Three teams entered the week undefeated, with one sure to fall. Another entered winless, looking to find some semblance of respectability. Led by these stories; the highly anticipated rematch in Indianapolis, the grudge match in Cleveland and the morbid curiosity of what Daunte Culpepper will do for an encore, let's do a whip-around of the day's games.
Buffalo Bills at Baltimore Ravens:
No Jamal, no problem. The Ravens controlled the game with a defensive package that terrorized Buffalo QB Drew Bledsoe all day to the tune of four interceptions. He finished with a miserable minus-7 fantasy points.
One of the interceptions was returned for a touchdown by Deion Sanders. The chants for the return of Frank Reich occurred around the second quarter.
The Baltimore defense accounted for 27 fantasy points based on the default Yahoo! Sports scoring system. That was good enough for the fourth-best total of the day behind Donovan McNabb and the Kansas City running back tandem of Priest Holmes and Derrick Blaylock. But I'll get to them a little later.
Showing no respect for the "comeback" potential of the Buffalo offense, Kyle Boller attempted only three passes in the second half. He finished 10-for-19 for only 86 yards.
To further demonstrate the futility of the Bills' attack, Rian Lindell kicked three field goals less than 25 yards in length, and one of Bledsoe's interceptions was returned 94 yards.
As expected, Willis McGahee was contained by the Ravens defense, totaling a mere 58 yards on 16 carries. Veteran wideout Eric Moulds was the lone bright spot of the offense, hauling in six balls for 96 yards.
San Diego Chargers at Carolina Panthers:
Just a year after reaching the Super Bowl, nothing is going right for the hapless Carolina Panthers. Before game time, Stephen Davis was ruled out for this contest, joining Steve Smith and DeShaun Foster on the inactive list. Brad Hoover stepped in and did a nice job (99 rushing yards), but Jake Delhomme's struggles continued.
Delhomme finished just 17-for-36 with 154 passing yards, but continues to gel with rookie Keary Colbert. Colbert finished with seven catches for 71 yards.
Keenan McCardell led all Chargers receivers with five catches for 65 yards.
LaDainian Tomlinson continues to be plagued by a sore groin, but battled gamely through a stout Carolina run defense for 47 rushing yards and a TD. Fantasy owners looking for the late-inning home run hitter to assist an ailing backfield can seek solace in Jesse Chatman. For the third time this season, Chatman came on in relief of Tomlinson and hit paydirt (today: eight carries for 69 yards).
Philadelphia Eagles at Cleveland Browns:
There would be no breaking of bread between Terrell Owens and Jeff Garcia today. And, as usual, Owens went out of his way to announce his presence to the Cleveland crowd. He caught two long TD passes from Donovan McNabb, taking direct target on homemade signs along the stands in either end zone. What's the point? Owens finished with four catches for 109 yards and those two long TD strikes.
Todd Pinkston achieved his second career 100-yard game.
Jeff Garcia resurrected the Browns' offense, throwing for one touchdown to tight end Steve Heiden and running in another.
Newly acquired Antonio Bryant was pressed into action due to Andre Davis's injury and contributed two catches for 26 yards.
Continuing the tight end theme, both L.J. Smith and Chad Lewis were on the receiving end of Donovan McNabb TD passes. McNabb finished with 376 passing yards to go with his four TD passes. He also contributed 28 rushing yards.
Cleveland kicker Phil Dawson extended his field goal streak to 24 straight.
Jacksonville Jaguars at Indianapolis Colts:
Peyton Manning continued his brilliant 2004 season with another three-TD performance. He found Marvin Harrison twice, and also connected with second-year TE Dallas Clark. Harrison owners celebrated the second TD that held up vociferously, as one had been overturned earlier in the contest.
Byron Leftwich reached the 300-yard mark for the third time this season.
Josh Scobee, a popular late-week free agent acquisition by fantasy owners, connected on four field goals and a PAT.
Atlanta Falcons at Kansas City Chiefs:
What happened to the seemingly impenetrable Atlanta defense? By now you've already seen that Kansas City rushed for eight touchdowns. That's right, EIGHT touchdowns!
Trent Green owners that heard only a score via radio or a quick glance to the bottom of a television screen were likely dancing in the aisles. He didn't have a bad day. In fact, he completed 20-of-27 passes for 269 yards and committed zero turnovers. Unfortunately, he also didn't score.
I'll be curious to see how many owners quickly snap up Derrick Blaylock on the heels of this four -TD performance.
Michael Vick finished 7-for-21 with 119 yards and two interceptions. The bulk of Vick's passing yards came early in the fourth quarter, long after this was a contest, and just before Matt Schaub came in for some mop-up duty. Vick did run for 62 yards.
Jay Fiedler did throw for 203 yards and two touchdowns, and one of the TD passes was caught by a wide receiver. Welcome back to the scoring column, Chris Chambers (three catches, 128 yards and 1 TD). Randy McMichael hauled in the other.
Sammy Morris fought for 83 yards and an all-important eight-yard TD run that got the ball rolling early.
Isaac Bruce narrowly missed the century mark, finishing the game with 98 receiving yards.
Finally, the fourth quarter gave us a Travis Minor sighting. He finished with three carries for 21 yards and a touchdown. Keep an eye on the talk out of Dolphins' camp this week if you're running with Morris.
Tennessee Titans at Minnesota Vikings:
Daunte Culpepper's five-TD passing games streak ended at two. In fact, Culpepper was held to only one touchdown by the Titans' defense. He still completed 24-of-30 for 181 yards.
Steve McNair and Randy Moss both left the game early in the first quarter, tempering what was otherwise an intriguing matchup. I'll have a closer look at their injuries and all of those sustained this weekend in Tuesday's wrap-up.
Billy Volek was brutal in relief of McNair, taking two sacks and throwing three interceptions.
Moe Williams jumped into the vulture column, reprising his role of past seasons. He scored on a one-yard run while starter Mewelde Moore rested after two longer runs earlier in the drive. Moore finished with an impressive 166 all-purpose yards.
Detroit Lions at New York Giants:
Roy Williams is positively magical on the field. He's still not 100%, but is always open despite Joey Harrington's "Robert DeNiro-like" stare down of him all the way down the field. It's quite interesting to watch. Williams finished with four catches for 67 yards and a touchdown.
Kevin Jones fought through the pain to carry the ball 13 times for 65 yards.
Artose Pinner took over late in the game, rushing nine times for 36 yards and a touchdown.
Tiki Barber continued his dominance, contributing 173 all-purpose yards to the losing cause.
The Detroit defense clearly bothered Kurt Warner, recording six sacks and an interception.
Chicago Bears at Tampa Bay Buccaneers:
Jonathan Quinn couldn't get anything going for the Bears, and found a spot on the sidelines for the second half. Rookie Craig Krenzel came on in relief and at least was able to lead the drive that gave fantasy owners a TD from Thomas Jones, his first since Week 3.
Michael Pittman blasted past the 100-yard mark for the first time since Week 9 of 2003 and actually scored a rushing TD. The rushing TD was his first since Week 15 of 2002.
Brian Griese, one of my picks for this week, was solid with his 15-for-23, 161 yards, one touchdown performance. It wasn't spectacular, but tied him for the 13th-highest QB total of the week. In other words, there were worse decisions to be made.
Griese hooked up with Michael Clayton on a TD pass. Clayton finished with six catches for 60 yards.
Justin McCareins caught six balls for 83 yards, matching his total number of catches in Weeks 4-6 combined . Teammate Santana Moss contributed only two catches for 12 yards and the constant threats of non-functioning reverses.
The only turnover of the game occurred on a fumble by defensive lineman turned fullback Dan Klecko. Speaking of the D-Line, did anyone see the block Richard Seymour threw when inserted in the backfield?
Brett Favre and the Packers must have constantly re-run the Under Armour ads all week. "We must protect this house!" reverberating through the hallowed halls of Lambeau Field. Favre and the Packers toyed with the listless Dallas defense. He finished with 258 passing yards and two TD passes (Javon Walker and Donald Driver were the recipients).
Ahman Green fans finally got something to smile about, as he added two TD runs to the party. The second, a 90-yard run along the sideline, was a thing of beauty. It was capped nicely by a block thrown by Robert Ferguson running alongside Green some 80 yards from the line of scrimmage. Said Favre on the play, "Wow!"
Walker finished with eight catches for 129 yards.
Vinny Testaverde finished with 308 yards passing and a TD to Jason Witten, but played without Terry Glenn much of the game. He left with a strained foot. New acquisition Quincy Morgan chipped in with 76 receiving yards and then limped off the field with a hamstring pull.
Emmitt Smith went over the 100-yard mark for the 78th time, breaking Walter Payton's record, and scored a huge TD that sealed a win for Arizona.
Neil Rackers booted three field goals for the Cardinals.
Darrell Jackson topped the 100-yard mark for the first time this season and was the recipient of Hasselbeck's lone TD toss.
Jerry Rice finished with only one catch for ten yards. Only one pass was thrown to Rice.
For what it's worth, this game marked the first time that the all-time leading receiver and rusher played against one another in 20 years. The last occurrence was in 1984, when Walter Payton and the Bears took on Charlie Joiner and the Chargers.
New Orleans Saints at Oakland Raiders:
Kerry Collins' final numbers looked solid. He finished the day 26-for-41, with 350 yards passing and two touchdowns. Alas, his early efforts were thwarted and Oakland settled for three Sebastian Janikowski field goals.
One of Collins' TD passes was caught by disgruntled wideout Jerry Porter, who openly criticized the play calling earlier in the week. He not only caught his first TD pass this season, but he also topped 100 yards.
Tight end Doug Jolley caught Collins' other TD pass.
Deuce McAllister was bottled up by the Oakland defense, rushing for a paltry 1.8 yards per carry average, but his two touchdowns will console fantasy owners.
The Saints Defense/Special Teams also added a touchdown off a fumbled kickoff return.
Tomorrow bring the Cincinnati-Denver matchup. Can the Bengals' defense finally show up? And did any of the Pepto-Bismol bottles get returned to Chad Johnson?
I'll be back with a full wrap-up of the week on Tuesday.