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IDP Notes
Week 15

Quick Hits (Details in individual team notes)
  • MIA MLB Zach Thomas returns, doesn't miss a beat
  • CAR MLB Morgan aggravates injuries
  • NYG MLB Pierce doubtful with high ankle sprain
  • OAK DE Burgess holds off competition, takes NFL-lead in sacks
  • IND DE Mathis gets sack from scoring change, but none in game
  • IND LB June inactive with litany of injuries, could miss this week
  • CIN MLB Thurman benched to start game
  • CIN CB O'Neal keeps pace, has another pick to maintain NFL-lead
  • DEN CB Bailey AFC Defensive Player of Month for November
  • DEN rookie CB Williams could be sidelined a month
  • MIN FS Sharper NFC Defensive Player of Month for November
  • TB CB Barber joins 20/20 club
  • Top three WAS CBs all injured
  • Two of top three SEA CBs injured
  • STL CB Fisher likely done for season
  • WAS LB Arrington inactive with quad injury
  • DET FS Holt put on IR
  • ATL FS Scott benched
  • MIN LB Newman sprains knee, will miss time
Week 15 Injury Report (available Wednesday PM)

Returning after missing nine games with a knee injury, 1st round pick CB Antrel Rolle had his first career INT. Limited to mostly nickel work, he also had a solo tackle. Fellow rookie CB Eric Green was inactive due to a groin injury. Lamont Reid started in his place opposite David Macklin, who also had a pick. SS Adrian Wilson also had a pick, his first of the season, along with 7 solo tackles. He was playing with a sore hip that limited him in practice last week. Despite a lack of interceptions this year, Wilson is on his way to his second consecutive 100-tackle season and has 6 sacks, making him a top fantasy DB.

Orlando Huff led the team with 12 tackles (6 solo). There were high hopes for Huff from a fantasy perspective when he locked down the starting WLB job in pre-season, but he is stuck in a MLB’s body. He doesn’t have the speed to be an impact player at the position. Promising rookie reserve OLB Darryl Blackstock saw some significant work, for a change.

CB DeAngelo Hall is becoming the new Mr. Monday Night. He had a pick in each of Atlanta’s two previous MNF games and was ready for some football out of the gate this Monday night. On the Saints’ first series, NO WR Joe Horn tried to battled his way for some extra yardage after a completion in front of Hall. Hall kept trying to pull the ball lose and when SS Keion Carpenter arrived on the scene and blasted Horn, Hall came away with the ball. He returned it 20 yards setting up an easy TD drive for the offense. Hall was credited with the forced fumble and fumble recovery, but Carpenter made it happen. Hall then had a highlight reel “de-cleater” hit on NO WR Donte Stallworth in the second quarter. Hall also returned a pick 47 yards for a TD, but it was nullified by a roughing the passer call on OLB Demorrio Williams. Williams led the team with 10 tackles (9 solo). Hall also had two punt returns, including a 36-yarder, called back for penalties. In addition to the turnover, Hall had 7 solo tackles and was working as a punt returner with specialist Allen Rossum inactive.

Despite the blowout victory, penalties were a problem all night for the Falcons. DE Patrick Kerney had a sack erased by an illegal contact penalty by reserve S Antuan Edwards. Edwards was recently added and saw work at FS, as Bryan Scott has fallen down the depth chart. Ronnie Heard started in his place and had 5 tackles (4 solo) with Edwards working in as well on passing downs and posting 3 solo tackles. Scott was one of the bright young safeties in the league as a rookie last year, but has struggled in 2005 after off-season shoulder surgery.

The season officially ended for MLB Ray Lewis, as he was placed on the IR after surgery on his injured hamstring last week. OLB Adalius Thomas picked up the playmaking slack, leading the team with 8 tackles (7 solo), his team-leading sixth sack, and batting down a pass. DE/OLB Terrell Suggs followed up his big game last week with just 2 tackles (1 solo), but he did recover a fumble forced by CB Samari Rolle.

CB Chris McAlister returned after missing a game with a hamstring injury. A week after it was reported he was done for the season, DE Tony Weaver was inactive with a back injury, but could play this week.

MLB London Fletcher continues to have a most incredible stretch of production. He grabbed his first pick of the season and led the team with 14 tackles (10 solo). Over the last five games, he has 79 tackles (59 solo). WLB Angelo Crowell (12, 9 solo) and CB Nate Clements (11, 9 solo) each had double-digit tackles, as well. Clements also had a pick.

DE Aaron Schobel had a sack for the third consecutive game and leads the team with 10 for the season. He was a frequent visitor to Brady in the backfield, applying pressure a few other times and drawing a roughing personal foul when he got there too late once.

DT Sam Adams was active, but continues to be limited, apparently due to a rift with HC Mike Mularkey.

With MLB Dan Morgan and DE Julius Peppers dinged up, and DE Mike Rucker inactive, TB RB Cadillac Williams was able to run wild and help the Buccaneers beat Carolina for the first time in five games. Rucker missed the game due to a sprained ankle suffered late in their previous game. Al Wallace started in his place and Rucker is expected to return this week. Peppers, also playing through a tender ankle, had 2 solo tackles and batted down a pass. Morgan returned after missing two games with, of course, an ankle sprain. However, he aggravated his ankle, as well as his shoulder injury, in the second half and did not return. Chris Draft replaced him and had 5 solo tackles. Morgan had 6 solo tackles before leaving. Precede with caution with Morgan in the fantasy playoffs.

CB Ken Lucas led the team with 12 tackles (10 solo) and he broke up a pass. SS Marlon McCree leads the team for the season. After his seeing significant work in Week Thirteen for the first time since Week One, 1st round pick Thomas Davis failed to show up on the stat sheet.

It was snowy and muddy in Pittsburgh, perfect Bear weather, but the defense that showed up was far from the one that had been almost perfect at times earlier this year. With their season on the line, the Steelers rode The Bus once again and shoved the ball down a Bear defense that got pushed around for the first time since facing the Bengals early in the season and showed uncharacteristically poor fundamentals in the tackling department. It wasn’t the reason why they lost, but it didn’t help that Chicago was missing both starting safeties. Rookie FS Chris Harris was inactive with a sprained MCL. He is still questionable for this week, but is likely to return in the regular season. The prognosis doesn’t look as good for playmaking SS Mike Brown. He suffered a calf injury in practice last Thursday and the Bears have been quiet about the severity. There are rumors he could be done for the regular season and possibly the year. This would be a huge blow, as he has a knack for the big play and is a very good all-around talent. Mike Green, who lost his job to Harris earlier this year, was back with the first team at FS and Todd Johnson replaced Brown at SS. However, it was undrafted free agent rookie back-up Brandon McGowan who made the biggest impact at S. With Green having a rough day and the Bears utilizing an extra safety instead of second corner many times to do whatever they could to stop the run, McGowan made the most of his opportunity. McGowan tied for the team-lead in tackles with 11 (9 solo) and may have jumped Green on the depth chart. OLB Lance Briggs also had 11 tackles (8 solo). MLB Brian Urlacher had 10 (9 solo), as did CB Charles Tillman (7 solo), who also broke up a pass and forced two fumbles. All the breaks went Pittsburgh’s way, as they recovered all three fumbles the Bears forced. They had no picks or sacks.

DT Ian Scott, who has been tremendously under appreciated this season, suffered an ankle injury on a cheap cut block during a screen pass. He is questionable and would be a huge loss to the defense. Scott isn’t a stat producer, but after slimming down since Lovie Smith came to town, the forgotten former fourth rounder had been the lynchpin of the Bears interior defense. He is quick enough to disrupt blocking scheme early in the play and make the multiple stunts they run up front work, where he is the first guy blowing up the line to open it up for the playmaking ends and backers. DE Alex Brown was shaken up in the second quarter and had to leave the game, but he returned.

Rookie MLB Odell Thurman was benched for the first few plays due to violating a team rule, but he wasted no time making an impact. He helped tackled CLE RB Lee Suggs for a loss on a third down play in Cleveland’s second series and had a solo tackled for a loss on the second to last series, finishing with a team-high 9 tackles (5 solo), including sharing a sack with DE Justin Smith. Smith also had a solo tackle and broke up a pass. Smith has 3 sacks in the last four games after getting just 2 in the first nine games. He leads the team with five. Opposite Smith, DE Robert Geathers had his first sack in over a month.

With Thurman sitting to start the game, Landon Johnson got the start in the middle and 1st round pick David Pollack remained in the starting lineup at SLB, but continued to rotate with Johnson, mostly on passing situations, after Thurman entered the game. Pollack had 3 tackles (1 solo) and Johnson had 4 (2 solo).

CB Deltha O’Neal remained the NFL leader in interceptions as he grabbed his ninth on Sunday. He could have had number ten in the fourth quarter, but dropped a ball right in his hands in the end zone. Cleveland would tie the game with a FG on the next play.

SS Ifeanyi Ohalete left the game early with a rib injury. Anthony Mitchell replaced him. Ohalete is expected to play this week.

CB Leigh Bodden was flagged twice on the final drive of the game, helping set up the Bengals for a game-winning FG. Bodden did break up 4 passes and have 3 solo tackles, however.

ILB Andra Davis played despite a concussion and grabbed his first pick of the year, as well as posted 6 tackles (4 solo). It was the only turnover for the defense and they had no sacks. ILB Ben Taylor led the team with 9 tackles (5 solo).

OLB Scott Fujita got his first start as a Cowboy against his old team and had a key play in the victory over KC. As Chiefs were deep in Dallas territory near the end of the first half and poised to add to their four-point lead, Fujita sacked KC QB Trent Green and forced a fumble that rookie DE Marcus Spears picked up and rumbled 59 yards. With less than a minute left, the offense scored and Dallas took a 17-14 lead into halftime. Fujita had 6 tackles (4 solo) total on the day, tied for the team-lead with ILB Scott Shanle (5 solo) and Roy Williams (6 solo, including 1 on special teams). Shanle continues to play through a tender ankle, but saw his normal number of snaps. Recently acquired Michael Barrow was active, but did not play, and looks to have no role other than emergency depth.

CB Anthony Henry was active again and saw every snap on defense, despite missing three of the last four games with a lingering groin injury and aggravating HC Bill Parcells in the extended time it has taken to heal. CB Aaron Glenn returned to nickel and looked recovered after twisting his ankle in their previous game.

CB Champ Bailey earned AFC Defensive Player of the Month for November after getting a pick in each of the team’s three games that month. He started off December with a pick and had another on Sunday, breaking a team record with an INT in five straight games. He has a career-high eight on the season. He also broke up another pass and had 8 tackles (7 solo). SS Nick Ferguson also had a pick. Both were costly for the Ravens, as both were deep in Denver territory. BAL QB Kyle Boeller contributed by telegraphing both attempted TD passes to his favorite target, TE Todd Heap.

Rookie CB Darrent Williams had to leave the game early with a groin injury. It has been called a pulled groin and HC Mike Shanahan said he’d miss “about four weeks”. Fellow rookie Domonique Foxworth and Curome Cox will see more work in his absence.

WLB Ian Gold led the team with 10 tackles (5 solo), as well as forced a fumble and recovered a fumble forced by FS John Lynch.

The Lions were victimized by a homer call and Earl Holmes was cheated out of a safety with the score tied in the fourth quarter. After the offense failed to convert from the Green Bay one-yard line, the defense took over and Earl Holmes blew into the end zone on an off-tackle run by GB RB Samkon Gado. As Holmes was dragging him down in the end zone, Gado purposely pushed the ball forward out of the end zone. After multiple discussions, the play was ruled an incomplete forward pass, and not intentional grounding because he was out of the tackle box. A holding call on the play was ruled to have occurred out of the end zone, because it would have been a safety if it happened in the end zone, which replay showed it did. The bottom line was the game remained tied at 13-13 and Packers were able to push the ball down field before punting and keep the edge in battle for field position, eventually winning in OT. Holmes finished leading the team in tackles with 12 (5 solo). He ended up leaving the game later in the period with a quad injury and is questionable for this week. LB Boss Bailey was inactive with an ankle injury and remains questionable for this week. Wali Rainer started in his place at SLB and posted 10 solo tackles.

FS Terrence Holt was put on the IR due to a back injury. His back-up, Jon McGraw, was inactive due to a shoulder injury suffered in the previous game, so Bracey Walker got his first start of the season.

DT Shaun Rogers made the stupid move of the week when he threw GB RB Gado after driving him out of bounds at mid-field in OT. The personal foul put GB deep in Detroit territory and set up the game-winning FG. Rogers had 2 solo tackles, including a sack in the game. He now has a team-high 4.5 on the season, a new career high for him. DE James Hall flashed back to 2004 and produced the type of game his fantasy owners have been waiting for all year. He had 10 solo tackles, including a sack, only his third of the season.

Green Bay
LB Robert Thomas was inactive and SLB Na’il Diggs was active, but did not start, as the team wanted to get a look at rookie Brady Poppinga. Poppinga started and got 4 solo tackles before blowing out his knee. It was a major injury, including a torn ACL. He is done for the year and Diggs, who the team would like to cut after this season, likely goes back to a starting role. Paris Lenon replaced Thomas at WLB. The team is not overly impressed with Thomas, either, and Lenon and Roy Manning will likely continue to get extended looks flanking MLB Nick Barnett, as well. Barnett led the team with 11 tackles (6 solo).

CB Ahmad Carroll missed some time during the first half with a hip injury, but returned and finished the game.

Houston has just 25 sacks this year, in the bottom quarter of the league, but has given up 61, the most in the league. That minus 36 differential, along with their minus 8 turnover differential (also in the bottom quarter of the league) illustrates as well as any other stats how bad they are on both sides of the ball. They had no sacks and no turnovers on defense on Sunday.

FS Marcus Coleman was active, but did not start. Rookie C.C. Brown appears to have replaced him with the first team after Coleman was inactive the previous week for an unexcused absence from a team meeting. Brown had 8 tackles (5 solo). Glenn Earl remained the starter at SS and had 3 tackles (2 solo). ILB DaShon Polk led the team in tackles with 12 (6 solo).

While all the fantasy talk has surrounded the Colts sitting their offensive studs before the playoffs, the first casualty to precaution was WLB Cato June. He has been playing this season with a sports hernia, has been bother by a sore knee for several weeks, and is reported to have some ankle problems, as well. Doctors recommended June also miss this week. When he does return in the regular season, he will continue to be limited in practice and should be among the players getting a rest the rest of the way, if and when HC Tony Dungy starts to take more precautions with his starters. Gilbert Gardner got his first career start in place of June and had 2 solo tackles. Gardner should continue to replace June while he’s out. SLB David Thornton led the team with 9 solo tackles, including one on special teams, and 2 forced fumbles.

A week after losing a half-sack due to a scoring change, Mathis benefited from one. The result was prior to Sunday’s games, he was once again the NFL leader in sacks. As mentioned in this column last week, Mathis could have been credited with one when he tackled TEN CB Pacman Jones for a loss on a trick play, where Jones appeared to be attempting to pass. The Colts appealed to Elias Sports Bureau, the league’s official statistics service, and the scoring was changed to a sack. This meant he had 11.5 on the season prior to Sunday, moving him ahead of OAK DE Derrick Burgess and NYG DE Osi Umenyiora. This all became moot on Sunday, as Burgess had 2 and Umenyiora had 1.5, well Mathis was held without a sack. The team had no sacks on the day, as the rush couldn’t get to elusive JAX QB David Garrard. Mathis did have 2 solo tackles, bat down a pass, and force a key fumble on Garrard near the goal-line as he attempted to score on a QB draw from the Indianapolis 7-yard line. CB Jason David recovered the fumble. Opposite Mathis, DE Dwight Freeney was also held in check. He failed to show up on the stat sheet. Like June, Freeney is another candidate to be rested as the Colts prepare for the playoffs.

CB Nick Harper was back after missing a game with a groin injury. He split time with rookie CB Marlin Jackson. Both had 4 solo tackles each. Injury-prone DB Joseph Jefferson is once again done for the season. He has chronic knee problems and was placed on the IR. DT Corey Simon suffered a sprained left foot and was unable to finish the game. He could miss this week, in which case Josh Williams or Larry Tripplett would get the start.

CB Rashean Mathis played through a broken finger, but probably would have been better off not playing at all, as he was beat up and down the field by IND WR Marvin Harrison. He finished with 9 tackles (7 solo, including one on special teams) and did manage to break up a pass. He did have a major contribution in recovering a fourth quarter onside kick after it bounced off a Colt player.

After not registering a sack since mid-October, DE Reggie Hayward had 2 and 3 other solo tackles. He moves into a tie with DE Paul Spicer for the team-lead with 7.5 for the season. Reserve DT Anthony Maddox had his first career sack gift-wrapped when IND QB Peyton Manning slipped and fell in the first quarter and Tony was the first to touch him. The three sacks on Manning were the most the Colts have allowed in a game this season.

MLB Mike Peterson led the team with 12 tackles (8 solo) and a sack.

SS Deke Cooper, who is playing with a torn labrum, had 2 solo tackles, including one on special teams. Rookie Gerald Sensabaugh, who is working in more, had 1 solo tackle.

Kansas City
DE Jared Allen looked good on Sunday, registering 2 sacks among his 5 solo tackles and forcing a fumble on one of them.

OLB Kendrell Bell was usually on roller skates being driven backwards off the play, but did manage 2 solo tackles.

SS Sammy Knight led the team with 9 solo tackles.

MLB Zach Thomas returned after missing two games due to a separated right shoulder, torn labrum in the shoulder, and high ankle sprain. He picked up right where he left off despite the injuries, leading the team with 11 tackles (9 solo) and grabbing a pick. Rookie Channing Crowder returned to WLB and had 10 tackles (9 solo). Donnie Spragan remained at SLB.

Back-up S Yeremiah Bell, who has been passed over for a starting role by a string of journeyman veterans this season, had a crucial sack late in the game, forcing a fumble that was recovered by DE Kevin Carter.

They didn’t force their first turnover until late in the first half, but by the end of the game they had forced six, including five off of shell-shocked STL rookie QB Ryan Fitzpatrick. CB Brian Williams grabbed the first pick, one of two he had on the day. Williams also broke up a third pass, had 6 tackles (5 solo), and forced a fumble with less than two minutes left that was recovered by FS Darren Sharper. That should have ended the game, but Sharper fumbled it on the return, turning it back over to the Rams with a new set of downs. However, Sharper made amends, and further helped his fantasy owners, by getting an interception on to end that next drive, and the game. Shaper also broke up another pass and had 3 tackles (2 solo). Sharper leads the NFC with eight interceptions and his return to health has been key in the turnaround of this defense. He had 6 picks in November and was recognized as the NFC Defensive Player of the Month. Williams started at CB in front of Fred Smoot, who returned from a broken collarbone that cost him four games. Smoot, who worked as the third corner, grabbed had an interception, as well. HC Mike Tice said he expects to keep Williams at starter over Smoot for now, as Williams is playing so well lately. CB Antoine Winfield had his fourth pick of the season. It set a new career-high for him. He also led the team with 9 solo tackles and leads the team in tackles for the season.

DT Kevin Williams remained inactive with a second degree sprained MCL, missing his third straight game. He is expected back next week. Rookie C.J. Mosley had 4 solo tackles in his place. DT Pat Williams suffered a sprained knee during the game, but was able to return. DE Darrion Scott had a big game, posting the only sack for the defense among his 7 tackles (6 solo). 1st round pick Erasmus James continues to start opposite Scott, finishing with just 1 solo tackle as he plays on a gimpy knee.

OLB Keith Newman left the game in the second quarter with a sprained knee and did not return. Raonall Smith replaced him and had a solo tackle and pass defended. Newman’s injury was reported as a sprained PCL and he is expected to miss two weeks. Napoleon Harris remained out of the picture on Sunday, but this could be an opportunity. After adding bigger names to bolster their LB corps the last few years, Newman was a comparatively minor addition who was expected to just add depth. However, he has been productive since locking up a place in the starting lineup and their most consistent playmaker at LB this season.

New England
With the front seven as healthy as they’ve been all season, the Pats defense continues to gain momentum heading into the playoffs. OLB Rosey Colvin had a sack for the third straight game and leads the team with 5.5 on the season. It is the most he’s had since 2002, when he posted back-to-back double-digit sack seasons as a Bear. A hip injury early in 2003 has plagued him since, but Colvin finally appears completely healthy and is back in a regular starting role. Now he is finally paying some dividends as a rare big ticket free agent acquisition by HC Bill Belichick. The sack was one of 5 tackles (4 solo) by Colvin in the game. DE Richard Seymour had his first sack since September among his 3 solo tackles. DE Ty Warren led the team with 7 tackles (4 solo).

The secondary continues to battle injury problems, as Artrell Hawkins was inactive with a thigh injury. Hawkins, a recent free agent acquisition due to injuries, had started the last couple of games at SS. Michael Stone returned to the starting role at SS, with rookie James Sanders continuing to be worked in. Thanks to a tipped pass by ILB Tedy Bruschi, Sanders had his first career interception in the fourth quarter, and returned it 39 yards for his first career TD. CBs Asante Samuel and Ellis Hobbs each had a pick, as well. The rookie Hobbs leads the team with three. Hobbs was dinged up late in the game an Troy Brown saw some work at corner. FS Eugene Wilson also was hurt, suffering a leg injury and his status is reportedly questionable for this week.

New Orleans
DE Darren Howard was inactive and the reason why remains a bit of mystery. He has had lingering knee problems that have limited him in practice much of the year to keep him ready for gameday. It is also said to involve some undisclosed disciplinary action regarding his attitude this year. After getting the franchise tag this year, he is an unrestricted free agent after this season, and the writing has been on the wall since the team added Will Smith as a first round pick last year. Will Smith took Howard’s place with the first team and had 5 solo tackles and batted down 2 passes. It was the first time in three games Smith was held without a sack. Opposite him, Charles Grant, who has battled his own lingering injury problems this year, had 3 solo tackles in another uninspiring performance.

SLB Sedrick Hodge left the game early with an ankle sprain and Terrence Melton replaced him. Melton led the team with 9 tackles (7 solo, including 1 on special teams).

MLB Ronald McKinnon may have replaced MIN DE Erasmus James as public enemy number one among Falcon fans. A late hit on ATL QB Mike Vick injured Vick’s ribs and put his status for this week in a key NFC match-up against Chicago in question.

New York Giants
Defensive leader MLB Antonio Pierce was carted off the field after injuring his ankle in the first quarter. Reggie Tobor replaced him, but went to SLB, moving Carlos Emmons to WLB and Nick Greisen to the middle. Pierce has a high right ankle sprain and is reported to be “doubtful at best” this week, so the aforementioned shift at LB spots will likely remain in place.

DT William Joseph returned after missing a month with a dislocated elbow, and promptly suffered a leg injury on Philadelphia’s third offensive play of the game. He was replaced by Kenderick Allen and Fred Robbins. Robbins, working mostly on passing downs, had a solo sack and shared one with DE Osi Umenyiora. Umenyiora also had a solo sack and forced a fumble that Allen recovered, among his 6 tackles (4 solo). Umenyiora now has 12.5 on the season and leads the NFC. Umenyiora is looking like the second-coming of Simeon Rice. He has the versatility and athleticism to play with his hand off the ground, taking on blockers and making plays as a LB, as well as dropping into coverage occasionally. The player who GM Ernie Accorsi is refused to part with in a deal for Eli Manning is developing into one of the most complete ends in the game, and a terrific fantasy player. Opposite him, we can’t forget a player who has proven to be one of the elite ends of all-time. DE Michael Strahan had 2 sacks, giving him 11.5 on the season, his sixth with double-digit sacks. He has 2 sacks in back-to-back games. SS Gibril Wilson had his third sack of the season.

CB Will Peterson was finally placed on the IR and likely has played his last game as a Giant. The ageless Terrell Buckley was found, wherever a Terrell Buckley spends the first few months of the season before some contender eventually brings him back in time for the playoffs, and signed to fill Peterson’s roster spot and provide depth. He was active Sunday, but saw little work. Reserve Shaun Williams was placed on the IR with a hamstring injury. It was a rough couple years for the hard-hitting SS. He has had a couple injury plagued years and he lost his long-time starting job early this season.

New York Jets
A combination of an Oakland team who has quit on the season and an inexperienced Marques Tuiasosopo at QB led to a Broadway revival of the New York Sack Exchange. The D forced four turnovers and had a season-high 6 sacks. DE John Abraham led the way, looking healthy and motivated for the first time in a while, had 5 solo tackles and his first two-sack game in over a year. Both times he forced a fumble on his sacks, recorded on back-to-back drives in the first half. The first time, he recovered the fumble himself, the next time it was DT James Reed, and both times the offense converted the turnovers into points. Reed also had a sack among his 5 tackles (4 solo). Opposite Abraham, DE Shaun Ellis suffered a hamstring in the first half and did not return. He is questionable for this week. Coming off back-to-back double-digit sack seasons, Ellis has been tremendously disappointing this year. He has a career-low 2.5 on the season. Ellis’ absence gave third DE Bryan Thomas more work and he joined the sack party with his third of the season, a career-high for the former 1st round pick. DT Lance Legree had his first sack of the season. He started for Dewayne Robertson, who was active, but has been battling a leg injury. Robertson aggravated the quad problem during the game and saw very limited work.

OLB Mark Brown had the first solo sack of his career and also recovered a fumble after a failed lateral attempt by CB Ty Law on an interception. It was the sixth pick of the season for Law, matching his 2003 total, the second-best single-season total of his career. Opposite Law, rookie Justin Miller continued to start ahead of David Barrett, who was in the second game back after missing three with an eye injury. Barrett also had a pick, his fourth of the season and a new career-high.

MLB Jonathan Vilma led the team with 10 tackles (6 solo) to keep pace ahead of BUF MLB London Fletcher for the league-lead. Vilma also forced a fumble on a TD reception by OAK WR Jerry Porter, but Porter recovered it for a TD and a review upheld that it was a catch and OAK TD.

The Raiders have little left to play for as a team, but DE Derrick Burgess continued his pursuit of a sack title. He finished with 6 tackles (4 solo) and had his sixth two-sack game on Sunday. He took over the league lead with 13 sacks for the season.

After leaving early the previous week with a calf injury that bothered him into practice last week, Jarrod Cooper refused to let it prevent him from continuing with his first significant starting opportunity. He remained the starter at SS and posted 9 tackles (3 solo) and broke up a pass. FS Stuart Schweigert was dinged up, as well, playing through a tender ankle and getting 6 tackles (5 solo) and breaking up a pass.

LB Danny Clark led the team with 14 tackles (10 solo). Clark missed a few plays with a stinger, but was able to return and play the rest of the game. Rookie LB Kirk Morrison had 8 (6 solo) and leads the team, going over 100 for the season on Sunday.

Forcing NYG QB Eli Manning to throw 3 picks late in the game wasn’t enough to help the Eagles pull out a surprise victory and keep their playoff hopes alive. SS Michael Lewis, playing through a hip pointer suffered last Monday night, had his second pick of the year and led the team with 12 tackles (10 solo). FS Brian Dawkins had a textbook Brian Dawkins big game, with 4 tackles (3 solo), a sack, a pick, and breaking up 3 other passes. CB Sheldon Brown grabbed his third INT of the season.

HC Andy Reid swapped his DTs, moving Sam Rayburn and rookie Mike Patterson on to the first team and rotating in Darwin Walker and Hollis Thomas. Reid downplayed the significance, as the Eagles regularly rotate those four. It didn’t seem to help the pass rush, or rush defense. The Eagles had no sacks, and NYG RB Tiki Barber ran all over them.

MLB Jeremiah Trotter, already on a gimpy knee, injured his groin during the game, but was able to return. He finished with 9 tackles (8 solo) and broke up 2 passes.

After registering a sack in three straight games, rookie RDE Trent Cole has now gone three without one.

After the Bears drove to the Steelers’ two-yard line in the first quarter, OLB Clark Haggans stepped up and swung the momentum of the game. On first down, he helped stop CHI RB Thomas Jones for a one-yard loss. On second down he sniffed out a play action bootleg and sacked CHI QB Kyle Orton for an eight-yard loss. An incomplete pass on third down and the Bears had to settle for a FG, leaving deflated that their struggling offense had blown a rare goal-line opportunity. He finished with 4 solo tackles, including his team-leading eight sack. He has sacks in back-to-back games and four in his last five. Fellow OLB Joey Porter had his seventh sack of the season among his 3 tackles (2 solo). ILB James Farrior led the team with 11 tackles (7 solo) and broke up a pass.

CB Deshea Townsend suffered a concussion and neck injuries in the game and had to leave. A myriad of tests for concussions or spinal injuries were negative, but he is questionable for this week.

St. Louis
SS Adam Archuleta returned after missing two games from a concussion suffered in a Week 11 collision with CB Dejuan Groce. Archuleta had 7 tackles (4 solo) and his return put rookie Jerome Carter back to the bench. CB Travis Fisher missed his fourth straight game with a pulled groin with a slight tear in it. Rookie Ronald Bartell continued to start in his place, but suffered a groin injury himself in the game and had to be replaced by Chris Johnson. Fisher’s season is likely over, as he gave himself a “slim chance” of returning this season as a second opinion last week confirmed the diagnosis and indicated season-ending surgery may be necessary.

WLB Dexter Coakley was officially put on the IR after dislocating his left ankle and breaking the leg late in the previous game. Rookie Brandon Chillar replaced him, posting 3 tackles (2 solo) and the sole defensive highlight for the game. He recovered a fumble forced by MLB Trev Faulk for the only turnover the defense caused in the game. After having to leave due to illness in Week 13, Faulk was back seeing the bulk of work in the middle over Chris Claiborne.

Despite continually blitzing throughout the game and hitting MIN QB Brad Johnson several times, the Rams never got to him in time before releasing the ball to register a sack. DE Leonard Little hurt his knee at the end of the game and limped off the field, but appeared OK after the game.

San Diego
No sacks, no picks, but two turnovers. Although SS Terrence Kiel returned from an ankle injury, Clinton Hart still saw work and recovered a fumble by MIA RB Ronnie Brown and CB Quentin Jammer forced a fumble on MIA RB Ricky Williams that ILB Randal Godfrey recovered. Godfrey also led the team with 8 tackles (4 solo). Jammer jammed his shoulder during the game, but is expected to be fine this week.

Rookie OLB Shawne Merriman was active and started despite having pins removed from his wrist from minor surgery earlier in the year. He had 3 tackles (2 solo), but hasn’t had a sack in three games.

San Francisco
Since getting 2.5 sacks in the opening game and looking like he was back-to-form as a playmaker after missing most of 2004 with a torn Achilles, OLB Julian Peterson has been a tremendous disappointment. He has no picks this season and hadn’t had a sack, or made a fantasy impact, since the first game, until Sunday. With plenty of opportunities with Seattle dominating the time of possession, Peterson led the team 12 tackles (4 solo) and shared a sack with DE Travis Hall.

DE Bryant Young remained inactive, but there remain reports that he will try again to return this week. He has missed just under a month with a torn MCL and meniscus in his right knee and a sprained ankle on the same leg.

FS Mike Adams was inactive due to a slight MCL tear in his left leg he suffered in their previous game. As expected, Keith Lewis replaced him in the starting lineup. Adams should be back next week.

Despite missing two of their top three corners, a strong pass rush and a struggling rookie QB on SF shut down the passing game. CBs Andre Dyson and Kelly Herndon were inactive. Dyson suffered a high ankle sprain in the previous game and is expected to miss at least the rest of the regular season. Herndon missed his second straight game with a knee sprain. He is expected to miss at least another week. The injuries gave former undrafted free agent Jordan Babineaux his first career start. Big Play Babs, as he has been labeled by teammates after forcing four turnovers in the closing minutes of four different games this year, is a versatile player who can handle all the secondary positions. He had 4 solo tackles and broke up 2 passes.

Injury problems continue at LB, but the replacements continue to do just fine. In the case of OLB Leroy Hill, better than the former starter. Hill is now locked into the starting lineup with Jamie Sharper’s season officially over, as he was placed on the IR last week with a staph infection in his knee. Hill led the team in tackles with 6 (5 solo). In his six games since moving on to the first team, he has 4.5 sacks and averaged almost 6 tackles per game. OLB D.D. Lewis was inactive, as he has been battling knee problems. It was reported Lewis could have played, if needed, so either they looked at SF as an easy game to let a starter rest, or he’s not all that “needed” any given week by the team. Fantasy-wise, it’s been the latter. Kevin Bentley, a former starter in Cleveland, replaced him for his first start as a Seahawk. Rookie MLB Lofa Tatupu had his fourth sack of the season among his 4 tackles (3 solo). He also had his third pick and recovered a fumble forced by DT Marcus Tubbs on a sack. Tubbs, who has been bothered by leg problems and benched in favor of Rocky Bernard, had the best game of his career. The former first round pick who has started to shake the “bust” label this year, had 4 tackles (3 solo), 2 sacks, a forced fumble, and batted down a pass.

Tampa Bay
CB Rhonde Barber, who is as hot as any fantasy IDP the last two weeks, took over in the fourth quarter to help Tampa Bay ended a five-game losing streak to the Panthers. With the Panthers deep in Tampa Bay territory on their first drive of the last period, Barber grabbed his fifth pick of the season inside the Buccaneers 10-yard line. On the next drive, the Panthers were inside the Buccaneers 30-yard line and Barber’s sack on third-and-ten pushed them out of FG range. Carolina went for it on fourth down and was stopped. The sack was number 20 of Barber’s career, making him the first cornerback in NFL history with 20 interceptions (he has 28) and 20 sacks. He also had 6 solo tackles.

DL Ellis Wyms had the team’s other sack in the game, his second of the season, on which he forced a fumble that Carolina recovered. Wyms and DL Dewayne White saw more work after DT Anthony McFarland strained his left knee and hamstring in the first half and did not return. He is likely to miss a week or two, with Wyms and White, on passing downs, replacing him.

Will Allen returned after missing a few games with a knee injury, but Dexter Jackson remained the starter at FS.

MLB Shelton Quarles led the team with 9 tackles (8 solo).

Both teams squandered several opportunities, but the Tennessee defense overcame multiple breaks the team gave to Houston at the end of the game to beat the hapless Texans. With the game tied at 10, Houston lined up for a 48-yard FG on 4th-and-four halfway through the fourth quarter. The Texans ran a flip to K Kris Brown, who just cleared the first down marker. The Titans challenged the spot, but the call was upheld and Houston was able to get 11 yards closer. However, SS Tank Williams got up and blocked the subsequent FG attempt. The Titans would eat up the clock and take a 13-10 lead on the next drive, leaving just 10 seconds. On the ensuing kick-off, the Texans tried for their own Music City Miracle, getting a squib kick to speed merchant returner Jerome Mathis, but Mathis was brought down at the Tennessee 26-yard line as time expired by rookie CB Reynaldo Hill. However, on the tackle, Hill committed a face mask. This gave the Texans a shot at a 31-yard FG, which K Kris Brown missed so badly you’d think trying to secure Reggie Bush for the Texans was on his mind more than winning the game. In addition to the blocked FG, Williams had 10 tackles (8 solo).

After losing a couple of sacks to penalties in the previous game, facing the most-sacked QB in the league helped DE Kyle Vanden Bosch stay in the hunt for the sack title. He popped in on HOU QB David Carr for two of the team’s six sacks. He has 12.5 on the season, tied with NYG DE Osi Umenyiora and a half-sack behind league leader OAK DE Derrick Burgess. KVB had 5 tackles (3 solo) in the game. LB Keith Bulluck also had 2 sacks, as well as leading the team with 11 tackles (4 solo) and also having a pass defensed.

DE Travis LaBoy was back in the starting lineup, with a big brace on his arm, after missing the previous game with a hyper-extended left elbow. He shared a sack with LB Peter Sirmon. DT Albert Haynesworth also had a sack, his second of the season. He left the game in the fourth quarter with a concussion, but did return to action.

After having two TDs nullified on penalties this year, 1st round pick Pacman Jones scored his first official career TD on a 52-yard punt return. He also had 8 tackles (6 solo) and a pass defensed.

To combat Arizona’s three-receiver sets, along with little respect for their running game, the Redskins frequently played with nickel and dime packages. The result was their DBs dominating the defensive stats. Rookie CB Carlos Rogers had a tough day, spending a lot of time on the Cardinals’ most productive WR, Anquan Boldin, and drawing what could have been a damaging pass interference call on Arizona’s last chance drive late in the fourth quarter. However, his struggles in coverage meant a productive fantasy day having to make the tackles. He led the team with 9 solo (including 2 on special teams). He also injured his biceps in the game and will have further tests this week to check it out. CB Shawn Springs had 6 solo tackles and 1 pass defensed, but had to leave the game in the fourth quarter after hyper-extending his back and straining his groin in the game. The concern expressed by HC Joe Gibbs and refusal of Springs to comment on the injury indicate his could be the most serious, as the team prepares for a huge showdown against Dallas. Ade Jimoh replaced Springs and finished with 4 solo tackles. Jimoh has a huge stop on AZ WR Larry Fitzgerald on a 3rd-and-1 on the decisive final drive. FS Sean Taylor stopped AZ RB J.J. Arrington on a 4th-and-2 on the next play, sealing the victory. Taylor continues to play through a low-grade shoulder separation suffered in the first game of the season. He finished with 6 tackles (5 solo), a pick, and a forced fumble. CB Walt Harris, who was supplanted by Rogers as a starter earlier this year and would likely be the preferred choice to replace Springs, if needed, was inactive with a strained calf muscle. Reserve S Pierson Prioleau had a sack for the second straight game, on which he forced a fumble that he recovered. He had 5 other solo tackles and broke up a pass, as well.

The frequent use of five and six DBs helped compensate for another absence, OLB Lavar Arrington. He was inactive with a quad injury he suffered two weeks ago and caused him to leave the previous game for a while when he aggravated it. He is expected to play this week. In their run defense packages, Warrick Holdman and Chris Clemons replaced him.

DT Cornelius Griffin played for his second straight game, after missing four with hip problems. He had 2 solo tackles. DLs Joe Salav’ae (plantar fasciitis in left foot) and Cedric Killings (strained groin), who were both inactive again. Killings may be back this week, Salav’ae is less likely. Adding to the depth problem on the DLine, Ryan Boschetti suffered a mild knee strain. DE Phillip Daniels had a sack and forced fumble on the first play of the game erased by a penalty.