Shutdown Corner - NFL

Antoine Cason(notes), Ron Rivera, Norv Turner, San Diego Chargers.

Here's a pretty good microcosm for the Chargers' season. This is Bengals WR Jerome Simpson's(notes) second touchdown of the day, and it came simply because the Chargers weren't ready or prepared, and the other team was.

Watch as the Bengals break their huddle way before the Chargers do, and Antoine Cason hasn't even made it out to Simpson when he starts his route.

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There it was. If the Chargers had really wanted to stop that play, they'd have been focused enough to do it. But they weren't. So they lost. Now they'll be sitting at home for the playoffs, and that's exactly what they've earned.

Chad Ochocinco(notes) and Terrell Owens(notes), WR, Cincinnati Bengals.

When I heard Sunday that Chad Ochocinco was out, on top of Terrell Owens already being out for the season, I got an odd feeling that Carson Palmer(notes) was about to feel a sense of freedom and relief that he hasn't known in years. Sure enough, he went out and had his best game of the season.

His passer rating on the day was 157.2, just 1.1 points off of perfect.  Two-hundred and sixty-nine yards on 16 completions, with four touchdowns and no interceptions. Simpson, Andre Caldwell(notes) and Jermaine Gresham(notes) combined for 14 catches and 267 yards.

I know it's dangerous to try to extrapolate too much meaning from this one game, but I guess that's what I'm about to do. Is it possible that Palmer felt freed up with both big-name WRs out? That he was more efficient and productive when he felt no obligation to try and get anyone a particular amount of targets? Something to think about.

Rashad Jennings(notes), RB, Jacksonville Jaguars.

This was fantasy championship week for most people, and I know a lot of them were relying on Rashad Jennings. Maurice Jones-Drew(notes), who carried many a fantasy team through the season, was ruled out. Jennings had excelled in a backup role, and got to play the Redskins, who are not very good at playing football.

Jennings flopped. Like Manu Ginobili in a baby-oil wrestling match against Shaq.

For some reason, the Redskins just seemed like the more desperate team. That doesn't make any sense, since the Jags were still alive for a playoff spot, and the Redskins were barely alive in a clinical, medical sense. But it's fine with me. If the Jags were going to lay down in a game of importance, I'm glad it happened now before they could sully the playoffs.

Antonio Cromartie(notes), CB, New York Jets.

Cromartie accepts this spot on behalf of Dwight Lowery(notes) and Drew Coleman(notes), too, as they were the three Jets corners who Jay Cutler(notes) picked on Sunday. He generally stayed away from Darrelle Revis(notes), but everyone else was fair game for Cutler and Johnny Knox(notes).

That was the old school Mike Martz stuff Sunday. To be honest with you, it was a game I expected the Bears to lose. I thought the Jets defense, with its attacking nature and ability to confuse, would give Jay Cutler problems. And Cutler didn't go crazy or anything -- he completed only 13-of-25 passes for 215 yards, but he and Martz found a fistful of big plays.

The only other team to score 30 on the Jets this year? The Patriots.

Kerry Collins(notes), QB, Tennessee Titans.

Once upon a time, I felt like Kerry Collins was one of the most underrated and underappreciated quarterbacks in the league. And I still feel like that in a historical sense, but currently ... Kerry Collins is not good.

I realize that that probably doesn't come as a tremendous shock to you, but Sunday, Collins completed 38 percent of his passes and was picked off twice. The 38 percent is what's most frightening, especially because the Titans don't go deep very often.

I don't know what will happen between Vince Young(notes), Jeff Fisher and Bud Adams, but going into next season with Kerry Collins as their quarterback hopefully is not something they're considering.

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