Welcome to the league, Maurice Jones-Drew.
Not only did the Jacksonville rookie out of UCLA rack up 103 yards on 13 carries in Indianapolis on Sunday, and catch another four passes for 32 yards and a score, he looked good doing it. Drew is listed at 5-foot-7, but if he's 5-foot-7, I've got Ben Affleck's ATM passcode – This just in: I don't. But Drew is a bowling ball, and the Colts simply couldn't tackle him. He had a few plays where you literally couldn't see him with all the bodies draped over him, but he still managed to break free, squirt through tiny holes, and make amazing runs. His quickness is something Fred Taylor now dreams of. Forget Alvin Pearman. Forget LaBrandon Toefield. Forget the injured Greg Jones. This little guy is the man who'll inherit the wind should Fickle Freddy go down.
Let's get some more instant reaction from the Sunday games of Week 3:
I'm just barely old enough to remember Joe Pisarcik. The Eagles hadn't gone to the playoffs in seven billion years, they were losing to the Giants, and all New York had to do was fall on the ball, but QB Joe Pisarcik fumbled, Herman Edwards (yes, that Herman Edwards) picked it up, ran it in, and Philly made the playoffs in 1978. I have to admit, though, I've never seen two Pisarciks within 17 seconds of one another. First Marc Bulger is simply burning the clock with two minutes to go, the Cardinals have used all their timeouts, all the Rams need to do is sit on the ball and punt it to Arizona with very little time left. But Bulger drops the ball. Arizona recovers on the Rams' 18. Now all the Cardinals have to do is get in position for a winning field goal. The Rams have no timeouts either. Just take a knee. And Kurt Warner does the exact same thing! He fumbles the ball (he turned it over four times in Week 3, simply murdering many of his fantasy owners), where falling on it would've done – St. Louis recovers, Rams win, 16-14. Unbelievable.
Mark Brunell started the Redskins' game in Houston by completing 22 consecutive passes, an NFL record. Naturally, in true Brunell form, no wideout or tight end accrued more than 50 yards receiving. Clinton Portis went a little crazy in his return, though, amassing 164 total yards and two TDs. On the other side of the ball, Andre Johnson caught 11 balls for 152 yards, though he didn't score.
Before all you Frank Gore owners head for your local bridge sans bungee cord, here's what happened. Gore had carried it 15 times for 52 yards, and the Niners got the ball down on the Eagles' 1. They hand it to Gore once. He's stuffed. They hand it to him again. He's stuffed. They hand it to him a third time, he's stuffed and fumbles and DT Mike Patterson of Philly returns it 98 yards for a score. Then the next two times San Francisco gets down to the Eagles' goal line, they hand it to Gore's backup, Michael Robinson, who scores the first two TDs of his NFL career. Uh-oh. Platoon coming, right? Well, probably not. It turns out Gore suffered an abdominal strain on the fumble play, and had to come out of the game. He should be back in as the full-time starter next week at Kansas City.
Hey, what's up with the font Fox used all day Sunday to show us the baseball scores? Is someone programming network graphics on a TRS-80?
Dick Enberg on Buffalo WR Roscoe Parrish: "He's recognized as one of the most explosive players in the league." Uh, Dick? I mean, it was a really nice 51-yard catch-and-run for a score. But Parrish isn't even recognized, let alone recognized as the something something something. Randy Cross then told us that Willis McGahee has "the strongest legs in the NFL." Ruh? Raggy? Isn't there at least one 350-pound lineman who can leg-press China?
As a McGahee owner, I watched with bated breath when Buffalo had the ball. On the day, he carried it 26 times for 150 yards (alas, he still hasn't scored yet in '06), but he did get stuffed a couple of times. One of those times, my buddy Bill said, "oo." I told Bill don't say "oo" about my fantasy players. It's not nice.
Najeh Davenport, where art thou? The much-hyped waiver-heap pickup from a couple weeks back doesn't look like he's in line for any goal-line carries, not after Willie Parker got the game's first red-zone series, and later was handed four consecutive carries from the one, finally scoring on fourth down.
For everyone who sent me angry emails for not respecting Eli Manning's "breakout" game last weekend against the Eagles enough? Phttttttttthhhhh. The Kid Brother was truly terrible on Sunday until garbage time. I suppose it's cool that even in his sucky games, Manning can rack up 275 yards and three touchdowns. But nearly all of that came in garbage time on Sunday, and he also threw three interceptions. Plus, he simply killed the Giants early, to the point where it was 35-3 at the half. Ugly.
Here is the fun of owning Todd Heap. On Saturday evening, word came that Heap was suddenly questionable with a sprained ankle. How did he sprain it, you ask? He sprained it stretching on Saturday morning at his house, in preparation for the team's walk-through. Uh-huh. Anyway, so all manner of angst and anxiety was incurred by Heap owners coast to coast, and many of you, no doubt, didn't start him. Heap did wind up playing, and caught five passes for 36 yards and a three-yard score.
I may have been wrong about Leon Washington. The rookie Jets running back out of Florida State has been called an inside bruiser, a guy who wouldn't be able to handle the full range of carry-types in the NFL. But he got seven carries on Sunday, and while he only went for 25 yards, I was impressed at Washington's lateral quickness – his best run, on a little flip from Chad Pennington, was called back by a holding call. As I expected, Kevan Barlow is going to be the starter here, and also the goal-line guy; Barlow owners shouldn't be too worried about the fact that Barlow didn't take the goal-line carries late in the game ( Cedric Houston did), because Barlow simply got his bell rung. But the guy who looked best to me for the Jets was Washington.
Tony Siragusa to his Fox audience: "The problem here is that the Bears just aren't tackling." Well, technically, yes they are, Goose. If they weren't, I'm pretty sure the score would be 187-0.
It was fun to see rookie Greg Jennings break a short pass into a 75-yard score, and it was also a nice consolation for Donald Driver owners (three catches, 20 yards) that he scored. But the truth is that Brett Favre threw most of his passes either to Ahman Green (eight catches) or Bubba Franks (three). The headlines will talk about Favre's 340 yards passing (and his 400th career TD pass), but (to his credit) he wasn't just gun-slinging.
Late word out of Tampa is that Chris Simms is in the hospital. According to Al Michaels on NBC, a report that Simms was in critical condition is (thankfully) erroneous. Simms did have his spleen removed, presumably because it was ruptured in the Bucs' Week 3 game. No word on how much time the quarterback will miss.
Adam Vinatieri sat out Indy's game against the Jags; Martin Gramatica was signed and kicked three extra points. You'll remember that Gramatica was barely beaten out in New England's training camp this summer by Stephen Gostkowski. Man, are the Colts stalking the Patriots, or what?
I began watching the Bears/Vikings game ready to be impressed by the Minnesota offensive line, especially Steve Hutchinson and Bryant McKinnie. And they were good; against what we all know is a crazily stingy Chicago defense, Chester Taylor rushed for 74 yards, and Brad Johnson was sacked only once. Still, I have to say the more impressive o-line on that field belonged to the Bears. In three games now, Rex Grossman has been sacked exactly once, and when Thomas Jones got rolling in the second half, it was in no small part thanks to John Tait and Bills castoff Ruben Brown.
It's worth noting that Mike Alstott got a goal-line carry from the two-yard-line early in the Bucs/Panthers game, giving Carnell Williams owners instant hernias. Alstott was unsuccessful, and in the third quarter, order was restored, as Williams scored from the four.
The Bills outgained the Jets 475 to 276. Yet they became the first team in NFL history to lose a home game in which a runner rushed for 150 yards and a quarterback passed for 300 yards. How did this happen? Two words. Or, y'know, one word and two initials: J.P. Losman. Boy, spending that first-rounder to trade up and get Losman is looking like a great move now, eh? I hate beating up on the kid. But he makes a Kevin Federline-esque number of mistakes. The fumbles. The interception. That fourth-down incompletion at the end of the game. Ugh.
Plaxico. Burress. Sucks.
Guess T.J. Houshmandzadeh is okay, huh? Well, he began the game as the third-stringer and looked pretty limpy. By the second half, however, Housh had caught nine balls for 94 yards and two quick scores that won Cincinnati the game. Chris Henry, the man who started for Housh, caught five for 69 and two scores of his own. By comparison, Chad Johnson, who the Steelers decided would not beat them, caught a single pass for 11 yards.
Dominic Rhodes was pretty clearly the guy Indy wanted to use on the ground, so much so that you start to wonder whether Joseph Addai is fantasy-relevant for the moment. Rhodes carried 14 times; Addai carried three. However, when Reggie Wayne was tackled on the one, Addai was the goal-line man (he was stuffed, and then Peyton Manning bootlegged for a rushing score himself). The thing that makes me reserve judgment on Addai is the fact that the Colts were playing Jacksonville's extremely tough rush defense, and Rhodes tends to be a bit more bruising. Let's see what happens against the hapless Jets run defense next week.
Reuben Droughns was inactive for the Browns; Jason Wright was his replacement. Wright got 31 yards on 15 carries against the brutal Ravens rush defense, but the real story of that game was the carry Wright didn't get; the Browns had the ball near the Baltimore goal line, up two points with just four minutes left, and Cleveland called a play-action pass. Urp. Charlie Frye threw a poor interception in the end zone, Baltimore marched down, and kicked a winning field goal with no time left.
A hero of Week 1 and Week 2, Donte' Stallworth didn't suit up for the Eagles because of a bad hammy. In his stead, Reggie Brown caught five passes for 106 yards, and Brian Westbrook was a huge stud: 164 total yards and three scores. Bad knee, hardly …
Braylon Edwards dropped far too many passes in the Baltimore game, but he did haul in a lovely 58-yard bomb for a score. He and Kellen Winslow are pretty clearly the only two guys worth owning in Cleveland right now.
I like Troy Aikman as an announcer, I really do. But someone needs to take him aside and clear up one of his verbal tics. Aikman on Seattle's fast start: "It doesn't get much better than what it's been for the Seahawks." Aikman on New York's late resurgence: "If the Giants come back this week, it would be even more dramatic than what it was last week." Now, I think it's pretty clear that I'm what David Foster Wallace calls a "SNOOT" ("Syntax Nudnick Of Our Time"), which is to say, I tend to be a bit anal-retentive about this kind of thing. But it seems pretty obvious to me that Aikman could easily eliminate the word "what" from about half of his sentences, and be much more decipherable – And admit it: it's kind of cool you're reading a fantasy football article where David Foster Wallace gets mentioned.
Hey Kerry Collins! Three games, one touchdown, six interceptions! Thanks for playing!
Daunte Culpepper, for his part, has been sacked 15 times so far this season.
I'm not giving up on DeAngelo Williams, but note that a week after he and DeShaun Foster split the carries in Carolina, Foster handled 20 carries, while Williams got four. However, Foster did lose a fumble, and except for a couple nice carries, still looked pretty tentative. Stay tuned. Note that Carolina has a terrific schedule over the next two weeks (home games against New Orleans and Cleveland), so I think we can assume that Steve Smith's resurgence (seven catches, 112 yards) and Jake Delhomme's adequacy (22-for-36, 272 yards, one TD, two fumbles lost) will continue.
Chris Brown was another inactive starting RB. Travis Henry was thoroughly uninspired in getting 21 carries and 60 yards. Meanwhile, Ron Dayne got 14 carries for 58 yards, while Wali Lundy and Samkon Gado combined for one carry.
Deion Branch played for Seattle, and was on the field a lot. He only made two catches for 23 yards, and had an offensive pass interference called on him, but he looked comfortable. Nate Burleson had an up-and-down game (scored a TD, but had a hellacious drop at the Giants' three). Stay tuned, part deux.
Let me end this week by saying: I love Larry Fitzgerald. He's a super-fast guy on the outside, but he doesn't care: he'll go over the middle, too. He caught a ball on the Rams' three-yard-line in the middle of the field, took hits from both safeties, broke those two tackles, absolutely barreled over a third guy, and scored on an amazing individual effort. Then he just dropped the ball and ran off the field. Classy. Tough. Love that guy.