What was the best thing I saw all day on Sunday? Easy choice.
In the second half from Philly, the Fox cameras panned the Dallas sideline. Were they seeking out Bill Parcells? Had Jerry Jones brought a bloodshot-and-attacked-by-munchies Matthew McConaughey onto the field? No, it was just your favorite wacky superheroes, Mike Vanderjagt and Terrell Owens, a.k.a. The Ambiguously Gray Duo.
Vanderjagt stood over Owens, who was seated on the Cowboys bench. The kicker was exhorting the receiver not to get frustrated, not to let the fans get to him, not to lose his focus. In other news, Yoko Ono called Kevin Federline to tell him to keep his chin up.
Is the Idiot Kicker serious? Granted, Vanderjagt made a clutch tying kick early in the fourth, but can we all agree that he hasn't exactly earned the star on his helmet yet? And didn't he learn anything from previous interactions with real football players? Don't we all still have the picture of Vanderjagt slapping Peyton Manning's shoulder pads, telling him, "Come on, Eighteen!" I mean, I'm not a big Owens fan, but I had a pretty hard time not rooting for No. 81 to rise up and pop Vanderjagt in the earring.
By the way, it didn't work. After Drew Bledsoe underthrew Owens by a wide margin in the fourth quarter, Fox caught a great slo-mo shot of T.O. coming to the sidelines shouting, "Are you kidding me?" Same old, same old.
From two idiots to a crazy week. Let's take a look at the rest of the highlights:
I get at least a dozen emails a week calling Reggie Bush a huge bust. And I dutifully try to explain that he's not a bust, he's an amazing offensive weapon who can score from anywhere on the field. He leads the NFL in receptions. And he won New Orleans a game they probably should've lost by returning a punt 65 yards for a score with four minutes left on Sunday. In PPR leagues, Bush is verging on top-five RB territory. In standard leagues, he's still worth a start in deep leagues every single week.
Numerologists around the world are searching Wiccan almanacs for an explanation. Until very late, the day's leading rushers, and there were four of them, all rushed for precisely 123 yards. Tiki Barber, Chester Taylor, Travis Henry and Deuce McAllister all landed exactly on that number. Of these guys, Deuce was the day's best fantasy player, as he scored on a lovely 24-yard rush, and also had a 57-yard ramble down to the Tampa 2. Barber had a big rushing breakout day against what was a solid Redskins rush defense against Jacksonville last week. Taylor was terrific at least in part because of the Lions' injuries (more on that in a moment). And Henry was a surprise starter, with Chris Brown a healthy scratch; his success is as much an indictment of the terrible Indy rush defense as anything else. Of course, Frank Gore had to ruin all this "1-2-3" stuff late, getting 134 yards against the pitiful Raiders.
Matt Leinart sure began well. In his first NFL start, he threw a 49-yard TD pass to Anquan Boldin on the game's fourth play, and then after a Kansas City turnover, tossed a five-yard TD to Larry Fitzgerald. Two TDs in nine minutes as a starting quarterback. Unfortunately, uh, that was it. Leinart didn't play badly thereafter, but he couldn't connect on the big play to bring the Cardinals back after the Chiefs made up the gap. Damon Huard was conservative but excellent, going 26-for-38 for 288 yards, two TDs, no picks and a lost fumble. For his part, Leinart was 22-for-35 for 253 yards, those two TDs and a pick.
Poor Lions. They were incredibly gutsy compiling a 17-3 lead in the fourth quarter, despite a skein of injuries that made Titanic look like a Band-Aid commercial. Shaun Rogers, Roy Williams, Damien Woody, Shaun Cody, Fernando Bryant, Kevin Jones and Paris Lenon all left the game; Williams (shoulder), Cody (toe) and Jones (concussion) all missed the rest of the game (Jones's injury took place on the game's final drive). In the end, it wasn't really the defense that hurt Detroit; two offensive turnovers for touchdowns (a fumble return by Ben Leber and an interception by E.J. Henderson) helped Minnesota come back in a single quarter to the tune of a 26-17 win.
Marc Bulger still doesn't have an interception all year, and the Rams are 4-1. But the no-INT stat for Bulger is misleading. As the Sunday Night Football crew pointed out, Bulger would've thrown three picks if not for the hellacious stone-hands of (respectively) A.J. Hawk, Al Harris and Charles Woodson.
You know, when CBS's graphics start making that cool robotic whirring noise, it's like I'm on a magical spaceship, and I feel so happy.
Hey Cowboys fans. Now you know what it's like to root for Drew Bledsoe.
Let's just say Larry Johnson had a mixed day. There's absolutely no question that the Chiefs offensive line will never be the same, as L.J.'s 16 carries for 36 yards against Arizona attest. However, Johnson did catch six passes for 106 yards, including a short TD and the game-changer, a 78-yard ramble on a dump-off from Huard. Johnson did lose a fumble, though, and also got his neck nastily wrenched at the end of that long reception when Antrel Rolle facemasked him. He was seen icing his neck after that late-fourth-quarter play.
Ahman Green and Adam Vinatieri do not like fantasy football. Along with Chris Brown, they were surprise inactives that bit fantasy players across the nation on the tush. Green was replaced by Vernand Morency in the starting lineup, but Morency did his level best to give the job to someone else by fumbling twice; Noah Herron got 20 carries to Morency's six, and exceeded 100 yards and got a goal-line score. Vinatieri, who was sure he'd play in the cozy RCA Dome confines, didn't.
Let's have a moment from Concrete Blonde: "Joey. Baby. Don't get. Crazy." Joey Harrington started in place of Daunte Culpepper (at least the Fish hinted they'd make this move on Friday and Saturday), and played relatively well. All told, he was 26-for-41 for 232 yards, but he made exactly two dreadful passes, both picked off by Asante Samuel. Harrington consistently found open guys early in the game, but when the pressure mounted, he had a tougher time. I think it's simplistic to say Joey's problems are because he looks straight at his intended receiver every time he throws, and in fact, I'm betting Miami came away relatively impressed with their backup. When Jon Kitna coughed up two turnovers late to choke away the Lions game on Sunday, I came to my final conclusion: it's the Detroit Lions uniforms that are haunted. All Joey needed to do was laundry.
It's like I always say: Richard Marshall giveth, and Richard Marshall taketh away. In Carolina's win over Cleveland, Marshall returned a pick 30 yards for a touchdown, on a pass that Dennis Northcutt inexplicably deflected directly into Marshall's hands. Nice. However, Marshall fumbled away a third-quarter punt return that could've been a game-changer, if Charlie Frye hadn't lost a fumble on the very next play. All told, despite the fact that it was the Browns, it's pretty clear that the Panthers defense is back. In particular, Julius Peppers (five tackles, a sack and a fumble recovery) was huge.
Unsurprising legal note of the week: the NFL announced that Koren Robinson will be suspended for a year because of his multiple DUIs. Robinson will get his day before the commissioner for an appeal in a couple of weeks, but when, as expected, the commissioner clears his throat and says, "Next!" Robinson will go bye-bye from the Packer offense.
I know Henry looked good (and remember, it was the Colts), but the guy I was most impressed with for the Titans was LenDale White – Eight carries for 48 yards, including two slashing carries on his first two touches for 12 and 19 yards. At this point, it seems just about impossible to predict what Jeff Fisher's going to do with his RBs on a weekly basis, but by the second half of the year, I truly believe it's going to be White.
By the way, Bill Walsh and Dick Vermeil still look pretty stupid in their Coors Light "press conferences." And yeah, um, it's pretty eerie when like 10 of the 13 TVs you're watching are at different places in a Bill Walsh beer-induced presser. Like a horrible game of "Around" from which you simply cannot wake up.
Let's take a look at the "I'm-Seriously-Thinking-About-Quitting-Fantasy-Football" wide receivers of 2006; you know: the guys who've unexpectedly dominated your league, after your mom (who was the only person available at the last minute when your best friend wasn't home for the draft) picked them in the 14th round because she liked their names. Bernard Berrian did it again: four catches for 97 yards and a short score, which brings his season totals to 316 yards and three scores. Reggie Williams did it again: four catches for 53 yards and a meaningless 16-yard score that made his owners smile (and brought him to 244 yards and three scores of his own). Greg Jennings also did it: five catches for 105 yards and a lovely 46-yard TD. Jerricho Cotchery and Marques Colston, however, didn't follow through on their respective threats to score a TD every single week. Cotchery caught four passes for 49 yards, and Colston caught three for 38. Neither scored (much to your mom's chagrin).
Amani Toomer owners are also very sad. He did have four catches for 81 yards, but Plaxico Burress's touchdown should have been Toomer's. If Jeremy Shockey wasn't a turnip-head, and hadn't committed an unnecessary downfield tackle of a defensive back, Toomer's TD catch would've counted.
What in the world is Brad Evans going to do? DeAngelo Williams badly sprained his ankle after his very first carry of the game, and did not return.
One of my better calls on the week was Thomas Jones of the Bears. The only thing that bummed out his owners was the fact that Chicago killed Buffalo so badly that Jones had no reason to play much in the second half, and thus ceded two TDs that probably should've been his to Cedric Benson. Don't be fooled, though: Jones was the man. He rushed for 50 yards in the first quarter, and wound up with 109 yards on 22 carries. I kept reading all week how Buffalo was hard to rush against, and I kept saying, "Huh?" Nutty. Especially without Takeo Spikes in the middle, the Bills are not hard to rush against. Going into this week, they'd given up the 12th-most fantasy points to running backs. And that number went up again this week, folks. By the way: with the Bears looking like the best team in football, now we have to start worrying about Rex Grossman getting pulled in the fourth quarter, a la Peyton Manning? Yep: Brian Griese played the fourth on Sunday.
Oh, Brandon Stokley. Why must you ruin your perfect season? Up until Week 5, Stokley had been thrown to exactly once, and had converted that pass into a TD. Perfection. Alas, Stokley got healthy this week (for a little while), and caught five passes for 57 yards and no touchdowns. Sigh. Perfection gone. He also re-injured his leg.
J.P. Losman's first half: 7-for-15, 0 TDs, 2 INTs. Losman's day: 14-for-27, 1 garbage-ish TD, three picks. Spin that, Bills fans.
Exactly how many passes did Tom Brady have knocked down at the line of scrimmage? Four? Five? A thousand? Brady turned in an okay fantasy day because he connected with Heath Evans on a finishing score. But Miami does seem to have Brady figured out better than most.
Randy Moss caught a 22-yard TD pass. Does that mean we can all trade him now?
Hey, NBC. Pink was really cool in 2000. Oh, wait. No she wasn't.