts for 200 yards. His lone touchdown was a sharp pass
over the middle to Michael Ricks. Harrington played well throughout the middle
of the game, but he was unable to connect with his wide receivers when the Lions
needed it most.
Olandis Gary and Shawn Bryson switched roles this week. Gary was the more effective
rusher of the two and rushed for 64 yards on 14 attempts. He also scored his
first touchdown as a Lion this week. Though he started the game, Bryson only
rushed for 20 yards on 6 attempts. He did not find much rushing room, and on
one play missed reading a clear hole and went up the middle for a minimal gain.
TE Michael Ricks was the leading receiver for the Lions catching all of the
passes that came his way and even one that wasn't intended for him. He turned
a deflected pass off of Charles Rogers' fingertips into a 37-yard reception.
His second reception set up a Lions' field goal. And on the very next drive
he caught a sharp pass over the middle for a touchdown.
Charles Rogers was once again Harrington's favorite target. He was targeted
11 times but only caught 4 of them for 51 yards. And it bears noting that his
longest reception of 21 yards came on a trick play pass from fellow WR Az-Zahir
San Francisco 49ers
There is nothing better for putting animosity to bed than starting the game
with a touchdown pass. Jeff Garcia and Terrell Owens connected twice on the
opening drive, the second reception for a touchdown. The 49ers started the game
strong by scoring on their next two possessions as well. A low snap on third
and long brought out the field goal unit on the 49ers' second drive of the game.
And on the third drive, Garcia connected with TE Aaron Walker for a 14-yard
reception after a fake handoff to Garrison Hearst.
Terrell Owens caught 5 passes for 79 yards and 1 touchdown. He started well
connecting for two passes, one a touchdown on the opening drive. But then he
was effectively covered in the second and third quarter by the Lions defenders.
Owens stopped short on one of his routes and this led to an easy interception
for the Lions by Dre Bly.
The 49ers rushed for a total of 142 yards against the Lions. This week it was
Garrison Hearst's turn to shine. He was the leading rushing for the 49ers, rushing
for a total of 74 yards as compared to Kevan Barlow's 24 total yards. Jeff Garcia
also contributed to the rushing game running for 35 yards on 11 attempts, gaining
2 first downs and a 1-yard touchdown rush in the third quarter.
WHAT YOU OUGHT TO KNOW
QB: Joey Harrington (19-35-200, 1 TD, 2 INT) Harrington threw an interception
on his first passing attempt of the day. Ahmed Plummer intercepted the pass,
intended for Harrington's favorite target rookie WR Charles Rogers. Throughout
the game, Harrington was unable to make the big play when the Lions needed it.
He threw a pass to Charles Rogers that could have been caught had it not been
broken up by none other than one of the referees. With 51 seconds left in the
half, the Lions had the ball at their own 20-yard line. Harrington completed
4 out of 5 attempts, the longest being an 18-yard pass to Az-Zahir Hakim. But
Harrington was unable to get the Lions in a position to put points on the board
before time ran out. In the third quarter, the Lions went for it on fourth down
with 2 yards to go. Harrington's pass was thrown into double coverage and intercepted
by Tony Parrish. Harrington ended the game by throwing 4 straight incompletions.
RB: Olandis Gary (14-64, 1 TD rushing, 2-14 receiving, 2 targets) Gary seemed
more comfortable in the Lions' offense than he has in past weeks. He interchanged
positions this week with Shawn Bryson as the leading rusher for the Lions. Gary
and Bryson were interchanged throughout the first half, but by the second half
Gary was the main focus of the rushing game. In the fourth quarter, he ran to
the outside for a 2-yard touchdown.
Shawn Bryson (6-20 rushing, 1-9 receiving, 3 targets) Bryson started the game
at RB for the Lions, but was unable to find any room to run the ball. His longest
rush was for 9 yards; the rest were minimal gains. On one rushing attempt he
missed a clear hole to the left and rushed up the middle for only a short gain.
Corey Schlesinger (3-21 receiving, 4 targets) Schlesinger played a minor role
in the game catching 3 passes for 21 yards.
WR: Charles Rogers (4-51 receiving, 11 targets) Rogers put up numbers similar
to the rest of the games this year. He was once again Harrington's favorite
target. Though his longest catch of the day for 21 yards came on a pass from
WR Az-Zahir Hakim. His first catch of the day for 11 yards was negated by a
holding penalty on Bill Schroeder. Both of Harrington's interceptions were passes
intended for Rogers thrown into double coverage.
Az-Zahir Hakim (3-26 receiving, 7 targets, 1-1-21 passing) The passes that
Hakim did not catch were probably more important than the receptions that he
did make. He was targeted in the end zone in the second quarter, but the ball
went off of his fingertips. And late in the fourth quarter when the Lions were
making a last ditch effort to tie the game, Harrington's last 3 incompletions
were intended for Hakim.
Bill Schroeder (1-2 receiving, 3 targets) Schroeder was once again a non-factor
in the Lions' passing game. His biggest contribution to the game was a holding
penalty that negated a completed pass to Charles Rogers.
TE: Mikhael Ricks (4-76, 1 TD receiving, 4 targets) Ricks was the leading receiver
for the Lions catching all of the targets that came his way. Ricks caught a
deflected pass that went off of Charles Rogers' fingertips for a gain of 37
yards. On the same drive he caught a 16-yard pass that set up a field goal.
The very next drive he made a sharp catch for a touchdown.
Casey Fitzsimmons (2-22 receiving, 2 targets) Fitzsimmons played a small role
in the Lions' offense completing 2 receptions for 22 yards.
K: Jason Hanson (1 FG, 28 yards, 2 XP) Hanson completed a 28-yard field goal.
Pass Defense: The Lions pass defense kept the game close by putting pressure
on Jeff Garcia. Dre Bly intercepted Garcia in the second quarter. Bly also effectively
covered Terrell Owens and kept him in check throughout the game until the middle
of the fourth quarter. A pass interference penalty extended the 49ers' touchdown
scoring drive in the second quarter.
Rush Defense: The Lions' rush defense was run over by the 49ers' rushers giving
up a total of 142 yards. On a positive note, they did hold Hearst for two downs
at the goal line before Garcia's touchdown pass to Terrell Owens. And they sacked
San Francisco 49ers
QB: Jeff Garcia (15-27-192, 2 TDs, 1 INT, 11-35, 1 TD rushing) Jeff Garcia
led the 49ers to 3 scoring drives on their first 3 possession of the game. He
connected with Terrell Owens on the opening drive for a 6-yard touchdown pass.
Garcia's second touchdown pass was to rookie TE Aaron Walker. Garcia showed
his toughness by hopping up unscathed from a hard hit after scrambling for a
5-yard gain. His lone interception was a pass intended for Owens. Though blame
could be laid on Owens, as it seemed as though he gave up on his route and Dre
Bly was able to make the easy interception. Garcia was a factor in the rushing
game and rushed for a total of 35 yards on 11 carries. Twice he gained the first
down by rushing for the 49ers. And in the third quarter, he faked a handoff
to Barlow and easily ran the ball in for a touchdown.
RB: Garrison Hearst (19-74 rushing, 1-10 receiving, 1 target) Hearst started
the game and was the leading rusher for the 49ers rushing for 74 yards on 19
attempts. In the second quarter he limped off the field after cutting back,
breaking a tackle and gaining 15 yards. The injury was inconsequential and he
returned after the half.
Kevin Barlow (7-24 rushing, 2-33 receiving, 2 targets) Barlow was interchanged
with Hearst throughout the first half, but as the game progressed, Hearst was
used more frequently. Barlow did turn what should have been a short catch into
a 22-yard reception by dodging the Lions' defenders.
WR: Terrell Owens (5-79, 1 TD receiving, 9 targets) Owens caught his first
two passes on the opening drive of the game, the second for a touchdown. His
second reception was very early in the second quarter and then he was shut down
until the middle of the fourth quarter. The blame for Garcia's lone interception
could be laid at Owens feet, as it looked as though Owens stopped short on his
route giving the defender ample room to intercept the ball. A deep pass went
incomplete off of Owens fingertips eliciting boos from the 49ers fans. All in
all, it appeared they've done a decent job of putting the week 4 blowup behind
Tai Streets (4-21 receiving, 6 targets) Streets played a small role in the
49ers offense making four receptions for a total of only 21 yards.
TE: Aaron Walker (1-14, 1 TD receiving, 2 targets) Rookie TE Aaron Walker's
sole contribution to the game was his touchdown reception in the second quarter.
Garcia faked a handoff to Garrison Hearst and Walker made the short catch, jumped
over a Lions' defender and ran into the end zone. In the third quarter, Walker
did drop what should have been an easy completion.
Jed Weaver (1-9 receiving, 3 targets) Weaver's contributions to the game were
minimal. A personal foul penalty on Weaver negated a third down rushing gain
from Garrison Hearst. Garcia's next pass attempt was batted down and the 49ers
were forced to punt.
K: Owen Pochman (1/2 FG, 48 yards, 3 XP) Pochman's missed field goal was a
37-yard attempt, he kicked the ball straight but it was caught by the wind and
went slightly wide left.
Pass Defense: The 49ers' pass defense intercepted Harrington twice. Ahmed Plummer
contributed the first interception. Plummer also effectively covered Charles
Rogers throughout the game. The second interception run back for 49 yards by
Tony Parrish led to Jeff Garcia's rushing touchdown. Parrish also broke up a
pass in the fourth quarter forcing the Lions to punt.
Rush Defense: The 49ers held the Lions to a total of 84 yards rushing. They
did give up one rushing touchdown to Olandis Gary. The defense did not get a
lot of pressure on Harrington and he was not sacked.
Orleans Saints 13 at Carolina Panthers 19
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
New Orleans Saints
If this is the way Deuce McAllister performs when sick what would he have done
if he was healthy? Maybe it was something that he had in the IVs he was given,
both right before the game and the night before. He arrived in Charlotte with
a serious case of flu and the team said it was "50-50" whether he'd
play. He played and played very well. He ended the game with 23 carries for
124 yards on the ground and 4 receptions for another 59 yards. He ran through
and around one of the better front sevens in football all day long. He did come
out of the game more than usual, but that was to be expected.
While McAllister was solid, QB Aaron Brooks was erratic all game. He overthrew
an open WR Joe Horn for what would have been a long gain and probable touchdown.
He later hit Horn in stride on a deep crossing pattern for a 21-yard touchdown.
It was his only TD pass of the game. He threw balls off target on several occasions.
He finished the day at just over a 50% completion rate for 189 yards. He was
pressured all game and while he avoided being sacked he did have several balls
knocked down. The announcers noted that he just couldn't find any touch on the
shorter passes, painfully obvious to TE Ernie Conwell when a rocket from Brooks
went through his hands. He was intercepted once and also made a terrible throw
on a lateral that bounced at Donte Stallworth's feet before skipping out of
WR Joe Horn was the other bright spot for the Saints, catching 4 balls for
56 yards and the lone Saints touchdown. Despite being hurt in the season opener
(bruised knee) Horn seems to be the only reliable receiver QB Aaron Brooks has.
He was targeted the most, 8 times, and he finished tied for the most catches.
Both WRs Donte Stallworth and Jerome Pathon were barely noticeable on the field.
The Saints defense made a valiant effort to turn around the embarrassment they
suffered last week against the Colts. They played a solid first half against
one of the best running games in the league but were worn down in the second
half. Eventually, that proved to be too much for them and they were not able
to make up for the offensive inefficiencies. They gave up a touchdown on the
first series of the third quarter and that was the difference in the game.
RB Stephen Davis again led the way with his fourth consecutive 100-yard game
for the Panthers. He finished with 159 yards on 30 carries and one touchdown.
He started out slowly but as the game went on the Panthers wore down the under-manned
Saints and Davis started ripping off chunks of yardage. While Davis is the unquestioned
feature back, DeShaun Foster did get 7 carries and was thrown to once on a pattern
in the end zone.
It looks like the Panthers are very content to let RB Stephen Davis move the
ball on the ground and let the defense stop the other team's offense because
QB Jake Delhomme isn't asked to do much, especially with the lead. Delhomme
finished 15 for 23 for 124 yards. His favorite target, Muhsin Muhammad, caught
5 of the passes for 42 yards. The opening play from scrimmage for the Panthers
was a flea-flicker that almost worked but the ball fell off of Muhammad's fingertips
as he stretched out for it.
The Panther defense saw Saint's RB Deuce McAllister run all over them and they
failed to record a sack. They did manage to put enough pressure on QB Aaron
Brooks to keep him from setting up comfortably in the pocket and they only allowed
the 13 points, so the final result was good.
Rod Smart, the former "He Hate Me" XFL star, returned a kickoff 100
yards for a score after New Orleans had tied the game at 3 early in the second
WHAT YOU OUGHT TO KNOW
New Orleans Saints
QB: Aaron Brooks (16-31-189 1TD, 1INT passing, 4-23 rushing) had another inconsistent
outing. His accuracy was off, throwing for just over 50%. He was chased around
for most of the afternoon and was able to avoid being sacked, but he could not
sustain drives when needed. Brooks was able to pick up 23 yards on the ground.
Overall, it was another disappointing outing from a player that seems to be
making a habit of it. Brooks, who has been criticized for not showing enough
leadership, had been much more vocal during practice in the week leading up
to the game, including keeping the offense for an extra 2 hours to view film.
It didn't translate to better play on the field, however.
RB: Deuce McAllister (23-124 rushing, 4-59 receiving, 5 targets) should get
sick more often. For all intents and purposes he was the New Orleans offense.
Before the game started it was revealed that he required an IV for flu-like
symptoms on Saturday and another IV before the game. There was talk from the
team that he was 50/50 on even being able to play. What ever was in the IV should
have been given out to the rest of the offense. He was able to run over and
through Panther defenders and even though he had to take more plays off than
usual still ended the game tied for the lead in receptions and well over 100
yards rushing with a 5.4-yard average per carry.
Ki-Jana Carter (2-8 rushing) spelled McAllister as he needed it but was not
a factor in the game.
Terrelle Smith (1-1 receiving, 1 target) got a reception for 1 yard.
James Fenderson was on the field for a couple of plays but did not touch the
ball from scrimmage.
WR: Joe Horn (4-56 1 TD receiving, 8 targets) Seems to be the only wide receiver
that QB Aaron Brooks has confidence in. He was targeted 8 times, the most on
the team and more than fellow WRs Stallworth and Pathon combined. He scored
the only touchdown for New Orleans on a crossing pattern saw a perfect throw
by QB Aaron Brooks. He also had a potential touchdown pass go over his head
as he was open on a long route down the left side of the field. While Horn is
not able to go all out in practice due to the sore knee it doesn't seem to affect
him on game day.
Donte Stallworth (1-15 receiving, 2 targets) was far more active returning
kicks. Since regular return man Michael Lewis was hurt Stallworth assumed return
duties, but that wasn't why he had such a quite afternoon. He just didn't get
open and when he did Brooks wasn't looking his way.
Jerome Pathon (1-7 receiving, 2 targets), like Stallworth, had an uneventful
TE: Ernie Conwell (4-44 receiving, 6 targets) is becoming a favorite target
of QB Aaron Brooks. He had the second most targets on the day and is more than
just a safety valve. Plays are called for Conwell as the first option and he
has a knack for getting open. He does drop a pass every now and then.
Boo Williams (1-7 receiving, 1 target) had one catch.
K: John Carney (2-3 (38, 26 yards) 1-1 XP) missed a field goal attempt from
57 yards out when it hit the upright.
Pass Defense: The Saints pass defense was good since the Panthers didn't spend
a lot of time throwing the ball. They had no sacks or interceptions and put
very little pressure on QB Jake Delhomme when he did drop back to pass.
Rush Defense: The rushing defense was a tale of two halves. In the first half
the Saints "held" RB Stephen Davis to 50 yards and had only given
up one field goal, a touchdown having been scored on a kick return. It was all
the more impressive since they only had five linemen available for the game.
But that lack of depth and the continued pounding eventually proved to be more
than they could handle and Davis finished with 159 yards. For the game the unit
gave up 185 yards for a 4.6-yard average. They also allowed one touchdown.
QB: Jake Delhomme (15-23-124 passing, 2- -2 rushing) wasn't asked to do much
more than hand off to RB Stephen Davis. And don't make any mistakes. He did
both well. He did take a couple of shots down field and even completed one to
WR Steve Smith, but it was caught just out of bounds. He also went deep to WR
Muhsin Muhammad on the opening play from scrimmage on a flea-flicker but the
ball was just off Muhammad's fingertips.
RB: Stephen Davis (30-159 1 TD rushing, 1-3 receiving, 1 target) has done everything
the Panthers expected when they signed him in the off-season. He had his 4th
consecutive 100-yard game, averaging 5.3 yards per carry. Davis started slowly
but just kept building up steam and as the New Orleans' defense wore down he
started to gain yards in bunches. He ran for 50 yards in the first half, 109
in the second. His longest run was for 27 yards. He was not really involved
in the passing game and his only negative play was a fumble deep in New Orleans
territory. He is a solid, tough runner that has a coach who understands that
for Davis to be effective he has to keep getting the ball.
DeShaun Foster (7-25 rushing, 1 target) was used to give RB Stephen Davis a
rest and to provide a change of pace. He was targeted on a throw in the end
zone that was incomplete.
Brad Hoover (1-3 rushing, 1-4 receiving, 1 target) was effective opening holes
for RB Stephen Davis.
WR: Muhsin Muhammad (5-42, 9 targets) was the favorite target for QB Jake Delhomme.
He had one long pass go off his fingertips on the first play of the game. Other
than that play it was a rather quiet day for Muhammad as the game plan was to
run the ball.
Ricky Proehl (4-22 receiving, 4 targets) caught all four balls thrown his way.
He was in on obvious passing downs as the third receiver.
Steve Smith (1-13 receiving, 4 targets) had one long pass thrown his way that
he caught but it was out of bounds. Here's another wide receiver with issues
as earlier in the week he went off about his contract or lack thereof. If only
they could channel this energy into making plays in the game.
TE: Kris Mangum (1-16 receiving, 1 target) made a beautiful catch, his only
one of the game, stretching out on a pass down the middle.
Mike Seidman (2-24 receiving, 2 targets) caught both of the passes thrown at
K: John Kasay (2-2 (49, 23 yards) 1/1 XP) made both of his field goal attempts.
Pass Defense: The pass defense did a good job for most of the game. They didn't
sack QB Aaron Brooks but they put enough pressure on him that he had to move
around a lot. They had one interception and held him to 189 yards on the day.
It was hard to tell if the Panther defensive backs took away the WRs, other
than Joe Horn, or if the receivers took themselves out of the game, but they
really didn't have to pay much attention to Donte Stallworth or Jerome Pathon.
They did allow one touchdown through the air.
Rush Defense: The rush defense was offensive when you consider the fact that
Saints RB Deuce McAllister had been sick and no one was sure just how long he
could go. He managed to gain 124 yards on 23 carries, an average of 5.4 yards
per carry. For the game they gave up 155 yards. They didn't give up any touchdowns
on the ground, though.
Redskins 25 at Philadelphia Eagles 27
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
Patrick Ramsey fought off pressure all day. He rarely had the chance to throw
downfield and was inaccurate while being rushed in the short game. He became
effective later in the game as the Eagle defensive backs gave his receivers
more cushion. He came off the field on fourth down in the first quarter with
a bruised left shoulder, but it did not seem to effect his game.
Running backs Trung Canidate and Ladell Betts were ineffective until catching
passes out of the backfield late in the game.
Receivers Laveranues Coles, Rod Gardner and Darnerien McCants did not help
Ramsey as numerous high throws were catchable but went off their hands. No one
was able to gain separation from a makeshift Philadelphia backfield.
The Redskins missed starting left guard Dave Fiore, out with a knee injury.
His replacement, Derrick Dockery was dominated and committed multiple penalties.
Washington committed seven false starts, putting Ramsey in long-yardage situations.
The offense had trouble checking to audibles in the loud environment.
Donovan McNabb also played under relentless defensive pressure. His taped thumb
on his throwing hand did not seem to bother him although he was inaccurate on
some touch passes. However, his accuracy improved as the game went on. He converted
a first down on a tough run and had a 54-yard run on a quarterback draw called
back on a penalty.
Fox analyst Cris Collingsworth described Brian Westbrook as "clearly the
guy" in the Philadelphia backfield. Westbrook had the first six touches
of the game for the Eagles. Meanwhile, Duce Staley is now the change-of-pace
Rookie tight end L.J. Smith was the primary receiving target. McNabb did not
hit Freddie Mitchell or Todd Pinkston until late in the first half and the Eagle
wide receivers totaled six catches on the day.
Philadelphia throttled the high-powered Washington offense with blitzes and
fine play by a no-name defensive backfield replacing starters Brian Dawkins,
Bobby Taylor and Troy Vincent.
WHAT YOU OUGHT TO KNOW
QB: Patrick Ramsey (25-50-271, 1 TD, 2 INT) was pressured the whole game. He
had trouble against tight coverage and did not look downfield often. The Redskins
refused to keep a back in for extra pass protection and Ramsey was punished.
He came off the field in the first quarter with a bruised left shoulder, but
it did not seem to effect his game. He padded his numbers late when the Eagle
defense gave the receivers some cushion. Ramsey led the team on an impressive
final drive pulling to within 2 points on a 32 yard TD with 1:01 left. The score
was a perfect 32 yard pass to Darnerien McCants. He overthrew Laveranues Coles
on the two point conversion attempt which would have tied the game.
RB: Trung Canidate (8-17 rushing, 3-18 receiving, 3 targets) started and was
ineffective. He did not see much action in the second half.
Ladell Betts (5-11 rushing, 3-27 receiving, 4 targets) entered the game in
the third series again for Washington. Played all three plays from the Eagle
one-yard line and was stuffed on his only attempt. Had a screen attempt deflected
and picked off.
FB Rock Cartwright (3-3 rushing, 1-9 receiving, 2 targets) is the short yardage
back but did not enter the game on three plays from the one. Had a 20-yard pass
broken up and a 5-yard run called back on penalty.
Chad Morton (1-6 rushing, 2-24 receiving, 4 targets) was the target on a wild
throw in the flat. He dropped a pass off of his shoulder pad as he was running
away from a defender on a short crossing route. The play would have been a big
gainer and sure key first down. Added 165 return yards.
WR: Laveranues Coles (1-4 rushing, 5-60 receiving, 13 targets) caught his first
catch with less than minute left in the first half, a 30-yard gain on a screen
pass. Had three catchable passes go off his hands, one for an interception.
Ramsey was hit as he threw a 30-yard pass to Coles that was deflected away.
Had trouble getting separation from no-name defensive backs. Was overthrown
on the potentially game-tying two-point conversion.
Rod Gardner (3-25 receiving, 10 targets) also had trouble getting separation
as short passes were deflected away. Had a 15-yard pass over the middle go off
Darnerien McCants (4-79 1 TD receiving, 6 targets) broke a tackle to pick up
an extra 10 yards on a 20-yard gain that was called back on a penalty. He dropped
a wide-open 20-yarder over the middle with one minute remaining before catching
the potentially game-tying touchdown on a tumbling catch in the end zone.
TE: Robert Royal (2-17 receiving, 3 targets) started and was overthrown on
a play-action pass to the flat on the first play from scrimmage. TE Zeron Flemister
played but was not a target.
K: John Hall (4-4 FG, 1-1 XP) sliced a 48-yarder through on his first field
goal. He was solid on his other field goals from 45, 37 and 53.
Pass Defense: The Redskin defense pressured but contained McNabb with the speed
of their linebackers. Jessie Armstead disrupted play while Jeremiah Trotter
intercepted a ball at the line-of-scrimmage. Cornerbacks Champ Bailey and Fred
Smoot showed fine coverage of the Eagle receivers.
Rush Defense: Washington linebackers also filled the holes and contained plays
sideline to sideline.
QB: Donovan McNabb (16-30-157, 1 TD, 2 INT) did not seemed bothered by his
injured thumb. However, he did not show the touch on short passes until late
in the game. The Washington linebackers contained him in the pocket but he did
have a 54-yard draw called backed due to penalty. With the Redskin rush, he
did not look often to his wide receivers. He instead targeted his tight end
and running backs.
RB: Brian Westbrook (11-64 rushing, 4-15 receiving, 6 targets) got the first
six touches from scrimmage and was the primary back. Dropped a slant in the
red zone and a swing pass fell incomplete in traffic. Fox analyst Cris Collingsworth
described Brian Westbrook as "clearly the guy" in the Philadelphia
backfield. Both Collingsworth and his colleague Troy Aikman felt Westbrook should
be getting more touches.
Duce Staley (10-36 rushing, 0-0 receiving, 0 targets) fumbled a lateral that
cost him six yards rushing. He first came in the last minute of the first quarter
to spell Westbrook.
FB Jon Ritchie (0-0 rushing, 2-14 1 TD receiving, 4 targets) caught a nice
diving touchdown in traffic. He was the safety valve target on two desperate
throws by McNabb to the flat.
Correll Buckhalter (3-3 rushing, 0-0 receiving, 0 targets) got three carries
early and was not seen again. However, one of his carries was inside the red
WR: James Thrash (2-26 receiving, 4 targets) made a tough catch while blanketed
on a 12-yard stop route. He was also thrown behind on the sidelines and was
the target on a 40-yard fly that was intercepted on a great play by Fred Smoot.
Todd Pinkston (2-22 receiving, 4 targets) was missed by McNabb on a 10-yard
sideline pattern and was well covered on another that fell incomplete.
Freddie Mitchell (1-39 receiving, 3 targets) broke a tackle to gain an extra
20 yards on his only catch. He was the target on the Jeremiah Trotter interception
and had a high throw go off his hands on an 8-yard out.
TE: L.J. Smith (4-39 receiving, 8 targets) was the primary receiving target.
He was the target on four short-route incompletions in traffic that he didn't
really have a chance to catch.
Chad Lewis was never a target but he did commit the unnecessary hold that negated
McNabb's 54-yard run.
K: David Akers (2-2 FG, 3-3 XP) drilled a 52-yarder and a 36-yarder. He was
hitting 67-yarders in warm-ups before the game.
Pass Defense: The front seven kept pressure on Ramsey with blitzes the whole
game. The no-name defensive backfield that replaced starters Brian Dawkins,
Bobby Taylor and Troy Vincent provided tight coverage that frustrated the Redskin
Rush Defense: The Eagle defense allowed only 49 yards rushing. Linebacker Nate
Wayne went to the locker room in the first quarter with a hip strain. He returned
to play the second half.
Broncos 23 at Kansas City Chiefs 24
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
Despite fumbling twice and getting stifled late, RB Clinton Portis impressively
returned to action following his much-publicized sternum injury. He finished
23-141 rushing, 5-79 receiving and was responsible for two of the game's three
most electrifying plays - a 72-yard reception from WR Rod Smith in the first
quarter and a 65-yard TD run on the third play of the second half that put Denver
ahead, 20-10. It's worth noting that both of Portis' fumbles were recovered
by the Broncos.
QB Jake Plummer played well for most of the day (20-38-0-221, one touchdown
pass), and although he certainly didn't lose this game for the Broncos, he failed
to move them late in the game following a Priest Holmes fumble deep in Denver
WR Rod Smith (8-131 receiving, 1-1-0-72 passing) enjoyed his best performance
in more than a year, turning in his first 100-yard receiving game since 2001
and eclipsing the 8,000-yard mark in career receiving yards.
K Jason Elam's first miss of the season (from 53 yards out with six minutes
to play) loomed large at game's end, as did Deltha O'Neal's 64-yard punt return
TD that was called back due to holding.
Denver largely outplayed Kansas City in a game that lived up to grand expectations,
finishing with 469 total yards (to KC's 261), 22 first downs (to KC's 13) and
more than 34 minutes in time of possession (to KC's 25:54). But a handful of
missed tackles on one punt return likely cost Denver the victory.
Kansas City Chiefs
On an afternoon when RB Priest Holmes was held scoreless and QB Trent Green
was just effective enough, WR/KR Dante Hall stole the show again. Hall's remarkable
93-yard punt return midway through the fourth quarter provided the winning margin,
and made NFL history to boot. Hall became the first player ever to record return
touchdowns in four straight games (he's also the only player to do it three
straight times), and he's now scored on kick returns in seven of his last 10
games dating to last season.
In carrying the Chiefs to their first 5-0 start in franchise history, Hall
finished with more than 200 return yards (including a 41-yard kickoff return)
and also caught three passes for 17 yards.
Holmes (17-97 rushing, 4-14 receiving) ran efficiently and had an apparent
five-yard touchdown pass to WR Eddie Kennison overturned when instant replay
showed Kennison had only one foot in bounds.
Green (15-28-1-128, two touchdowns) connected with TE Tony Gonzalez (3-46)
and WR Johnnie Morton (1-28) on 20- and 28-yard scoring passes, respectively,
and dodged a few bullets when two likely interceptions were dropped by Denver
On the day, Kansas City's defense forced four fumbles, but recovered just one.
WHAT YOU OUGHT TO KNOW
QB: Plummer was respectable in his first big-pressure game with the Broncos
and extended his streak to four games without an interception (although a few
errant throws Sunday were dropped by Chiefs defenders). His mobility came in
handy throughout the afternoon as Kansas City kept him on the run. He exhibited
great patience on his six-yard TD toss to TE Dwayne Carswell, a play during
which Plummer faked a handoff, rolled left and then waited to throw until Carswell
Plummer completed seven of his first nine attempts for 46 yards, connecting
with Smith, WR Ashley Lelie, Portis and TE Shannon Sharpe during that span;
he went just 13 of 29 for 175 yards the rest of the way. Plummer completed five
passes covering 19 or more yards (including three to Smith), but failed to connect
with Lelie on two well-thrown deep balls.
Trailing 24-23 with 2:22 left to play, Denver took over at its own eight-yard
line following a key Holmes fumble. Plummer could advance no farther than his
own 28-yard line, though, as his fourth-down attempt to WR Ed McCaffrey fell
Plummer rushed three times for 22 yards, including a long of 11 yards on the
drive that culminated with an Elam field goal and a 23-17 Broncos lead. One
note is that he looked to be injured an ugly play where his foot and ankle were
turned back under him in a bad way. He shook it off though and didn't appear
to be bothered by it.
RB: A seemingly completely healthy Portis finished with 220 total yards (137
of which came on two plays) including the 65-yard scoring jaunt off the right
side early in the second half. Still, with Denver leading 20-17 early in the
fourth quarter and facing a first-and-goal from KC's 4-yard line, Portis carried
three straight times for just two yards and Denver settled for another Elam
field goal and a 23-17 advantage.
Portis' 72-yard reception on a reverse pass from Rod Smith came during Denver's
second possession and likely would have gone for an 80-yard touchdown had the
ball not been just a little under thrown. As it was, a wide-open Portis had
to stop and come back to catch the ball.
Portis had a 12-yard run nullified by a holding penalty in the first half.
He also had 2 fumbles that amazingly and luckily bounced back to him.
Mike Anderson spelled Portis sparingly, finishing with 14 yards on four carries;
he also caught one pass for a yard.
FB Reuben Droughns carried once for minus-1 yard on Denver's game-opening possession.
WR: Rod Smith turned in a 100-yard receiving effort for the first time in 22
games, highlighted by three straight catches for 56 yards on a drive just before
halftime that led to an Elam field goal and a 13-10 Broncos lead. Smith clearly
was Plummer's No. 1 choice all game long and he responded with six grabs of
15 yards or more.
Smith's 72-yard completion to Portis on a fake reverse was actually thrown
pretty well considering the circumstances; but had he hit Portis in stride the
Broncos would have scored on the play. Instead, they scored two plays later.
Lelie finished with a quiet three-catch, 36-yard afternoon. Still, Plummer threw
deep to him twice and Lelie uncharacteristically dropped them both. The first
one cost Lelie about 48 yards, the second one directly preceded Dante Hall's
93-yard punt return.
Ed McCaffrey, who finished with no catches in a game for the second time this
season, seems to fall farther out of the Broncos game plan every week. Against
Kansas City, Plummer targeted him just twice - one was uncatchable out of bounds
and McCaffrey attempted to one-hand the other, a last-gasp throw between two
defenders on Denver's final offensive play.
TE: Shannon Sharpe finished with three catches for 40 yards (including a long
of 21 yards). Two of his third-down grabs resulted in first downs, but he dropped
a sure first-down pass on third-and-six in the second quarter. Sharpe took a
nasty hit from two Chiefs defenders in the fourth quarter but returned to catch
Dwayne Carswell's lone catch of the game - just his third of the year - covered
six yards and accounted for his first touchdown of 2003 on a perfectly executed
play-action roll out from Plummer.
K: Jason Elam made both of his extra-point attempts and booted field goals
of 48, 29 and 21 yards. But it was his first miss of the season from 53 yards
in the fourth quarter - long enough but wide left - that prevented Denver from
taking a 26-24 lead with less than six minutes remaining.
Pass Defense: Although Denver failed to record a sack, CB Deltha O'Neal picked
off one pass when Trent Green forced the ball to Johnnie Morton. Both of Green's
touchdown passes were well-covered, perfectly thrown balls. On the day, the
Broncos surrendered just five completions of 10 or more yards and yielded just
14 yards receiving to Holmes.
Rush Defense: The Broncos limited the explosive Holmes to fewer than 100 yards
rushing (barely) and held him out of the end zone. They did allow Holmes runs
of 16, 13, 22 and 17 yards, the latter ending when CB Kelly Herndon poked the
ball out of Holmes' arm and CB Lenny Walls recovered. The Broncos were plagued
several times during the game by poor tackling.
Kansas City Chiefs
QB: Trent Green's perfectly placed touchdown throws to Tony Gonzalez (20 yards)
and Johnnie Morton (28 yards) provided a stark contrast to the rest of his afternoon
(13-26-1-80), when he completed just 50 percent of his attempts for an average
of 6.2 yards per. Still, his inaccuracy for much of the game was offset by the
two scores and a six-yard scramble on third-and-six that eventually led to K
Morten Andersen's 23-yard field goal and a 10-10 tie.
Green completed passes to six different receivers (including three each to
Gonzalez and Dante Hall) and finished with 10 yards rushing on five carries.
RB: Of Holmes' 97 yards rushing against Denver, 77 of them came on just five
carries. It took him 12 attempts to cover the remaining 20 yards, and he finished
the first quarter with four yards rushing on four carries.
Holmes did have a 15-yard first-quarter run nullified by a personal foul penalty
against FB Tony Richardson. Interesting to note is that Holmes was not on the
field during Green's aforementioned third-down scramble in the second quarter.
He returned from his breather one play later and ended up throwing what was
initially ruled a five-yard touchdown pass to WR Eddie Kennison. The ruling
was overturned by instant replay.
Holmes added four receptions for 14 yards.
FB Tony Richardson rushed once for minus-1 yard and caught two passes for nine
WR: Dante Hall, Johnnie Morton and Eddie Kennison combined for just six receptions
for 59 yards against Denver, but two of three made their contributions felt.
Morton's lone grab early in the second quarter covered 28 yards and brought
Kansas City to within a field goal at 20-17. He also scampered 27 yards on a
reverse during the Chiefs' second possession.
Hall's performance Sunday has some observers speculating that he's an MVP candidate.
While it might be a little premature for that, there's no denying Hall's unparalleled
ability. He made no less than four Broncos miss tackles on his 93-yard punt
return TD, catching the ball inside the 10, eluding tacklers all the way back
to his own 2-yard line and then bolting around the left side for the score.
Hall also returned a second-half kickoff 41 yards to midfield, and finished
with 205 return yards on the day.
With four kick-return touchdowns in the last four games, Hall's next one (should
opposing teams choose to give him any more chances) will establish a new NFL
record for return scores in a season. As an aside, Hall also caught three passes
for 17 yards.
Since Kennison's touchdown catch of Holmes' pass was overturned by instant
replay, he was essentially a non-factor Sunday and finished with 14 yards on
Marc Boerigter was targeted just twice and finished with zero catches.
TE: If only temporarily, Gonzalez returned to form as one of the NFL's top
pass-catching tight ends. His leaping grab of Green's 20-yard touchdown pass
was a thing of beauty - partly because it looked good and partly because it
helped the Chiefs tie the game, 7-7, following Deltha O'Neal's fumbled punt
three plays earlier. Gonzalez finished with 46 yards on three catches, the last
a 22-yarder in the third quarter.
K: Morten Anderson was perfect on the day, connecting on a 23-yard field goal
and adding all three extra points. He actually missed the 23-yarder once (following
Denver's challenge of Holmes' touchdown pass), but officials ruled that the
ball had not been put in play yet and he was allowed to try again, where he
Pass Defense: Despite giving up almost 300 yards passing and giving Rod Smith
too much room, the Chiefs' gave up just the one short touchdown pass and applied
consistent pressure on Plummer.
Rush Defense: The stat sheet will show that Portis gained 143 yards on 6.1
YPC. But take away his 65-yard touchdown run to start the third quarter and
his YPC average drops to 3.5. The Chiefs allowed just three runs of 10 yards
or more and, even more importantly, stuffed Portis on three consecutive carries
from inside the 5-yard line early in the fourth quarter, forcing Denver to kick
a field goal.
Titans 30 at New England Patriots 38
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
Steve McNair posted big fantasy numbers with 391 passing yards in addition
to 18 rushing yards and two touchdowns from the 1 yard line. McNair put the
ball up 45 times as the running game continues to underachieve. McNair also
threw a costly interception which sealed the game for New England as it was
returned 65 yards for a touchdown by Ty Law late in the 4th Quarter.
The Titans running game continues to struggle. Eddie George managed just 35
yards on 15 carries with just 6 rushes over 2 yards. George also was stopped
at the 1 yard line and later lifted at the goal line for Robert Holcombe. Also
of note, as stated above, McNair punched in 2 touchdowns himself from the 1
yard line in lieu of carries for George.
Derrick Mason was back as a part of the game plan this week with 8 catches
for 99 yards. With McNair completing 23 passes, other Titan receivers had nice
yardage games including Tyrone Calico with 92 yards, Justin McCareins with 72
yards and Drew Bennett with 41 yards. The Titan receivers were unable to score,
but McCareins did haul in a 43 yard pass to the 1 yard line and Bennett caught
a 12 yard pass down to the 4 yard line.
The Tennessee run defense was beat up pretty good by Antowain Smith and Mike
Cloud. The two combined for 23 carries 153 yards and 3 touchdowns. The pass
defense played a fair game but did give up one big pass from Tom Brady to Troy
Brown for a 58 yard score easily beating Lance Schulters. Also of importance:
Samari Rolle was injured on a block on an attempted screen in the first quarter
with a dislocated elbow.
The kicking duties in Tennessee seem to be split based on distance. Craig Hentrich
might be the "long" field goal attempt kicker on attempts in the upper
40-yard range and longer. Gary Anderson still handles the attempts in the low
40 yard range and closer. Anderson did make four attempts but did miss on one
46 yard attempt off the upright. Hentrich made one 48 yard attempt.
New England Patriots
Tom Brady had a decent afternoon against the Titans. Brady did not turn the
ball over and spread the passes around to 6 different receivers. Brady connected
very nicely with Troy Brown for a 58 yard score. Brady nearly had two other
scores on passes to Branch which were bulled in by Antowain Smith and Mike Cloud
each one play later.
Antowain Smith was enjoying a great game up until coming out in the 3rd quarter.
Smith did finish with 80 yards and a touchdown but did not re-enter the game
after leaving. Smith was replaced by Mike Cloud, who looked fantastic. Cloud
had very nice burst and was able to get 10.4 yards a clip with two touchdowns.
Deon Branch had a very nice game as well. Branch could be emerging as a legitimate
number two option in the Patriot attack. Branch was open all afternoon, nearly
scoring twice. Troy Brown, despite the low number of targets, had the biggest
offensive play of the game for the Pats, getting deep for a 58 yard score.
The Patriots defense looked very menacing against the run being very stingy
in the first half. The Titans later abandoned the run because of the ineffectiveness.
The Patriot passing defense was exposed by Tennessee. The quartet of Titan receivers
had nice days exploiting the Patriot coverage with 3 plays over 40 yards. Although
New England did not allow a score through the air.
WHAT YOU OUGHT TO KNOW
QB: Steve McNair (23-45 391 yds 0 TD, 1 INT; 6 rushes 18 yds, 2 TD) McNair had
a slow start in this game being harassed by the Patriot Defense including 3
straight 3 and out drives. McNair got things going in the second quarter and
finished the day with great fantasy numbers despite his big mistake in trying
to lead the Titans back. Tennessee also chose to call McNair's number twice
at the goal line, encouraging for McNair owners, but not so good for Eddie George
RB: Eddie George (15-35 rushing, 2-13 receiving, 2 target) George continues
to struggle averaging just 2.33 yards per carry. George failed to produce with
the number of carries he was given gaining little yardage or even losing yardage
on 9 of his carries. George did have runs of 12, 12 and 9 early, but was by
and large very ineffective.
Robert Holcombe (3-4 rushing, 2-34 receiving, 2 target) Holcombe received little
time out of the backfield including a goal line carry, but was stopped from
the 1 yard line. Holcombe did get a lateral from Erron Kinney picking up 19
yards after a 20 yard reception for Kinney.
Chris Brown (2-6 rushing, 1 target) Brown had two rushes: one for 8 yards and
the other for -2 on a drive in the 4th Quarter.
WR: Derrick Mason (8-99 receiving TD, 13 targets 1-7 rushing ) Mason was McNair's
favorite target getting 13 looks and hauling in 8 of them
kind of relieving
after the low number of looks Mason received last week.
Tyrone Calico (3-92 receiving, 9 targets, 2-point Conversion) Surprisingly
enough, McNair looked the rookie's way 9 times on the day. Calico only pulled
in a third of these looks but had key plays such as a 40 yard gain tight-roping
down the side line, a 45 yard gain starting the 4th Quarter on a jump ball and
a two point conversion.
Justin McCareins (2-72 receiving, 4 targets) McCareins made a beautiful catch
from McNair for a 43 yard gain to inside the Patriot 1 yard line adjusting very
nicely and catching the ball over his shoulder beating Ty Law.
Drew Bennett (2-52 receiving TD, 8 targets) McNair seems to like throwing jump
ball type throws to Bennett to use his height advantage particularly near the
red zone. Bennett did catch such a pass from McNair to inside the 5 yard line.
TE: Erron Kinney (2-26 receiving, 4 targets) Kinney hauled in two receptions
of 20 and 6 yards and was involved in a little razzle-dazzle play on the last
drive of the game.
Shad Meier (1-14 receiving, 1 target) Meier caught the only ball throw his way,
but suffered a concussion on the play courtesy of Rodney Harrison.
K: Gary Anderson (4-5 FG (43, 33, 37, 41 yds), 1-1 XP) Andersen missed on one
of his five attempts from 46 yards hitting the upright. As noted above, Coach
Fisher may go with punter Hentrich on longer FG attempts, who hit from 48 yards.
Pass Defense: The Titan pass defense only allowed 219 yards in the air to Brady
and his Bunch. Schulters was burnt badly getting isolated one on one against
Troy Brown. Other than that play, the Titan pass defense was O.K. not giving
up many big plays, all of this damage was done without Rolle.
Rush Defense: The Titan rush defense looked uncharacteristically soft. Smith
and Cloud had little trouble picking up yardage against the unit. The Patriots
were able to hammer out 161 total yards on the ground for 5.8 per carry and
New England Patriots
QB: Tom Brady (17-31 219 1 TD passing, 3-2 rushing) Brady had an efficient,
mistake free day. Brady completed a nice percentage of his passes and didn't
turn the ball over. Brady did make one excellent throw for a 58 yard touchdown
to Troy Brown, but otherwise spread the ball around for a medium range passing
attack. Brady very nearly had two more touchdowns on passes to Deon Branch,
each time Branch being tackled just inside the 1 yard line.
RB: Antowain Smith (16-80 rushing TD, 3-23 receiving, 5 targets) Smith looked
very strong in this game until he was shaken up on a play and left with about
5 minutes to go in the 3rd Quarter. Smith was effective with his bulldozing
style averaging 5 yards per carry.
Mike Cloud (7-73 rushing, 2 TD, 0 targets) Cloud saw his first action of the
season in the second half filling in for Smith who was shaken up. Cloud, coming
off a 4 game suspension, also saw an opportunity due to Kevin Faulk being out
with a leg injury. Cloud made the most of his opportunity and wound up playing
out the game for Smith. Cloud scored on runs of 1 and 15 and had a long carry
of 42 yards. Overall, he averaged 10.4 yards per carry.
Larry Centers (1-6 rushing , 4-18 receiving, 7 targets) Centers, as per the
pattern of his career, is a nice target out of the backfield for Brady. Centers
caught 4 of these passes on the afternoon.
WR: Deon Branch (5-68 receiving, 7 targets) Branch seems to be emerging in
the offense and was Brady's favorite target in this contest. Branch gets nice
separation with his speed and nearly scored catching one ball and running inside
the 1 yard line on two occasions and catching another inside the 10.
Troy Brown (2-64 receiving, 5 targets) Brown ran a great route in beating Schulters
for the long touchdown of 58 yards. The play schemed to get Brown matched up
on the safety, who he easily ran by and was hit for the score. Brown suffered
an illegal block penalty calling back his punt return where scored on an 89
David Patten (1-13 receiving, 3 targets) Brady took a few customary deep shots
to Patten but was only able to complete one pass to Patten. Patten limped off
the field on one such attempt.
TE: Christian Fauria (2-33 receiving, 4 targets) Fauria made a very nice catch
and run in the 3rd and was denied a TD on the same drive on a great break up
K: Adam Vinatieri (1-3 FG (48 yds), 5-5 XP) Vinatieri struggled missing his
first two attempts in the first half from 34 and 39 yards, but later connected
from 48 yards. Vinatieri did hit all five of his extra points.
Pass Defense: The numbers are gaudy with 391 yards allowed to Steve McNair and
the Titan receivers, which came on 45 attempts. However, there were a handful
of bad breakdowns allowing plays of over 40 yards on three occasions. The big
play of the game was Ty Law picking off a McNair pass intended for Calico and
returning the ball for a touchdown to seal the win.
Rush Defense: The Patriot rush defense was very strong allowing only 70 yards
on 27 carries for a paltry average of 2.6 yards. However, the Titans only attempted
4 rushes in the second half, instead turning to the arm of McNair.
Browns 33 at Pittsburgh Steelers 13
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
This was a disastrous night for the Steelers, and Tommy Maddox in particular.
Pittsburgh fell behind early, which basically set the tone for the rest of the
night. The Steelers then abandoned the run and went into catch-up mode. Maddox,
however, did not respond. He was under pressure from the Browns' front four
much of the night, and made bad decision after bad decision as a result. And
when he did make the right read, he followed it up with an errant pass. He was
lucky to escape with only 2 interceptions.
The Steelers wide receivers did not help matters, as both Plaxico Burress and
Hines Ward struggled to get open against a very impressive Browns secondary.
The duo was shut out in the second half and only totaled three catches between
them for the game.
RB Amos Zereoue was the Steelers best option on the night, as he lead the team
in both rushing (38) and receiving yards (57), although neither total will open
Tim Couch was outstanding. His offensive line gave him plenty of time to throw,
and he took full advantage, completing 16 of his first 17 passes and 20 of 25
for the night. While Maddox made all the wrong reads, Couch was darn near perfect
in his decision-making, including his choice to step out the pocket and run
for 9-yard score just before halftime.
Couch spread the ball around to his entire cast, hooking up with 8 different
players. But most of his completions (16 of 20) went to his talented receiving
corps. The Steelers defensive backs simply could not account for Browns receivers
Dennis Northcutt, Quincy Morgan, Kevin Johnson and Andre Davis. Unfortunately,
the very thing that makes this group so tough to defend, makes them frustrating
from a fantasy perspective. You never know which one is going to have the big
day. This week, Davis and Johnson found the end zone. Together, this group is
the closest thing out there to WRBC - wide receiver by committee.
Despite their success throwing the ball, the Browns stuck with the running
game all night, which resulted in 33 carries and115 yards for William Green.
It was his best performance of the season, and impressive considering it came
against one of the leagues top run defenses. Green was stonewalled early, but
he persevered and was able to find some running room later in the contest.
WHAT YOU OUGHT TO KNOW
QB Tommy Maddox (11-24, 136 yards, 2 INT passing) had a rough night. Forced
to play catch-up early, and under pressure much of the night, he made poor decisions,
and even worse throws. Maddox had trouble finding the open receiver all night
long. To be fair, part of that was a result of the Browns dropping seven men
into coverage once they jumped out to a big-lead early. But Maddox deserves
much of the blame. He frequently forced the ball into heavily covered receivers,
and when he did find an open man, Maddox couldn't make an accurate throw. He
finished the game with 2 interceptions, but that could very easily have been
3 or 4 as Browns linebackers came up just shy of a pick on several occasions.
QB Charlie Batch (3-6, 25 yards passing, 1-11 rushing) saw action on the Steelers
last drive of the night after Coach Bill Cowher had apparently seen enough of
Maddox. He played well, and displayed nice mobility in the pocket, a part of
Maddox's game which was noticeably absent on this evening.
RB Amos Zereoue (13-38 rushing, 7-57 receiving, 9 targets) had little success
running the ball against the Browns - and little opportunity as Pittsburgh abandoned
the run early. But he proved a valuable asset out of the backfield. Maddox mostly
hooked up with Zereoue on swing passes and check-down routes, which Zereoue
then turned into positive gains with his speed and quickness in the open-field.
He was really the Steelers only offensive weapon.
RB Jerome Bettis (3-8 rushing, 0 targets) still has value as a goal line threat.
The Steelers went to him on their first play inside the 5-yard line, and he
delivered with a 1-yard TD plunge.
WR Plaxico Burress (1-19 receiving, 8 targets) was shut down. He struggled to
get open against the Browns young, aggressive defensive backs and recorded his
only reception midway through the first quarter. Maddox looked for Burress enough,
but Plaxico simply could not shake the Browns defenders.
WR Hines Ward (2-55 receiving, 6 targets) looked solid in the first half, but
did not record a catch after the break. The Browns defensive backfield is the
real deal, and they limited Wards chances for most of the night. Their play,
combined with Maddox' ineffectiveness made it a tough night to be a Steelers
WR Antwan Randel El (3-25, 4 targets) was actually the leading wide receiver
in terms of receptions, but for such a fast guy, the Steelers rarely throw to
him downfield. Pittsburgh seems content to throw to him underneath on crossing
routes and allow him to use his quickness to gain yards. It didn't work on Sunday.
TE Jerame Tuman (1-5, 3 targets) had one grab on the day.
K Jeff Reed (2-2 FG, 1-1 XP) connected on all of his attempts.
Pass Defense: The Steelers pass defense was horrible on the evening. They did
not put enough pressure on Tim Couch, who subsequently picked them apart. Short.
Deep. It didn't matter. They looked to be on their heels more or less the entire
Run Defense: Pittsburgh's D clamped down on Browns RB William Green early,
but they started to loosen in response to Couch's passing clinic. Green was
eventually able to find some cracks in the Steel Curtain late in the game, which
is when he gained most of his yardage.
QB: Tim Couch (10-25, 208 yards, 2 TD, 1 INT passing; 4-11 yards, 1 TD rushing)
was perfect (5 for 5, 79 yards) on his first drive and most of the night for
that matter. His offensive line gave him time to make the right reads and throws,
and when his protection broke down Couch seemed to make the right decision every
time. He hit his check-downs when he had to, took his chances downfield, and
threw it away when he needed to (his only incompletion of the 1st half). He
also pulled the ball down and ran for a touchdown on the Browns last play of
the 1st half. His accuracy and decision making throughout the game was truly
impressive to watch. Couch completed 16 of his first 17 passes, and didn't play
favorites, hooking up with eight different receivers on the night. More important,
all but 4 of his completions were to wide receivers, as he was able to consistently
complete the passes downfield.
RB: William Green's performance (33-115 rushing, 1-5 receiving, 1 target) was
an exercise in perseverance. He was the beneficiary of two developments. One,
Coach Butch Davis' determination to run the ball vs. the Steelers. And two,
a 20-point second half lead. Thanks to both, Green saw plenty of touches. He
struggled early on against the Steelers stout run defense, but he ran hard all
night and was able to break off a couple of long runs (12 and 26 yards) late
in the game. Green got a couple carries inside the 10-yard line on the Browns'
first visit to the red zone, but was unable to convert them. He was replaced
in passing situations by Jamel White, and was only targeted once by Couch.
RB Jamel White (1 for -3 rushing, 1 target) was on third-down passing situations,
but had virtually no impact on the game.
WR: Dennis Northcutt (5-58 receiving, 7 targets) showed why it can be so frustrating
to start a Cleveland receiver. Northcutt led the group in targets and receptions,
but was not rewarded with a score. With such a talented corps, it's a gamble
trying to figure who will have the best day. Northcutt's performance was especially
impressive considering he was playing with broken ribs.
WR Andre Davis (3-32 receiving, 1 TD, 3 targets) was the lucky recipient of
a touchdown pass on the Browns first drive, in the Cleveland WR lottery. The
fastest of the Browns' receiver also had a near miss on a 69-yard kickoff return.
WR Kevin Johnson (3-20 receiving, 1 TD, 5 targets) caught Couch's other touchdown
toss, as he found an opening in the back of the end zone.
WR Quincy Morgan (4-51 receiving, 4 targets) was also effective getting open
all night against the Steelers defensive backs.
WR Andre King (1-6 receiving,1 target) contributed his grab as the Browns were
driving for a score at the close of the first half.
TE Steve Heiden (2-30 receiving, 3 targets) was Couch's favorite target outside
of his wide receivers.
TE Darnell Sanders (1-6 receiving, 2 targets) recorded his first catch of the
K Phil Dawson (2-2 FG, 3-3 XP) was perfect on the night.
Pass Defense: The Browns defenders did an outstanding job of confusing Tommy
Maddox on the evening. Their defensive backs played aggressively against Pittsburgh's
vaunted receiving duo, and their speedy linebackers shut down most of the underneath
passes. And the defensive front four finally played to their potential, with
Gerald Warren and Courtney Brown combining for 3 sacks and numerous pressure
against Maddox. They forced the issue all evening.
Run Defense: After falling behind so quickly, the Steelers only ran the ball
18 times on the night. The Browns held them to just 60 yards for the game.
Diego Chargers 21 at Jacksonville Jaguars 27
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
San Diego Chargers
David Boston looks like a TE, but the speed that made him a top WR is still
there. Brees was locked into Boston all game, looking for him right out of the
snap. That resulted in 21 targets, and 14 receptions. When Boston got the ball,
he showed the extra body mass has not compromised any speed. At one point, Boston
caught the ball in traffic, and accelerated away from the defenders actually
gaining more of a buffer from them, before a DB from the far side with a good
angle brought him down.
Tomlinson had a bad outing. But it looks worse than it was. He still averaged
a decent 3.8 yards a carry. The Chargers simply couldn't keep the offense on
the field, and then fell behind, and had to go to the pass to trying to play
catch up. Tomlinson's final carry came with over 11 minutes left in the game,
and the Chargers did not even attempt another run after that point. When looking
at Tomlinson's total yards, think about opportunity, and take Brees' 41 passing
attempts into account.
Playing for the "injured" Brunell, QB Byron Leftwich looked like
a seasoned pro, putting up a game passing rating of 132.4. Leftwich was confident
in the pocket, and moved the ball against the young Charger backfield with ease.
Biggest thing of note would be that Leftwich seemed to look upfield for his
first and second read, stretching the field of play. If this is his style, it
could take a ton of pressure off of Taylor in future games. After the game,
in his post game interview, HC Del Rio said he would announce the starter for
next week's game in a few days.
WR Jimmy Smith is not rusty, playing as if he never missed a day. Little known
fact: Over the past 7 years, Smith has been the NFL's leading receiver (based
on number of receptions), and he proved it again today. After allowing Smith
to play in the first half, the Chargers piled up the defense on him in the second
half, covering with 2 and 3 men at a time. Smith was still able to find ways
to get open and make plays.
Given the box score, and the game, it would seem that Fuamatu-Ma'afala is the
new primary backup to Taylor. Toefield did enter the game with an injured shoulder,
so this might not be a sure thing, but Fuamatu-Ma'afala looks like the handcuff
Troy Edwards was out of football to start the season. After recently getting
signed by the Jaguars, he looked like a solid #2 today. He outplayed Hatchette,
and made the most of his opportunities.
WHAT YOU OUGHT TO KNOW
San Diego Chargers
QB: Drew Brees (24/41 for 296, 3 TD, 1/13 rushing) Locked in on Boston, looking
for him as soon as the ball was snapped. Brees had an unusually high number
of attempts for a "Marty" coached team. As the Chargers fell behind,
they abandoned the run. Brees did little with the additional attempts. Threw
an interception late in the game that was nullified by a roughing the passer
RB: LaDainian Tomlinson (10/38, 4/30 receiving, Fumble, 6 targets) Horrible
game statistically. However, Tomlinson looked relatively good early on in the
game, finding blocks, and gaining yards. The Chargers abandoned the run, and
that was most likely partly Tomlinson's inability to control the game on the
ground, but he cannot be held entirely at fault. He looked decent with the very
few carries he had.
Lorenzo Neal (1/2, 1 target)
WR: David Boston (14/181, 2 TDs, 1/13 rushing, Fumble, 21 targets) Brees totally
locked into finding Boston throughout the game. That most likely hurt the offense
as a whole, but it was great for Boston. Although Boston is a huge target, he
still has his game breaking speed. At one point, Boston caught the ball in traffic,
and accelerated away from the small DBs surrounding him. Do not doubt his speed.
Eric Parker (2/44, TD, 2 targets) All receivers seemed like an afterthought
to Boston in the game. Parker caught both balls thrown to him.
Tim Dwight (2/31, 1/5 rushing, 6 targets) Lost a couple of catchable balls
that came his way. Could have had a better game.
Kassim Osgood (1 target) Target came late in the game, simply a substitution
to rest Dwight. No value.
TE: Justin Peelle (2 targets)
Antonio Gates (1/8, Fumble)
K: Steve Christie (3/3 XP)
Pass Defense: San Diego's young backfield got torched. The Charger's defense
had the strength and stopping power of a wet paper towel, making a young rookie
look like a seasoned pro moving the ball with ease against them. First round
draft pick, RCB Sammy Davis had a "painful to watch" day, highlighted
when he blew his coverage allowing WR Hatchette to get wide open for a 45 yard
reception. RDE Raylee Johnson recorded 2 sacks on Leftwich, as LDE Marcellus
Wiley added another.
Rush Defense: Unable to contain Taylor, as he ran with ease to control the
clock. RDE Adrian Dingle limped off the field, but returned to play later in
the game. WLB Donnie Edwards (9 tackles, 2 assists) lead the team.
QB: Mark Brunell was officially on the injury report with an elbow injury,
but he insisted throughout the week leading up to the game that he was ready
to go. Listed as the 3rd string QB for the game, Brunell did not play.
Byron Leftwich (19/28 for 336, 2 TDs, 2/-1 rushing, 2 fumbles) Looked like
a 10 year vet, as he dismantled the Charger's young back field. Seemed to have
a real chemistry with Smith, as if they had played together for years. It is
a great interest that Leftwich went vertical up the field on the vast majority
of his first and second reads. He lost a 37 yard scoring strike on an offensive
pass interference call.
RB: Fred Taylor (27/87, TD, 3/77 receiving, TD, 5 targets) The Jaguars came
out of the gate running with Taylor for 3 straight carries. Taylor looked crisp
and powerful, and did not yield his goal line carries this week. Taylor was
certainly able to find more running room with the passing game clicking. 60
yard screen pass from Leftwich for a score.
Chris Fuamatu-Ma'afala (6/30) Seemingly the new backup to Taylor. All 6 of
his carries came on 1st and 2nd down shortly after going to Taylor repeatedly.
Used to give Taylor a breather.
LaBrandon Toefield (2/7) Entered the game with an injured shoulder, and was
not used as Taylor's primary backup, coming in on 3rd down situations.
Marc Edwards (3/26 receiving, 3 targets) All three receptions came on the same
route, a seam route up the right side, that was left open by the defense. His
use was simply the result of observation and good play calling.
WR: Jimmy Smith (8/137, 11 targets) Returned from his 4 game suspension looking
almost better than ever. Although Smith made plays all over the field, he ran
12-15 yard outs and curls for the large majority of his plays. Caught a one
handed highlight reel grab along the sideline. After Smith got 116 yards in
the 1st half, the Chargers double and triple teamed Smith on every play in the
second, at which time, the Jaguars relied heavier on Taylor and spread the ball
Matt Hatchette (1/45, 2 targets) Caught both receptions in the second half
as the chargers double and triple teamed Smith.
Troy Edwards (3/39, 5 targets) Recently acquired after being out of Football,
Edwards made the most of the opportunities provided as the offense was spread
out in the second half due to the coverage on Smith. Looked very crisp, running
good pass routes. Made a strong statement to be the #2 receiver.
JJ Stokes did not play.
Jimmy Redmond played but did not contribute.
Cortez Hankton (1 target) Saw one play late in the game (garbage time)
TE: Kyle Brady (1/12, 1 target) Lost a 12 yard reception where the play was
challenged and over turned. Not in late in the game.
Chris Luzar was used as a blocker.
George Wrighster (2 targets) Both targets (one was the called back TD), came
late in the game with Brady not on the field. This bears watching. 37 yard TD
nullified on an offensive pass interference call.
K: Seth Marler (2/2 FG [53, 27], 3/3 XP)
Pass Defense: With Brees locked into Boston, the Jaguars double and triple
teamed him to break up the flow of the Charger's offense. The defense put Brees
on his back 4 times. Along with Slaughter's sack, LDT Marcus Stroud, RDE Lionel
Barnes, and LDE Tony Brackens each got a sack on Leftwich.
Rush Defense: The Chargers gave up on the run early on, so it is hard to gauge
the unit's performance. Did a good job of keeping Tomlinson from going off,
but a lot of that could be attributed to the score of the game. SLB TJ Slaughter
(6 tackles, 1 assist, sack) lead the team.
Raiders 21 at Chicago Bears 24
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
The Oakland Raiders sliced through the Chicago defense with a textbook 16 play,
68-yard opening drive for a touchdown. In the second quarter, the Raiders were
inside the Chicago 25- yard line on four separate occasions and had to settle
for field goals each time. Oakland's inability to put the Bears away early,
led to their downfall as Chicago K Paul Edinger's 48-yard game winning field
goal snuck inside the right post with triple zeroes on the clock.
K Sebastian Janikowski connected on all four of his field goal attempts in
the first half to remain perfect on the season at that point (12 for 12). On
the Raiders first drive in the second half, Janikowski's 47-yard field goal
attempt was driven low and blocked by the Bears.
CB Charles Woodson had a career day, recovering a fumble and intercepting two
passes thrown by Chicago QB Kordell Stewart. His thievery resulted in six Raider
The Chicago Bears plagued by stupid mistakes, untimely penalties, numerous
turnovers, and booing fans overcame an 18-3 halftime deficit to put their first
victory of the 2003 season in the books. It got so bad, that at one point in
the second half, QB Kordell Stewart threw a cup of water at some unruly fans
behind the Bears' bench.
QB Kordell Stewart plagued by an offensive line dominated by the Raiders' defense,
had a nightmarish first half. His statistics at halftime were 4-10-72, 0 TD,
1 INT and sacked three times. Stewart's first completed pass was fumbled away
to the Raiders by TE Desmond Clark. Stewart turned the tide by using his athletic
ability and the hard running of RB Anthony Thomas to pull ahead of Oakland in
the fourth quarter, scoring 18 unanswered points.
K Paul Edinger continued his perfect season, going 3 for 3 on field goal attempts.
Using his unorthodox style of turning his back to the ball before the kick,
he kicked a 48-yard, game-winning field goal on the last play of the game.
The Bears defense on the field for most the first half because of Chicago mistakes,
continually came up with the big play to keep the Bears in the game.
WHAT YOU OUGHT TO KNOW
QB: Rich Gannon (16-34-183, 0 TD, 2 INTs; 1-3 rushing) was never able to get
on track in this game. He was a victim of dropped passes and his two interceptions
were the result of tipped balls. In the middle of the fourth quarter with the
Raiders ahead 18-13, Gannon was leading the Oakland offense on what may have
been a game clinching score. His very catchable pass deflected off TE Doug Jolley's
hands and was intercepted by CB R.W. McQuarters and returned 43 yards to the
Raiders 45. Gannon's second interception led to the Bears' first lead.
RB: Charlie Garner (15-92 rushing, 1-3 receiving, 2 targets), playing against
the league's weakest run defense, used his quickness and explosive running to
rip off big runs. Garner scampered for a 33-yard run (the Raiders longest run
of the year) early in the second quarter to help set up Oakland's first field
goal. Normally a favorite target of Gannon out of the backfield, he only had
one catch in the game.
Tyrone Wheatley (6-21 rushing, 1-16 receiving, 1 target) was used to give Garner
Zack Crockett (4-3 rushing, 1 TD, 1-9 receiving, 2 targets) was used in short
yardage and goal line situations. In the Raiders' opening drive, he contributed
with a tough run for a third down conversion and scored Oakland's only touchdown
when he bulled his way into the end zone on a 1-yard run.
WR: Jerry Rice's (3-51 receiving, 7 targets) effectiveness has been taken away
with the loss of WR Jerry Porter. Defended by Bears' rookie CB Charles Tillman
for much of the game, Rice was not a factor. He was targeted by Gannon in the
end zone, but Rice was double covered and the pass was thrown away.
Tim Brown (2-39 receiving, 6 targets, 1-4 rushing) has become a secondary target
for Gannon. Brown did not see a pass thrown his way in the first half.
Ronald Curry (2-10 receiving, 4 targets) was not a factor in the game.
Jerry Porter did not suit up for the game and is still recovering from Hernia
surgery. He is expected to return October 20th against the Kansas City Chiefs.
TE: Doug Jolley (5-35 receiving, 8 targets) has quickly become Gannon's favorite
target. His first catch was a third down conversion that kept the Raiders' first
scoring drive alive. Jolley did have a pass go off his hands that resulted in
an interception, leading to a Bears' touchdown and their first lead in the game.
Teyo Johnson (1-20, 2 targets) was not a factor in the game.
K: Sebastian Janikowski kicked five field goals, but he missed an extra point
and had a 47-yard attempt blocked in the second half. The missed extra point
was the first of his career in four seasons with Raiders. He had converted on
147 straight extra point attempts before missing wide right. The blocked 47-yard
attempt is his only missed field goal of the season. Janikowski's last field
goal of 49 yards, a knuckler that hit the left post and bounced through, tied
the score at 21 late in the fourth quarter.
Pass Defense: The Raiders pass defense was superb, holding QB Kordell Stewart
to only 160 yards passing. They put constant pressure on Stewart and caused
several holding penalties on the undermanned Chicago offensive line. CB Charles
Woodson picked off two passes and recovered a fumble.
Rush Defense: The Oakland rush defense was as bad as the pass defense was good.
Chicago running backs rumbled for 148 yards on 26 carries, an enormous 5.69-yard
per carry average. Bears' RB Anthony Thomas continually lumbered untouched through
gaping holes, amassing 123 yards for the game. QB Kordell Stewart was able to
break containment and gathered 57 yards of his own. It makes you wonder how
big the loss of LB Bill Romanowski really is with the Raiders unable to stop
the opponents' running game.
QB: Kordell Stewart (13-24-160, 1 TD, 2 INTs; 9-52 rushing) looked awful in
the first half. Hounded by the Oakland pass rush, his passes were consistently
off target. In Chicago's opening drive, Stewart took an ill advised sacked,
knocking the Bears out of field goal position. Overcoming continuous Chicago
mistakes, some his own, he was able to engineer an 8-play, 67-yard drive capped
off by a 14-yard TD strike to WR Marty Booker on the first play of the fourth
quarter. After an interception return by CB R.W. McQuarters, Stewart quickly
led the offense to another touchdown with RB Stanley Pritchett sneaking in from
8 yards. Stewart successfully added the two-point conversion with a quarterback
option run around the right side. With the score tied late in the fourth quarter,
Stewart showed his experience by coolly guiding the Bears into field goal position
for the game winning field goal. After a holding penalty had nullified a spectacular
19-yard run by Stewart, his brilliant pump fake left WR Dez White wide open
and he hit White in stride down to the Raiders 31. Stewart kept the drive alive
by leaping over the line for a first down on fourth and one.
RB: Anthony Thomas (22-123 rushing) was a workhorse for the Bears. On the Chicago's
opening drive he carried the ball the first six plays for 67 yards, having the
last 17-yard run wiped out by a holding penalty on the offensive line. For some
unknown reason, Thomas only got two touches for 0 yards in the second quarter,
but Chicago started the third quarter giving the Raiders another healthy dose
of Thomas. He had room to run all game long, several times rambling untouched
until deep in the Oakland secondary. Thomas lumbered for a 20-yard run that
aided the Bears in their last touchdown drive giving Chicago their first lead.
FB Stanley Pritchett (2-17 rushing, 1 TD, 1-2 receiving, 2 targets) did a tremendous
job opening huge holes for Thomas. Pritchett scored the Bears second touchdown
with a sneaky 8-yard gallop.
WR: Marty Booker (4-94 receiving, 1 TD, 8 targets) showed why he is Chicago's
number one receiver, coming up with spectacular catches down the stretch. He
only had one catch in the first half, a 48-yard reception that gave the Bears
a first and goal to go at the Raiders 10-yard line. The Bears failed to put
any points on the board after two consecutive holding penalties followed by
a Kordell Stewart interception. Booker scored a 14-yard TD, his first touchdown
of the season, on an excellent, diving catch in the back on the end zone. He
hurt his left side on the catch and was taken into the Bear's locker room for
X-rays. He did not return and his status for next week is unknown at this time.
Dez White (4-48 receiving, 6 targets) was an adequate compliment to Booker.
White came up big in the game-winning drive grabbing a 29-yard pass from Stewart
to put the Bears in field goal position.
David Terrell (2 targets) was not a factor in the game.
TE: Desmond Clark (2-19 receiving, 3 targets) entered the game as the Bears'
leading receiver with 12 receptions. He made an outstanding, one-handed catch
for Stewart's first completion, but was stripped on the ball and his turnover
led to the Raiders' second field goal.
K: Paul Edinger was the hero of the game, connecting on a 48-yard field goal
for the game winner as time expired. He was also successful on his other two
field goal attempts, one from 35 yards out and the other a 50-yard boot (his
longest of the year). Edinger is a perfect 8 for 8 on the season.
Pass Defense: The Chicago pass defense did excellent job of bailing out the
Bears' offense. Put in difficult situations deep in their own zone in the first
half, the defense held the Raiders offense to field goals four times after Oakland
got inside the Chicago 25 yard line. The Bears' pass defense intercepted two
tipped passes from QB Rich Gannon that led to 10 Chicago points.
Rush Defense: The Bears rush defense, ranked last in the league, had trouble
corralling a speedy RB Charlie Garner. Garner rushed for 92 yards on 15 carries,
an unacceptable 6.13-yard per carry average. However, when it came down to crunch
time, the Chicago defense held the Raiders' offense in check and was instrumental
in allowing the Bears' offense to come from behind for the victory. Chicago
LB Warrick Holdman sprained his ankle late in the first half and did not return.
Cardinals 7 at Dallas Cowboys 24
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
Emmitt Smith (6 carries for -1 yards, 2 catches for 2 yards, 3 targets) Left
the game in the first half with a right shoulder injury and did not return.
Considering the emotional nature of returning to Dallas and playing against
the team he played for, this game has to be a huge disappointment for him. Dallas
came out to stop him and it appeared he came out to say goodbye.
Jeff Blake (14/28 for 121 yards, 1 TD, 2 interceptions) turned in a fantasy
clunker in spite of having a decent first half and falling behind in the game.
He was pressured often by the Cowboy pass rush and often looked flustered and
confused. He accounted for only 26 yards passing in the second half despite
trailing 20 to 7 early in the 3rd quarter.
Anquan Boldin (3 catches 33 yards, 6 targets) turned in his first professional
fantasy football disappointment. The Cowboys covered him extremely well and
appeared intent on taking him out of the game and forcing Blake to use his other
targets. He lost out on a 15 yard reception on a questionable sideline call
and a 36 yard reception in which he was flagged for an offensive pass interference
penalty. The replay showed no such penalty.
The Cardinal defense did not slow down or stop the Dallas passing game. They
were unable to put much pressure on Quincy Carter and sacked him only once in
31 passing attempts.
Quincy Carter (20 for 31, 277 yards, 2 TDs, 1 interception) showed poise and
leadership in directing the Dallas offense. Bill Parcells appears to have him
confident in himself and his team and is using Carter within his means.
Troy Hambrick (23 carries for 59 yards, 1 reception 8 yards) was very active
and effective early as the Cowboys established domination of the game. He disappeared
in the 2nd half gaining only 11 yards on 15 carries. It was almost as if when
Emmitt Smith left the game, Hambrick lost his focus. He appeared to have decent
play from his offensive line but did not show the second half drive and determination
that is expected from an elite running back.
The Cowboy defense came to play. Free Safety Roy Williams appeared to play
this game as if he had a personal vendetta. The Cowboys converted on both chances
for safeties when they had the Cardinals pinned near their goal line. They allowed
the Cardinals only 153 total yards.
WHAT YOU OUGHT TO KNOW
QB: Jeff Blake (14/28 for 121 yards, 1 TD, 2 interceptions) did not play well
but also had little help with drops from his receivers and bad calls. His first
interception was not his fault. The pass was tipped in the air. Dallas seemed
intent to take Anquan Boldin out of the game plan with double teams and Blake
never got in sync with his other targets.
RB: Emmitt Smith (6 carries for -1 yards, 2 catches for 2 yards, 3 targets)
had the kind of day that his numbers indicate. He lost 4 yards on the opening
carry of the game and never got on track. His longest carry of the day was 2
yards. He left the game with a shoulder injury. All in all, a very embarrassing
Marcel Shipp (9 carries for 31 yards, 0 receptions, 1 target) was shut down
as cold as Emmitt Smith was in the first half (3 carries for 4 yards) and picked
up what production he did amass late in the game when the Cowboys had the game
well in hand. He didn't show particular burst or power but had little room to
move as the Dallas defense played the second half as if they had a 3-0 lead.
WR: Anquan Boldin (3 receptions 33 yards, 6 targets) turned in his first professional
fantasy football disappointment. He lost out on a 15 yard reception on sideline
catch in which he would have had both feet in bounds had the defender not forced
him out of bounds. He also had a 36 yard reception nullified because he was
flagged for an offensive pass interference penalty. The replay showed no such
penalty and the announcers seemed mystified at the call.
Bryant Johnson (1 reception 6 yards, 5 targets) dropped his first pass and
never seemed to be on the same page as Jeff Blake. He was the target of a 2nd
quarter pass play in which Dallas committed a pass interference.
Brian Gilmore (1 receptions 30 yards, 5 targets) was wide open for the Cardinals
only touchdown and dropped another 4th quarter pass in which he was wide open
that could have gone for a touchdown.
TE: Freddie Jones (4 receptions 39 yards, 5 targets) was Jeff Blake's safety
valve and was as active as any Arizona receiver.
Cardinal Pass Defense: Did not put much pressure on Carter and only sacked
him one time.
Cardinal Rush Defense: This unit gave up only 97 rushing yards but it was more
of a function of Dallas completing passes at will versus the Cardinal secondary.
Still they should be credited for holding Dallas to only 2.7 yards per carry.
QB: Quincy Carter (20 for 31, 277 yards, 2 TDs, 1 interception) Bill Parcells
appears to have him believing he can be the next Phil Simms because he directed
the offense with efficiency despite not being able to rely on the running game.
He appears to be setting his feet in the pocket more than he did last year and
is hitting his receivers in stride. His 2nd quarter touchdown pass to Richie
Anderson was a beautiful sideline touch pass.
RB: Troy Hambrick (23 carries for 59 yards, 1 reception 8 yards) was very active
and effective early as the Cowboys established domination of the game. He disappeared
in the 2nd half gaining only 11 yards on 15 carries. Richie Anderson not only
scored a touchdown but ended the day with 5 carries for 22 yards with 4 of those
carries coming in the second half.
Aveion Cason was not a factor with negative 4 yards on 2 carries.
WR: Terry Glenn (4 receptions 104 yards, 1 TD, 6 targets) was active and motivated
in this game. His 51 yard touchdown pass came on a well-timed flea flicker play
that had Glenn and Galloway wide open.
Joey Galloway (2 receptions 46 yards, 5 targets) had only 2 big catches and
did not have good numbers only because Carter appeared content to spread the
ball around to open targets. Galloway was wide open on Glenn's flea flicker
touchdown reception but Carter had Glenn as his primary target for the play.
Antonio Bryant (2 receptions 16 yards, 3 targets) was not Carter's first or
second choice today and usually his first or second choice was open.
TE: Rookie Jason Witten finally seemed to be part of the game plan catching
4 passes for 41 yards. But his day was cut short after a vicious hit from the
Arizona linebackers that left him with a broken jaw.
Dallas Pass Defense: Sacked Blake 3 times and forced 2 safeties. Cardinal receivers
were blanketed all day and Roy Williams forced 2 drops with punishing hits that
jarred the ball lose.
Dallas Rush Defense: What do you say about a unit that allows 32 yards rushing
on 18 carries for 1.8 yards per carry?
Vikings 39 at Atlanta Falcons 26
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
QB Dante Culpepper was unavailable for the second straight week (he was listed
as the third-string emergency quarterback for the game). Backup QB Gus Frerotte
stepped in and was up to the challenge for the second straight week. Frerotte
was able to rely on his supporting cast to lead the Minnesota attack, both via
the air and on the ground.
WR Randy Moss started despite another week of reported back ailments. Once
again, Moss did not disappoint fantasy owners, scoring twice and gathering 81
yards on five catches. Remarkably, Moss could have had an even larger offensive
output, given that he was targeted on 12 separate occasions. Moss dropped a
few passes, including one deep ball in the back of the end zone.
HC Mike Tice was quoted this week as promising rookie RB Onterrio Smith would
rack up over 100 yards rushing against the Falcon defense. This may have been
a tactical move, since the Viking's strong rushing game was not on display the
first half of the contest. Minnesota called just 12 runs versus 17 passes in
the first two quarters, and obtained only 31 rushing yards before halftime.
This running game oversight was corrected in the second half as the Minnesota
rushing game tallied 133 yards. Onterrio Smith did not wind up with the predicted
100 yards, but did average nearly five yards a carry, toting the ball 13 times
for 63 yards. RB Moe Williams, the listed starter for the game, gained 71 yards
and scored twice on the ground.
Even the Viking defense got in on the act, putting four points on the scoreboard.
Pressure on Atlanta's QB Doug Johnson forced one grounding penalty and one holding
penalty in the Falcons' end zone, resulting in two safeties.
Atlanta had QB Doug Johnson under center yet again this week in this battle
of backup QBs. The Falcons' gameplan had two points of emphasis in the first
half - establish the run with starting RB TJ Duckett, and get WR Peerless Price
more involved in the offense.
The Falcons' first half was arguably their best 30 minutes of football all
season. Atlanta played mistake free football, moving the ball well on the Vikings
and went into the locker room up 20-12. Unfortunately, this offensive outburst
did not persist past halftime. Atlanta had a mere 14 net yards of offense in
the third quarter and lost another 4 yards on their next two possessions. After
these five forgettable possessions, Minnesota had seized control of the game
and the scoreboard, leading 36-20 at that point. After that, Atlanta was never
in the game and merely added to their stats.
RB TJ Duckett worked on establishing himself as the Falcons' feature running
back. Duckett gained 69 yards on 10 carries in the first half, including a strong
run of 55 yards that set up RB Warrick Dunn's 8-yard plunge into the end zone
on the next play. Despite these efforts, the score dictated the abandoning of
the run game in the second half and both runners had one lone carry after the
game's midpoint. Dunn's impact in the second half was as a receiver, gaining
64 of his 83 receiving yards in the fourth quarter.
WR Peerless Price was finally able to demonstrate the abilities that brought
him to Atlanta as a free agent. Price had 12 catches and 168 yards and a touchdown.
Price had at least two catches in every quarter, amassing six catches for 10
or more yards and 2 for more than 20.
QB Doug Johnson had a career day in the box score, going 28 of 40 for 352 yards,
all personal bests. Johnson had a strong first half, going 10 for 15 for 161
yards and a score. Johnson improved his numbers dramatically in the fourth quarter,
completing 14 of 17 for 168 yards, a touchdown but he also had two interceptions.
QB Michael Vick remained inactive, and reports state his return to be at least
two more weeks in the future.
WHAT YOU OUGHT TO KNOW
QB: Gus Frerotte (14-24-239-2 TD, 1INT, 3-3 rushing, 2 Point Pass) threw early
and often to his favorite target, WR Randy Moss. Half of Frerotte's tosses went
in Moss' directions, and it would be hard to blame him for it. Frerotte was
accurate all game, and his numbers suffered from a few dropped passes. His lone
mistake came on a long pass intended to Randy Moss in the end zone which was
intercepted for a touchback. This was not much of a setback, since this came
immediately after one of the two interceptions thrown by Falcons' QB Johnson.
Normal starter Dante Culpepper dressed for the game, but was listed as the
number 3 (emergency) QB.
RB: Onterrio Smith (13-63 rushing, 2-23 receiving, 2 Point catch, 2 targets)
did not live up to HC Tice's lofty predictions of 100 yards, but did amass 86
all-purpose yards and nearly a 5-yard run per carry average. Smith continued
to split carries in the backfield with Moe Williams, who also had double-digit
Smith also tacked on the 2-pointer with a shovel pass catch from Frerotte to
knot the game at 20-20.
Moe Williams (11-71 rushing, 2 TDs, 2-15 receiving, 3 targets) was listed as
the starter for the Vikings, although Smith did get the first carry of the game.
Williams most significantly contributed by finding the end zone on two occasions
in the second half.
Doug Chapman (10-22 rushing, 0-0 receiving, 0 targets) assisted in the second
half Minnesota ground game, helping control the clock and giving Williams and
Smith rest on the sideline.
WR: Randy Moss (5-81 receiving, 2 TDs, 12 targets) was involved in the Minnesota
offense early and often, scoring a 32-yard touchdown as one of his 4 catches
on 8 targets in the first half. Moss added another score in the second half
coming on his only catch after halftime. The interesting thing is that Moss
could have had an even more productive game had he been able to hold on to more
of his intended passes. Moss dropped a touchdown pass in the back of the end
zone and had at least three drops. He seemed to lose concentration at times
on the short drops. It wasn't a case of not trying or taking plays off, but
he didn't seem as sharp as he did last week for the Terrell Owens "showdown".
Moss was clearly the focus early on, as he accounted for 64 of Minnesota's
first 99 yards.
Nate Burleson (3-71 receiving, 4 targets) continued to get more involved in
the passing game, catching three balls for 71 yards. Burleson showed good speed
and open space running on his long catch, a 52-yard effort. This deep ball was
set up by Randy Moss drawing double coverage away from Burleson.
Kelly Campbell (1-7 rushing, 2-49 receiving, 2 targets) had a similar game
to Burleson. Campbell's 51-yard pass reception came in the third quarter and
he also showed nifty moves in the open field.
TE: Jim Kleinsasser (1 target) was not a factor in this game.
K: Aaron Elling made all of his kicks, converting on 3 extra points and two
field goals of 32 and 24 yards.
Pass Defense: The Vikings had trouble with Peerless Price throughout the game,
yielding 101 yards to him through the first three quarters and 168 total yards
on 12 catches. Atlanta QB Doug Johnson had a career passing day, completing
70% of his tosses for 352 yards and both Falcon touchdowns.
The Minnesota defense did have its moments. They forced two penalties on Atlanta
inside their own end zone (grounding, holding) that resulted in two safeties.
They also contributed two interceptions in the fourth quarter.
Rush Defense: After RB TJ Duckett scampered for two long runs (13, 55) and 69
first half yards, Atlanta was forced to shut down its ground game and play catch-up.
Minnesota only allowed 27 rushing yards in the second half, but that was partially
due to Atlanta's paltry four carries.
QB: Doug Johnson (28-40-352, 2 TD, 2 INT, 2-20 rushing) had a career day, statistically
speaking. Johnson had a personal best in attempts, completions, and yardage.
Aided by WR Peerless Price's efforts, Johnson had over 160 yards by halftime.
However, some of his totals were amassed during the Minnesota prevent defense
in the fourth quarter, where Johnson went 14 of 17 for 168 yards.
Woody Dantzler (0-1, 1-0 rushing) came in as a change of pace, but did little
to contribute significantly. He was in for three plays under center, but missed
WR Quentin McCord in the end zone on his lone pass attempt.
RB: TJ Duckett (11-69 rushing, 2-10 receiving, 3 targets) began the game as
Atlanta's feature running back, and it was clear that the Falcons wanted to
establish his presence early. Duckett started well, gaining 69 first-half yards
on ten carries. He also broke off a 55-yard rumble in the second quarter. However,
once Atlanta fell behind in the second half, the run game was abandoned. Duckett
only had one official carry in the second half.
Warrick Dunn (3-15 rushing, TD, 6-83 receiving, 6 targets) was brought in to
spell Duckett on a few carries, so it appears that he is the clear second option
in the Falcon backfield. However, he did get a chance to score after Duckett's
long run to the Viking 8, and Dunn did not disappoint - carrying his chance
into the end zone.
Dunn's main contributions came as a receiver, where he was the second-most
targeted option for QB Johnson. Dunn caught all six of his targets and gained
83 yards receiving.
Justin Griffith (1 target) was targeted on one lone pass, which was a catch
he did not make.
WR: Peerless Price (12-168 receiving, TD, 17 targets) had his best day as a
Falcon. Price broke 100 yards for the first time this year, amassing 101 yards
before the fourth quarter. Price was able to add to his totals during Minnesota's
dropping back in prevent coverage for much of the 4th, where he added 6 more
catches and 67 yards on top of his already impressive totals. The only slight
in his performance was a drop in the end zone in the first quarter where it
appeared he had a reasonable chance to score.
Quentin McCord (2-42 receiving, 3 targets) caught the first pass of the game,
a 33 yard strike from QB Doug Johnson. After that catch, however, McCord offered
little more to the Atlanta offense, amassing just one more catch for 9 yards.
Jimmy Farris (1-8 receiving, 1TD, 2 targets) only caught one pass, but it was
for a touchdown. Granted it came in the last two minutes of the game with the
outcome already decided, but it was still six points.
TE: Alge Crumpler (4-31 receiving, 6 targets) continued to offer production
from the TE position, catching four passes. Crumpler helped to move the chains,
but never gained more than 12 yards on any catch.
Brian Kozlowski (1-10 receiving, 1 target) caught one pass for 10 yards.
K: Jay Feely scored two field goals (34, 33) in the first quarter, but never
had another attempt. He also accounted for two extra points.
Pass Defense: Atlanta could not contain Minnesota's main threat, Randy Moss.
Moss was the target on half of QB Gus Frerotte's 24 passes and caught just five,
but that was mostly due to drops rather than any defensive efforts. Even with
just the five catches, Moss scored twice and helped draw coverage away to free
up other receivers deep. The Falcons allowed two other receivers to each catch
a 50-plus yard strike. The lone interception by the pass defense came on a deflection
off of Randy Moss in the Falcon end zone.
Rush Defense: The Falcons did not permit a 100-yard rushing game to Onterrio
Smith, but they did give up 135 rushing yards in the second half. Minnesota
was able to pound away the game against the Falcons' 28th-rated rushing defense
and control the game clock once they established a lead. Despite only gaining
31 first half rushing yards, Minnesota called 26 run plays after halftime and
averaged over five yards a carry in the third and fourth quarters.