Quick Hits (Details in individual
Week 16 Injury Report (available
- OAK DE Burgess separates himself from pack in sack title chase
- NYG MLB Pierce out with ankle injury, could be done for season
- CIN CB O'Neal sets personal and club record for picks
- NO DE Howard season over, and likely his career as a Saint
- IND DE Freeney, June, likely others, to rest this week
- DET LBs devastated by injuries, LeVar Woods capitalizes at MLB
- STL DE Leonard Little sighting!
- SF DE Bryant Young returns
- SF OLB Peterson injures shoulder
- NE LB corps look sharp, extremely productive
- CHI safeties still hurting, back-ups step up
- NYJ defense plagued by injuries, salary problems
- Former OAK DT Darrell Russell killed
After showing he was healthy with a pick last week, rookie CB Antrel
Rolle returned to the starting lineup, as fellow rookie CB Eric
Green remained inactive with a groin injury. Rolle had 9 solo tackles
and a pass defended. Green remains questionable this week, but Rolle
will not surrender the starting roll when Green returns. CB David
Macklin had 10 tackles (8 solo) and broke up 3 passes.
MLB James Darling led the team with 11 tackles (9 solo). WLB
Orlando Huff had 5 solo tackles and a pick. SLB Karlos Dansby
played through a toe injury, finishing with 6 tackles (5 solo)
and a fumble recovery.
With 7 tackles (5 solo), SS Adrian Wilson went over 100 tackles
for the second-consecutive season, and the second time in his
DE Antonio Smith, who replaced Bert Berry (IR) at RDE, had his
first two career sacks.
DT Rod Coleman had the only sack and the only turnover of the
day, the team gave right back. SS Keion Carpenter looked to put
a quick end to the momentum behind the substitution of CHI QB
Rex Grossman when he made a nice grab at the Atlanta 1-yard line
of a likely TD pass. However, as he tried to return it, he lost
the ball. Chicago recovered it and got a new set of downs, scoring
a TD shortly after. The sack was the tenth of the season for Coleman,
he leads the team.
DE Brady Smith remained inactive with a toe injury. Chauncey
Davis started in his place and led the team with 8 tackles (6
solo). Ronnie Heard remained the starter at FS and Bryan Scott
was limited to special teams’ work.
GB QB Aaron Rodgers replaced Brett Favre in the fourth quarter
and was promptly sacked by OLB Adalius Thomas, who forced a fumble
that was recovered by ILB Bart Scott, who almost broke away for
a TD. On the next series, S Chad Williams got his first pick of
the year off Rodgers. On the next series, DE Terrell Suggs got
to Rodgers on third down for his sixth sack of the year. On the
next series, Williams sacked Rodgers, forcing a fumble, and Thomas
picked it up and returned it for a TD. And it wasn’t much
better for Green Bay before that. Scott also led the team with
11 tackles (9 solo). It was the seventh sack of the season, a
team-high, for Thomas, who played all over the field, lining up
between safety and LB, along with his hand on the ground. CB Samari
Rolle got his first pick as a Raven off Favre right before halftime,
paying a tribute to Deion Sanders with a little primetime shuffle.
Sanders also had his 53rd career interception in the game.
MLB London Fletcher finally came back to earth, posting just 7
tackles (6 solo) on Saturday night, as the Broncos favored the
pass most of the game, until they were running out clock with
a healthy lead in the fourth quarter. Fletcher had had double-digit
tackles in his five previous games. WLB Angelo Crowell led the
team with 11 tackles (5 solo).
DEN WR Rod Smith didn’t do much wrong Saturday night, but
CB Nate Clements was there to take advantage of his one miscue.
Clements forced a fumble and recovered it for the only Buffalo
turnover on one of his 6 tackles (5 solo).
DE Aaron Schobel had a sting of three straight games with a sack
snapped. OLB Jeff Posey had the only sack for the Bills.
DT Sam Adams was active, but continues to be limited, apparently
due to a rift with HC Mike Mularkey.
The QB for New Orleans was different, but the results were the
same, more INTs than TDs. NO QB Todd Bouman threw four picks,
including three in the second quarter, including twice inside
the Panther five-yard line. After a turnover deep in Saints’
territory cost the Panthers a scoring chance, FS Mike Minter grabbed
his first pick of the season at the Carolina goal-line, ending
a threat by the Saints. Minter broke up another pass and had 5
tackles (2 solo) for the game. On the next New Orleans’
possession, DT Brenston Buckner tipped a pass to DE Al Wallace
for the second pick. Wallace started in place of Mike Rucker,
who was active, but limited, after missing the previous game with
an ankle injury. Rucker recovered a fumble in the game. He was
needed as DE Julius Peppers was dinged during the game, suffering
an ankle injury. Both CBs also had picks, as Chris Gamble had
his team-leading sixth pick and Ken Lucas, who also led the team
with 7 solo tackles, got his fifth.
Reserve S Idrees Bashir was put on the IR last week due to a
hamstring injury. Rookie Thomas Davis had 5 tackles (4 solo, including
3 on special teams).
MLB Brian Urlacher was embarrassed in Pittsburgh in their previous
game and in a minor car accident last week, but put all that behind
him when he walked on a frigid Soldier Field on Monday night.
On the first drive, he let ATL QB Mike Vick know it, getting in
Vick’s grill after chasing him out of bounds during the
first series. Urlacher finished with a game-high 12 tackles (11
solo), twice as many as any other Bear, and a pass defended. The
highlight of the game was the defense stopping ATL RB T.J. Duckett
twice with a yard to go on a crucial drive in the fourth quarter.
First DT Tommie Harris stopped Duckett cold at the line of scrimmage
on 3rd-and-1. On 4th down, they tried up the middle again, this
time DT Tank Johnson was in the backfield right after the snap
and dropped Duckett for a 3-yard loss. Harris had 5 solo tackles
and Johnson had 3, including a sack. Johnson saw more work with
DT Ian Scott playing through a sore ankle. DE Adewale Ogunleye
also had a sack. He leads the team with 10 on the season. Ogunleye
briefly left the game with an apparent leg injury, limping off
the field under his own power, but returned shortly after.
The secondary remains a mess up the middle, but ATL QB Mike Vick
on a freezing night in Chicago was not the QB to take advantage
of it. Instead, a career was revived and another one got a jump
start, in the face of the absences. SS Mike Brown missed another
game with a calf injury. The team has been quiet about the severity
of the injury, there were rumors he could be done for the regular
season, but he was upgraded to questionable before Sunday’s
game, so he could be improving. Mike Green, a former starter at
S in Chicago, replaced Brown and his playmaking skills. With the
crowd still high from QB Rex Grossman leading the team to a TD
on his first drive of the season, Green grabbed an ill-advised
desperation lob by Vick in the subsequent Atlanta drive and kept
the momentum with Chicago. The Bears converted that into a FG
and on the following Atlanta drive, Vick appeared to have hooked
up with WR Michael Jenkins deep in Chicago’s red zone. However,
as Jenkins brought the ball in, Green pasted him with a perfectly-timed
hit in the chest, jarring the ball loose and bouncing it into
the opportunistic hands of CB Nathan Vasher. The play stood after
review, giving Vasher his eight pick of the season, moving him
in to a tie for the NFC lead with MIN FS Darren Sharper. Green
finished with 4 tackles (3 solo), the pick, and credit for another
pass defended on the hit on Jenkins. FS Chris Harris remained
inactive with a sprained MCL and undrafted free agent rookie Brandon
McGowan got the start in his place. The youngster looked good
again, with 6 tackles (5 solo). Reserve S Todd Johnson was inactive
with a hip injury, giving McGowan and Green plenty of work.
OLB Hunter Hillenmeyer was inactive due to a broken thumb. Leon
Joe looked good in his place, although he only posted 2 solo tackles.
CB Deltha O’Neal grabbed his tenth pick of the season on
Sunday, setting a new career-high and team record. He also leads
the league. Opposite him, Tory James got his fifth INT of the
SS Ifeanyi Ohalete was inactive with a rib injury. Anthony Mitchell
and Keiwan Ratliff saw work at S in is place.
OLB Chaun Thompson and DE Alvin McKinley each had a sack. The
two are tied for the team-lead with four, a career-high for both,
as well. Thompson hasn’t progressed as quickly as hoped
in his second year, but he had to learn a whole new defense. He
remains the best prospect on the roster to evolve into the key
edge rusher that can provide a pressure and tally the sacks in
HC Romeo Crenel’s 3-4, a la a Willie McGinest. Similarly,
Andra Davis has sufficiently played the “Tedy Bruschi role”
in Crennel’s defense. He is on pace for a career-year in
tackles, despite going from MLB in a 3-4 to being paired inside
with another back in a 3-4, once again proving not to overestimate
the impact of scheme for fantasy purposes.
CB Leigh Bodden’s interception of the season set up a FG
in the third quarter. He leads the team with three. CB Daylon
McCutcheon (shoulder) and Ray Mickens (chest) both left the game
with injuries, but were able to return.
The worst loss in their history to the Redskins meant few highlights
on either side of the ball. ILB Bradie James led the team with
9 tackles (7 solo)
LB Michael Barrow was finally thrown into action, and promptly
tore his quad, ending his brief stint as a Cowboy, and likely
snaps. Recently acquired Michael Barrow was active, but did not
play, and looks to have no role other than emergency depth.
CB Anthony Henry, just a couple games back from a groin injury
that cost him time, suffered an ab injury on Sunday.
CB Champ Bailey broke a steak of five consecutive games with a
pick, finishing with 4 solo tackles and a pass defended. As expected,
rookie CB Darrent Williams was inactive with a pulled groin and
is expected to miss 3-4 more weeks. Fellow rookie Domonique Foxworth
replaced him in the starting lineup. Reserve S Curome Cox also
saw more work, but suffered a first-degree shoulder separation
in the game. The team is hopeful he’ll be able to play through
it. Williams is expected to miss 2-4 weeks. SS Nick Ferguson led
the team with 7 tackles (4 solo).
MLB Al Wilson was all over the field and sticking people, he
finished with 6 tackles (5 solo), including the only sack for
Denver, and broke up 3 passes.
DE Courtney Brown started, but was limited by his bad knee, which
he hurt again two weeks ago. He didn’t show up on the stat
With LBs Teddy Lehman and Alex Lewis already on the IR, the team
added SLB Boss Bailey (ankle) and Earl Holmes (knee) to the IR
last week. With Donte’ Curry inactive with a thigh injury,
the team was missing 4 of their top 5 LBs. WLB James Davis was
the only normal starter in their lineup on Sunday. He had 4 tackles
(1 solo). Wali Rainer, the only LB other than Davis who even broke
camp with the team, remained the starter at SLB, where he was
in place of Bailey last week. Rainer had 3 solo tackles, including
1 on special teams. Nate Wayne also saw some action, posting 2
solo tackles. The surprise star was journeyman LeVar Woods. After
being unable to get a regular gig in Arizona, he spent some time
with the Bears earlier this season, before being released and
joining Detroit. With Rainer, the normal back-up MLB, starting
at SLB, Woods got the shot at MLB. He had a career-game with 8
tackles (6 solo) and a sack. With opposing offenses likely to
be on the field a lot against the Lions, Woods could be a good
emergency starter, if your team still allows pick-ups.
CB Dre Bly saw lots of ball spending a lot of time on CIN WR
Chad Johnson. While Johnson got his (11 for 99 yards and a TD),
Bly got his too, at least from a fantasy perspective. He led the
team with 13 tackles (11 solo), picked off one, and forced Johnson
to fumble once, but the ball went out of bounds. The INT was the
sixth of the year for Bly, tying a career-high, despite missing
four games this year. He had picks in the last two games despite
playing with a cast. He just had the pins removed this week. Bly
has been one of the elite fantasy corners in the league since
coming to Detroit, but has also consistently missed a few games
due to injury each year.
FS Jon McGraw missed his second game with a shoulder injury,
so Bracey Walker got another start. He had 6 tackles (3 solo).
With all the focus on GM Matt Millen in the media, attention
was deflected from DT Shaun Rogers’ stupid penalty that
helped cost his team the Green Bay game. Playing through a shoulder
problem, he finished with 2 solo tackles, including a sack, and
batted down 2 passes. The sack gives him 5.5 for the season, leading
the team and a new personal best.
The team never got a chance to get much of a look at rookie Brady
Poppinga, he was placed on the IR with a torn ACL suffered in
the previous game. With Robert Thomas inactive again with a lingering
quad injury, Paris Lenon and Na’il Diggs were back flanking
MLB Nick Barnett, with Roy Manning seeing some action outside,
as well. Diggs is likely to be a cap cut after this year, while
Lenon and Manning are back-up material, so Barnett is likely to
have two new people on either side of him next year as the Packers
continue to try to restock LBs. Lenon left the game with a hand
injury, while DE KGB (hip) and CB Ahmad Carroll (head) checked
out with injuries, as well. Lenon now had two injured hands, so
Diggs and Manning will likely see most of the work this week.
Rookie FS Nick Collins led the team with 12 tackles (11 solo).
CB Ahmad Carroll missed some time during the first half with a
hip injury, but returned and finished the game.
Facing an OLine as bad as their own, the Texans posted a season-high
6 sacks and held the Cardinals to a season-low 39 yards on the
ground. Pass rush specialist Jason Babin had his first multi-sack
game of his career, and his first 2 sacks of the season, among
his 4 solo tackles. He also forced a fumble on one of his sacks.
Babin, the former first round pick who lost his starting job earlier
this year, finally looked like the pass rush threat from the edge
he was supposed to provide this 3-4 defense. OLB Antwan Peek had
his fifth sack of the season, tying OLB Shantee Orr for the team
FS Marcus Coleman did not start for the second straight game
and appears to have permanently lost his starting role after being
suspended for missing a team meeting three weeks ago. Rookie C.C.
Brown remained the starter at FS and grabbed his first career
INT, as did second-year SS Glenn Earl. CB Dunta Robinson led the
team with 7 tackles (6 solo).
With the offense struggling, the defense got the team back in
the game. After the Colts ended the shut-out with a FG in the
third quarter, MLB Gary Brackett picked a ball off on the Chargers’
subsequent drive and returned it 19 yards deep into San Diego
territory. The offense scored their first TD two plays later.
On the following drive, DE Dwight Freeney got a sack and forced
a fumble that was recovered by DT Montae Reagor. Three plays later,
the offense scored another TD and took the lead, but they were
unable to hang on and preserve the perfect season. In addition
to the pick, Brackett had 10 solo tackles. Freeney also had 4
other solo tackles. He reportedly will sit this week to rest a
lingering foot injury.
FS Bob Sanders led the team with 12 tackles (10 solo). WLB Cato
June was the third Colt IDP with double-digit tackles, posting
10 (4 solo). June returned after missing the previous game to
rest multiple injuries. With the possibility of an undefeated
season gone, and a plethora of injuries, June is another candidate
to see limited or no action this week, with Gilbert Gardner seeing
more work. DT Corey Simon was rested on Sunday to let a sprained
left foot recover and is expected to miss this week. Josh Williams
started in his place. Pass rush specialist Robert Mathis was also
inactive to help a foot injury recover and is expected to miss
this week. That likely ends his quest for a sack title, as OAK
DE Derrick Burgess added to his league-leading total on Sunday.
Reserve DT Larry Tripplett twisted his right ankle in the game,
while SLB David Thornton (chest) and CB Nick Harper (leg/groin),
who had his third pick of the season in the game, played through
injuries. They all also head in to this week with the possibility
of seeing limited or no action to rest injuries. The Colts won’t
simply put a practice squad out there the next two weeks, they
their starters to be sharp heading in to the playoffs, but pay
close attention to the injury updates because, at the same time,
there are no longer any goals for the team in the regular season.
As the Jaguars dominated time of possession against an impotent
49er offense, not many fantasy opportunities for their defense.
MLB Mike Peterson led the team with 5 solo tackles and his fifth
sack of the season, tying a career-high.
After getting a sack in four consecutive games in November, reserve
DL Rob Meier was sackless through the first two games of December.
He got his sixth sack on Sunday, among his 4 solo tackles. He
saw some more work at end with DE Paul Spicer battling a sore
CB Rashean Mathis continues to play through a broken finger.
He had 3 solo tackles.
Missed tackles and NYG RB Tiki Barber running wild meant few highlights
for the Chiefs D. MLB Kawika Mitchell led the team 11 tackles
(7 solo) and a pass defensed that he should have picked off, when
NYG TE Jeremy Shockey shuffled the opposite way QB Eli Manning
expected him to, and Manning threw the ball right into Mitchell’s
SS Sammy Knight had 7 tackles (6 solo) and a pass defensed, but
let NYG WR Amani Toomer get away from him and turn a short catch
into a 31-yard TD. In Knight’s defense, Toomer’s knee
appeared to be down and the refs were calling a very tight game,
including flagging Knight earlier in the game with a questionable
late hit call when it seemed like no whistle had blown.
DE Eric Hicks had the only sack of the game, his second in his
last three games, among his 5 solo tackles. He also forced a fumble
on it. Hicks had to briefly leave the game with what looked like
a shoulder stinger, but returned a few plays later. However, after
the game he reported it didn’t look good, so it may be a
serious injury. CB Eric Warfield left the game with a shoulder
DE Jason Taylor continues to frustrate fantasy owners with huge
games when they bench him after stringing together a few bad ones.
For the second time this season, Taylor had 3 sacks in a game.
After being held sack-less until November, DL David Bowens has
grown accustom to his back-up role and has 4 sacks in his last
four games. Reserve DE Matt Roth had his first career sack, as
With an off-game by NYJ MLB Jonathan Vilma, MLB Zach Thomas is
back in the hunt for the NFL tackle lead after posting 11 (6 solo).
He is 3 behind BUF MLB London Fletcher and 8 behind Vilma’s
145. Thomas also broke up a pass and recovered a fumble. Rookie
WLB Channing Crowder left the game in the first half with a shoulder
injury and did not return. HC Nick Saban said Crowder will not
need a harness, but could likely play this week with a pad, which
indicates it is more of a bruise than separation-type of injury.
Derrick Pope replaced him and had 5 tackles (4 solo) and forced
a fumble. Despite the win, the Dolphins were eliminated from the
playoffs, so there is a chance players like Thomas and Taylor,
who have been playing through painful injuries could be rested,
but neither play seems like the type who would want to seem to
quit on his team. Regardless, keep an eye out for injury news
on these two starters, because if there is a chance they could
incur future problems by continuing to play through their injuries,
HC Nick Saban could take the decision out of their hands.
The front line brought some good pressure, but the team was unable
to force a turnover and ended their six-game winning streak against
Pittsburgh. Rookie DE Erasmus James had his first multi-sack game,
with 2 among his 4 solo tackles. DT Kevin Williams returned after
missing two games and most of another with a sprained MCL. He
had his first sack in two months, and just his second of the season,
among his 6 solo tackles. After back-to-back double-digit sack
seasons to start his career, Williams’ numbers took a big
dip across the board after early season struggles by the entire
defense and his injury. Pass rush specialist Lance Johnstone also
had a sack. He leads the team with 7.5 on the season.
Brian Williams continues to start at CB in front of Fred Smoot,
who was in his second game back from a broken collarbone that
cost him four games. Smoot saw limited action, as the Steelers
rarely used more than two receivers. Smoot was one of four Vikings,
and the only member of the defense, charged with a misdemeanor
last week for his actions in the Party Boat Scandal. Owner Zygyi
Wilf said no team sanctions will be taken against the players
before the legal issues are resolved in court.
OLB Keith Newman was inactive with a sprained knee and suffered
in the previous game. Raonall Smith replaced him and had 4 solo
tackles. MLB Sam Cowart led the team with 9 tackles (7 solo).
The front seven teed off on a skittish Chris Simms for a season-high
seven sacks. ILB Tedy Bruschi led the way with his best game of
the year, hardly looking like a guy whose football career was
in jeopardy earlier this year. He led the team with 11 tackles
(9 solo) and had 2 sacks, including a rodeo-style take down on
which he forced a fumble. ILB Mike Vrabel blindsided Simms for
his sack, forcing a fumble that Willie McGinest recovered. Vrabel
also had 8 tackles (4 solo), while McGinest had 2 sacks of his
own among his 6 tackles (4 solo). OLB Rosey Colvin had a sack
for the fourth straight game to complete the sack grand slam for
the starting LB group. Colvin leads the team with 6.5 sacks on
the season. SS Artrell Hawkins had the other sack, back in the
starting lineup after missing the previous game with a thigh injury.
DE Darren Howard was inactive again, and apparently will be for
the rest of the season. Howard says it has nothing to do with
his knee, which means it likely has to do with reported issues
regarding conduct and attitude between Howard and the team. HC
Jim Haslett only commented that Howard not play again this, adding
he is unlikely to be back in 2006 because of salary cap reasons.
Howard is an unrestricted free agent after this season. DE Will
Smith, the reason Howard is expendable, started in his place and
had 6 tackles (4 solo). Opposite him, DE Charles Grant, who has
struggled most of the season, had one of his best games. Grant
had a season-high 11 tackles (7 solo) to lead the team, and recovered
a fumble forced by CB Jason Craft on a sack. Grant tried to lateral
the ball to SS Dwight Smith, who returned it to the Panther two-yard
line, but after review, it was ruled an illegal forward pass.
SLB Sedrick Hodge was inactive after spraining his ankle in the
previous game. T.J. Slaughter and Terrence Melton split time in
his place. Slaughter had his first career INT in the game. Hodge
is expected back this week.
New York Giants
The Giants found themselves facing one of the league’s top
offenses without two key veteran LBs. As expected, MLB Antonio
Pierce was inactive with a high ankle sprain and LB Carlos Emmons
was a surprise inactive as a pectoral injury that had him miss
time early this season kept him out of the game. It didn’t
affect New York, as their unheralded back-ups stepped up and Tiki
Barber carried the offense. Chase Blackburn replaced Pierce in
the middle and had 9 tackles (3 solo) in his first career start.
He’ll get the start again this week. With Emmons out, Nick
Greisen remained at WLB instead of shifting to the middle. He
had 7 solo tackles and recovered a fumble forced by rookie CB
Corey Webster late in the game to seal the victory. Emmons is
likely to miss this week and could be done for the regular season.
Reggie Tobor remained in the starting lineup at SLB due to the
injuries and had 4 tackles (3 solo, including 1 on special teams).
It is rumored that Pierce’s injury will end at least his
regular season. If it extends to the playoffs, it would be a huge
blow to the New York defense. The Giants have added former Patriot
LB Roman Phifer for depth, due to the injuries.
DT William Joseph was inactive again after just returning the
previous game from a dislocated elbow that cost him a month. He
was out with an ankle injury. Fred Robbins replaced him in the
starting lineup, rotating with Kenderick Allen. Allen had the
only sack of the day, as their stud DE tandem was held in check.
New York Jets
Last week’s Broadway revival of the New York Sack Exchange
didn’t play well in Miami. The team had just one sack by
DT Lance Legree, giving him a new career-high with 2.5. Legree
started in place of Dewayne Robertson, who was inactive with a
lingering quad injury. Robertson is questionable for this week,
as well. Also missing up front was DE Shaun Ellis, who was out
with a hamstring pull suffered the previous week. He is questionable
this week, as well. Bryan Thomas, who has a strained biceps himself,
started in place of Ellis and had just 2 assists.
WLB Mark Brown was inactive with a neck stinger. Journeyman Barry
Gardner started in his place and had 4 tackles (3 solo, including
1 on special teams).
Rookie CB Justin Miller continues to start ahead of David Barrett.
Barrett had his fifth INT of the season Sunday, setting up a FG
that tied the game before halftime. He has picks in back-to-back
With plenty of questions on offense regarding the future QB Chad
Pennington and RB Curtis Martin, and the likely use of their high
first round pick on offense after not using at least their top
two picks on offense the last three years, the Jets defense is
also looking at a major make-over this off-season. DE John Abraham
will fight getting the franchise tag, wanting a long-term deal
or a chance to hit the open market. Even if they someone get him
to not holdout and accept the franchise tag, it will be at least
an $8 million cap-killing deal, which they will also owe Ellis,
who has had the worst year of his career after getting a nice
multi-year deal last year. If either is gone, Bryan Thomas has
shown improvement, but the former first-round pick doesn’t
look like he’ll ever be an elite player, which they have
in Abraham and thought they had in Ellis. Similarly, former first
round pick Robertson doesn’t look worth the $9.4 million
he’s due next year. He won’t be gone, but the team
will likely look to renegotiate his deal for some cap relief.
The one-year gamble on CB Ty Law turned out better than expected,
however the team wasn’t good enough to benefit from it.
Law is due an $11 million bonus he’ll never see in early
2006. After showing he can still play at an elite level, the Jets
will have to pay a premium they likely can’t afford to keep
Aided by poor weather conditions and facing a rookie QB, the Raiders
defense had a rare strong performance ruined by replay. Inside
the Oakland red zone with less than a minute to play, the Browns
tried to run the clock down to set up a game-winning FG. As the
ball squirted out from CLE RB Rueben Droughns when he was tackled
by DT Ted Washington and CB Renaldo Hill and was recovered by
DE Tommy Kelly, it appeared the defense had saved the day. However,
Droughns was ruled down before the fumble and after reviewing
the replay, it was reversed. The Browns went on to hit the game-winning
FG. The drive was helped earlier by a face-masking personal foul
on DE Derrick Burgess on a sack, which extended his league-leading
total to 14. Everyone close to him was shut-out this week, so
Burgess takes a 1.5 sack lead over TEN DE Kyle Vanden Bosch in
to the final two games in pursuit of the sack title. Hill had
a pick in the game, it was only the fourth of the season by the
team, who are threatening to have the least interceptions in a
season in NFL history. The low is six, shared by three teams,
most recently the 2004 Rams.
Rookie CB Standford Routt, one of many inexperienced players
forced into significant minutes by the rash of injuries in the
secondary, had his first career sack in the game. FS Stuart Schweigert
injured his groin in the first quarter, but returned to action.
He is also playing on a sore ankle. He had 5 tackles (3 solo)
and broke up a pass.
LB Danny Clark, playing through a shoulder burner, led the team
in tackles again this week with 6 (4 solo). It’s been a
sporadic season for Clark, who had a breakout year in 2004 in
his first full-time starting gig, but he looks like he’ll
go over 100 tackles for the second straight year and have similar
numbers to 2004. So while proving not to be a fantasy-bust this
season, he is still inconsistent and completely lacks big play
ability. On better teams, he would have a tougher time holding
on to a starting job. Rookie Kirk Morrison, who is already over
100 tackles for the season, is a similar player, but has more
Former Raider (and, briefly, Redskin and Buccaneer) Darrell Russell
was killed in a car accident last week. The number two pick overall
by the Raiders in 1997 didn’t live up to the huge potential
he showed at USC in his rookie year, but after 10 sack in 1998
and 9.5 in 1999, and a Pro Bowl trip in each, he looked like he
was set to join Warren Sapp in redefining the interior defensive
line role. However, he quickly became a textbook cautionary tale
for young athletes who suddenly have more money than they could
have ever imagined, or know what to do with. Substance abuse started
to become a problem, and his production severely dropped. He got
second and third chances, even after brutal charges regarding
his involvement of a video taped gang rape further tainted his
reputation, despite charges eventually being dropped due to lack
of evidence he was the camera man. His indefinite suspension in
2004 finally ended his career.
Penalties were the biggest asset for the Eagles D in an ugly game.
Eight false start penalties helped constantly disrupt drives by
the Rams. The Eagles had no sacks and the only turnover they forced
was an INT by FS Brian Dawkins late in the third quarter that
set up the eventual game-winning FG. Dawkins broke up 2 other
passes and had 4 solo tackles.
CB Roderick Hood led the team with 6 solo tackles.
DT Darwin Walker returned to the starting lineup after being
demoted last week in a motivational move by DC Jim Johnson. Sam
Rayburn returned to a reserve role. Walker had 4 solo tackles.
After registering a sack in three straight games, rookie RDE Trent
Cole has now gone three without one.
OLB Joey Porter had a day. He had his eighth sack of the season,
the most for him since 2002, and giving him one in back-to-back
games. He also had his second pick of the year. The he helped
seal the victory sharing a safety with ILB Larry Foote when they
caught MIN RB Michael Bennett for a 2-yard loss in the end zone.
Porter had 4 tackles total (2 solo) on the day. Foote had a sack
of his own among his 7 solo tackles. ILB James Farrior led the
team with 9 tackles (5 solo).
CB Deshea Townsend played despite suffering concussion and neck
injuries in the previous game. He had an INT and 2 solo tackles.
Reserve S and former Viking and Minnesota college star Tyrone
Carter recovered a muffed kick return attempt by MIN rookie RB
After not posting a sack since early October, DE Leonard Little
finally completed the deal in the backfield a couple times on
Sunday. He had his best game since the season opener, posting
2 sacks for the first time since then. Little forced a fumble
on one sack and also recovered a fumble forced by rookie CB Ron
Bartell. His two sacks give him a team-high six for the season.
Little injured his hand and had x-rays on Monday, but the injury
is not believed to be serious, as he was able to finish the game.
Bartell continues to start in place of Travis Fisher, who was
placed on the IR after missing four games with a pulled groin.
Bartell should finish the season out as a starter. In addition
to the forced fumble, Bartell had 4 solo tackles.
LB Chris Claiborne’s season hit rock bottom, as he was
active but DNP – coach’s decision. MLB Trev Faulk,
who has replaced Claiborne in the middle led the team in tackles
with 11 (10 solo).
Rookie LB Brandon Chillar replaced Dexter Coakley (IR) at OLB.
He had 5 tackles (4 solo).
FS Mike Furrey made a splash when he moved into the starting
lineup in late October with a pick in three straight games, but
has been quiet since. He had his team-leading fourth pick on Sunday.
OLB Pisa Tinoisamoa had a key pick that set up the team’s
only TD. CB Dejuan Groce also had an INT.
The defense capitalized on an uninspired effort by an Indianapolis
offense in the first half. Rookie OLB Shawne Merriman and DE Igor
Olshansky set the tone by sharing a sack of IND QB Peyton Manning
on the Colts’ first play from scrimmage. On the Colts’
next drive, Merriman helped stop IND RB Edgerrin James for a loss.
The next play, CB Drayton Florence picked Manning off, but fumbled
during the return, giving the Colts a fresh set of downs. It was
Merriman and Olshansky sharing a sack again on the next play.
Merriman would then have a solo sack in the third quarter, but
his biggest play may have been in the fourth quarter, with the
Colts in San Diego territory threatening to take the lead. Merriman
didn’t get to Manning on a 2nd-and-9, but he would force
an intentional grounding for a huge loss. On the subsequent 3rd-and-21,
rookie DE Luis Castillo would sack Manning, pushing the Colts
further out of FG range. The Charger offense would score on the
next possession, putting the game further out of reach, and the
first pick of the season by CB Quentin Jammer on the next Colt
possession sealed the victory. After three quiet games, Merriman
was a monster. He finished with 7 tackles (4 solo) and 2 sacks.
He leads the team with 9 sacks. In addition to his pick, Jammer
had 7 tackles (4 solo) and broke up 4 other passes. ILB Donnie
Edwards led the team with 9 tackles (7 solo).
FS Bhawoh Jue was inactive with a knee injury, so Clinton Hart
got the start. Terrence Kiel, who Hart had replaced while he was
out with an ankle injury, started at SS. CB Sammy Davis was active,
but DNP, he was battling sickness last week.
DE Bryant Young returned just a month after tearing his MCL and
meniscus in his right knee and spraining his ankle on the same
leg. He started and had 3 solo tackles.
OLB Julian Peterson suffered a slightly separated shoulder in
the first half of the game, but played through it. He intends
to play this week with a shoulder harness. ILB Derek M. Smith
led the team with 10 tackles (9 solo).
Despite returning to practice last week, FS Mike Adams remained
inactive due to a slight MCL tear in his left leg. Keith Lewis
continued to replace him in the starting lineup.
CB Bruce Thornton was supposed to be demoted after rookie Derrick
Johnson was said to have passed him for a starting corner job,
but Shawntae Spencer was inactive due to a pulled thigh he tested
on Sunday and couldn’t play with, so both started. Johnson
had 8 tackles (7 solo) and broke up 2 passes. Thornton had 7 solo
tackles and a pass defensed. Recent call-up from the practice
squad, B.J. Tucker, played the nickel.
The defense allowed a struggling Titan O to get on track, and
recorded no sacks or turnovers, but the offense bailed them out
to keep them in good shape for home-field advantage through the
playoffs. SS Michael Boulware led the team with 10 tackles (8
CBs Andre Dyson (high ankle sprain) and Kelly Herndon (knee sprain)
were inactive again. Jordan Babineaux got another start at CB
across from Marcus Trufant.
OLB D.D. Lewis was inactive again, missing his third game with
a knee injury. Kevin Bentley continued to replace him and had
7 solo tackles, including 1 on special teams. Rookie OLB Leroy
Hill had 9 tackles (3 solo).
DT Chartric Darby suffered a knee injury in the game and had
to leave in the fourth quarter after trying to play through it.
Rocky Bernard saw more action in his place and will return to
the starting lineup opposite Marcus Tubbs if Darby is out this
DE Simeon Rice got his first sack of December among his 5 tackles
(4 solo). It gives Rice ten on the season, his fifth straight
season, and eight of his career, with double-digit sacks. That
was about the only highlight of the day, as NE QB Tom Brady carved
up the Bucs.
As expected, DT Anthony McFarland was inactive with a strained
hamstring and knee. Ellis Wyms started in his place. McFarland
is doubtful for this week.
A punt returned for a TD was nullified by a hold by reserve S
Kalvin Pearson. It wasn’t the only penalty that hurt TB,
as a questionable roughing the kick foul on LB Ryan Nece on 4th-and-13
kept a drive alive for the Pats in the second quarter that led
to a TD for a 14-0 lead.
FS Dexter Jackson led the team in tackles with 8 (6 solo).
DE Kyle Vanden Bosch fell behind in the hunt for the sack title,
finishing with just 2 assists. DE Travis LaBoy remained the starter
opposite him and had the team’s only sack among his 7 tackles
(6 solo). Back-up DE Antwan Odom blocked a FG attempt that was
recovered by DT Randy Starks. The team forced no conventional
FS Lamont Thomson (7 solo) and OLB Keith Bulluck (6 solo) led
the team with 8 tackles. The team forced no turnovers. DT Albert
Haynesworth played through an abdomen injury, but was limited.
He had 2 assists.
The first play from scrimmage for Dallas was a pass deflected
by DE Phillip Daniels into the hands of DT Cornelius Griffin and
it was all downhill from there for the Cowboys. The Redskins forced
4 turnovers and had a season-high 7 sacks, including 4 by Daniels,
a personal best and tying a team record. He had two sacks in his
first 17 games as a Redskin, before getting 5 in the last two
games. Daniels also had another solo tackle and recovered a fumble
forced by OLB Marcus Washington on one of his two sacks. Washington
also assisted on 2 other tackles and had a pick. MLB Lemar Marshall
led the team with 9 tackles (7 solo).
The defense was without OLB Lavar Arrington (quad) and rookie
CB Carlos Rogers (bicep). The team used a lot of 5 DB sets again,
with reserve S Pierson Prioleau, as well as LB Warrick Holdman,
replacing Arrington. Walt Harris started in place of Rogers, who
is likely to miss this week, as well.