Fantasy Football Today - fantasy football rankings, cheatsheets, and information
A Fantasy Football Community!

Create An Account  |  Advertise  |  Contact      

Staff Writer
Email Tony

Tony's Articles

IDP Notes
Week 16

Quick Hits (Details in individual team notes)
  • 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
Week 16 Injury Report (available Wednesday PM)

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 career.

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 year.

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 his career.
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 sheet.

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.

Green Bay
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 lead.

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 hip.

CB Rashean Mathis continues to play through a broken finger. He had 3 solo tackles.

Kansas City
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 hands.

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 injury.

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 well.

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).

New England
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.

New Orleans
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 games.

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 him around.

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 potential.

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 Ciatrick Fason.

St. Louis
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.

San Diego
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.

San Francisco
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 solo).

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 week.

Tampa Bay
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 turnovers.

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.