Sunday Scene: Virtual Fantasy
By Andy Behrens
October 21, 2007
Early in the second quarter against Miami, Tom Brady threw something that looked like the pass Jim Harbaugh threw at the end of the 1995 AFC Championship game. Just a big heave into coverage, high and toward the goal-line. If that's Deion Branch or David Patten or Troy Brown on the other end, it's a silly pass.
But Randy Moss isn't like those guys.
The Dolphins defensive backs covered him as well as they're legally allowed to. Unless they had access to shovels and pepper spray, there was nothing left to do. Moss was sandwiched. He still came down with the ball and a 35-yard touchdown. Watching the replay, CBS' Dan Dierdorf said, "That was strictly a case of, 'I want it more than you do.'"
Um … no. That was a case of, "I have a 48-inch vertical and Cameron Worrell doesn't."
Here's all we can say with certainty: the Patriots are the NFL's best team, and – since they're now averaging 39.9 points per game – they are unquestionably the best source of fantasy stats. There really isn't any record or achievement that seems outside their reach.
So put the champagne down, Kuechenberg. Looks like it might be a long, anxious year for you.
• While it's true that the Patriots are an absurd source of fantasy points, this somehow does not apply to their running backs. On 1st-and-goal at the seven yard-line, in their first visit to the red zone, the New England running back was … Kevin Faulk.
Nothin' obviously wrong with Laurence Maroney. In fact, he looked strong on the Patriots first series, rushing four times for 18 yards. But on first down from the seven, it was Faulk. Tom Brady threw to Kyle Brady, who stepped out of bounds at the two. On 2nd-and-goal, there were two Patriots in the backfield. And one of them was a linebacker. Neither of them was Maroney. Junior Seau was the fullback, and Heath Evans lined up behind him. Naturally, New England threw again. Brady hit Brady in the back of the end zone.
This is going to be one of the most prolific offenses in NFL history, and Laurence Maroney isn't going to score. Ever. He's seriously got a better chance of kicking extra points than scoring touchdowns.
• Shaun Rogers recovered a botched Jeff Garcia-to-Earnest Graham handoff in the first quarter, took a few steps with the ball, then fell down. Then he struck a celebratory pose, tucked the football under his arm, and headed for the sidelines. Where I'm pretty sure he keeps a big vat of butter. He uses it to flavor anything he brings off the field. There's no doubt he ate that ball.
• Lots of things have obviously not gone well for the Dolphins this year. But that offensive line has been OK. Early in the second quarter, Ronnie Brown had nine carries for 43 yards, and the holes he'd run through, in most cases, were just massive. We all need to stop saying that the Miami O-line is unproven, questionable, suspect or whatever else we call them. The Dolphins used that second-round pick they acquired for Wes Welker on center Samson Satele, by the way.
• At the 14:17 mark in the second quarter, B.J. Askew picked up nine yards and a first down on a reception where he ducked one tackler, then carried – literally carried – several others along the sideline. The drive ended with an Ike Hilliard touchdown.
• Footrace of the day: Willie Andrews versus Jay Feely. Andrews returned a second-quarter kickoff for a TD, but Feely nearly caught him. Surely Cam Cameron can find a way to use the incomparable skills of Jay Feely elsewhere.
Andrews really had a nice day on special teams, and it wasn't just the kick return. He also prevented a New England punt – yup, sometimes they punt – from going into the end zone, pinning Miami at their one yard-line – which, given the score at the time, seemed cruel.
• It seemed for a while as though Kurt Warner was going to put up exactly the numbers we all expected from Tim Rattay. On that second-quarter London Fletcher interception, you had to feel slightly bad for Warner. It's not just that the pick was returned for a touchdown, but that Warner himself got blocked by two dudes at the goal line while Fletcher vaulted him. That can't be a good moment for anyone.
Warner played with a contraption on his injured left elbow that Barry Bonds would have … well, OK, it might have left Bonds feeling naked. But for an NFL player, it really was a large brace. After the early interceptions, Warner returned to have a useful day, and he nearly led the Cardinals to a win. He finished with 282 passing yards and two touchdowns, both thrown to Anquan Boldin.
• Byron Leftwich was on his way to a nice day, fantasy-wise, before suffering a high ankle sprain: 15-for-23, 145 yards, one TD. Jerious Norwood had his usual single-digit carry game, averaging over six yards per rush. Warrick Dunn had his usual double-digit carries for very little yardage.
• Cleo Lemon overthrew Ted Ginn Jr. on a deep route down the middle. Ginn had the entire New England secondary beat, too. It might have been the incompletion of the day, if only because it showed how the Dolphins will eventually use Ginn. That guy leaves a trail of scorched grass behind him. Not in the way that Travis Henry does, but, you know … like in cartoons. Because he's very fast.
• It was 34-7 New England with 6:47 left in the second quarter, and CBS flashed Tom Brady's stats on the screen: 11-for-11, 200 yards, four TD. He seriously could have broken the single-season TD record on Sunday if it weren't for sportsmanship and fair play and such nonsense.
• Calvin Johnson's 32-yard end-around might be the non-New England highlight of the day. It's not like Johnson ever had a clear path to the end zone. He stiff-armed Cato June to the turf, eluded about four other tacklers, then carried Barrett Ruud across the goal-line.
• Every time you see that Shaun Alexander-Joey Fatone ad, you become 17 percent more metrosexual. There's real science backing up that claim.
• Tough to see Ronnie Brown on the turf, writhing. He was injured attempting to tackle Randall Gay on an interception return in a 42-7 game. That's not to say he shouldn't have been on the field; it was only the Dolphins' first series in the third quarter. But if Brown's knee injury is serious – and Jay Glazer was talking possible ACL damage – what a terrible way to interrupt a breakout season.
• With 2:23 left in the third quarter, the Buccaneers came out of a timeout … and got a delay-of-game penalty. You don't see that every day. But Joey Galloway followed with a 16-yard reception that actually nudged him over 10,000 yards for his career. Congrats, 84.
• Earnest Graham was a different guy on Sunday. He hardly seemed like the no-gain machine we'd seen earlier this year. Graham put up over 190 total yards and caught 13 passes. Maybe Michael Bennett's real value is as competition.
• Today, we are all but small players in the Rob Bironas epic. He kicked an NFL record eight field goals. Eight! That's not the traditional way to score 38 points. It's certainly not how the Patriots do it, but it still counts.
• Huge fantasy days from LenDale White (104 yards, one TD), who not enough of you own, and Sage Rosenfels (290 yards, four TD, three INT), who is understandably un-owned. Matt Schaub left in the first half with ankle and hip injuries. All of the Rosenfels touchdowns were thrown in the fourth quarter. A brilliant 53-yard reception by Andre Davis with under a minute remaining nearly completed the Texans' comeback. But there was just too much Bironas for Houston. He kicked a game-ending 29-yarder.
• Strange on-side kick coverage by Detroit. They put a group of linebackers in the middle of the field in a giant cluster. So Matt Bryant kicked it off one of them, the ball popped into the air, and Torrie Cox recovered.
• This is all DeMeco Ryans did on Sunday: nine tackles, one sack, two fumbles, one TD. And the sack became a fumble recovery which became the TD. Just another terrific IDP season underway there.
• After having a terrific fantasy day (107 rushing yards, one TD), Brandon Jacobs may have aggravated that ankle injury. He was likely left on a few fantasy benches this week, since he was limited in practice leading up to the San Francisco game. The Giants get the user-friendly Dolphins' run defense next week.
• It was the fourth quarter in a 42-14 game, and I was totally ready for the Kyle Eckel show. He was in my starting lineup in the Yahoo! Friends & Family League, a speculative play because you had to know the game would be over in the fourth and Eckel would get the garbage-time fantasy points.
He ran once for two yards before Matt Cassel threw the pick that Jason Taylor returned for a TD. That, naturally, brought Tom Brady and the rest of the frontline Patriots back into the game for another series, and sent Cassel and Eckel back to the sideline. There are just so many ways these New England running backs can (expletive) all over you.
• "I'm not Hubie Brown," said Brian Baldinger, quite mysteriously, as Fox returned from a commercial in the Bears-Eagles game.
Tough to say exactly what he meant, but no, Baldinger is certainly not Hubie Brown. The comment had a "What's the frequency, Kenneth?" quality. Like Baldinger was about to assault Dick Stockton.
• The Cincinnati Bengals entered Week 7 allowing 31.2 points and 393.2 yards per game. That's why they lose games. It's the defense. That's it. Meanwhile, the Bengals offense was fourth in the NFL in points scored per game and seventh in yardage. Still, NFL writers and analysts blame Chad Johnson for the their 1-4 start. It's kind of unreal.
Cincinnati narrowly managed to move to 2-4 on Sunday, but it took 38 points. Ocho Cinco had 102 receiving yards, T.J. Houshmandzadeh had a touchdown, and Carson Palmer had another 200 yards. Kenny Watson, who was buried somewhere on a bench in my fantasy portfolio, rushed for three short-yardage touchdowns and 130 yards. Per their usual, the Cincinnati defense allowed 31 points to the Jets. Laveranues Coles had a huge day: 133 yards, two TD. The Chad Pennington-Kellen Clemens dilemma remains open to debate, as does the Rudi-Kenny issue. (I'll take Kellen and Rudi).
• Larry Johnson stubbornly refuses to accept the fact that the fantasy community believes he's declined. Against Oakland, LJ had his third 100-yard rushing effort of the season. He also dragged Kirk Morrison into the end zone for the go-ahead touchdown. On Johnson's 54-yard run in the third quarter, Nnamdi Asomugha looked like he was trying to low-five him, not tackle him.
• The Yahoo! box score can't figure out how to deal with that Patrick Crayton-Ben Leber-Cedric Griffin multi-fumble touchdown. There's no mention of it in the second-quarter scoring summary. But the points are there. You can add 'em up.
• On the Vikings opening drive, Adrian Peterson accounted for 39 yards (one catch, four rushes) and ran for a 20-yard touchdown. He carried eight more times … for the entire game. Eight more times.
Just keepin' him fresh for the stretch drive, apparently. While falling to 2-4.
• The Bears have finally found a use for Adam Archuleta. He's going to be the guy who delivers the big hit on the receiver who's just scored a touchdown. Nice shot on Schobel, champ.
The Bears recovered, thanks in no small way to another huge day from Brian Griese, who threw for 322 passing yards and a game-winning TD to Mushin Muhammad. The Bears get Detroit in Week 8. The Lions allow 263.6 passing yards per game, and Jeff Garcia torched them for 316 on Sunday.
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, Oct 21, 2007 11:22 pm, EDT