By Christopher Harris
September 17, 2006
Much was made by Joe Buck and Troy Aikman about what Brian Westbrook called the "family-friendly atmosphere" that has reportedly returned to Philadelphia. One supposes that "family-friendly atmosphere" translates roughly to "Terrell-Owens-is-making-someone-else-miserable," but then again, one also wonders how "family-friendly" the Eagles locker room was on Sunday afternoon. Ouch. That's certainly the leader in the clubhouse for the stupidest loss of the season.
Up 17 in the fourth quarter, having out-gained the Giants 400 yards to 100, somehow Philly up-chucked a home game they had no business losing. They couldn't recover a fumble in their own end zone, allowing Tim Carter to pounce for a gift TD. They got super-conservative on their subsequent three-and-out drives. Then Westbrook fumbled on his own 33-yard line. And still the Giants were 10 down, but suddenly the pass rush was reigned-in, and Eli Manning started to play less like a toothless hillrod, and more like the fantasy stallion he was for much of '05. Donovan McNabb? Two first downs in the fourth quarter and overtime combined. Plus, it has to taste pretty bad that punk-o extraordinaire Plaxico Burress is the guy who scored the winning TD, whereupon he could be heard screaming over Fox microphones, "Get that (poop) out of here!" (Except he didn't say "poop") Nothing like winning with class, Plax.
Let's see what else happened in a far-more-interesting-than-Week-1 Week 2:
In the first ten minutes of play, Brandon Stokley breaks the hearts of Reggie Wayne and Marvin Harrison owners by catching a 10-yard TD pass. At the exact same moment, Kelley Washington breaks the hearts of Chad Johnson and Chris Henry owners with a 22-yard TD reception of his own – Literally: one side of the room shouted, and a split-second later, the other side shouted. Thirty seconds later, Amani Toomer breaks the heart of Burress owners with a 37-yard TD reception. Twenty seconds later, Greg Jennings breaks the heart of Donald Driver owners with a 22-yard score. Johnson and Burress would salve the wounds later by scoring; Harrison and Wayne would have to be satisfied with making Houston's substitute defensive backs look like Bert and Ernie.
By the way, both big-screen TVs at the local watering hole where I was watching were devoted to the Yankees against the Red Sox. Guys, that is so three weeks ago.
The excellent ProFootballTalk.com has it dead-right about Sterling Sharpe on NBC. Good heavens, does Sterling prepare his remarks, or does he simply ad lib his way (incorrectly, most of the time) through on-camera appearances? His comments about Benjamin Watson were, um, really, really stupid; Sharpe warned the Patriots that if Watson is going to be Deion Branch's primary replacement in New England, they'd better not lose him to free agency in '07. Oh, yeah, uh, except Watson is signed through 2009. Good one, Sterling.
I apparently am the only person who thinks it's pretty funny when Torry Holt is going over the middle, Marc Bulger throws him a pass, and the Burger King levels Holt, whereupon he takes a knee to gloat, but instead offers Torry a Whopper. I'm still laughing, actually.
By the way, the Titans and Raiders need to play each other right now.
The rushing situation in Indy took a weird turn this weekend. Oh, it's still a platoon. But whereas I predicted that Joseph Addai would be the guy to get carries between the 20s and Dominic Rhodes would be the red-zone bowling ball, the exact opposite appeared to happen through most of the Houston game. When David Carr fumbled on Houston's first series, Rhodes got two carries and couldn't score; thereafter, Addai was your man inside the 20 until midway through the fourth quarter. Rhodes was pretty ineffective, but got the lion's share (not the Detroit Lion's share, because that would cruel) of rushing touches with the game still in question, but Addai was consistently in the game the closer Indy got to scoring (plus he fumbled once on the goal line). Just to further muddy the waters, though, Rhodes got a red-zone series late in the fourth. Sigh. Most likely? The Colts still don't know what they've got in the backfield, and were trying to define some roles by mixing it up. Suffice it to say, nothing's decided yet.
Lee Suggs was rumored to be prepped to receive every third series from the Dolphins, in order to spell Ronnie Brown. That rumor turned out to be exactly as true as the "Geraldo Rivera has integrity" tittle-tattle. Brown had 10 carries before Suggs even had one, and for the game, Brown led 15-3. I'm not saying that might not change, but for one week, Mr. Brown's still the horse.
Thanks for playing, Roy Williams. Three catches in the first half, three on the first drive of the second half, and one in garbage time, for 71 yards and (that's right) no scores. Classic moment: on his second catch, Williams tried to zig, and was met head-on by one Brian Urlacher. How do you think that conversation went?
Wait a minute. If Survivor is dividing its contestants according to ethnicity, shouldn't it change its name to The Amazing Race?
The only shot Buffalo had for a rushing TD, Willis McGahee was getting water poured into his mouth by a bench lackey. Terrific. That's right: What-You-Talking-About Willis pounded the ball inside the 20, then ceded two red-zone carries to Anthony Thomas (who didn't score). For the day, McGahee went 25 carries for 91 yards. Solid, but it's time to score, man.
How about that Bears passing game? This may not be a fluke. This week, I gave Desmond Clark some pub by putting him on my tight-end rankings, much to the chagrin of several of you. But that probably wasn't nearly enough love. Rex Grossman? 20-for-27 for 289 yards and four scores. Two of those scores were to Frisman Jack…, er, John Gilmore, and another was to Bernard Berrian, who now has two for the season. Most interesting here is the play-calling: Chicago went run-heavy in the first quarter, but thereafter went for broke, throwing downfield with practically Foutsian arrogance. While Berrian (five catches, 89 yards) and Muhsin Muhammad (four for 59) are attractive (if the Moose is unowned in your league, go get him), I'm most fascinated by Clark, who caught all of 24 passes in 16 games last year, and already has 10 for 162 yards and a long score in '06. They're using him down the field, folks.
J.P. Losman really does throw a nice long ball: in the second quarter on Sunday, he tossed a laser shot 50 yards on a rope to Lee Evans, who almost made a fabulous catch. Of course, on the very next play, Losman stumbled awkwardly, tried to sort-of pass, was slaughtered, and apparently fumbled, though the call was reversed into an incomplete pass.
The Ron Dayne Era begins in Houston, and it didn't take long. Wali Lundy had three ineffective carries, and Dayne came on with four carries and 16 yards, whereupon Lundy returned and promptly lost a fumble. Unfortunately, Carr decided it would be loads of fun to try and shovel-pass to Dayne (fortunes have been lost, David, through the axle-grease-laden fingers of Mr. Dayne), which plainly didn't work. Oh, yeah, and Dayne also kicked the crap out of Texans '06 third-round OT Charles Spencer on a handoff, and possibly hurt the kid's knee really badly. Incidentally, Samkon Gado also got three carries.
Reggie Bush? Six carries, five yards. Oop. He did catch eight passes for 68 yards, but the Deuce was loose. Deuce McAllister had two scores (a three-yarder and a 23-yarder) and 12 carries for 47 yards. Plus, McAllister seems like he's the goal-line back.
What the heck is that noise CBS makes when they change their graphics? It's some weird pipe-organ thing. Or it's the first half-second of The J. Geils Band's "Freeze Frame." Either way, it never failed to scare me all afternoon.
So much for Corey Dillon as the exclusive owner of the New England red zone. Laurence Maroney scored his first NFL TD on a one-yarder.
Suh-weet long 72-yarder from Alex Smith to Antonio Bryant, eh? For all the folks who emailed me defending Bryant and what I deemed his "punkish" behavior last weekend, way to go. Looks like you're standing up for the right guy.
As for those of you who lambasted me for rating Ahman Green 26th? Ptttthhhhht!
We can get the angry email responses out of the way all at once. The San Diego defense was another low-ish ranking that made you mad. Um, rightfully so. If not for a garbage-time TD drive guided by Vince Young, the Chargers would've posted their second straight shutout. Point taken.
Pretty shocking to see how well Kansas City played in Denver, especially the defense. Actually, now that Denver has taken on the entire state of Missouri, it might be time to wonder whether it isn't the BroncoS offense, and not the RamS or ChiefS defense. By the way, while Tatum Bell and Mike Bell did approximately split carries once again, I remain steadfast in my Tatum-backing; he got 16 carries for 69 yards, while Mike racked up 44 yards on 13 carries.
Hey Philly DL Trent Cole … nice foot. Cole tried to ram his cleat up the posterior of Giants OL Karim McKenzie, got a personal foul, and let the Giants get in position for the tying field goal. The good news? I had Cole as my fantasy kicker this week.
Leave it to Aaron Brooks to get pulled without throwing a single pass. Oh, don't get me wrong: Brooks did have two fumbles. On the second, he jammed his finger, and Art Shell decided to go with Andrew Walter thereafter. Walter was also awful, primarily because the Raiders o-line is awful (can someone replay those old clips of Chris Berman and Mel Kiper telling us that Robert Gallery was a fantastic second-overall pick?); by game's end, Walter had three interceptions, three fumbles (only one was lost), and had made the Ravens defense the week's best. Somebody tell this Walter kid: is 162 total offensive yards good?
Mike Anderson? One carry, 34 yards, one TD. And no one in the known universe started him.
I was asked on the radio about Michael Vick, and whether I thought this was finally his big breakout season. And I said: no. I like that Atlanta is trying to let Vick be Vick, that they're not worrying about his completion percentage (because he's approximately as accurate as Intel quarterly revenue projections), and that he's running a bit more. But he's still going to make the big mistake at the most inopportune time, i.e., right when you begin to trust him. He threw a terrible pass aimed to Alge Crumpler on Sunday, which was intercepted by Derrick Brooks and returned for a TD, but the TD was overturned by a clip. It would've been a pretty different game …
LenDale White premiered for the Titans in place of turf-toed Travis Henry. But let's just say that the Titan goal-line back may not be a position of high-business this season.
After an explosive beginning in which Shaun Alexander led a long opening drive and Matt Hasselbeck tossed a 49-yard TD to Darrell Jackson, things in the Pacific Northwest definitely slowed down. The offense (especially the run game) is of concern, but that Seahawks defense made Kurt Warner look like his funky-haired bride. Continue to play them every single week.
Charlie Frye: White Lightning! Okay, maybe not. But he did cannibalize a two-yard TD run from Reuben Droughns.
Marvin Harrison always lines up to Peyton Manning's right side. He always takes off well, and nearly always gets off the line clean. But when Manning's head never turns toward the right, it makes me want to throw bean dip at the television. (I am, you see, heavily invested in Mr. Harrison this year.)
The Chris Simms Bandwagon is down to a piggyback.
Christopher Harris is a Fantasy Sports Writers Association award-winning columnist and beagle-owner who has written about fantasy sports for SportsIllustrated.com, NBA.com, and TalentedMrRoto.com. Send Christopher a question or comment for potential use in a future column or webcast.
Updated on Sunday, Sep 17, 2006 9:58 pm, EDT
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