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IDP Notes
Week 16

Quick Hits (Details in individual team notes)
  • No more byes, Thu. and Sat. games this week
  • HOU DE Williams ready for prime-time player
  • BAL MLB Lewis dislocates finger; D remains w/o top CBs
  • WAS WLB McIntosh blows knee, will be a problem in to 2008
  • NE LB Thomas thriving back outside, LB Seau back to glory days
  • MIA MLB Crowder has knee surgery, could be done for season
  • DEN WLB Gold hurts knee, could be done for year
  • ATL DE Abraham leaves with knee injury
  • PIT SS Polamalu returns
  • DAL SS Williams suspended game for namesake penalty
  • TB CB Barber turns in another big play
  • PHI WLB Spikes tears rotator cuff
  • Back-ups step up on injured JAX D
  • TEN WLB Bulluck and MLB Fowler injured
  • MIN CB Winfield hurt again
  • NYG still missing both starting safeties
  • CHI DE Anderson leaves with knee injury
  • MIN FS Smith ticketed for marijuana possession
Week 16 Injury Report (available Friday PM)

IDP Depth Chart
| DEN | DET | GB | HOU | IND | JAX | KC
PIT | STL | SD | SF | SEA | TB | TEN | WAS

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 three games.

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 team officially place FS George Wilson on the IR. Jim Leonhard returned to the starting lineup in his place, as expected. CB Terrence McGee led the team with 6 solo tackles.

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 Charles Johnson could get his first career start if Peppers can’t go.

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 LB Chaun 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 Orpheus 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.

OLB Demarcus 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 this week.

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.

Green Bay
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 equally unappealing.
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, MLB Mike 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. Rob Meier 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 high.

Darryl Smith remained the man in the middle with Peterson out indefinitely. Rookie OLB Justin Durant led the team with 10 tackles (8 solo).

Kansas City
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.

OLB Derrick 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 Roth out.

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.

MLB E.J. 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.

New England
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.

New Orleans
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 Thomas.

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 Four.

This week it was neither Stuart Schweigert nor Hiram Eugene, but Chris Carr who got the start at FS. Eugene also rotated in regularly. Depth at safety got thinner, and special teams took a hit, as the team placed Jarrod Cooper on the IR with a knee injury.

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 Quintin 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.

SS Troy 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.

FS Anthony 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 this week.

St. Louis
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).

San Diego
CB Antonio Cromartie made another fine athletic interception, his league-leading tenth of the season. ILB’s Stephen Cooper and Matt Wilhelm, OLB Shaun Phillips, and SS Clinton Hart each had a pick.

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.

San Francisco
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.

Tampa Bay
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 opportunities.

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.