October 11, 2009
The Broncos wore their 1960 throwback uniforms on Sunday, demonstrating beyond any doubt that life in America in 1960 was miserable. In a truly free society, clothing like that would not happen.
No argument here. It's an abomination. A plague. Hideous. The ugliest thing in the history of team sports. If we've exhausted all other throwback options, then let's just please agree to dress our professional athletes as modern humans from now on.
Denver's cheerleaders were required to throw it back to 1960, too, which is simply unconscionable. They were an entire squad of Marion Cunningham clones, which is, um…not what most of us are looking for.
The Broncos beat the Patriots 20-17 in overtime on Sunday, so there's a decent chance the franchise will consider those throwbacks to be "lucky" and thus worth wearing again. We'll make every effort to warn you next time, and provide instructions for making a pinhole device for safe viewing. You'll find a full Sunday photo gallery here.
The brown and yellow obviously did not hurt Denver's air attack, as Kyle Orton(notes) threw for 330 yards, Marshall caught two TD passes, and Eddie Royal(notes) had 10 receptions for 90 yards. Tom Brady(notes) was fantastic in the first half against the Broncos (see below), but he was fully contained in the second (5-for-14, 63 yards, fumble). Denver's defense clearly needs to be taken seriously. After five weeks, they're allowing only 8.6 points and 252.8 yards per game.
• As often happens, Texans quarterback Matt Schaub(notes) led a furious comeback attempt that came up just short. Houston rallied from a 21-0 deficit in the second half to tie Arizona, but the Cards reclaimed the lead on a Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie(notes) pick-six. The Texans drove to the goal line in the final two minutes – a terrific 63-yard kickoff return by Andre' Davis(notes) set them up – but Chris Brown failed to break the plane on a fourth and goal from short yardage. (Has he not done enough to lose the goal line work?) Schaub finished with 371 passing yards on 50 attempts. Another huge fantasy line, another crushing real-life loss.
• Matt Hasselbeck(notes) returned to the Seahawks in style, shredding the Jacksonville secondary in a 41-0 rout. He passed for 241 yards and four TDs. Nate Burleson(notes) and TJ Houshmandzadeh(notes) each caught two scores. Hasselbeck is not the first QB to torch the Jaguars' defense, and he will not be the last.
In fact, Jacksonville was bad enough on Sunday that we were inspired to look ahead to the fantasy playoffs, hoping to find opportunities to pick on that defense in the final weeks. And then we decided to check out the Lions, too. And then we hit the Rams. Eventually, the table to the right was born. Those are the year-end schedules for eight of the softest Ds in the NFL. Plan accordingly. Note the setup for the Cards and Pats in Weeks 15 and 16.
• Trailing 35-10 in the third quarter, Niners cornerback Dre' Bly(notes) picked off a Matt Ryan(notes) pass and took off toward the end zone. Roddy White(notes) – who had earlier proven to be much, much faster than Dre' Bly – was in pursuit. For reasons unknown, Bly carried the ball loosely in his left hand while placing his right hand behind his head, in celebration. Again: San Francisco trailed by 25 points at the time.
White tackled Bly with relative ease, dislodging the ball. Atlanta recovered. The drive ended in a field goal. Mike Singletary's Niners lost 45-10. Tonight, you so do not want to be Dre' Bly.
• Rookie running back Glen Coffee(notes) went for X-rays on left leg late in San Francisco's loss. The Niners have a bye in Week 6 and Frank Gore(notes) (ankle) may return in Week 7. If this is the end of the first Coffee Era, he finished with 66 total yards and a touchdown against the Falcons.
• Sammy Morris(notes) didn't find the end zone against Denver, but he had 19 touches and 107 total yards for the Pats in relief of the injured Fred Taylor(notes) (ankle). Morris is only 20 percent owned in Yahoo! leagues, yet he's in line for a serious workload.
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• It's possible that reports of Tom Brady's decline were slightly exaggerated. At the intermission in Denver, Brady is 14-for-19 with 152 passing yards and two TDs. He hit Wes Welker(notes) for an eight-yard score to conclude the Pats' opening drive, then found Benjamin Watson(notes) in the end zone with five seconds remaining in the half.
Brady hasn't exactly carried fantasy owners through the first four weeks, but the schedule hasn't been favorable (NYJ, ATL, BAL in Weeks 2-4). The Pats will close the season with Carolina, Buffalo, Jacksonville and Houston in Weeks 14-17, so there are clearly better days ahead, when you need 'em most.
Kyle Orton nearly matched Brady's production in the first half, going 14-for-18 for 131 yards and one score. Eddie Royal is involved for the first time this year (4-46) and Knowshon Moreno(notes) had every first half carry for the Broncos (10-51).
• Roddy White apparently doesn't know – or he refuses to believe – that Miles Austin(notes) wrapped up top-scoring honors in Week 5. White has already caught six passes for 185 yards and two scores, including a 90-yarder where he quickly beat Nate Clements(notes), then outran him to the end zone. Highlight here. Note the way Michael Jenkins(notes) worked to get himself downfield to block. Michael Turner(notes) is running over and through a defense that entered the game allowing only 73.8 rushing yards per game. At half, the Burner had 72 yards and three TDs.
• Mike Sims-Walker(notes) was inactive on Sunday due to disciplinary reasons (unknown violation of team rules) and Jacksonville's offense can't do a thing without him. Seattle is pitching a shutout; both TJ Houshmandzadeh and Nate Burleson caught first half touchdown passes. Despite the injuries across the Seahawks' offensive line, Matt Hasselbeck hasn't felt much pressure. The Jaguars entered the game with only three sacks through four games, so there's a battle in the trenches between an easily resisted force and an easily moved object.
• The Cardinals have done their part in what was supposed to be a shootout against the Texans, but Houston can't get on the board. Arizona led 21-0 at half, as Texans receivers can't seem to separate. Larry Fitzgerald(notes), per his usual, has no trouble getting free. Fitz has a pair of touchdown catches. Do the Cardinals know that you can run all over Houston? Do they care? We're about to find out…
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• Baltimore's defense had not allowed a 100-yard rushing performance since 2006, but Cedric Benson(notes) put an end to the streak on Sunday. He carried 27 times for 120 yards and a TD. The touchdown was of the highest quality, too. Benson spun away from a tackle behind the line of scrimmage – something he demonstrated no ability to do in Chicago – then sprinted 28 yards to the end zone. Yes, sprinted, outracing live NFL defensive backs. Highlights here.
Honestly, if given a chance, I would have borrowed money to bet against Benson hitting triple-digits on Sunday. But he's now rushed for at least 74 yards in every game this season. His line is blocking, he's absolutely delivering.
I'm not sure that I even care to manage fantasy teams in a world where Benson is an every-week starter. This really should have been my sabbatical year. No mas, Cedric. You've made your point, sir. Just wish you could have made it in 2007.
• A few additional observations from that excellent Cincinnati-Baltimore game: Chad Ochocinco(notes) argues after he gets a call more than any player in the NFL. Nonetheless, the personal foul and pass interference penalties he drew on the Bengals' final drive were among the biggest plays in Cincy's 17-14 win. … Ray Rice(notes) led the Ravens in both rushing and receiving, finishing with 143 total yards. He broke away from two tacklers on a 48-yard fourth quarter TD reception that seemed like it was going to be the game-winner. Video here. … Daniel Coats(notes) dropped a sure touchdown pass shortly before Andre Caldwell(notes) caught a 20-yarder to give the Bengals the late lead. … Chris Henry finally delivered a semi-useful fantasy day (3-for-92), thanks largely to a 73-yard reception where he was tackled just short of the goal line.
• Miles Austin's hands finally began to work in the second half of the Cowboys' overtime win, as he finished with a silly line: 10 catches, 250 yards, two TDs. The touchdown receptions went for 59 and 60 yards, and they were made possible by a non-tackling KC defense. (Video evidence). Tony Romo(notes) had a big fantasy day (351 yards, two TDs), but his receivers really made him work for it. (See below). Credit Matt Cassel(notes) and the Chiefs for putting up a good fight. Dwayne Bowe(notes) caught a 16-yard TD with 24 seconds remaining in regulation, holding on despite taking a big hit from a pair of DBs.
• The Cundiffs toppled the Lindells, 6-3. Marshawn Lynch(notes) finished with 125 total yards, and Jamal Lewis(notes) returned from his hamstring issues to rush for 117 on 31 carries. I thought he broke the plane, too, but the officials did not agree. Derek Anderson(notes) finished with one of the worst lines you'll ever see from a winning quarterback: 2-for-17, 23 yards, one INT, 15.1 passer rating. That's Leftwichian.
• Sell Clinton Portis(notes) while you've got a small window. REPEAT: SELL PORTIS. He was involved in all the early scoring against Carolina, catching a TD pass, then getting tackled in the end zone for a safety, then later taking a one-yard plunge. He still needed 19 carries to reach 57 rushing yards against a Panthers defense that ranked dead-last against the run (182.7 rush YPG).
• The Raiders should be candidates for contraction. They lost to the Giants 44-7. It felt like a battle between an SEC contender and, say, Louisiana-Lafayette. Eli Manning(notes) went to the bench in the second quarter because the contest was already decided. JaMarcus Russell(notes) lost three fumbles. Just…ick.
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Update: Jacksonville receiver Mike Sims-Walker is "inactive for today's game, due to a violation of team rules" according to the team's Web site. Bench him. Hurry.
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• It's already David Carr(notes) time in New York, because there's really no way Oakland can possibly score 31 points. The Giants have a comfortable lead over the Raiders, so Eli Manning (plantar fasciitis) is safely on the sidelines. He looked terrific in limited duty, connecting with Mario Manningham(notes) and Hakeem Nicks(notes) for touchdown passes. Ahmad Bradshaw(notes) had 137 first half yards and a pair of early TDs for New York. He checked out in the second quarter with a leg/ankle issue, but later returned. The Giants' junior varsity should be able to finish off the win without encountering much resistance.
• Donovan McNabb(notes) has unlimited time to throw for Philly and he's taking full advantage. At half, McNabb's passer rating is 154.4. He already has 180 passing yards and three TDs. Two of the touchdowns were on deep plays to rookie receiver Jeremy Maclin(notes) (51 and 40 yards). Maclin got the start because Kevin Curtis (knee) is dinged. He'll get future starts, too.
• Calvin Johnson(notes) left the Lions-Steelers tilt in the first quarter due to a leg injury. It appeared that trainers were examining his right knee. Uh-oh. We'll update this one as new information arrives.
• If you were expecting a post-MNF letdown from Minnesota, you saw no evidence of it on the Vikes' opening drive. And you dramatically overestimated the Rams. Brett Favre(notes) went 4-for-5 for 66 passing yards on Minesota's first possession, Percy Harvin(notes) caught two balls for 46 and Adrian Peterson beat everybody to the pylon for a five-yard TD.
• The Vikings defense scored on St. Louis' opening possession, as Jared Allen(notes) scooped up a Kyle Boller(notes) fumble and took it 52 yards to the end zone. Boller's fumble did not result from contact, but from Kevin Williams(notes)-related freakout. The monstrous Williams broke through the Rams' line prepared to do bad things to Boller, so the Rams QB immediately
wet himself put the ball on the turf. St. Louis actually moved the ball reasonably well against Minnesota in the first half, but the Rams lost a pair of fumbles inside the red zone.
• Rashard Mendenhall's(notes) first quarter TD was much too easy. No member of the Lions shed a block and Anthony Henry(notes) took a terrible path to the ball-carrier. Mendenhall could have walked across the goal line. We seem to have a pro-Steelers crowd in Detroit, which shouldn't surprise anyone.
• Another week, another missed opportunity in the end zone for a Cowboys receiver. Miles Austin got a hand on what could have been a 22-yard TD pass, but he couldn't hold on. Dallas wideouts never seem to hold on. Following the incompletion, Nick Folk(notes) missed a field goal. Somehow this was Tony Romo's fault. At the 9:53 mark in the second quarter, the Dallas offense already had five penalties. Mike Shanahan, please remain by the phone.
• Ed Reed(notes) has taken care of the scoring for the Ravens so far. Baltimore leads Cincinnati 7-3, thanks to a 52-yard pick-six by Reed. Sometimes No. 20 makes a play look nearly impossible, but that particular interception looked too easy.
• Early play-of-the-day candidate No. 1: Eagles tight end Brent Celek(notes) vaulted over Ronde Barber(notes) at the end of a 38-yard second quarter reception. Terrific hang-time for the big man. Early play-of-the-day candidate No. 2, from the same game: Tampa Bay tackle Donald Penn(notes), a 6-5 dude who weighs approximately 1,000 pounds, got his hands on a deflected pass and plowed forward for a first down. (Video).
• Mike Vrabel(notes) caught his millionth career TD pass (all of them one-yarders), crushing the hopes of those who added Sean Ryan(notes) to cover a bye week. Troy Aikmen quoted Todd Haley saying that Vrabel is "better than any tight end we have on the roster."
• OK, Romo is simply getting robbed – by his own receivers. Austin and Sam Hurd(notes) dropped passes in the end zone on consecutive plays inside the final two minutes of the first half in KC. Brutal and brutaler.
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Welcome to Week 5, gamers. We all know what's at stake here. The first 15 plays are scripted. Let's go play some inspired imaginary football.
The official Yahoo! position ranks are up, game-by-game breakdowns are available here and here, and Fantasy Football Live will launch at noon ET. Please check back with Sunday Scene throughout the day. Now go add the 54 percent-owned Matt Hasselbeck, the 37 percent-owned Beanie Wells(notes) (vs. HOU), the 23 percent-owned Miles Austin (at KC), or the nine percent-owned Austin Collie(notes) (at TEN).
Photos via Getty Images (Vader, Orton), AP Images (Bradshaw, Benson) and US Presswire (Brady, Marshall)