"The game is being temporarily suspended until the snowballs stop being thrown onto the field."
You don't hear things like that every week in the NFL.
But with 3:55 remaining in the fourth quarter of the Jets-Patriots game, that's what referee Jerome Boger announced to the crowd. Apparently, the New England fans who sit in the end zone are a lot like Tom Brady: They have all day to throw, and they're extremely accurate.
Difficult conditions were partly responsible for Brady's first zero-TD game of the season, and a blizzard in Cleveland was entirely to blame for Derek Anderson's third. Those quarterbacks entered Week 15 as the numbers one and six overall fantasy scorers this season, but thousands of their owners were bounced from the playoffs today.
That's not to say that fantasy owners weren't trying to manage around the weather. On a typical Sunday morning, the most added player in Yahoo! fantasy leagues is a flavor-of-the-week running back. It was DeShawn Wynn in Week 3, Michael Pittman in Week 4, and more recently it was Priest Holmes. But today, the most heavily-added player was Minnesota kicker Ryan Longwell – and no one else was particularly close.
This tells us a few things. First of all, it's the fantasy playoffs, so everyone still playing has a solid roster. They're not so easily tempted by the waiver wire. Secondly, no one trusts a kicker in inclement weather. We all prefer the dome kickers in December (though both Gostkowski and Dawson were two-for-two on field goal attempts today).
Good luck, Longwell adders. You're still technically alive. Onto the other Sunday games…
• Ryan Grant walks into the end zone on third and 1 in the first quarter and it's 7-0, Green Bay. Grant now has a touchdown in four straight games. A blend of short passes, tough runs and St. Louis penalties leads to the game's first score
• Yeah, apparently it's pretty cold in New England. Jim Nantz just said they're dealing with a "winfrey mix." Either his mouth isn't working because it's frozen, or Oprah is pouring drinks.
• Oof. Richard Seymour just wallops Kellen Clemens on second and 10 from the four. This results in a fluttery duck of a throw to Chris Davis that Eugene Wilson easily grabs and takes to the paint. It's 7-0, Patriots. Clemens heads to the locker room.
On the Jets' very next play, wide receiver Brad Smith lines up at quarterback, they run an option to Leon Washington and New York gains 49 yards. Two plays later, they run it again and it loses nine yards.
• Derek Anderson hits Braylon Edwards over the middle in the snow globe in Cleveland, and it bounces off Edwards' chest … directly into Joe Jurevicius' hands. He runs straight upfield and the Browns gain 25 yards. The drive ends in a field goal, which might be all the scoring we see in this one.
• We saw it last week with Ike Taylor, and we're seeing it this week with David Barrett: even when you're step-for-step with Randy Moss in man-to-man coverage – which doesn't happen too often – Moss is open. Tom Brady will still throw it, and Moss will still catch it.
• With six minutes left in the first quarter, the Tampa Bay D/ST has already scored twice, on a Ronde Barber interception return and a 90-yard Micheal Spurlock kickoff return. Congratulations if you had 12/16/07 in the "First Kickoff Return TD in Bucs History" pool.
• Koren Robinson returns a kickoff 89 yards, breaks at least four tackles, zigzags down the field, finds himself in the clear … and he trips at the 15-yard line, untouched, and flops to the ground. A penalty on Green Bay would have negated the touchdown anyway.
• Hmm. Chad Pennington's in-helmet headset apparently isn't working in New England. How strange and totally unexpected.
• It's fourth and 2 for the Bills at their own 24, Brian Moorman is on to punt … and the snap sails over his head down to the goal line. Instead of trying to pick up the ball and gain a few yards – which is no easy thing for a 172-pound punter, especially in a blizzard – Moorman simply kicked the ball through the end zone for a safety. It's 5-0 Browns.
Given the conditions, that seems like the right play. Even though Moorman really had no one close to him, A) he clearly didn't know that, and B) there are a lot of ways that play can end with a Cleveland touchdown. If he picks up that ball, the best thing that can happen is that the Browns will take over in the red zone.
Still, two points in Cleveland today seems like 14 in a regular game.
• Larry Fitzgerald catches an 18-yard touchdown pass and casually flips it to the back judge, like it's a bag of peanuts.
• Steven Jackson outruns Atari Bigby, Nick Collins and Charles Woodson on a 46-yard touchdown run, and the Rams and Packers are tied 14-14. Jackson looked like that shoe ad version of himself on the drive, which also featured a sweet sideline spin move on a 16-yard reception.
• Wes Welker is just a walking first down.
• Earnest Graham gets his obligatory 1-yard touchdown, and it's 24-3 Tampa. Not many positive things happening for Atlanta today. Or this month. Or since 2004.
• Every week, regardless of the opponent, Fred Taylor seems to get a highlight-reel run, and they're often straight up the middle. Today against Pittsburgh Taylor goes 38 yards and hits Anthony Smith in the mouth at the end.
• Ugly pass by Brett Favre near the end of the first half in St. Louis. The Packers were in Rams territory, driving and in position to take at least a 20-14 lead. Instead, Favre throws into … well, just lots of coverage and Oshiomogho Atogwe gets the pick.
• So this is a decent day for Richard Seymour thus far. He has a sack, he knocked Clemens out of the game and set up a pick-six, and now he disgustedly swats a Chad Pennington pass to the ground.
• Hard to believe that at halftime, there were more points scored in Cleveland (eight) than in Carolina (zero). Midway through the third quarter, Shaun (expletive) Alexander has six carries for minus-3 yards. DeShaun Foster and DeAngelo Williams each have 10 carries and neither has reached 30 yards. Perhaps this was not the best day to start Josh Brown.
• There's 11:07 left in the third quarter in Kansas City, and the Chiefs lead the Tennessee Bironases, 14-13. Brodie Croyle has two passing TDs for Kansas City, and neither of them are to Tony Gonzalez or Dwayne Bowe.
• A few of you are probably losing to Aaron Stecker today. Early in the third quarter, he has 69 rushing yards on 15 carries and two touchdown runs.
• Wow. Greg Jennings catches a 44-yard touchdown pass on third and 10, and he was perfectly alone when he made the grab. The Rams blitz, every DB closes hard on short routes, and nobody follows Jennings down the field. It almost looked like he was fair-catching a punt.
• It's late in the third quarter, and Jacksonville appears to be in command in the snow in Pittsburgh. Also, David Garrard should be a lock for the Pro Bowl. He's thrown for three touchdowns today – Ernest Wilford, Reggie Williams and Dennis Northcutt each have one – and Garrard now has 16 touchdown passes and only one interception for the season.
That's one interception this season. It's Week 15.
• Here a quick public service announcement that really only applies to NFL players:
IF YOU SPIKE THE BALL ON A NON-SCORING PLAY, IT'S A PENALTY.
Always. Still, it feels like we've seen this at least twice per game this season, in every game. Yet somehow, Atogwe doesn't know it.
• Not the first time this season we've seen Justin McCareins with a late, critical drop. He bobbles what should have been a TD, and it's overturned on review.
• Yeah, I'm an idiot. It's now 22-22 in Pittsburgh, as Roethlisberger hits Nate Washington for a 30-yard score and the Steelers get a two-point conversion – an odd one. Cedrick Wilson spins, then flings the ball to Santonio Holmes. But it counts.
• Wait, no. That game was never in doubt! Fred Taylor with a 12-yard touchdown run and it's 29-22, Jaguars. (But there's still 1:57 left). The Taylor TD may have given Matt Romig an insurmountable lead over my team in the Friends & Family semi-finals, not that you care.
• New Orleans wins the battle to reach .500, beating Arizona by a touchdown. It was pretty much the fantasy day you should have expected: 31-24 final, 315 yards and two TDs for Drew Brees, 233 and three TDs for Kurt Warner.
• Baltimore just tied Miami at 16-16 with eight seconds left in the fourth quarter. Troy Smith led the drive. Other than Derrick Mason and Samkon Gado – both of whom have touchdowns – there really aren't many fantasy starters in this game. Maybe Matt Stover, who has three field goals. Eh. Don't look for further updates.
• OK, maybe just one more Ravens-Dolphins update. Stover missed a 44-yard field goal in overtime, and three plays later, Greg Camarillo catches a slant from Cleo Lemon and takes it all the way. Dolphins win, 22-16. Good feelings all around.
And thus a dynasty is born.
• That was probably a pretty expensive tackle by Roy Williams, who just horse-collared Donovan McNabb. As everyone knows, the rule against horse-collar tackles is commonly referred to as "The Roy Williams Rule." So you'd think he'd get it. Earlier in the game, Ken Hamlin went helmet-to-helmet against Matt Schobel, who's probably done for the day.
• LaDainian Tomlinson clearly hates Matt Romig, and he wishes to help my fantasy team in any way he possibly can. With 1:13 left in the first quarter in San Diego, Tomlinson already has 52 rushing yards, two TDs, and 17 public league fantasy points. It's 17-0, Chargers.
C'mon, Detroit, get on the board. I can't afford to have this become an LT-laughing-on-the-sidelines sort of day for San Diego.
• Joe Buck wants you to know that just because Tony Romo is dating Jessica Simpson, that doesn't mean he isn't a smart quarterback. Sorry that I don't have the exact quote, but I've paraphrased it reasonably well.
• With 1:25 remaining in the first half, Oakland is making a game of it against Indianapolis. The Raiders trail only 10-7, and they just picked off Peyton Manning near midfield. Joseph Addai has only five carries for five yards. Not quite the game we expected.
• Andy Reid just called a timeout in the second quarter so that he could have more time to see if he should challenge a fumble. He eventually did challenge … and lost. So that cost him a second timeout. Not the first time we've seen that this season.
• After a Shaun Phillips interception return TD, it's already 27-0 midway through the second quarter in San Diego. That was Jon Kitna's third INT. It would appear that this will, in fact, become an LT-laughing-on-the-sidelines sort of day. Kitna hates me (not without justification) more than LT hates Romig.
• We're in the fourth quarter in Oakland and it's still a game. And it's not going the way any of us had guessed. Justin Fargas plunges in from the 2, and the Raiders lead the Colts, 14-13.
• Huge drop by Terrell Owens on a well-thrown slant. Again, he could still be running. The first one was on Romo, but that's clearly on T.O.
• And just like that, Peyton Manning hits the 24.2 percent-owned Anthony Gonzalez, the Colts convert a two-point attempt, and it's 21-14. With a win the Colts get a playoff bye, and we start fretting about how much Manning, Addai and Reggie Wayne will play in Week 16.
• Brent Celek with a huge third-down reception over the middle, and that could very well clinch a win for Philadelphia. There's 2:19 on the clock in the fourth.
• Avert your eyes, Brian Westbrook owners! He just burst through the line, found himself in the clear with no defender in the camera frame … and he intentionally sat down at the 1-yard line. That could have been a 25-yard touchdown. Instead, it was a 24-yard gain.
Tactically, it was brilliant. The Eagles were able to kneel down three times, guaranteeing a 10-6 win. If Westbrook scores, his team leads 17-6 with two minutes remaining. That isn't such a bad situation, either, but failing to score absolutely clinched the win. This was both impressive and, fantasy-wise, utterly devastating.
• The full extent of the damage inflicted by the San Diego running game: 53 carries, 274 yards, four TDs. Darren Sproles actually outscores LT in fantasy leagues, 25-23.
• Two injuries that we'll be worrying about this week: Tony Romo (thumb) and Justin Fargas (knee). Not much known just yet in either case, but Romo was astonishingly bad today: 13-for-36, 214 yards, zero TD, three INT.