Quick Hits (Details in individual
Week 16 Injury Report (available
- No more byes
- IND DE Dwight Freeney unstoppable to QB
- TB shakes up DLine, gets great results
- WAS LB LaVar Arrington returns, sees limited time
- HOU rookie CB Dunta Robinson looking like D-ROY
- CAR rookie CB Chris Gamble leads NFC in picks
- NYG Umenyiora, Greisen, and Alexander thriving
A lot of it was the ineptness of the Rams offense since Marc Bulger
went down, but the Cards made some plays on defense to stop a four-game
losing streak and, amazingly, remain in playoff contention in the
brutal NFC West.
They actually dominated the time of possession so much, that
their defensive stats were limited. Rookie LB Karlos Dansby filled
up the box score, leading the team with 8 tackles (6 solo), as
well as getting a sack and forcing a fumble.
DE Bert Berry posted just half a sack, which he shared with CB
David Macklin, but he's now gotten to the QB in each of the last
6 games he's played and 8.5 over that period. He is tied for the
NFC lead with 12.5. Macklin had a good day, in addition to the
shared sack, he had 5 tackles (4 solo), a pick, and another pass
defended. FS Ifeanyi Ohalete squelched the only serious offensive
threat of the day. After being beaten for an apparent TD by Torry
Holt, Ohalete knocked the ball out of his hands before he crossed
the goal line and out of the end zone for a touchback.
An active front four and Keith Brooking, who finally appears to
be turned loose as a pass rusher as promised in preseason, forced
and recovered key turnovers to help the Falcons sneak past the
red hot Panthers. In addition to 7 solo tackles and a sack, Brooking
forced 2 fumbles, one of which was recovered by rookie DT Chad
Lavalais. Lavalais got another start for Ed Jasper, who remains
inactive with a fracture in his wrist. Lavalais also had 4 solo
tackles and his first career sack. DE Brady Smith helped keep
the momentum in the 3rd quarter after the Falcons went up by 2
TDs by sacking Jake Delhomme four plays later and forcing a fumble
that fellow DE Patrick Kerney recovered.
1st round pick CB DeAngelo Hall hasn't flashed his playmaking
skills much on defense, but he did on special teams Sunday night.
On the kick-off after the Panthers tied the game in the 4th quarter,
Allen Rossum caught the kick and threw a lateral (a la the old
playground "spot pass") to Hall, who flashed his great
return skills advancing the ball 49 yards. This dangerous return
duo is an X-factor for the Falcons, and could make a difference
in the playoffs. Reserve CB Aaron Beasley intercepted the ball
on the Panthers third play of OT, setting up the winning FG. SS
Bryan Scott led the team 10 tackles (7 solo). CB Jason Webster
remained sidelined with a groin injury.
Although they were able to contain Peyton Manning, no sacks, no
turnovers, and no help from the offense resulted in a loss. Ray
Lewis led the team with 11 tackles (8 solo) and had a forced fumble.
He was shaken up briefly when teammate Marques Douglass collided
with him on a tackle. It turns out he has a fracture in his wrist,
but is expected to play with a cast this week.
LB Takeo Spikes made a triumph return to Cincinnati more enjoyable
with an INT returned 62 yards for a score. It was his second INT
for a TD this season. He also had 3 tackles (2 solo) and a fumble
recovery. LB London Fletcher had a great all-around game. He led
the team with 9 tackles (6 solo), adding a sack and fumble recovery.
Streaky Aaron Schobel is in the midst of another hot streak.
He got his team-leading ninth sack on Sunday, in addition to 5
tackles (3 solo) and a forced fumble. Schobel didn't have a sack
or forced fumble the first three games, then had 6 sack and 2
FF in the next three games, then had none for the next four games,
now he has had 3 sacks and 2 FF in the last three games. At the
other end, Chris Kelsay is having a nice three-game run as well.
With a sack in each of his last two games, Kelsay had 6 tackles
(5 solo) and his first career INT on Sunday. Playing in Buffalo
has also rejuvenated veteran DT Sam Adam's pass rush ability.
He had a sack Sunday giving him 4 on the year, including 3 in
his last 2 games. After having 5 sacks last year, his first as
a Bill, he has his best back-to-back sack seasons since 1996 and
Troy Vincent remained at FS with Terrence McGee and Nate Clements
continuing to start at the corners.
After a disheartening muffed punt gave the Falcons great field
position with 7 point lead in the 4th quarter, DE Julius Peppers
almost kept the Panthers miraculous second half alive two plays
later. DT Brentson Buckner knocked the ball in the air as he was
sacking Mike Vick, and Peppers grabbed it out of the air in full
stride and returned it 60 yards for a TD to tie the game. However,
the Panthers went on to lose in OT. Peppers also displayed his
tremendous athleticism after entering on the Panthers goal line
package as a WR earlier in the game. They went to him the first
play, and he out jumped SS Bryan Scott on a fade to make a nice
grab, but Delhomme led him too far and he landed out of bounds,
much to the chagrin of his fantasy owners who missed out on a
nice potential bonus. DE Mike Rucker is finally showing some signs
of life in what has been a thoroughly disappointing season. He
was very active, knocking a pass away and picking up 3 solo tackles,
along with his second sack in his last three games.
1st round pick CB Chris Gamble looked fully recovered from groin
problems the prior week, as he made two athletic interceptions.
He now leads the NFC with six. MLB Dan Morgan stayed healthy too,
leading the team with 9 tackles (7 solo) and recovering a fumble.
Morgan has 18 tackles (13 solo), 2 picks, a forced fumble, and
a fumble recovery in the last two weeks since returning from a
The defense again played well, having to contend with the league's
most inept offense doing little to support them. In a stretch
where they kept pinning the Texans in bad field position, but
the offense failing to do anything with their resulting good field
position, the defense scored the first points of for the Bears,
when DE Adewale Ogunleye and DT Tank Johnson chased David Carr
into the end zone and he was called for intentional grounding,
resulting in a safety.
DT Ian Scott, who has been a pleasant surprise this year, led
the team with 7 solo tackles. DE Alex Brown was looking better
than he has for a while, but still failed to get to the QB. Brown
had 4 solo tackles and batted down 2 passes.
With Brian Urlacher out indefinitely with a hammy, Hunter Hillenmeyer
moved back to MLB and Marcus Reese started on the strongside.
Hillenmeyer had 5 solo tackles and a sack, while Reese had just
Usually, DE Carl Powell is replaced by Duane Clemons on passing
downs. With Clemons inactive Sunday with a knee injury, Powell,
who has been bothered by knee problems himself much of the year,
saw more work and had his best game of the season. He had his
first 2 sacks of the year, along with 7 tackles (6 solo) and a
forced fumble. On the other end, Justin Smith continues to struggle
to produce. He had his worst game of the season, posting just
1 assist. He hasn't had a sack in three games.
CB Deltha O'Neal missed his second straight game due to an ankle
injury and rookie Keiwan Ratliff got his second start, again in
After a very productive first half, DE Ebenezer Ebukan slipped
into mediocrity and was demoted to pass package, while DT Michael
Meyer was installed as the starting LDE. Ekuban snapped a string
of 5 straight games without a sack, getting one on Sunday. His
presence might be needed more the remainder of the year as DE
Kenard Lang sprained his knee and sat out the second half. DT
Alvin McKinley, who stepped into a starting DT role when Meyer
slid over to DE and Orpheus Roye went down, led the team with
9 tackles (5 solo). Lang and Roye both say they'll play this week.
Former 1st round pick Gerard Warren had just 1 solo tackle. He
hasn't had a sack in 4 weeks and hasn't had more than 2 tackles
in any game this year.
Chris Crocker was inactive for the second straight game, with
Earl Little again back as the starting FS.
With LB Al Singleton inactive with an abdominal strain, it was
Scott Shanle who got the start on the strongside. Bradie James
seems the prototypical Parcells LB and has seen time on the weakside,
but Parcells is apparently adamant about sticking to the depth
chart when the guy in front can't go. This came out in the discussion
regarding reserve S Keith Davis earlier in the week. After mentioning
he is a guy Parcells would like to see more of, he was asked why
not at SS, where neither Tony Dixon nor Lynn Scott has established
themselves in trying to replace Darren Woodson. Parcells said
for Davis to see time, it would have to be at FS, the position
occupied by Roy Williams. Parcells clarified that didn't mean
he was thinking of sitting Williams more, just that was the only
way Davis would see more time. Whether or not there some reading
between the lines on Roy Williams's part, he had one of his better
games of the season on Sunday, with 5 solo tackles, 3 passes defended,
and an INT, his second in as many games.
DE Marcellus Wiley failed to build on his big game the prior
week. He was back to his disappointing self with just 1 solo tackle.
Opposite him, Greg Ellis had 5 tackles (4 solo), a sack, and a
1st round pick LB D.J. Williams had the best game of his career,
with a game-high 12 solo tackles and his first career forced fumble
on a sack in the 4th quarter. However, it was too little, too
late to help the team already down 35-10. It's also likely too
little, too late to help his Defensive ROY chances
he definitely was one of the top IDP rookies this year. With his
big day, he has regained the lead from NYJ LB Jonathan Vilma for
most tackles by a rookie, as well as the team lead over LB Al
Wilson. Wilson also had a sack and forced fumble to go with 8
tackles (5 solo).
Rookie LB Teddy Lehman had the best game of his young career with
a game-high 9 tackles (6 solo) and his first career sack. After
holding out hope he could return this year, LB Boss Bailey was
finally placed on the IR last week. After what was supposed to
be a routine cleaning of the right knee in the preseason, extensive
cartilage damage was found and more serious surgery was required.
It was his third surgery on the knee since high school.
DE James Hall had 2 sacks Sunday, giving him 11.5 for the season,
good for fourth in the league. He is the first Lion to reach double-digits
in sack since Robert Porcher in 2001. Hall has been one of the
breakout IDP stars of 2004.
CB Fernando Bryant remained inactive with an ankle injury.
When DE Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila sacked Byron Leftwich late in the
second quarter and the ball came loose, most players on both teams
thought it was an incompletion and started walking back to the
huddle. FS Darren Sharper scooped it up and took 15 yards to the
end zone for a TD that finally gave GB their first lead. It looked
like the early success of the Jaguars on the frozen tundra was
an illusion, and the Packers would ride the cold weather to victory.
However, that would be the only turnover of the day for Jacksonville,
and the Jags would weather the weather and run over the Packers
to victory. Sharper also had 7 tackles (6 solo) in his best game
since returning from a knee injury.
1st round pick CB Dunta Robinson may have taken the lead for good
in the Defensive ROY race. With a fine athletic play, he grabbed
his 6th INT just before halftime. He not only leads the tea, and
is tied for the rookie lead in picks, but is tied for third in
the league. He also got his third sack and second forced fumble
of the season with a nice blindside hit late in the 4th quarter.
Fellow rookie Charlie Anderson picked up the ball and returned
it 60 yards for his first career TD to put the game away. His
three sacks have all came in the last two games and are as many
as fellow 1st round pick OLB Jason Babin, who has started all
season and was expected to help bring some more pressure on the
QB. Robinson also had 7 solo tackles and is among the rookie leaders
in that category for the season.
Glenn Earl returned to starting at SS and Jason Simmons started
at FS, as Marcus Coleman is out for the year.
DE Dwight Freeney went up against one of the best LTs in the game
in Jonathan Ogden, and was only temporarily slowed down. His freakish
quickness of the line was too much for Jonathan Ogden, and Freeney
tallied 2 more sacks, giving him the NFL lead and setting a new
franchise record with 15. He has 8 sacks in his last three games.
LB Rob Morris left the game in the 3rd quarter with a concussion
and Jim Nelson saw most of the work in his place. FS Idrees Bashir
left in the second half with a leg injury and Cory Bird saw time
for him. Rookie Bob Sanders could be back from a strained MCL
next week and would start in Bashir's place if he's out. That
would give them the safety tandem of Sanders and Mike Doss they
envisioned when they drafted Sanders this year, but hasn't been
realized due to injuries. Doss had a strong game Sunday, especially
in run support. He had a game-high 12 tackles (10 solo), a forced
a fumble, and an INT.
So much for Brett Favre's near invincibility in cold weather at
home. The sub-freezing tempatures appeared to effect Favre more
than his opponents, as 3 of his passes sailed to Jaguars and he
fumble away another, helping seal the upset victory. CB Rashean
Mathis grabbed 2 of the interceptions, including one in the Jaguars
end zone on a 1st-and-3, and broke up 3 other passes. He also
had 7 tackles (5 solo). FS Deon Grant had the other pick, as well
as a fumble recovery and 7 tackles (5 solo) of his own. However,
the name in the Jacksonville secondary Green Bay players, coaches,
and fans won't forget soon is that of SS Donovin Darius. He led
the team with 11 tackles (6 solo), but it was the one pass of
the game he broke up that made him infamous. On a long pass late
in the game, he applied a Jack Tatumesque hook to the head of
Packers WR Robert Ferguson, that stripped him of the ball, his
helmet, and, most frighteningly, loss of feeling in his legs temporarily.
Ferguson was carted off the field and, fortunately, a battery
of tests revealed no long-term concerns. Darius was ejected from
the game and will likely face a fine and, possibly suspension,
from the league.
The offense was rolling as usual Sunday, but the defense stepped
up when it had to, preventing a typical shoot-out. For example,
on the Broncos longest play from scrimmage, a 58-yard screen pass
to Tatum Bell, SS Greg Wesley caught him and knocked the ball
out of his hands and through the end zone for a touchback. Although
Willie Pile started again, Wesley returned to action after missing
three games with a hamstring injury. Wesley also had 7 solo tackles.
FS Jerome Woods missed his fourth straight game with a knee injury.
Shaunard Harts continued to start in his place.
Monty Beisel was back in the starting lineup at OLB, but it may
not be for long. After beginning the season as the starting MLB,
Beisel missed all or most of six straight games with a calf injury.
He was worked back in the previous week, getting a sack, and then
started Sunday, finishing with 4 tackles (3 solo), but suffered
a strained groin during the game. The man who replaced him at
MLB early this year, Kawika Mitchell, had the best game of his
career on Sunday. He led the team with a career-high 10 tackles
(9 solo) and had his first two sacks of his career.
MLB Zach Thomas remained inactive with a partial tear in his hamstring
and Derrick Pope continues to replace him. Pope had 9 tackles
(4 solo) and has 34 tackles, 2 sacks, and a forced fumble in the
four games he has replaced Thomas.
SS Sammy Knight's playmaking skills were absent early in the
season, but he had 2 picks Monday night and with 3 in his last
2 games, he now leads the team with 4.
FS Brian Russell and Corey Chavous are playing like its 2003 again.
After a huge season last year, Russell's production has declined
this year, but his last two games have been very good. He had
his first INT the previous week and on Sunday, led the team with
8 tackles (4 solo). He has 18 tackles (11 solo) in his last two
games. After a career-high 8 picks last year, Chavous finally
had his first Sunday. He also had 7 tackles (6 solo) and broke
up another pass.
CB Antoine Winfield missed his second straight game with an ankle
sprain. Terrance Shaw continued to start in his place. Winfield
is expected back Friday for a crucial showdown with Green Bay
that will determine the division.
New England Patriots
After a brief cameo in their last game, former starting CB Tyrone
Poole was ruled out for the season prior to Sunday's game. He
was placed on the IR with a knee injury that cost him several
weeks before his brief return the previous week. Ty Law remained
inactive, and there was hope he'd return this week, but after
struggling on his bad foot in practice last week, it's unlikely
he'll be back before the playoffs. Asante Samuel and Randall Gay
continue to start in their place.
LB Willie McGinest had a sack Monday night and leads the team
Reserve DE 1st round pick Will Smith had another crucial play
that contributed to victory. After the Saints trimmed the lead
to 17-14 with less than 4 minutes to play, K John Carney made
a costly mistake that could have cost New Orleans the game. His
kick-off sailed out of bounds, giving Tampa Bay the ball at their
40 and a good opportunity to run down the clock and pin the Saints
deep. However, on the first play from scrimmage, Smith stripped
Michael Pittman and CB Fahkir Brown recovered the fumble, which
set the offense up for the game-winning drive. Smith also had
5 tackles (3 solo) and has been a great contributor all year,
despite being blocked from a starting spot by the Saints outstanding
starting DE duo of Darren Howard and Charles Grant. Smith's 6
sacks are second among rookies and his 4 forced fumbles lead them.
Grant led the team with 8 tackles (6 solo) and had a fumble recovery,
while Howard had 7 tackles (5 solo) and a sack.
None of the Saints normal starting LBs, as of just a few weeks
ago, played Sunday. Orlando Ruff was inactive due to an ankle
sprain suffered in the previous game. Rookie Courtney Watson,
who lost the starting MLB job to Ruff after injury earlier this
season, returned to the starting lineup in his place. Watson had
6 tackles (2 solo). LB Sedrick Hodge remained inactive with a
knee injury, giving James Allen another start. Allen had 4 tackles
(2 solo) and a forced fumble. Rookie LB Colby Bockwoldt continues
to step up filling in for Derrick Rodgers, who is out for the
season. Bockwoldt had 7 tackles (6 solo) and a pass defensed.
After a slow start, Mike McKenzie now has picks in back-to-back
games and his three on the season is tied for the team lead.
New York Giants
The replacements were the story Sunday. Nick Greisen lost the
MLB job after holding most of the preseason, but he has been putting
in a claim on the weakside job all year, as Barrett Green has
battled injury and inconsistency. With Green opting for season-ending
knee surgery last week, Greisen got the start and led the team
with a career-high 15 tackles (13 solo) and his first sack of
the season. Even more impressive was DE Osi Umenyiora, who had
13 tackles (8 solo) and a sack. Thrust into the starting lineup
mid-season due to injuries, he leads the team with 7 sacks. He
has 17 tackles (10 solo), 1.5 sacks, and a fumble recovery for
a TD in the last 2 games.
Once a rookie of the year candidate, SS Gibril Wilson missed
his fifth consecutive game with nerve damage in his right shoulder.
Terry Cousin originally worked at SS, but providing better support
against the pass, Cousin moved back to FS and Brent Alexander
moved to SS. Alexander has thrived since the move, and while he
couldn't beat his old team single-handedly, but he tried. Alexander
had 7 tackles (3 solo), a sack, and an INT, giving him 20 tackles
(14 solo), 2 sacks, an INT, and a forced fumble over the last
Veteran DL Reggie Upshaw, who was signed as a FA three weeks
ago due to all the injuries on the DLine, was placed on the IR
with a broken hand. DE Raheem Orr was signed from the practice
squad to fill Upshaw's roster spot.
New York Jets
LB Eric Barton and DE Shaun Ellis both justified their big contracts
Sunday, playing major roles in protecting a big lead for a blowout
victory between two likely playoff teams. On a 4th-and-goal at
the one in the 3rd quarter, Barton stripped Shaun Alexander and
Ellis recovered the fumble, saving the Seahawks from creeping
back into the game. Later in the 4th quarter, they switched roles,
with Ellis forcing a fumble on a sack, which OG Steve Hutchinson
briefly recovered before his own man knocked it free again, and
Barton ended up with it deep in Seattle territory. The offense
scored on the next drive, widening the lead to 20 points. Barton
also had a pick, defended another pass, and led the team with
11 tackles (7 solo). He moved past Jonathan Vilma by one for the
team lead in tackles for the season. Ellis had 2 other solo tackles,
in addition to the sack.
Opposite Barton on the strongside, LB Victor Hobson missed his
fourth straight game with an ankle injury and Mark Brown continued
to start in his place. LB Sam Cowart once again played sparingly.
Opposite Ellis at right end, DE John Abraham missed his second
straight game with a knee sprain. Bryan Thomas once again started
in his place. Abraham is unlikely to return before the playoffs.
CB Charles Woodson sat out the game with a bone bruise on his
knee, but it didn't slow down his post-game celebrating. He and
teammate Marques Anderson, who returned Sunday to his starting
SS job from a hamstring injury, were arrested early Monday morning
for Public Intoxication. Both were reportedly in the back of some
woman's car, and were acting belligerent and refused to get out
when she asked them to, so she flagged down a cop. They were arrested,
but released shortly after. There is a chance they could be fined
or suspended by the league (if they are in the substance abuse
program), but most likely any disciplinary action will come from
the team. Back to the game, Nnamdi Asomugha started at CB in Woodson's
place. Asomugha finished with 9 solo tackles. Fellow starting
CB Phillip Buchanon injured his tailbone on an INT in the 2nd
quarter that was erased after being challenged. He sat out the
second half, with Denard Walker seeing more work.
DE/DT Warren Sapp celebrated his 32nd birthday with his best
game as a Raider. He had 5 tackles (4 solo), his first solo sack
of the year, and a fumble recovery. Undrafted FA rookie reserve
DE Tommy Kelly had a fine debut his first three weeks before slowing
down. He got back to the QB Sunday, getting a sack, a forced fumble,
and another solo tackle. His 4 sacks and 3 forced fumbles actually
lead the team, despite being inactive for the first 6 games.
LB DeLawrence Grant remains inactive and it appears his career
as a Raider is over. Sam Williams has taken his starting OLB job
and has been solid. MLB Danny Clark continues to be the most consistently
productive Raider IDP, he led the team in tackles with 10 (8 solo),
as well as having a sack and breaking up a pass.
With all the injuries on the DLine, Hugh Douglas was back starting
at DE again. He didn't have quite the impact fellow prodigal son
Jeremiah Trotter has had since returning to the starting lineup,
but Trotter didn't have one of his better games Sunday either.
Both had just 1 solo tackle.
DE Corey Simon was back in the lineup after leaving early the
prior week with back spasms. He had a sack and another solo tackle.
He now has 5 sacks in his last four games, really three, as he
didn't play much the prior week.
Young CBs Lito Sheppard and Sheldon Brown continue to be the
playmakers Andy Reid envisioned when he decided to cut the aging
Pro Bowl tandem of Bobby Taylor and Troy Vincent loose. Brown
filled up the box score with 5 solo tackles, a sack, a pick and
another pass defensed, while Sheppard grabbed his fifth pick of
the season, good for 2nd in the NFC, defensed another pass, and
had 4 solo tackles.
LB Nate Wayne missed another game due to a hamstring.
No sacks and only one turnover, but it was a huge one. Willie
Williams, who continues to start at CB in place of Chad Scott
who remained in active with a leg injury, collided with Amani
Toomer on a deep pass late in the game. Toomer fell, but Williams
kept his balance long enough to pick off the ball and preserve
the 12th straight win for the Steelers. It was Williams's first
pick of the year. He also had 5 tackles (3 solo).
LB Kendrell Bell also remained inactive with a groin injury,
with Larry Foote continuing to start in his place. Foote led the
team with 11 tackles (8 solo). LB Clark Haggans missed the game,
as expected, also due to a groin injury. James Harrison replaced
him and finished with 3 solo tackles and a pass defended. Both
Bell and Haggans are expected to miss this week. LB James Farrior
had a rare disappointing game, posting just 2 solo tackles.
DE Leonard Little scored the only points of the day for the Rams,
as the defense was handicapped by a brutal offensive effort. Reserve
rookie DE Tony Hargrove forced a fumble on a sack just before
halftime, and Little picked it up and returned it 61 yards for
a TD. Hargrove had had his best game of his young career. In addition
to the sack and forced fumble, he had 8 tackles (6 solo). Little
also had 2 solo tackles. In off-field news for Little, his request
to have his latest felony drunken driving charge (April 2004)
thrown out was dismissed by the Missouri Supreme Court. Now if
he's convicted on that charge, he faces 4 years in jail as felon,
since he's a persistent offender due to his 1998 conviction of
involuntary manslaughter in a druken driving accident.
LB Tommy Polley led the team with 10 tackles (8 solo), but couldn't
add more when he was ejected early in the 4th quarter for punching
AZ DT Russell Davis when words were exchanged after a play near
the Cardinals sideline. LB Pisa Tinoisamoa showed no ill-effects
from popping his injured shoulder out the previous week. He finished
with 8 tackles (7 solo).
With Aeneas Williams inactive due to a pinched nerve in his neck
and shoulder area, Antuan Edwards continues to start at FS and
saw extensive action, as did DeJuan Groce, who was bumped up to
the fifth DB.
LB Donnie Edwards didn't have the eye-popping numbers he posted
the previous two games, but he still had his third strong game
and another crucial big play contributing to another victory.
CB Drayton Florence muffed a punt after Cleveland's first drive
that gave possession back to the Browns at the Chargers 5 yard-line.
Edwards prevented the Chargers from starting the game in a hole
by intercepting a pass on the first play from scrimmage. It was
his third INT in his last two games. Edwards also had 7 tackles
Rookie reserve LB Shaun Phillips was off to a fast start as a
pass rush specialist in the first half of the season, but he hit
a wall by mid-season. He had his first sack since Week 7 on Sunday.
DE Andre Carter returned to the inactive list. He's tried to play
through the bulging disk problem in his back, but he had to miss
his eight game of the year. Andrew Williams got his first career
start in Carter's place. Williams did nothing with the opportunity.
More impressive was the work of another injury-prone enigma, LB
Saleem Rasheed. After Jamie Winborn left the game with a shoulder
injury, Rasheed filled in well. He had 8 solo tackles (including
2 on special teams), as well as a strip of Clinton Portis that
Rasheed recovered himself. Rasheed has been hampered by knee problems
and has frustrated the team with his inability to stay healthy,
but they love the speed and play-making ability he brings.
If he had started all season, SS Michael Boulware could be looking
at Defensive ROY honors. As it is, he was a playmaker as a reserve
(tied for the team lead, and second in the conference, in picks)
and continued to be in is second career start. He led the team
with 10 tackles (8 solo).
LB Chad Brown returned after missing 3 games with a knee injury,
but left the game in the 4th quarter after injuring his right
foot. It is the same foot that he had surgery on in 2002 and missed
half the season. He is expected to play this week, but is unlikely
to practice. Brown had 7 solo tackles before leaving. Tracy White
also returned from a hamstring injury, but Isaiah Kacyvenski remained
a starter outside, opposite Brown, and Orlando Huff was the MLB,
but rookie Niko Koutouvides saw significant time, finishing with
9 tackles (8 solo).
Antonio Cochran started in place of DE Grant Wistrom. DT Rocky
Bernard, reserve CB Bobby Taylor, and reserve DT Marcus Tubbs
were all inactive again Sunday.
Chidi Ahanotu started off fast for the Bucs when they added him
after Anthony McFarland and Ellis Wyms went down. Ahanotu had
a sack in each of his first three games after immediately being
installed as the starter at DT. However, he cooled down drastically
the last two weeks, showing his age, and perhaps why he couldn't
find time in Miami. At the opposite end of the career spectrum,
Dewayne White has been going in the other direction. He entered
his second year still challenged to find time at DE. When the
Bucs gave him a shot as an interior pass rusher on third downs,
he immediately thrived. On Sunday, the Bucs shuffled the front
four to get him in more. White started at LE opposite Simeon Rice,
while Greg Spires, who has been playing great at end himself,
moved to DT, bumping Ahanotu to a reserve. Ahanotu was apparently
motivated by the move, posting 3 tackles (2 solo) and a sack.
White didn't gain much from more playing time, posting just 2
solo tackles. Spires was the biggest beneficiary. He finished
with 6 tackles (5 solo), 1.5 sacks, and a forced fumble. And then
there was DE Simeon Rice. He hasn't played like the Defensive
Player of the Year candidate he was the last few years, but he
has heated up in the second half and exploded on Sunday. Rice
benefited from LT Wayne Gandy spraining his knee and leaving the
game early in the first half. He abused replacement Spencer Folau,
posting 3.5 sacks and 7 tackles (5 solo). Rice has 7.5 sacks in
his last 4 games and now has 12.5 sacks, tied for first in the
NFC and second in the league. It is the seventh season he's reached
Jack Howell continues to replace Jermaine Phillips at FS. Phillips
is out with a fracture in his arm, but could return next week.
Dexter Jackson and Mario Edwards continue to see more time rotating
in the defensive backfield, as well.
This defense has been completely decimated by injury this year.
On Sunday, only 4 of the 11 players were in the starting lineup
at the start of the season: DE Carlos Hall, DT Kevin Carter, LB
Keith Bulluck, and CB Andre Dyson. They drafted several rookies
on defense, but those that have not been injured, have been terribly
inconsistent when rushed up the depth chart.
DT Rien Long is one reserve that stepped up Sunday, posting 2
sacks, the only two of the day for the Titans. He is havin a solid
season with 5 sacks as primarily a reserve. MLB Brad Kassell led
the team with 11 tackles (9 solo). LB Keith Bulluck had the only
turnover with an INT. He also had 5 tackles (3 solo).
With San Francisco threatening to tie the game just before half-time,
MLB Antonio Pierce put a punctuation mark on his breakout season.
He returned an INT 78 yards for his first career TD and swung
the momentum back to the Redskins heading in for intermission.
Pierce also had 7 tackles (5 solo). After missing 11 games, LB
LaVar Arrington returned to action. He had 2 tackles (1 solo)
in limited snaps. Lemar Marshall still got the start and saw significant
CB Shawn Springs was inactive with a concussion after a vicious
hit the previous week. He is expected to play this week. Walt
Harris started in his place and had a pick. FS Sean Taylor also
picked off his old college teammate, with a tremendously athletic
play, practically leaping over Cedrick Wilson to take the ball
away. Before being tackled after a 30 yard return, Taylor pitched
it to Marshall, who appeared to return it the other 25 or so yards
for a TD. After review, the pitch was ruled a forward lateral.
DE Demetric Evans returned to the starting lineup after an ankle
injury kept him out the previous week.