After a strange Week 4 with few standout performances, the box scores from Sunday are teeming with exceptional stat lines and fantastic finishes. Let's take a look …
Tampa Bay Buccaneers at New Orleans Saints:
If you checked your matchups after the start of the early games, you were likely elated or crushed by the fact that Deuce McAllister worked his way into the lineup. At the end of the day, while he rushed for 102 yards, he failed to score.
My matchup play of the week was Chris Simms in his first NFL start. He got off to a nice start before leaving the game after Will Smith blew him up. He injured a shoulder on the play and did not return. Brian Griese took over for Simms and connected on 16-for-19 and 194 yards, including a 45-yard strike to Ken Dilger.
The Tampa Bay defense added a touchdown via a Ronde Barber fumble return for a touchdown.
Kurt Warner was efficient in leading the Giants to a fourth straight win. He finished 18-for-23 with 217 yards and one touchdown. Warner had Tim Carter streaking for a touchdown early in the game, but watched as the ball bounced off of Carter's chest. Carter left the game with a hip injury and didn't return.
Warner's one touchdown pass was caught by Jeremy Shockey.
The silver lining for the Cowboys coming out of this game is that they finally got some semblance of a running game going. Eddie George rushed 15 times for 75 yards, and Richie Anderson added 56 yards on nine carries.
Minnesota Vikings at Houston Texans:
The fans were looking for another upset special in Texas. What they got was a monster effort by Daunte Culpepper. He rolled up five – that's right, FIVE for the second time this season – passing touchdowns, finding Marcus Robinson for the game-winner in OT.
No chance you're fleecing the Culpepper owner in your league, but Robinson and his 150 yards and two touchdowns just might be out there.
Mewelde Moore rushed for 94 yards and caught 12 passes accounting for another 88. Not bad for a guy who entered the season as the fourth-string guy.
I hear that rap song blaring – "Glitter, glitter … gloss, gloss … I get the beat rolling like Randy Moss." Moss caught five balls for 91 yards and two touchdowns to reclaim the lead in his battle with the idle Terrell Owens. Moss caught at least one TD for the ninth straight game. (Speaking of Owens, who picked his wardrobe for Sunday's appearance on the FOX pre-game show? That sweater vest, untucked shirt and jeans just didn't work for me.)
David Carr did his best to equal Culpepper's sick totals, throwing for 370 yards and three touchdowns.
Carr also connected with Derick Armstrong six times for 101 yards and a touchdown, as the Texans continue to search for a consistent companion for Johnson.
Miami Dolphins at New England Patriots:
I doubt that the undefeated Miami Dolphins team from 1972 was sitting on champagne for this one. Why waste the money? The Pats were a lock to break those Dolphins' 18-game winning streak. And they did.
Daniel Graham continued his own winning streak, catching another TD pass from Tom Brady. While he's not available in leagues using a pure TE position (assuming your league's owners are conscious), he's probably floating out there in some leagues using a flex WR/TE position. It's time to take a look his way.
The Dolphins scored only ten points, but participants of leagues rewarding receptions and receiving yards had to be happy with the production of Chris Chambers and Marty Booker. They combined for thirteen catches and 160 yards. Chambers even contributed a TD reception.
Tom Brady completed only seven passes on the day, but connected with Graham and David Givens for touchdowns.
Corey Dillon ran 18 times for 94 yards for the Pats.
Detroit Lions at Atlanta Falcons:
Michael Vick continues to frustrate owners, failing to find the end zone yet again. My mailbag is flooded with the question of when the right time is to sit down "the Michael Vick experience." I'll tackle that topic in full later in the week.
Az-Zahir Hakim stepped up for the second time this season when the Lions lost a big player to injury. Remember, he was the man to step up when Charles Rogers went down. And now, the Lions await word on the injury sustained by rookie standout Roy Williams. Hakim hooked up with Joey Harrington to do damage with three catches for 64 yards and a touchdown.
Cleveland Browns at Pittsburgh Steelers:
Butch Davis named William Green the starter for this week's game. If that's the case, then how did he only get three carries? He averaged nine yards per attempt
Andre Davis finally got on track for the Browns, as Jeff Garcia needed to air it out as this one got away from them. Davis finished with five catches for 101 yards and a touchdown.
Phil Dawson provided most of the offense for the Browns, booting three field goals to extend his streak to 21.
Big Ben Roethlisberger led the Steelers to another victory, passing for 231 yards and one touchdown and rushed for a second.
Plaxico Burress was on the receiving end of Roethlisberger's TD toss. He finished with six receptions for 136 yards to go along with his touchdown. Faith in Burress was rewarded in Week 5.
Duce Staley ran for 100 yards for the third straight game, rumbling for 117 yards and a touchdown. It was a gutty effort from Duce after Thursday's surgery on an infected toe.
But don't worry, Jerome Bettis scored yet another touchdown to continue his ridiculous 2004 campaign.
I know, that first TD pass to backup RB James Mungro got you fired up. But Edgerrin James got his, rushing 32 times for 136 yards and a touchdown. Early on, it looked like another aerial assault would keep James from getting on track. Unfortunately for Raiders backers, it was not to be.
Reggie Wayne got back in fantasy owners' good graces by catching five balls for 69 yards and a score. Brandon Stokley and Marvin Harrison combined to contribute six catches for 85 yards for the victors.
Ronald Curry caught 10 balls for 72 yards in a losing effort for the Raiders. TE Courtney Anderson, a seventh-round selection this year from San Jose State, caught three balls for 38 yards and a touchdown.
Buffalo Bills at New York Jets:
For three quarters, it didn't appear that the Bills were interested in playing today. Buffalo did nothing in its first seven possessions of the game, yielding punt after punt.
Then, following an interception of a badly thrown Chad Pennington pass, Buffalo marched down the field. They capped the drive with a TD pass from Drew Bledsoe (yes, he's still playing) to Mark Campbell.
On the next possession, Drew Bledsoe lobbed a deep ball that was caught by rookie Lee Evans for a 46-yard touchdown. Why aren't they running this play more than once per game? Evans has now gone over 45 receiving yards for three straight games.
For the Jets, Curtis Martin was held out of the century club this week, amassing only 76 yards.
TE Chris Baker accounted for the only TD, catching a ball in the back of the end zone from Chad Pennington. Pennington threw for 305 yards on the day.
The tandem of Justin McCareins and Santana Moss combined for only four catches. Moss was the intended target of several tosses to the end zone, but failed to make the connection. Wayne Chrebet led the Jets with eight catches and 90 yards receiving.
Jacksonville Jaguars at San Diego Chargers:
San Diego busted out a massive can of you-know-what to bull rush to a 21-point lead. Drew Brees, who headed into this week with the 10th-highest fantasy point total in Yahoo! Sports Fantasy Football leagues, connected with TE Antonio Gates for two touchdowns in the first half.
LaDainian Tomlinson established himself early via the air, catching four balls for 82 yards and adding a touchdown on the ground.
Jesse Chatman rushed for over 100 yards for San Diego, scampering 41 yards for a score in the fourth quarter.
Carolina Panthers at Denver Broncos:
Quentin Griffin and Stephen Davis sat this one out, setting up a battle between DeShaun Foster and Reuben Droughns. Foster left the game with a shoulder injury, leaving Brad Hoover and Nick Goings to carry the load.
Droughns showed that he's more than just a fullback, rolling up 193 rushing yards and adding a touchdown reception.
Jake Plummer wasn't spectacular, but finished the game with the 225 passing yards and two touchdowns I called for. Ashley Lelie provided the big play for Denver, catching a 39-yard TD pass from Plummer.
For the second straight week, Tim Rattay put up monster numbers after the game was seemingly out of reach. He finished with 417 passing yards and two touchdowns.
One of the recipients of those passes was Eric Johnson, who was questionable for today's game. Johnson gutted it out and finished with 13 catches for 162 yards and a touchdown.
The 49ers also welcomed back WR Brandon Lloyd from injury. He caught five balls for 56 yards and the touchdown that sent the game to OT.
St. Louis Rams at Seattle Seahawks:
Seattle blew a 24-10 lead entering the fourth quarter, watching Marc Bulger atone for three interceptions with four touchdowns. He fired TD passes to Brandon Manumaleuna, Kevin Curtis and Shaun McDonald and ran one in himself.
While secondary receivers and running backs got the glory, the mainstays of the St. Louis passing attack accounted for the bulk of the catches. Isaac Bruce caught six balls for 78 yards and Torry Holt added five catches for 53 yards.
TE Jerramy Stevens continues to become more of Mike Holmgren's passing attack. He finished with three catches for 35 yards and a touchdown.
Matt Hasselbeck finished with a respectable 216 passing yards and two touchdowns.
I'll be back on Tuesday with a complete look inside the box scores and updates from the trainer's table. See you then.