MLB Gerald Hayes led the team with 10 tackles (9 solo) and had the
only sack of the game for AZ. It is a career high in sacks and he
is headed for his first 100-tackle season. WLB Karlos Dansby had
8 tackles (4 solo) and forced a fumble on the first drive of the
game that reserve LB Darryl Blackstock recovered that led to a TD
by the offense.
While his tackles numbers have been poor and sacks have come sporadically
in the second half of the season, DE John Abraham the most valuable
piece of an DLine devastated by injuries in 2008 and was on his
way to playing in every game since 2002. However, he hurt his
left knee in the second half and did not return to the game. He
had his team-leading eighth sack of the season before leaving.
Abraham will have an MRI this week, but sounds unlikely to play
this week. Chauncey Davis and Josh Mallard would both see more
work if Abraham is out.
After spending most of his time on special teams since returning
from a high ankle sprain four games ago, rookie LB Stephen Nicholas
was once again rotating at WLB with Demorrio Williams. Williams
still saw the bulk of the work, finishing with 6 tackles (4 solo).
MLB Keith Brooking led the team with 15 tackles (10 solo).
CB DeAngelo Hall had his team-leading fifth pick in the game.
Hall is still under contract for 2008, but his long-term future
as a Falcon while Bobby Petrino was there looking unlikely. Of
course, that all changes now. Hall is already talking about now
wanting to stay in ATL. Depth at corner got a little thinner as
the team had to put nickel CB Lewis Sanders on the IR with a pec
injury. They signed CB Brent Grimes to take his place on the roster
and rookie David Irons should now be the nickel corner.
MLB Ray Lewis left the game in the third quarter with a dislocated
left finger. He had his second sack of the season among his 4
tackles (3 solo) and forced a fumble. Nick Greisen replaced him
and finished with 3 solo tackles. Lewis is expected to play with
a cast this week. OLB Terrell Suggs had his fifth sack of the
season and rookie reserve OLB Antwan Barnes continues to thrive
as a situational pass rusher. He had his second sack in the last
With their playoff hopes over, CB Chris McAlister was placed on
the IR to not further damage his balky right knee. Corey Ivy will
finish the season as a starter and CB Willie Gaston was activated
from the practice squad to fill the roster spot. CB Samari Rolle
also missed another game with a shoulder injury and is not expected
to play this week. Gaston got his first career over Derrick Martin
opposite Ivy start in place of Rolle. Ivy and Gaston both had
5 solo tackles. Ivy defended 2 passes and Gaston one.
DT Kelly Gregg (hamstring) and DT Haloti Ngata (knee) started
and played through lingering injuries. Gregg led the team with
11 solo tackles, including his third sack of the season.
DE Aaron Schobel had the only sack for the Bills, a big one on
third-and-long. It gave Schobel one in three consecutive games.
He leads the team with a disappointing 5.5 on the season. DE Chris
Kelsay returned from a left ankle injury and was back in the starting
lineup rotating with Ryan Denney.
The pass rush returned on Sunday and helped propel CAR to a victory
led by their much-maligned defense. SLB Thomas
Davis, WLB Na’il Diggs, and DT Kris
Jenkins each had a sack. Davis left the game in the second
quarter with an apparent leg injury, but returned in the season
half. Donte’ Curry replaced Davis while he was out. DE Julius
Peppers left the game early with a right knee sprain. He did
not practice Tuesday and looks questionable for this week. Rookie
Johnson could get his first career start if Peppers can’t
After a rough game the previous week, CB Chris Gamble was benched
in favor of Patrick Dendy. Richard Marshall remained the nickel
corner. SS Chris Harris continued his breakout season, tying a
tea record with his seventh forced fumble of the season, which
was recovered by Marshall. Harris also had 6 solo tackles.
The return of CB Nathan
Vasher after missing ten games with a partially torn groin
had a pronounced effect on the Bears D. Vasher immediately made
an impact when he hit MIN WR Robert Ferguson on the first drive
and the ball popped out right in to the hands of MLB Brian
Urlacher. It was credited as an interception for Urlacher,
because Ferguson never completely had possession, but there was
no doubt Vasher forced the turnover and I wouldn’t be surprised
to see a scoring change. Vasher then had his first pick of the
season and a nice 34 yard return to set up the Bears only TD in
the game late in the second half. On the other side, CB Charles
Tillman also had an outstanding game. He led the team with
12 tackles (11 solo) and broke up a pass. Tillman was shaken up
after getting knocked down during a block and bouncing his head
off the group early in the fourth quarter. He vomited on the sidelines
and returned to the game the next drive. He seems likely to play
next week, but the vomiting could be a sign of a concussion. The
other difference in an improved effort since their last meeting
with MIN RB Adrian Peterson was playing eight in the box, which
the return of Vasher allowing them to play man, and some fresh
wide bodies in the middle. The team added DT Jimmy Kennedy last
week and activated UDFA rookie Matt
Toeaina from the practice squad due to all the injuries at
DT. Both played well, with Toeaina particularly impressive on
dropping Peterson for a loss on both his solo tackles. The improved
interior play helped free Urlacher up to have one of his best
games of the year. The Vikings were clearly confused by the new
faces and skills on the Bears interior, because Urlacher had several
free runs up the middle, resulting in a fumble recovery on an
aborted handoff and two sacks among his 6 tackles (4 solo).
Brandon McGowan remained the starter at SS ad got his second pick
of the season on a nice athletic play. DE Mark Anderson left the
game in the first quarter with a right knee injury and did not
return. Former starter Alex Brown played well in his absence.
While they made SF QB Shaun Hill look a Pro Bowler in his first
start, the defense really failed in the run game, where they had
made great improvement recently. In Week Ten, Landon Johnson moved
to the middle, Dhani Jones moved to WLB, Rashad Jeanty returned
to the starting lineup at SLB, and the run defense went from allowing
almost 150 ypg to less than 75 ypg, until Saturday night. SF RB
Frank Gore went over 100 yards for just the second time this season,
and was the first RB to go over a hundred against the Bengals
since Week Nine. The defense was without Jeanty, and the value
he adds in run defense, as he was inactive due to problems with
his knee in the left leg he had surgery on before the season.
Corey Mays got his first career start in place of Jeanty. Johnson
and Jones each had 8 tackles (3 solo).
SS Dexter Jackson led the team in tackles with 10 (5 solo) and
shared his first sack of the season with emerging DT Domata Peko,
who had 9 tackles (6 solo). FS Madieu Williams returned after
missing the previous game with a thigh injury.
The lack of a pass rush continues to allow opposing passing games
to thrive. DE Robert
Geathers got to the QB in a game for just the third time this
season. His sack gives him 3.5 on the season, which leads the
team. CIN was counting on more from Geathers, who had 10.5 last
year. Second-year DE Frostee
Rucker remained a mysterious scratch for the fifth straight
game with no reported injury. With Justin
Smith a UFA after this season and Geathers regressing as a
pass rush threat, Rucker was among the young players CIN was expected
to give more opportunities as the season wraps up.
The defense forced no turnovers and had no sacks, but when reserve
Thompson and SS Sean
Jones stopped BUF RB Fred Jackson for no gain on a screen
on fourth-and-five at the CLE ten-yard line with seconds left,
the Browns 32nd-ranked D blanked the Bills in blizzard. ILB Andra
Davis and CB Leigh
Bodden led the team with 6 solo tackles. Davis was back starting
inside with Leon Williams coming off the bench. DE Shaun
Smith also had 6 tackles (4 solo). He was back starting over
Roye, whose knees flared up last week.
Pass rush specialist Antwan
Peek was inactive with knee and ankle problems, while standout
rookie CB Eric Wright returned to the starting lineup after missing
four games with a left knee sprain. He had 3 solo tackles and
broke up a pass.
SS Roy Williams
led the team with 7 solo tackles, but his most noticeable play
was a horse-collar tackles of PHI QB Donovan McNabb that bent
him backwards. The play, involving dragging a player down by the
jersey or shoulder pads at the neck, was made illegal after Williams
himself brought attention to it for famously employing it. The
so-called “Roy Williams Rule” was implemented before the 2005
season, making that type of tackle illegal. Despite this, it was
the third time Williams was flagged for such a tackle this season
and he was suspended for a game. Safety will be a problem this
week for the Cowboys as third safety Pat
Watkins, who replaces Williams in certain pass packages, sprained
his left ankle in the fourth quarter. With a short week, the Cowboys
play Saturday night, Watkins is very questionable. Keith
Davis could get the start. ILB Bradie
James also had 7 tackles (6 solo) and his third sack of the
season, setting a new career high.
Ware got his 11th sack of the season. DE Chris
Canty left the game in the third quarter with an injury to
his left knee, but an MRI was negative and he is expected to play
WLB Ian Gold left in the first quarter with a right knee sprain
and did not return. The team hasn’t expounded on the seriousness
of the injury, but it has been mentioned that with their playoff
hopes dimming, Gold could be done for the season, although he
is indicated early as being questionable this week. Jaime Winborn
replaced him in the game and is likely to start as long as Gold
is out. Early in his career, Winborn won a starting role in SF
and flashed some potential as a speedy playmaker, but could never
remain healthy. The former second-round pick has bounced around
the league the last few years. He has never played 16 games in
a season and already missed two this year. Regardless, the team
is apparently excited about what they’ve seen from Winborn.
They signed him to a two-year extension last week to prevent him
from becoming a free agent, despite the fact he’s seen limited
work in games this year, his only one with DEN.
CB Dre’ Bly kept the team in the game with his team-leading
fifth pick of the season late in the third quarter. It was the
only turnover in the game for DEN and set up a TD that cut their
deficit to four, before the Texans turned it in to a blowout.
MLB D.J. Williams led the team with 9 tackles (7 solo) and also
broke up a pass. The defense had no sacks.
With SD thoroughly dominating the time of possession, there were
plenty of opportunities on defense for the Lions, but they failed
to register a sack or recover a turnover as they dropped their
sixth straight game. Rookie FS Gerald Alexander led the team with
15 tackles (13 solo). SS Kenoy Kennedy joined him in double-digit
tackles with 11 (7 solo), as the front seven was a sieve.
MLB Paris Lenon was poked in the eye in the first quarter, but
returned to the game and finished with 7 solo tackles. CB Travis
Fisher is questionable this week after suffering a hamstring injury.
Rookie DE Ikaika Alama-Francis continues to see more work.
MLB Nick Barnett led the team with 13 solo tackles, including
2 sacks. He set a new season-best with 3.5 sacks and leads the
team in tackles on the season. WLB A.J. Hawk had 7 solo tackles
and his first sack of the season. DE Aaron Kampman played through
back spasms and had a sack, number 12 on the season.
Rookie DT Justin Harrell dislocated his thumb during the game
and tried to return with it wrapped, but eventually left for good.
He is questionable this week. DT Ryan Pickett injured his groin
during the game and is questionable this week.
SS Atari Bigby had two picks, his third in the last two games
and fourth of the season.
DE Mario Williams took another move towards stardom with the best
game of his career on a nationally-televised (at least for those
with the NFL Network) game Thursday night. He had 3.5 sacks among
his 7 tackles (5 solo) in a victory over Denver that kept Houston’s
playoff hopes alive. Williams took over the AFC lead, and moved
in to second place in the NFL, with 13 sacks on the season, a
single-season record for the Texans. He has 30 tackles and 9 sacks
with 2 forced fumbles over his last five games. Pass rush specialist
N.D. Kalu shared the sack with Williams and had another solo of
his own. Kalu is finally contributing the last couple games. Since
a sack in their opener, he hadn’t gotten to the QB until
totaling two the last two games.
For the second straight game, WLB Morlon Greenwood led the team
with double-digit tackles. He had 12 (8 solo), while MLB DeMeco
Ryans continues to slip as he struggles with a knee injury. Ryans
had 6 tackles (3 solo) for the second consecutive outing, the
lowest two-game total of tackles (12) he’s had this year.
Ryans also broke up a pass. He is expected to play this week despite
the knee problem, but it could continue to hamper his stats. Charlie
Anderson has replaced Danny Clark as the starter at SLB, but is
Fourth-round pick CB Fred Bennett continues to look very good.
He had 8 tackles (7 solo) and broke up two passes. He did allow
11 catches by DEN WR Brandon Marshall, but limited his YAC and
kept him out of the end zone.
A defense decimated by injuries was lucky to have just Oakland
on the calendar Sunday. DE Robert Mathis (knees), DT Raheem Brock
(ribs), and FS Antoine Bethea (sprained right knee) were all missing
from the starting lineup. Former UDFA Jeff Charleston got his
first career sack last week and got his first career start in
place of Mathis. He had 7 tackles (2 solo). Matt Giordano got
the start in place of Bethea.
WLB Freddie Keiaho led the team with 14 tackles (10 solo). MLB
Gary Brackett had 5 solo tackles playing with injured ribs. The
team had no sacks or turnovers recovered.
It was challenged by replay, but the stop by CB Rashean
Mathis and nickel CB Terry
Cousin of PIT TE Heath Miller was just short on fourth-and-seven
late in the fourth quarter to secure the victory. JAX handed the
Steelers their first home loss and putting themselves on the verge
of the playoffs at 10-4. They did it without DT Marcus Stroud,
Peterson, and DE Reggie
Hayward. Stroud was placed on the IR last week after suffering
a serious right ankle sprain in the third quarter of their previous
game. He had microfracture surgery on the same ankle last offseason.
replaced him next to DT John
Henderson. Henderson had his second sack of the season, his
last was Week Two. Hayward missed his second game with a groin
injury and is doubtful this week. Because Meier had to play DT
for Stroud, the disappointing Bobby
McCray got the start at DE and had his first sack of the season.
With the injuries on the DLine, tweener Brent
Hawkins got more work and his first two-sack game of this
career, giving him 3.5 on the season. He is developing in to a
useful situational pass rusher. DE Paul Spicer had a sack he forced
a fumble on. He leads the team with 8.5 on the season, a new career
Darryl Smith remained the man in the middle with Peterson out
indefinitely. Rookie OLB Justin Durant led the team with 10 tackles
DE Tamba Hali shared a sack with third DE Jimmy Wilkerson, the
only one in the game for the Chiefs. It gives Hali 6.5 on the
season and he hasn’t gone more than one game without at
least a half-sack since the first two weeks of the season. He
also totaled 8 tackles (6 solo). Despite Hali bringing consistent
pressure on the other side, Jared Allen’s second half slide
continues. He went back-to-back games without a sack for the second
time in the last five weeks. He remains stuck on 11.5 for the
season. Allen had 6 tackles (5 solo), batted down a pass and had
a QB hit in the game.
Johnson led the team with 10 tackles (7 solo). OLB Donnie
Edwards played through a tender hamstring and had 7 tackles
(5 solo). Edwards leads the team in tackles on the season.
It took OT, but the Fins finally put one in the win column for
the first time in over a year. DE Jason Taylor put in an effort
worthy of a defending DPoY to help his team. Taylor blocked a
FG attempt as time expired in the first half to keep the MIA deficit
at ten. He also had two sacks in the game and even lined up at
WR in a goalline package where a pass to him fell short. However,
he suffered a foot injury in during the first half and did not
play most of the second half. However, he returned at the end
of the game and had a key TFL in OT on a BAL drive that resulted
in a missed FG two plays later. MIA would score the game-winning
TD on the subsequent drive. The two sacks gave Taylor a team-high
ten on the season. He has double-digit sacks for the third consecutive
season and sixth time in his career. DE Rodrique Wright got the
start and had a sack, as Matt Roth was active, but limited by
a groin strain. Quentin Moses also saw significant action with
With Zach Thomas already on the IR, MLB Channing Crowder missed
his second straight game. Crowder has a sprained right foot and
sore left knee. He has had surgery on his right knee three times,
Crowder had his left knee scoped on Tuesday and is expected, at
best, to return for the season finale, but could miss the rest
of the season. Derrick Pope got the start in the middle with Donnie
Spragan remaining in the starting lineup with Crowder out. Pope
had 5 tackles (4 solo). SS Lance Schulters (7 solo) and FS Jason
Allen (6 solo) led the team with 7 tackles.
CB Michael Lehan (groin) and DT Vonnie Holliday (ankle) were both
back in the starting lineup. Holliday’s ankle is still tender,
so he’s unlikely to practice much this week, but should
play. Same story for Roth with his groin.
Henderson led the team with 7 solo tackles and had a ferocious
hit on CHI QB Kyle Orton just after he released the ball on a
third quarter pass. SS Darren
Sharper sealed the victory with his fourth pick of the year
on a deep pass late in the fourth quarter. CHI WR Bernard
Berrian was briefly open, but Orton put too much air under
the ball and threw to the outside, instead of down the middle,
allowing Sharper to get under it for a nice over-the-shoulder
pick. He should have downed it in the end zone instead of running
it out, but it ended up not mattering.
An injury-plagued season continued for CB Antoine Winfield as
he left the game late in the first half and did not return. Officially,
all that is being reported is a left shoulder injury for Winfield,
but there was speculation in the Pioneer Press that he has a torn
ligament. Rookie Marcus McCauley replaced Winfield, who had 6
solo tackles and broke up 2 passes before leaving. Before Monday
night, Winfield had missed four of the previous six games with
a hamstring injury.
DE Kenechi Udeze had the only sack for the Vikings, as Orton showed
a little better mobility in the pocket than expected. It was Udeze’s
fifth sack of the season, matching his career best of his 2004
rookie season and tying him for the team lead with the suspended
Ray Edwards. DE Erasmus James, already on the IR, had surgery
for the third time on his left knee after tearing the ACL for
the second time in two years.
FS Dwight Smith was blocking traffic Thursday night outside a
nightclub and when officers approached his car, they noticed a
smell of marijuana. When Smith was questioned about it, he is
reported to have admitted he “just got done smoking some
marijuana.” He was cited for possession, but not arrested.
Perhaps the team, and likely the NFL, will be handing down a stiffer
penalty. Smith has a pattern of misconduct for which some more
serious discipline seems overdue. He has been benched for the
first series twice this season for internal issues with HC Brad
Childress. In August 2006, he was cited for indecent conduct when
police found him unclothed in a stairwell at a nightclub with
a woman. It was widely expected he’d be released after that,
in the wake of the “Love Boat” embarrassment and new
ownership looking to clean house, but the team decided to just
suspended him one game. In March 2005, he was charged with aggravated
assault with a weapon when he allegedly pointed a pellet gun at
two people during an incident at a McDonalds. Charges were later
dropped. He pleaded guilty to improper display of a firearm after
he pointed a gun at someone in road rage in April 2003 and received
community service and probation. Smith is under contract through
next season, while both back-ups Tank Williams and Mike Doss will
be free agents. However, either Williams or Doss could be brought
back cheaper than the $3.1 million Smith can potentially earn
next year. He is due a $500,000 roster bonus next spring; I’d
be surprised if he was there to collect it.
With James Sanders out with a knee injury, FS Eugene Wilson returned
to the starting lineup with a bang. On the first drive of the
game, DE Richard Seymour drove NYJ QB Kellen Clemens to the ground
as he tried to throw out of his own end zone. The ball fluttered
right to Wilson, who returned it for a TD. He became the 21st
Pat to score a TD this season, tying a league record. Wilson also
had a solo tackle and recovered a fumble forced by OLB Adalius
Thomas. The move back outside for Thomas due to Rosey Colvin going
on the IR has been a boon to Thomas’ fantasy production.
Thomas (8 solo) and ILB Junior Seau (7 solo) led the team in tackles.
Thomas also shared a sack with DE Jarvis Green and then had a
solo sack two plays later on which he forced a fumble. Thomas
has 5.5 sacks on the season, with five of them in the last five
games. The fumble he forced that Wilson recovered came after a
third-and-long completion to NYJ TE Chris Baker deep in NE territory.
Seau had 2 sacks in the game, giving him three on the season to
go with three picks. At age 38, he is having his finest all-around
season since his days with the Chargers as one of the elite players
in the league.
SLB Scott Fujita led the team with 10 tackles (7 solo), including
the only two sacks by the Saints in the game. He forced a fumble
on one of the sacks early in the third quarter that WLB Scott
Shale recovered. The offense converted it in to a TD. It was the
third sack and first double-digit tackle game on the season for
Fujita, who leads the team in tackles.
FS Josh Bullocks missed another game after straining his quad
warming up before their previous game. He practiced on Wednesday,
but had a setback later in the week. Kevin Kaesviharn started
in his place. SS Roman Harper had a pick for his second straight
game, his third of the season.
DT Brian Young remained inactive and is expected to go on the
IR. He has pneumonia and is in the hospital. Antwan Lake continues
to start in his place. DE Charles Grant was dinged during the
game, but able to finish.
New York Giants
DE Michael Strahan had a solid, but unspectacular 5 tackles (4
solo) and 1 QB hit, while DE Osi Umenyiora struggled with no tackles
or sacks and 1 QB hit. However, the versatile Justin Tuck continued
his breakout season getting his tenth sack of the year and leading
the team in tackles with 8 (7 solo), as well as several other
QB pressures and hits. DT Fred Robbins continues to be a solid
interior pass rush threat. He had a sack, giving him 5.5 for the
season, tying his career high set last year.
The defense was without both starting safeties for the second
straight game. FS Gibril Wilson missed his third straight game
with a knee sprain. Michael Johnson started in his place at FS.
Wilson expects to return this week. SS James Butler missed his
second straight game with a hamstring injury. Craig Dahl, who
was battling a sore ankle, started at SS and had 6 tackles (4
solo). Butler remains questionable this week. CB Aaron Ross remained
limited to nickel duty with a sore hamstring, while Kevin Dockery
got another start.
New York Jets
After shaking up the lineup the previous week, the Jets went back
to their regular starters at most spots, although they played
a lot of nickel to offset the NE spread, despite the fact NE went
heavy on the run in the game. NT Dewayne
Robertson started and played through a gimpy knee. Shaun
Ellis was back at DE and had the only sack for the Jets, his
fifth of the season. Victor
Hobson was back starting at OLB and had 5 solo tackles, as
well as inadvertently breaking up a pass to NE WR Randy Moss.
Rookie CB Darrelle
Revis did a good job on Moss, getting the only turnover of
the game for the Jets. As reserve DB Drew
Coleman hit NE QB Tom
Brady on a pass in the third quarter, Revis stopped tracking
Moss and made a nice athletic play to get the ball. It gave the
Jets possession deep in NE territory, but they would turn the
ball over on the subsequent drive.
Rookie ILB David
Harris (6 solo, including one on special teams) and CB David
Barrett (7 solo) led the team in tackles. Eric Smith started
at FS, rotating with Erik
Coleman and Abram
Elam. DE David Bowens blocked a punt and returned it 26 yards
for the only NYJ TD in the game. Bowens is seeing more playing
time in the nickel in place of OLB Bryan
WLB Thomas Howard grabbed his team-leading sixth interception
and the DLine brought good pressure, but it wasn’t enough
to slip past the Colts. Pass rush specialist Chris Clemons got
another start opposite Derrick Burgess and got his team-leading
seventh sack of the season. Clemons has five sacks in his last
six games. Burgess had his sixth sack of the season. DT Gerard
Warren had his fourth sack of the season, and first since Week
The team took advantage of an uncharacteristically bad game by
DAL QB Tony Romo, keyed by two big interceptions. With a 3-0 lead
late in the first half, DAL had just crossed in to PHI territory
when CB Lito
Sheppard grabbed his second pick of the season. The offense
executed the two-minute drill and drove down for what would be
the game-winning TD just before the half. Sheppard also led the
team in tackles with 6 (5 solo). The game remained tight right
down to the wire and Dallas was on their final drive late in the
fourth quarter that ended when FS Brian
Dawkins grabbed his first pick of the season with three minutes
left. The offense ran down the clock for the win. Dawkins played
through some back pain that plagued him earlier in the week. SS
Mikell also had his first pick of the season early in the
game, but fumbled and lost it on the return.
WLB Takeo Spikes tore his rotator cuff during the game, but played
all four quarters, and is questionable for this week. The injury
will eventually require surgery, but HC Andy Reid said they will
see if Spikes can play with the pain. If he can’t go, rookie
Stewart Bradley will move in to the starting lineup at MLB, where
the team eventually sees him playing, and MLB Omar Gaither will
move to WLB to replace Spikes. Gaither (4 solo) and Spikes (3
solo) each had 5 tackles in the game.
DE Trent Cole had a sack, giving him 3.5 in December after getting
shutout in November. He is third in the league with 12.5 this
season. Jevon Kearse was inactive again and Juqua Thomas continued
to start opposite Cole. DT Mike Patterson set a new career high
with his fourth sack of the season despite playing on a sore ankle.
Polamalu returned from a knee sprain after missing three games,
but it wasn’t enough to stop the David Garrard Express from marching
through Pittsburgh. Polamalu (7 solo) and ILB Larry Foote (4 solo)
led the team with 10 tackles.
Smith had his second interception of the season, the only
turnover in the game for PIT. CB Ike Taylor left the game in the
fourth quarter with a knee injury, but is expected to play this
week, although he didn’t practice Tuesday. Bryant
McFadden is a solid replacement for him if Taylor can’t go
FS O.J. Atogwe grabbed two picks and is tied for second in the
league. MLB Will Witherspoon led the team with 5 tackles (4 solo).
OLB Shawne Merriman was inactive, as expected with a left knee
sprain. Marques Harris replaced him. Merriman expects to play
Monday night, but is still questionable. DE Luis Castillo also
hopes to return this week after missing several weeks after ankle
surgery earlier this season. He practiced last week. NT Jamal
Williams started despite a bad ankle and played sparingly, but
is expected to play this week.
Depth was thin at the corners with back-ups Shawntae Spencer (quad)
and Marcus Hudson (knee) out and the defense had no sacks or turnovers,
but thanks to the offense dominating the time of possession, the
49ers got the win over the potentially explosive CIN passing game.
This didn’t afford many tackle opportunities, so ILB Patrick
Willis (5 solo) and nickel CB Donald Strickland (3 solo) led the
team with 6 tackles. Strickland also broke up a pass. Spencer
is expected back this week, but not Hudson.
ILB Jeff Ulbrich played through two sore ankles on short rest
and had 5 tackles (2 solo). He got the start over Derek Smith,
who was limited to certain pass packages by a sore groin. Both
are expected to play this week.
DE Patrick Kerney, the NFL sack leader at 13.5, had 8 tackles
(6 solo), but no sacks, as no one on the defense had a sack or
forced any turnovers in an all-around disappointing game for the
Seahawks. CB Marcus Trufant led the team with 9 solo tackles.
FS Brian Russell played through a sore groin.
CB Ronde Barber got the blowout started when he returned a pick
on the opening drive 29 yards for a TD. It was his 10th career
interception or fumble return for a TD, tying MIN SS Darren Sharper,
who also got his tenth this season, for third place in NFL history.
Since their bye in Week Ten, Barber has turned in plenty of big
plays. Since then he has both his picks this season, his only
sack of the season, and a fumble recovery for a TD.
DE Greg Spires remained sidelined despite being a game-time decision,
as he recovers from a torn left calf. First-round pick Gaines
Adams continued to start in his place and had his sixth sack of
the season, the only one in the game for TB. He forced a fumble
on the sack that was recovered by DT Jovan Haye. Spires is expected
to return this week to prepare for the playoffs. Spires could
also be needed as pass rush specialist Patrick Chukwurah tweaked
his hamstring on Sunday and is questionable for this week.
MLB Barrett Ruud led the team with 8 tackles (6 solo) and broke
up a pass. TB dominated the time of possession and ATL only rushed
20 times as TB got off to a big lead early, leaving few tackle
On the next play from scrimmage after the Titans took a three-point
lead late in the third quarter, FS Michael Griffin grabbed his
third career interception in his third consecutive game. The Titans
would extend there lead with a FG on the subsequent drive. Griffin
also had 4 tackles (3 solo) in the game. SLB David Thornton sealed
the victory on the only other turnover for the Titans. KC was
in TEN territory late in the game when Thornton intercepted a
pass intended for KC TE Tony Gonzalez. It was his second pick
of the year in an outstanding season for Thornton. Thornton and
WLB Keith Bulluck each had 10 tackles (8 solo). Bulluck hurt his
left knee during the game. Stephen Tulloch replaced Ryan Fowler
in the middle and led the team overall with 12 tackles (9 solo,
including 2 and an assist on special teams). Fowler left early
with a right shoulder injury. The team promoted LB Colin Allred
from the practice squad last week and he already saw work with
all the injuries on Sunday.
DT Albert Haynesworth suited up, but did not start. He was very
limited by the lingering right hamstring injury he aggravated
in the previous game. The team had no sacks in the game.
Despite keeping their playoff hopes alive with a huge win in NY,
the Redskins D was hampered by an assortment of injuries on Sunday
night. The most devastating was WLB Rocky
McIntosh, who tore his left ACL and MCL early in the first
quarter. McIntosh was one of the breakout players of the first
half in his second year in the league, racking up double-digit
tackles games and turning in big plays. He excelled despite recurring
problems with pinched nerves in his shoulders that have been a
problem since college. He seemed to slow down in the second half
of the season, perhaps struggling with the shoulders, before blowing
his knee out. Now he faces a 9-12 month rehab which jeopardizes
much, if not all, of his 2008 season, as well. Rookie H.B.
Blades replaced McIntosh in the game, but injured his thumb
during the game, giving special teams ace Khary
Campbell reps there. Campbell finished with 7 tackles (5 solo).
Blades is expected to play this week and both he and Campbell,
as well as veteran Randall
Godfrey, are in the running to replace McIntosh the rest of
the season. Godfrey has replaced Marcus Washington when he’s been
out during the season and offers great experience for a team that
still has playoff hopes, but he is a better fit for SAM or MIKE.
Blades is viewed as the MLB of the future and could benefit most
from more time, but offers the least experience and doesn’t offer
the same athleticism at the position. Campbell is the natural
back-up at the spot and probably the best fit, but there’s a reason
he’s been mostly a special teams player and career back-up. The
team went with the natural back-up instead of the vet at FS when
they lost Sean
Taylor, so if I had to pick someone up today before knowing
the final decision, it would be Campbell.
The entire safety corps was dinged in the game, although all are
expected to play this week. FS Reed Doughty suffered a shoulder
burner in the game, but remained in and led the team with 11 tackles
(7 solo, including one on special teams). Rookie SS LaRon Landry
was limited by a quad injury in the game, but had a big hit to
break-up a third down pass, which was erased when he drew an unsportsmanlike
conduct penalty for taunting. It was his fourth personal foul
of the season. His play has earned the nickname among his teammates,
apparently affectionately, of ‘Dirty 30’ (Landry wears
#30). Back-ups Vernon Fox (knee) and Pierson Prioleau (hamstring)
were also injured. Fox didn’t return to the game, but both
sound likely to be available this week, as well.
DT Cornelius Griffin left after the first quarter with a dislocated
finger on his right hand and did not return, but is expected to
play this week. DE Andre Carter also continues to have his best
season since 2002. He had 2 sacks in the game, forcing a fumble
on one, which pushes him to a team-leading 10.5 sacks for the
season, his second double-digit sack season of his career.