By Andy Behrens
September 30, 2007
There's an interesting Cincinnati-related item on the Yahoo! Sports NFL Rumors page right now. If you're not militantly anti-pigeon, maybe it's more appalling than interesting.
Fans sitting in the club level at Paul Brown Stadium are being pooped on by rogue pigeons. The poop is in their Gold Star Chili, it's on their Who Dey hats. It's everywhere. Stadium administrators sent a letter to the city suggesting that shooting the birds would perhaps be the most "cost-effective way to get this problem under control."
No one is more concerned about this story than the members of the Bengals defense. They've been metaphorically pooping on Cincinnati fans all year. You can believe that Leon Hall had no idea that the penalty for all those Joe Jurevicius touchdowns could be so harsh, or so final.
Elsewhere in the NFL …
• Derek Anderson led the Browns on an efficient five-minute opening drive that ended in a two-yard bullet of a touchdown pass to Jurevicius. Jamal Lewis (three carries, three yards) wasn't much of a factor. Immediately after Steve McNair threw an ugly, Grossman-ian interception, Anderson hit Braylon Edwards for a 78-yard touchdown. Edwards just owned Chris McAlister on the pattern.
• Shaun Rogers' field goal block in the first quarter against Chicago was the 13th of his career, according to the Fox announcers. That's two per season, which is rather impressive.
• A promo for one of those crime/acronym shows on CBS began with this: "A dead stripper, a sexy con-artist, and a missing child … " I swear there used to be a KFFL note on Pacman Jones' player page that began exactly the same way, but apparently it dropped off.
• Brian Griese didn't look especially polished in the first quarter against the Lions. But, man, Bernard Berrian did him no favors. Two dropped passes in the first ten minutes, both of which would have resulted in first downs.
• Tommie Harris (knee) was a threat to be inactive on Sunday. He played and was fairly disruptive early versus Detroit. The Bears defense, playing without every member of their starting Week 1 secondary, had three sacks, a fumble recovery, and a blocked kick at halftime. Win or lose, defenses facing the Lions will produce useable fantasy numbers.
• Touchdown No. 421 for Brett Favre was just a surgical strike on a slant to Greg Jennings. Favre had 197 passing yards at halftime against Minnesota.
• Shootout in Atlanta!
OK, maybe. As I write this, there's 1:13 left in the first quarter and Joey Harrington just hit Michael Jenkins for a five-yard touchdown pass. The score stands at 10-7. With Andre Johnson and Ahman Green out for the Texans, you might've reasonably guessed that 10-7 would be the final. Andre Davis made a beautiful, interfered-with grab on a 35-yard pass from Matt Schaub for Houston's first score.
• Scary injury to Carnell Williams in the Carolina-Tampa game. He bent backwards atop his right leg, then clutched at his knee. The early speculation is that he sustained serious and potentially season-ending ligament damage.
Michael Pittman and Earnest Graham split the subsequent carries for Tampa: 15 and 90 yards for Pittman, 17 and 48 yards for Graham. The goal-line touches belonged to Graham. He scored a one-yard TD in the first quarter, but was stymied in the third. Here's the awful box score play-by-play sequence:
1st-4, CAR 4, 3:13, E. Graham rushed to the left for 2 yard gain
2nd-2, CAR 2, 2:36, E. Graham rushed to the left for 1 yard gain
3rd-1, CAR 1, 2:00, E. Graham rushed to the left for no gain
4th-1, CAR 1, 1:10, E. Graham rushed to the right for no gain
The Tampa Bay defense once again shut down a respectable offense, holding the Panthers to seven points. The Buccaneers held Steve Smith to five catches and 32 yards. No great surprise there – that defense is locking up top-tier wide receivers so far.
• Tatum Bell's uniform ripped early in the second quarter, resulting in Bell playing, at least temporarily, in silver chaps. And the Fox cameras were quite unnecessarily all over it. Bell's fumble on third-and-one deep in Bears' territory was completely unforced.
• At halftime, the Bills-Jets score was, somewhat amazingly, 0-0. These defenses have been routinely shredded so far this year, so the early result is a bit of a surprise. Despite the total lack of points, Trent Edwards (12-for-16, 142 yards) and, to everyone's great relief, Lee Evans (four receptions, 49 yards) looked alright.
• Many voices within the expert community warned against the virtues of Minnesota's Adrian Peterson in Week 4. At the half, Peterson had 10 carries for 108 yards and Chester Taylor had five for nine yards. These two are just not all that close, talent-wise. And that's not really meant as any sort of insult to Taylor. Assuming he stays relatively healthy, you're not getting Peterson outside the first round in 2008 drafts.
• No, really. Shootout!
Harrington-to-Jenkins isn't exactly Montana-to-Rice. Or even Blake-to-Pickens. It's more like Dilfer-to-Copeland. But Michael Jenkins had two touchdown receptions in the first half against the Texans, and Harrington was 12-for-16 with no INTs.
• Just when we thought an uneasy truce had been reached between Wade Phillips and fantasy owners, Julius Jones scored a short yardage touchdown. Later, Tony Romo poached a rushing touchdown. Marion Barber III finished with eight carries for 50 yards and two receptions for 22. Merely another (yawn) 30-plus fantasy point effort for Tony Romo. Ho-hum. He's looking at his second "Viagra High Scorer of the Week" title, and we're only in Week 4.
• The Ravens defense, ranked No. 1 by all of us for Week 4, was simply torched. They allowed 204 passing yards to Anderson, 90-plus yard receiving days to Kellen Winslow and Edwards, and 64 rushing yards and a TD to Lewis.
• Kellen Winslow (shoulder) looked perfectly healthy on a 49-yard reception early in the third quarter against Baltimore. Excellent catch, nice run, useful little stiff-arm.
• For a few minutes there, it seemed like I'd made a nice move by benching Calvin Johnson for Mushin Muhammad 30 minutes prior to kickoff in the Yahoo! Friends and Family League. And then Patrick Crayton, who's on my bench, caught a short pass and turned it into a 59-yard TD. And then he caught a 37-yarder.
The difference between Muhammad and Crayton on Sunday was only 20 fantasy points, so no big deal.
• "He is like nobody else who's ever played this position."
That's all Brian Baldinger had to say about Devin Hester following a 97-yard kickoff return TD. That touchdown may have been the most impressive of Hester's already mythic career. Sharp cuts, scary speed, even a stiff-arm on the last man who had a reasonable chance to tackle him.
• Cleary Ronnie Brown had a nice match-up today versus Oakland. But c'mon. Admit that we all wrote this guy off too soon. He finished with 207 total yards and a TD. Brown totaled 26 fantasy points in a Yahoo! public league.
• But Brown wasn't even the leading fantasy scorer in the Oakland-Miami game. That was Daunte Culpepper, who had just about the best imaginable performance by a quarterback who failed to throw for 100 yards. Culpepper rushed for three TDs and threw for two, both to Jerry Porter.
• Mercifully, Marc Bulger was lifted from that massacre in Dallas after going 11-for-24 with 114 yards and one INT. He was sacked three times. Brian Leonard was your "Top Performer," according to the Yahoo! box score after rushing 16 times for 58 yards. So that basically tells you how the day went for St. Louis.
• Touchdown No. 422 was a 33-yard toss to James Jones off a sweet pump-fake. Yet another huge game for Favre: 344 passing yards, two TDs. "I've never considered myself as good a quarterback as Dan Marino," he said after the game. That was pretty much the only thing he got wrong on Sunday.
• LaMont Jordan either aggravated an old back injury or sustained a new one against the Dolphins. He was off to a big day, too, with 15 carries for 74 yards. Justin Fargas replaced him, and he was a monster. Fargas had over 100 rushing yards in the fourth quarter alone, finishing with 22 carries for 179. The Raiders (2-2) get a well-timed bye next week, and then Dominic Rhodes is eligible to return. This Oakland running back situation is suddenly very murky.
• Three significant fantasy-related injuries for Indianapolis: Marvin Harrison was sidelined by a bruised knee, Bob Sanders left in the second half with wrist injury, and Joseph Addai hurt his shoulder in some unspecified way. One big injury for the Broncos in what was obviously a cruel game: running back Travis Henry left with an apparent sprained ankle. None of those injuries seemed severe.
Kenton Keith ran well in Addai's absence: 10 carries, 80 yards. Selvin Young (eight carries, 81 yards) was already having a nice day before Henry left.
• Kurt Warner entered in long relief for Arizona, and he was great against the defense that we'd all ranked either two or three in Week 4. Warner was 14-for-21 with 132 yards and a TD pass. Larry Fitzgerald had 11 receptions for 123 yards. Santonio Holmes caught six passes for 128 yards and two touchdowns for Pittsburgh.
• Big afternoon for Deion Branch, who had seven receptions for 130 yards. Bobby Engram and Marcus Pollard caught the touchdowns, though. Alex Smith – the guy I dropped for Muhammad, not that you care – suffered a shoulder injury very early in the Seattle-San Francisco game. Not much is known about the injury right now, but it didn't look mild. Smith was replaced by the not-to-be-added Trent Dilfer.
• Dwayne Bowe needs to be added. I don't think I'm allowed to talk about him for a third consecutive week on the Monday afternoon webcast, but I'd like to. All the rookie did in Kansas City's 30-16 victory over San Diego was catch eight passes for 164 yards. He's presently 47.8 percent owned in Yahoo! leagues.
• Larry Johnson, who had already been written off in a few notable corners of the fantasy expert community, rushed for 123 yards against the Chargers on Sunday. And now – poof! – you can't buy low. And all those "I told you so" pronouncements about his uselessness maybe seem a little premature, no?
Andy Behrens has written for ESPN.com, the Chicago Sports Review, NBA.com, the Chicago Reader and various other publications. In all likelihood, Andy owns more Artis Gilmore memorabilia than you. Follow him on Twitter. Send Andy a question or comment for potential use in a future column or webcast.
Updated on Sunday, Sep 30, 2007 8:38 pm, EDT
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