I'm treated to two games on the split screen. Detroit-Philly in a battle of unbeatens on one side, and the battle between the New York Giants and the injury depleted Cleveland Browns on the other. Armed with a couple of StatTracker (TM) windows open on the home computers and the Bears-Minnesota audio blaring, I'm ready for action.
On this past week's Sportstream on Yahoo! Sports, I predicted big things for Kurt Warner and the Giants offense against the Cleveland defense. As a result, I'll be watching intently as Warner fires darts to his receivers.
The Giants open the game without the resurgent Ron Dayne, which means huge things for Tiki Barber. Jeff Garcia and the Browns are looking to forget a miserable outing in Week 2 and promptly go three-and-out. Warner zips the ball to Toomer for a first down, showing that his 34-year old arm still has life.
Meanwhile on the other side of the screen, I see Jon Ritchie has jumped onto a cart and his return is in question. Anything that keeps the Lions in the game early will keep my eyes focused on this one.
On the next play, Warner goes play-action and fires up a bomb to Amani Toomer. He's got the step, he's on the fly and it's complete, with Toomer being hauled down after a 70-yard gain. There's the smile you remember from Warner's best days in St. Louis.
Tiki Barber quickly scampers toward the end zone and with a dive for the pylon, he's in. That's his third TD of the year. Yeah, he and Curtis Martin (bye in Week 3) are back to the top.
Andy Reid has worked L.J. Smith more fully into the offense. He's the target on a third and nine call, running well for 25 yards. Reid is putting Smith into motion often and gives him a nice blocker. That will always mean extra touches as the season goes on.
McNabb rolls and he's looking long. He's got his man, the speedy Freddie Mitchell for a 49-yard catch. It's about time he got involved early. If Mitchell doesn't get in the game early, he's generally nonexistent. Welcome to the party, Freddie.
Kurt Warner connects with Tim Carter on a sideline route. Carter is a nice story for the Giants, coming back off a series of injuries that slowed his growth. Now in his third year out of Auburn, I suppose it's time to put him on my third-year receivers watch.
The play in New York has now been ruled an incompletion and Tom Coughlin has chucked the laundry onto the field. Alas, nothing doing for the Giants. Nice thought though.
Joey Harrington throws a wounded duck that is picked off. Ok, it's coming back due to defensive offsides, but that was truly a horrible decision.
Harrington's now being pressured and he takes off running. And he lost the ball! I have to see that again, because I don't think he was touched.
On the replay, Harrington is holding the football like Jerry Seinfeld sprinting down the street after pilfering the marble rye. He bounces the ball off of his thigh. Fantasy owners can add two points for the fumble recovery.
I think my computer is melting. I haven't heard a peep out of the Bears' announcers in awhile. Has it gotten that bad?
Word now comes that Kevin Jones is out with a knee injury and his return is questionable. He was held to eight yards on four carries before his departure.
The first quarter stats show Detroit with nine passing yards and two first downs. This is not the clash of the titans we'd hoped for. The graphic says that Donovan McNabb has already completed passes to seven different guys. He's also completed nine straight.
Brian Westbrook is dancing toward the end zone after bouncing off defenders like a pinball. He's stopped at the one.
There's a pass to … who's that? Is that Chad Lewis? Nope, it's the long snapper Mike Bartrum. And in one of the worst celebrations ever, he snaps the ball back to McNabb downfield. To quote NBA legend Bill Walton, "That's terrible."
I suppose I should turn back to the Cleveland-New York game. There's James Jackson in the backfield for the Browns. Maybe he can take over for Jeff Garcia, because the Browns offense is doing absolutely nothing in this one.
McNabb already has three touchdowns, and the announcers are talking about his MVP candidacy. Can we at least wait until Week 10 or so?
Domanick Davis is on the screen. They're mocking his lack of productivity against the Chiefs' normally pathetic defense. He's got all of 11 yards on nine carries.
There's Kurt Warner on the rollout. He's scrambling. It's not pretty, but he reaches the pylon for a touchdown. It's a 17-0 lead for the Giants. Tom Coughlin just cracked a bit of a smile.
Donovan McNabb is looking deep for Freddie Mitchell again. It's going to be … incomplete. That was close. But watch for that one to keep coming back as Terrell Owens sees more and more attention.
Aaron Stecker is off to the races. He gallops 42 yards for a touchdown. Those of you forced to play Stecker due to Deuce McAllister's injury are ecstatic. You will not need to sweat out the final minutes of the game.
Jumping back to the Lions and Joey Harrington. He clearly now has "Williams Vision." I don't believe I've seen another receiver get a look in awhile.
To this point, Jeff Garcia has five passing yards in five attempts. He clearly misses Vin Diesel … er, Kellen Winslow. Garcia has completed a pass to Andre King for 16 yards. That gives him … let's see. He's 3-for-9 for 21 yards with two minutes left in the half.
Kyle Boller is shown scrambling for a seven-yard TD. And they're staying in Cincinnati. Boller finds Randy Hymes on a slant, and he does the rest, bringing the ball 38 yards for the first passing TD for Boller on the season.
Meanwhile, all of those owning the Philadelphia defense need to start writing letters to the Eagles coaching staff. They've dropped into a prevent defense. Harrington passes toward the end zone and it's caught for a touchdown by Roy Williams. There goes the shutout bonus points.
Jeff Garcia is picked off on a Hail Mary pass to end the half. It's a fitting end to a miserable half of football. Where's Luke McCown?
The StatTracker (TM) followed closely by an update shows me that Daunte Culpepper and Randy Moss have hooked up for a TD for the eighth straight game. The Bears' defense was dealt several devastating injuries, and Brian Urlacher can't stare down Culpepper in street clothes from the sidelines. Early second half, they've teamed up again, but they're getting a better fight from the Bears than they'd expected.
There's no update out of the Atlanta-Arizona game. Since I don't keep seeing replays of golden boy Michael Vick on the screen, he can't be replicating last week's performance. A quick glance to the computer shows only a 6-0 lead for the Falcons.
The Browns march straight down the field to open the second half. Almost as if on queue, Jeff Garcia fumbles at the three yard line, and it's recovered by Michael Strahan. Strahan has spent a lot of time in the backfield this afternoon. I know the Browns are hurting, but if the Giants can keep this kind of pass rush up, the Giants' secondary will get some time to gel.
Roy Williams catches another pass from Joey Harrington. Williams now has eight catches for 106 yards and a touchdown.
Here's another break from Kansas City. Trent Green has one TD. Can it be another? No, it's intercepted by Marcus Coleman and he's running all the way for a 102-yard touchdown. Yes, that's depressing for Green owners, but take the positive from the play. Priest Holmes ran the length of the field in a near-successful attempt to stop Coleman, but his ankle looked just fine.
Jeremy Shockey catches another ball from Kurt Warner, who has efficiently moved the ball up and down the field against the Browns all day. The next call is a give to Barber.
There's a shot of Jamal Lewis, off to the races for a 75-yard TD run. He was contained in the first two outings of the season, but that puts him over 150 yards for the day.
An update shows Trent Green had earlier found Chris Horn for a touchdown and now he's found Jason Dunn. There's a hat trick for Green, and his fantasy owners are breathing just a tad easier. However, they're in a dogfight with the Texans.
Joey Harrington has hooked up with Roy Williams for yet another touchdown, his fifth of the season. It's gone from the battle of unbeatens to one between Terrell Owens and Roy Williams for receiving supremacy.
There's a shot of Steve McNair on the sidelines. He'd taken a big shot by the attacking Jacksonville defense (check your league's waiver wire quickly for this squad) and may miss the end of this one.
Down 12-7, Leftwich looks to the end zone for Jimmy Smith. It's incomplete, but there's a hankie on the field. The Jags will get the ball at the one! Take it in yourself! Take it in yourself!
There's the handoff to Fred Taylor. He's in for the score, and Jacksonville leads! Leftwich gets the two-point conversion completed to Reggie Williams. He joins fellow rookie Ernest Wilford as a hero in Jacksonville as the final gun sounds following one play from scrimmage, with Billy Volek at the helm for the Titans.
Reports from Minnesota have Thomas Jones finding the end zone. Clearly, Lovie Smith's offense agrees with Jones.
L.J. Smith has left the game for the Eagles. Initial reports say that it's a shoulder injury, but there's no way he returns with this lead. If you've jumped on the Smith bandwagon or were thinking about it after his performance here, check his status as the week wears on.
The Texans are shown to be driving against the Chiefs. They've scored 21 points, but I have only seen the Marcus Coleman INT return and two field goals. A quick check shows that David Carr found Jabar Gaffney for a TD, so chalk that up. But, wait a minute, Domanick Davis has only 12 yards on 10 carries. That can't be right, can it? The Texans win 24-21 which is all fine and good, but what happened to Davis?
There were several other tidbits that came across the news as I waited for the Giants to finish their pasting of the Browns.
- Shaun King entered the game for Arizona down the stretch for Josh McCown. McCown had lost three fumbles. This outing may officially end his sleeper campaign.
- William Green finished with 94 yards. It's too bad for him that Lee Suggs is ready to reclaim his starting job.
- The Saints win, and Aaron Stecker went over 100 yards for the game.
- Carson Palmer threw for 300 yards against the Ravens, but those points were negated by three picks.
Time for a quick break before the late-afternoon games.
Of the three late games, I'm treated to Green Bay and Indianapolis. Something tells me this will be a shootout. And man, it doesn't take long for the fireworks to start. Peyton Manning looks like a man playing with purpose, coming off of the huge win on the road against Tennessee and all of the "master-student" nonsense that has preceded this one. With that said, a banged up Edgerrin James means Peyton Manning will be throwing the ball up early and often.
Boom, it's complete to Reggie Wayne from 36 yards and a touchdown. Let the fireworks begin!
I can't believe what I've seen. Manning finds Marvin Harrison to get him into the scoring column. Then, Favre respond with a 79-yard bomb to Walker again. Then, Brandon Stokley scores on consecutive possessions for the Colts. I'm out of breath and we're barely into the second quarter!
A quick update from Denver shows that Jake Plummer and Rod Smith hooked up for a touchdown. Clearly, they've got to be moving the ball down the field with Quentin Griffin. I haven't seen a stat line for him, but its 13-3 midway through the second quarter.
Seattle is up on San Francisco 17-0 and it shows Shaun Alexander with two touchdowns in the second quarter.
Midway through the third quarter, the Packers are moving the ball downfield. Brett Favre rolls and he's looking to the end zone. Who is it? Well, it's Walker again. How is he standing by himself?
Big drive for the Colts and they're moving down the field. It's Manning looking for Stokley. He's diving. Oh, it looks just short of a touchdown. But, it doesn't matter. There's a hold on the field. It's coming back. Hey, there's Mike Vanderjagt.
Admit it. You thought he'd be kicking only extra points today.
Another jarring stat line comes across the screen. Even though the Broncos have seemingly moved the ball. Quentin Griffin has zero yards on nine carries. I'm now officially frightened. A quick sanity check shows that Jake Plummer is efficiently spreading the ball around to a number of receivers. If you're not running with one of the top tight ends, take a look to Jeb Putzier. Shanahan loves him.
Robert Ferguson is back to receive for the Packers. It looks like he's going to be off to the races. He's finally taken down after a 70-yard return.
Favre fires quickly and he's almost picked off. There's one of those throws that makes you shake your head as a Favre owner. But, it falls harmlessly after being batted by the linebacker.
Donald Driver is tip-toeing along the sidelines. Touchdown. It's 38-31. Even if you don't normally care for highlights, this is a must-see replay.
It's time for a game break. Seattle is looking to shut out San Francisco for the first time in 420 games. That's scary stuff.
After a couple of quick possessions, Brandon Stokley is the target of a Peyton Manning pass for nine yards. He dives toward the first-down marker and falls short. And, he's slow to get up. There's 9:46 left in a seven-point game.
After a running play by the Edge, there's a shot of a grimacing Stokley. He's got eight grabs on the day and needs to be on your bench for next week's games, provided of course that the injury isn't serious.
Brett Favre is banged up, but will he sit? There's no chance. He's down seven and looking for a huge win. He completes a pass to Javon Walker. Jason Davis strips the ball, and Nick Harper picks it up for the Colts.
Reggie Wayne has become one of the big targets for Peyton Manning down the stretch, as Marvin Harrison is being tormented by the Green Bay defense. Suddenly, it's first-and-goal with just over three minutes remaining. Wayne has 11 catches on the day.
With second-and-goal from the one and 2:40 on the clock (40 seconds on the play clock), Manning leads the team to the line of scrimmage. He plays possum and lets the play clock run down. Now, these guys are in their stances for 30, 35, a full 40 seconds to get to the two-minute warning. I applaud the focus of the line, clearly winning this battle with the Packers' coaching staff.
After getting stuffed on second down, Edgerrin James finds the house on third to push this one to a 14-point lead. Anyone joining this one late had to be surprised that it was James's first of the day when they saw the score.
Doug Pederson enters after the Edgerrin James TD. The word is that a hamstring strain will sideline Brett Favre for the final 1:40. Don't fret, Favre fans and owners, he'll be back next week.
On third-and-four, Pederson back to pass, and it's intercepted, thus ending this marathon.
Let's recap the numbers. Peyton Manning and Brett Favre combine for almost 750 yards through the air and nine touchdowns with zero interceptions. Javon Walker goes off for 198 receiving yards, three touchdowns and one huge fumble.
Two more games on tap for this evening and a lot of stats to scrutinize and digest for Tuesday's Week 3 review. Here's to two more shootouts so I can finish screaming myself hoarse. Oh wait, the Dolphins are playing.
- Kurt Warner
- Joey Harrington
- Jeff Garcia